One of post-war American Catholicism’s greatest evangelists, especially on television, Fulton Sheen went from academic (he had two doctorates and taught philosophy at the Catholic University of America) to auxiliary bishop of New York and television celebrity, and also a hugely popular and prolific writer (of over seventy books), to diocesan bishop. He retired in 1969 and died in 1979.
In early July, Pope Francis approved the miracle needed for Sheen’s beatification. The miracle involves the survival of a stillborn child born in September 2010. The date for the beatification has not been set.
These insights are all taken from his book Peace of Soul. For the first set of the bishop’s wisdom, see Five Insights on Dying and Death From Fulton Sheen.
Live as if You Will Die Now
The basic spiritual principle is this: Death must be conquered in every thought and word and deed by an affirmation of the eternal. Spiritual writers advise us that everything should be done as if one were going to die in the next moment. If we treat the living as though they were dying, too, then the good in them will come to the surface. Treat the dead as still alive, and our prayers will follow them.
Die Twice, Now and at the Time of Your Death
Because mortification is recognized as a practice of death, there is fittingly inscribed on the tomb of Duns Scotus, Bis Mortus; Semel Sepultus (twice died, but buried only once).
Atone For Your Lack of Love
A belief in the state of purgation after death allows us to atone for our want of love while our friends were still on earth. The failure to help their bodies then can be balanced now by our spiritual assistance to their souls through prayer.
Enjoy the World Because You Will Live After You Die
A child who is given a ball and told that it is the only ball he will ever have in his life cannot enjoy it much because he is over-fearful of losing it. Another child, told that if he is good he will be given another ball, one that will never wear out and will give him unending pleasure, need not be fearful of losing the first. So it is with the person who has only one world, in contrast to the one who believes otherwise. Even in the enjoyment of life the first person walks in fear of its end. His very pleasures are shadowed by death. But the one who believes in a future life, conditioned by morality, has the great advantage of being able to be happy in this world, as well as in the next.
Live to Come Alive
When we die to something, something comes alive in us. If we die to self, charity comes alive; if we die to pride, service comes alive; if we die to lust, reverence for personality comes alive; if we die to anger, love comes alive.