Monday, June 23, 2008

Archbishop Sheen pays tribute to the Jesuits

Today, I am honored to present a wonderful find, courtesy of reader David Sailer, archivist of the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy: a previously unpublished speech given at the school by then-Bishop Fulton J. Sheen in 1952. Sailer writes, "The only copies of the speech in existence are in my possession and in the archives of the school."

Only an excerpt from the speech appears here, as I do not wish to offend the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Foundation or whoever owns the copyright to the speech. If the speech is not already in the possession of the foundation, I hope they will acquire it from the school and make the full text available to all.

I am sharing this as a tribute to my Jesuit readers, and especially to the newly ordained Father Phil Hurley S.J. The next words you hear will be those of Bishop Sheen:
"... [W]hat is peculiar, characteristic of all of the Jesuit missions, from the very beginning, is how much they have been blessed with martyrs. In America, in Mexico, in China…that is the sign of the blessing of God. Knowing the name of His Divine Son, it was fitting in some way that they should be heralded before the world, in the same way as the Savior Himself, by a kind of Crucifixion. Their influence in some communities has been so great that there is one fact that is worth mentioning that happened within the last two years.

"There are nine countries in the world that will not allow the Gospel to be preached. One of them is the little state of Nepal. It is near India and Tibet. The Jesuits conducted a school, something like this school, in India, and some of the sons of the political leaders of Nepal went to this particular school. They came back, they told their parents about the good education they received, and the result was that this year, for the first time, the missionaries are allowed in, the Jesuits were invited in, given over three or four hundred acres of land, all building erected by the Nepalese government, and now, the Nepalese will begin to take their place with the other countries of the world for beginning to see the light of Christianity. (slight clapping)

"But, I was speaking particularly of the martyrs. You’re all familiar with Fr. Pro, of Mexico, but perhaps you do not know how very much they have also followed the whole spirit of the Church by educating native clergy when they go to the Philippines, when they go to India, when they go to Japan or anywhere else, they educate native clergy. Just as you want to be educated here by Americans, so the Japanese want to be educated by the Japanese, the Chinese by the Chinese. Now there raised up in China some very remarkable priests. One of them was a Fr. Beda Chang. November the eleventh, nineteen hundred and fifty-one, Fr. Beda Chang was exposed to martyrdom by the reds. He was asked to give up his faith; he refu- he refused to do it, and as a result, died a martyr to the faith. The Communists refuse to allow a solemn Mass to be held in Shanghai. So great was the devotion of the people to young Fr. Chang. When the people, the following weeks, began going out to the grave of Fr. Chang, the Communists then stationed guards. Miracles began to be worked through the intercession of Fr. Chang. And now comes the last and most curious expression of the Communist mentality in China, it goes to show you the Communists have no sense of humor. The Communists went to Bishop Kung, the bishop of Shanghai, and they told him that he would be held responsible for any miracles that were worked through the intercession of Fr. Chang. (laughter) You see how the Jesuits have to be watched all over the world with the Communists. (laughter) It’s a wonderful thing when any evil influence fears sanctity, and it is a great and high tribute to know that the Communists in China fear the sanctity of those who have received their training from the Jesuits. ...

"... We are witnessing in our world today what might be called the influence of the demonic. It’s something new. The demonic means that there is coming out of deep, cavernous, libidinous depths evil influences that are affecting the whole world. Two men have largely been the spokesmen of the cavernous, libidinous instincts; one was Marx, who said that all civilization was to be made by the revolutionary mass movement of people; the other was Freud, who said that the individual was to be made by something that was libidinous in him coming to the surface. That the super-ego, morality and tradition and religion, was something that hindered, and in some way stopped the influence of that which was truly man, namely what he called the id.

"And all over the world there is the outbreak of the demonic spirit, the glorification of irrational forces. How meet these mass movements, these subterranean, irrational depths? We can meet it only by the creation of an elite. Not a money elite, but a spiritual elite. A world in a crisis is always saved by a creative minority and not just by a majority. And the creative minority is born by men and women who follow the Gospel. In the words of Our Lord: 'Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His justice and all of these things will be added unto you.'

"Yes, men who will leave the lights and glamours of the world for the shades and shadows of the Cross where the saints are made. Who will pick up the Exercises of St. Ignatius and particularly that chapter that has to deal with the Discernment of Spirits? So that they may understand something of the spirits, good and evil, that there are in the world today. And may be able to judge and decide between them, for these are days when we must stand up all of us now and be counted. And if the world is to be remade, it will be done, not by masses being pushed by revolutionary leaders; it will be done by these men who remake their own hearts and souls, as Our Blessed Savior Himself remade a human nature by a resurrection and make that a pattern of all of us. He could leave Caesar on his throne, and Pilate on his judgment seat, and Roman coins in the pockets of people that were already being obsessed by foreign leaders. Then He would take twelve men, and He would completely change the world. So that is the way our world is to be remade.

"And if there was a greater knowledge throughout the universe, of this thirty-days prayer and this discernment of spirits, then we might have leadership born like – the leadership that came to us through Gideon. You remember that he was to go out and do battle with the Medionites that had an army of over one hundred thousand men; he had only thirty thousand men. God said, 'Your army is too great. Tell all the cowards to leave.' Twenty thousand cowards left. He had only ten thousand men. God said, 'Your army is still too great. Send the men to the river and watch them drink.' And the ten thousand men went to the river and Gideon watched them drink. And some of them threw themselves prone upon their stomachs at the river’s edge and drank, and others ran along the bank and they dipped their hands into the water and lapped it into their mouths as they ran. And God said, 'That's your army, only three hundred. Now if you win, you will know that you have won by My power and not by the power of men.' And with that army Gideon won!

"And so the students who have been trained here, the men who have been trained also in the retreat houses, belong to this, the army of Gideon. And therefore, we salute the Jesuits on this the occasion of their seventy-fifth anniversary. We read in the epistle that when the name of Jesus is mentioned, every knee bows, every knee, in Heaven, on earth, and under the earth, where the abysmal forces tremble. And if all knees bow at the mention of that Name, then of this, the occasion of the seventy-fifth anniversary, we should say to this Society that has followed that Name, 'We salute you!' And though we bow the knee only to the Savior after Whom you are named, we take off our hats today. We salute you! God love you!"