Pope John Paul II said that on Mt Tabor, Jesus was Transfigured: when we go before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament it is Jesus who transfigures us. This was the shine on Bishop Sheen's entire life - his daily Holy Hour in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament- as a young student in France he spent countless hours at Montmartre in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. His two favourite places in the world were Lourdes and Montmartre: Lourdes because Our Lady appeared there; Montmartre because for over 100 years there has been Perpetual Adoration. For this reason he thought it was the most important place in the world.
When I [Father Martin Lucia] met [Archbishop Fulton Sheen] in the autumn of 1970, I had just been ordained on April 3rd of that year and I was in the city of Phila¬delphia at the same time. He was there to give a day of recollection to the Priests at Villanova Universi¬ty - he was gracious enough to meet with me and answer my question which was this: if he were newly ordained and just starting out, what would he choose to dedicate his Priesthood to for the rest of his life according to the greatest need of the church at this time? Without hesi¬tation he said "To make every parish a Montmartre by having a chapel of perpetual Adoration."
His concern was that adoration of the Blessed Sacra¬ment had disappeared with the confusion that followed the Second Vatican Council and the greatest need in the Church was to evangelize the people on the importance of the Blessed Sacrament. He explained to me that the Council was a universal call to holiness and the surest path to holiness was time spent with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. The Bishop gave me his own copy of Mysterium Fidei -"The Mystery of Faith"- where he had underlined the vital parts with a red pencil.
He pointed out to me that Pope Paul declared in this letter that the aim and purpose of the Council was for a new era of Eucharistic love - adoration and understanding to prevail and pervade the entire church but as the Pope wrote, this goal was not be¬ing realized - during the entire conversation the Bish¬op was serious and never departed from the theme of putting the two aspects of mission together - evangelization and the Eucharist - so intent was his tone that he seldom looked at me but rather looked away in an effort to emphasize both the urgency and the need for a mission to offset the damage of those who mis-understood and misrepresented the spirit of the Council.
At the time the Bishop spoke to me, there were no problems with a shortage of vocations or low at¬tendance on Sunday, the topic of the Bishop's talk to all the Priests that day was Priesthood is victimhood, this was the answer to the identity crisis Priests were having at that time.
I have reflected on the wisdom of the Bishop’s words for the last 40 years. The last talk the Bishop gave that day was on devotion to Our Lady. He began as usual with Lovely Lady, Dressed in Blue.
This was the reason given as to why they want¬ed perpetual Adoration in their dioceses. Bishop Sheen was so effective when he spoke because his words had the unction of the grace of his Holy Hour and the very reason why he opened his mouth to speak was to inspire his listeners to do the same. God gave fire to his words because his words were directed toward bringing everyone to the Heart of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. In 1976 the Bishop was invited to speak at the International Eucharistic congress held in the very place where I first met him and he talked about Perpetual Adoration. There he said he would give a challenge to each Cardinal, each Bishop, each Priest, each Nun and to each lay person to make a daily Holy Hour. This, Jesus said, was the one thing necessary. It is choosing the best part because each moment spent with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament deepens the union between Christ and your soul, each moment bathes your soul with glory making it everlastingly more radiant in heaven, each Holy Hour consoles the heart of Jesus for those who reject him. Each Holy Hour brings a soul to heaven that otherwise would have gone to hell as you pray for the one in most need of God's mercy.
I consecrated the mission to her Immaculate Heart and began the mission of trying to find a par¬ish Priest who would have a chapel of perpetual Adoration as the dear Bishop had encouraged me to do.
Almost ten years went by before I met a Parish Priest in Deer Park Texas that said yes. The day I met him was the day Bishop Sheen died. Until then I had gone throughout the United States knocking on every door I could find. No door opened until the Bishop himself could join the mission from a far more effective vantage point. Since that first chapel opened, over 3000 chapels have since been estab¬lished all over the world: this has resulted in both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict expressing a desire that every parish in the world have perpetual Adoration.
A very significant fact is this: in my travels to various parts of the world, I discovered that the local Bishop of the diocese who invited me was influenced and impacted by a retreat given by Bishop Sheen and each Bishop I met made a daily Holy Hour himself as a consequence of a talk or retreat by Bishop Sheen.
In uniting your heart with the Heart of Jesus, all humanity is brought closer to the Heart of God. The best way to honour Bishop Sheen is to respond to his message of the daily Holy Hour and to pro¬mote the cause of perpetual Adoration in your par¬ish according to the light and graces Mary has given you.
Fulton J. Sheen Society Inc.
Volume 11 issue 4