“We are at the end of a tradition and a civilization which believed we could preserve Christianity without Christ, religion without a creed, meditation without , family life without moral responsibility, sex without purity and economics without ethics. We have completed our experiment of living without God…” - Bishop Fulton Sheen 1933
These are indeed the words of Bishop Fulton Sheen. He was a hero of mine. I grew up watching him on television each week and I enjoyed even as a child the reassuring message that he had for us in every broadcast. Now, today I listen to him on the way to Church every Sunday. Things haven’t really changed, or have they? Is the world that Fulton Sheen lived in a century ago really that different from the one we live in today?
If you listen to Bishop Fulton Sheen he almost takes on a prophet-like message to turn back to God and repent. He would attack Godless communism with both wit and charm. Through his message you knew communists were trying to replace God with the government - basically a capital G for a small g switch. However, in the world of Bishop Sheen, the communists were in foreign countries and Americans were god-fearing churchgoing people.
Now, look at today. People have quit going to Church. Well, actually are not allowed to attend Church by government order. I ask, isn’t it odd that the government issued these orders around the two largest holidays of the Christian calendar - Easter and Christmas? In the 1950s when Bishop Sheen was on his weekly TV show, over 75% of Catholics attended Mass every week, with a majority of them attending more than once a week.
Today, however, Daily Masses are about as rare as a black and white tv set is in the 21st century. Churches have had to consolidate and cut back on the number of services offered. Attendance is less than what it was in the 1950s, and that was before COVID 19. An accurate count in Church today would put attendance at less than 10% of what it was in the 50s.
Shutting down Churches, combining Parishes, shuttering Catholic Schools is a recipe for disaster, and now with this pandemic in our midst, we need the teachings of God more than ever. We need to reach back and demand our right to attend Church. In fact, the US Constitution guaranteed this when they put in the first amendment these words: Prohibit the free exercise of religion - you can not nor should not take away the rights of the people to worship. This is not a matter of government interference in our lives, this is the government doing exactly what they said they could not do: prohibit the free exercise of religion.
The political talking heads say that you can watch your service on TV. I say not. I say stand up and take back our rights. Brothers and Sisters, you cannot get the real presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through the Eucharist on TV. All you can get is the real presence of government and what is about to happen to our society.
When the politicians are "doing us a favor" by shutting down our ability to attend Church, what are they accomplishing? What is happening in our society when over one-third of people who claim to be Catholic do not believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist? What is happening when you turn to the government instead of turning to God?
I can tell you what will happen. Look at these words one more time, Read them carefully, and ponder their meaning. This was written by a man eighty-seven years ago, but they were written for our times:
“We are at the end of a tradition and a civilization which believed we could preserve Christianity without Christ, religion without a creed, meditation without, family life without moral responsibility, sex without purity and economics without ethics. We have completed our experiment of living without God…” Bishop Fulton Sheen 1933
Are we truly at the end of tradition? Look around you, what do you see? Are we truly trying to create a society without God? Now is the time to ask and answer these questions while we still can. Now is the time to strengthen our faith, and now is the time to rise up to profess our faith in Christ, and to show each other that we are the government and the government is us. It was and should always be this way in America, a government by and for the people. We have a moral obligation to do all in our power to live a life with Christ and not without Him. Amen.