| || ||
Fulton Sheen on Advent and the
Through the Year with Fulton Sheen is Sheen
at his bestthe master storyteller, preacher, and faithful servant
of Christwith a word of encouragement, counsel, and direction for
each day of the year. With characteristic insight and eloquence, he penetrates
to the heart of the Christian life with practical reflections on love,
holiness, spiritual power, miracles, and Christ-like living. These daily
selections provide a fresh perspective on what it means to be a follower
of Christ, on the challenge of serving God and the blessings of living
a grace-filled life.
Here are the daily selections for the fourth week of Advent.
Nuptials | December 19
What is the idea that runs all through scripture? It is nuptials. The covenant
is based on nuptials. As we used to say in the old marriage ceremony, "Not even
the flood took it away, not even sin." There was the nuptials of man and woman in
the garden of Eden, the nuptials of Israel and God in the Old Testament. In the
prophet Hosea: "I your Creator am your husband." God is the husband of Israel. In
that beautiful passage of the book of Hosea, God tells Hosea to marry a
prostitute, a worthless woman. She leaves him, betrays him, commits adultery, has
children by other men, and when the heart of Hosea is broken, God says, "Hosea,
take her back, take her back. She's the symbol of Israel. Israel has been my
unworthy spouse, but I love Israel, and I will never let her go." Hosea taking
back the prostitute is the symbol of God's love for his qahal, his church
of the Old Testament. Now we come to new nuptials, the nuptials of divinity and
humanity in our Blessed Mother.
Why Christ came to earth | December 20
You may remember from Shakespeare the famous speech of Mark Anthony over
Caesar. He said, "I will show you sweet Caesar's wounds, poor, poor dumb mouths
and bid them speak for me." Instead of showing you Caesar's wounds, I shall show
you the wounds of Christ, who is both God and man, the only one who ever came to
this earth to die and to conquer it. You and I came into the world to live; he
came into the world to offer his life for us. And so he founded a new type of
religion. All other religions, without exception, go from man to God, either by
contemplation or by a kind of mortification and self-denial. One, for example, is
the eightfold path of Buddha. But with our Blessed Lord, religion comes from God
to man. We need help and, particularly, redemption from sin.
Nature is in childbirth | December 21
In this late day of creation we are troubled by pollution, and nature seems to
turn against us. Will nature ever be completely liberated? Yes. Scripture tells
us it is waiting for the liberation of the sons of God. When the number of the
elect is completed, then there will be a new heaven and a new earth. St. Paul has
a beautiful description of that in the eighth chapter of Romans. "For the created
universe waits with eager expectation for God's Son to be revealed. It was made
the victim of frustration, not by its own choice." Nature did not become
rebellious because it willed it, but because of him who made it so-because of us.
And always there was hope, because the universe itself is to be freed from the
shackles of mortality and enter upon the liberty and splendor of the children of
God. "Up to the present, we know, the whole created universe groans in all of its
parts, as if in the pangs of childbirth." just think of it. We hardly think of
nature that way. No poet has ever sung about nature being like a woman in
childbirth. And yet here it is. We can hardly wait. Each sunrise, each sunset:
nature is expectant. When will men serve God and the number of the elect be
Heaven was not empty | December 22
When we say that God became man, we do not mean to say that heaven was empty.
That would be to think of heaven as a kind of a space, like a room that was
twenty by thirty feet. When God came to this world, he did not leave heaven
empty. When he came to this world, he was not shaved down, whittled down to human
proportions. Rather, Christ was the life of God dwelling in human flesh. St.
Thomas Aquinas includes a very beautiful description of this in one of his hymns.
He said, "The heavenly Word proceeding forth, yet leaving not the Father's
One chance in millions | December 23
A Jewish scholar who became a Christian and who knew the Old Testament very
well and all of the traditions of the Jews, said that at the time of Christ the
rabbis had gathered together 456 prophecies concerning the Messiah, the Christ,
the conqueror of evil who was to be born and to enter into a new covenant with
mankind. Suppose the chances of any one prophecy being fulfilled by accident, say
the place where he would be born, was one in a hundred. Then, if two prophecies
were fulfilled, the chances would be one in a thousand. If three prophecies were
to coincide in Christ, that would be one in ten thousand. If four, one in a
hundred thousand. If five, one in a million. Now if all of these prophecies were
fulfilled in Christ, what would be the chance of them all concurring at the
appointed moment, not only in place but also in time, as was foretold by the
prophet Daniel? Take a pencil and write on a sheet of paper the numeral 1, and
draw a line beneath it. Under the line write 84, and after 84, if you have time,
write 126 zeros. That is the chance of all of the prophecies of Christ being
fulfilled. It runs into millions and millions, trillions and trillions.
No room in the inn | December 24
Mary is now with child, awaiting birth, and Joseph is full of expectancy as he
enters the city of his own family. He searched for a place for the birth of him
to whom heaven and earth belonged. Could it be that the Creator would not find
room in his own creation? Certainly, thought Joseph, there would be room in the
village inn. There was room for the rich; there was room for those who were
clothed in soft garments; there was room for everyone who had a tip to give to
the innkeeper. But when finally the scrolls of history are completed down to the
last word of time, the saddest line of all will be: "There was no room in the
inn." No room in the inn, but there was room in the stable. The inn was the
gathering place of public opinion, the focal point of the world's moods, the
rendezvous of the worldly, the rallying place of the popular and the successful.
But there's no room in the place where the world gathers. The stable is a place
for outcasts, the ignored and the forgotten. The world might have expected the
Son of God to be born in an inn; a stable would certainly be the last place in
the world where one would look for him. The lesson is: divinity is always where
you least expect to find it. So the Son of God made man is invited to enter into
his own world through a back door.
Now we come to what our Lord said about heaven. It was the night of the
Last Supper. Jesus gathered about him all his apostles-poor, weak, frail
men. He washed their feet. He was facing the agony in the garden, and that
terrible betraying kiss of Judas, and even the denial of Peter himself.
One would think that all the talk would be about himself. Certainly, when
we have trials, that is what we think about. But our Lord thought about
the apostles. He saw the sadness in their faces, and he said, "Be not
troubled, do not be sad, I go to prepare a place for you. In my fathers
house there are many mansions." How did he know about the Fathers
house? He came from there. That was his home. Now preparing to go back home,
he tells them about the Fathers house and he says, "I go to prepare
a place for you." God never does anything for us without great preparation.
He made a garden for Adam, as only God knows how to make a garden beautiful.
Then, when the Jews came into the promised land, he prepared the land for
them. He said he would give them houses full of good things, houses which
they never built. He said that he would give them vineyards and olive trees
which they never planted. just so, he goes to prepare a place for us. Why?
Simply because we were not made for heaven; we were made for earth. Man,
by sin, spoiled the earth, and God came down from heaven in order to help
us remake it. After having redeemed us, he said that he would now give us
heaven, so we got all this: the earth, and heaven too.
If you'd like to receive the FREE IgnatiusInsight.com
e-letter (about every 2 to 3 weeks), which includes regular updates
about IgnatiusInsight.com articles, reviews, excerpts, and author appearances,
please click here to sign-up today!
| || || |