|Mass of Thanksgiving for Archbishop Fulton Sheen|
After the presentation of the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Positio to Pope Benedict XVI by Bishop Daniel Jenky, Bishop of Peoria, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura gave the homily at a Mass of Thanksgiving. This is the text from that homily:
CAUSE OF BEATIFICATION AND CANONIZATION
OF THE SERVANT OF GOD ARCHBISHOP FULTON J. SHEEN
MASS OF THANKSGIVING
MEMORIAL OF POPE SAINT GREGORY VII
CHURCH OF SAINT ANN, VATICAN CITY STATE
MAY 25, 2011
Ps 122:1-2, 3-4ab, 4cd-5
Praised be Jesus Christ, now and for ever!
Our hearts are filled with gratitude today for the important progress made in the Cause of Beatification and Canonization of the Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. His Excellency, the Most Reverend Daniel Jenky, Bishop of Peoria, the home diocese of the Servant of God, has today presented to our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, the Positio Super Virtutibus et Fama Sanctitatis, that is, the detailed and documented account both of the heroic exercise of the theological and cardinal virtues by the Servant of God Archbishop Sheen, and of his reputation of holiness of life. The preparation of the account is the fruit of years of the thorough and critical study of the life of the Servant of God and of the devotion to him, since his death on December 9, 1979, so that the cause of his beatification and canonization may be based on the most solid of foundations. In thanking God for the progress of the Cause, we ask Him to continue to bless Bishop Jenky and all who are working with him, so that Archbishop Sheen may be raised to the honor of the altars.
Our joy, today, has its ultimate source in the reality of our life in Christ, which He announces to us, in the Gospel, with the simple words: “I am the vine, you are the branches” (Jn 15:5). As disciples of Christ, we truly participate in His divine life. Living in us, through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Our Lord produces in us the fruits of a holy life, fruits which endure unto eternal life, fruits which we, on our own, could never produce. Before the many challenges and discouragements which we face as disciples of Christ, Our Lord speaks words to us which are as reassuring as they are clear: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you” (Jn 15:7). Knowing the challenges and discouragements which we face as His disciples, Our Lord pours forth from His glorious pierced Heart into our fearful and confused hearts the grace to go forward, with courage, in our daily living, placing our hearts totally into His Sacred Heart, in which they never fail to find abundant and unceasing healing and strength.
The life of the Servant of God Archbishop Sheen shows forth to us the great reality of our life in Christ and of our daily salvation in Him. Writing about the difference in the response of Saint Peter and of Judas to their betrayal of Our Lord, the Servant of God referred to the look of Our Lord, the Second Look, which brought to Saint Peter healing and strength. Writing about his own life, the Servant of God observed:
And so there was in my life and also in the life of every priest, a Second Look, and despite any failings or any discouragement as we measure our finitude against His Infinity, the love of the Lord continues. One of the beautiful hymns of St. Ambrose invites us to beg Christ for the gentle look which merits His continuing love: Jesu, labantes respice, Et nos videndo corrige. “Jesus, look on us when we are succumbing, for Your look sets us right again” (Fulton J. Sheen, Treasure in Clay: The Autobiography, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993, pp. 342-343).
The Servant of God concludes his reflection, acknowledging that he found the goodness of God to Him, most of all, in the mystery of the Cross, in the mystery of the outpouring of Christ’s life for us in pure and selfless love, in the mystery in which we are called to share. He concluded:
It could very well be that the goodness of God in my behalf has been manifested not only in the gift of Christian parents, unusual opportunities for education and on and on; the greatest gift of all may have been His summons to the Cross, where I found His continuing self-disclosure (Ibid., p. 350).
The heroic sanctity of the Servant of God teaches us that carrying the Cross with Christ, completing in our lives, in the words of Saint Paul, “what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,” we know, in the most perfect manner possible, how real is the great gift of the life which we, the branches, have in Christ, the Vine (Col 1:24; cf. Ibid., pp. 348-349).
We witness the same great fruits of the grace of Christ in the life of Pope Saint Gregory VII, whose memory we celebrate today. Succeeding to the Chair of Peter, in the 11th Century, one of the most turbulent times in the life of the Church, the monk Hildebrand did not fear to take up the Cross with Christ, in order to purify the Church of so much corruption within and to fortify her against so many enemies from without. Eventually, those who opposed Pope Gregory VII forced him into exile. Dying on this day in 1085, he forgave his many enemies. “I have loved righteousness and hated iniquity”, he declared with his last breath, “that is why I die in exile” (Herbert Thurston, S.J., and Donald Attwater, ed., Butler’s Lives of the Saints Complete Edition, New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1956, Vol. II, p. 388). Commenting on his heroic virtue and on his human faults, one biographer declared that “his life was devoted to the cleansing and fortifying of the Church, because it was God’s Church and should be the abode of charity and justice upon earth” (Ibid., p. 388).
Both Pope Saint Gregory VII and the Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen witnessed many attacks upon Christ and His Mystical Body, the Church, during their lives and especially at the end of their lives. Both of them, notwithstanding great suffering, with joy and peace, took up the Cross with Christ, poured out their lives, with Christ, in pure and selfless love of Him and of His holy Church. As we thank God today for the heroic sanctity of Pope Saint Gregory VII and of the Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, let us pray for the grace to take up, with Christ, each day anew, the heavy burden of the Cross, so that God may be glorified in all things and His immeasurable and unceasing love may reach every human heart.
Let us now lift up our hearts to the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus through His Eucharistic Sacrifice. Placing our hearts totally within His Most Sacred Heart, let us take up, with Him, the Cross, pouring out our lives, as He pours out His Life, in pure and selfless love. With Mary Immaculate, let us place our hearts completely into the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as did Pope Saint Gregory VII and the Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, so that they may be purified and strengthened for our mission in our homes and in our neighborhoods, in the Church and in the world.
Heart of Jesus, King and Center of all hearts, have mercy on us.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America and Star of the New Evangelization, pray for us.
Pope Saint Gregory VII, pray for us.
Servant of God, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, pray for us.
Raymond Leo Cardinal BURKE
Archbishop Emeritus of Saint Louis
Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura