The re-release of "Your Life Is Worth Living: 50 Lessons to Deepen Your Faith" was…
Becoming everyday saints with Archbishop Fulton Sheen
Growing up in northern Illinois, the name of Archbishop Fulton Sheen was a popular one in the Catholic community. Everyone seemed to have a story about the archbishop or have a cousin or grandparent who was distantly related to him. During my college years, the devotion to the beloved future saint was even more apparent through the many people I met from the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, where Fulton Sheen grew up and was ordained a priest.
I first encountered the archbishop during a high school Steubenville conference, when I bought his book on St. Thérèse, around the time that Pope Benedict XVI declared him venerable. At the time, I only knew about him because of the developments in his cause for canonization, but this book, “Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s St. Thérèse — A Treasured Love Story,” both changed my relationship with my favorite saint while introducing me to another. The book contains 11 sermons that Archbishop Sheen preached in 1973 leading up the 100th anniversary of St. Thérèse’s birth, and, as the introduction of the book explains, “Not only does it reveal the essential Thérèse, it also reveals the essential Fulton Sheen.”
With the news of his upcoming beatification and the recently approved miracle regarding the health of a boy from the Peoria diocese, I decided it was time to return to this book and rediscover why it touched me so deeply. It didn’t take long for me to recall how relevant Sheen’s words are for our current world — especially with the disheartening revelations within the Church in the last year and the push to empower the laity.
“How are we going to live in these troubled times?” asked the archbishop in the first sermon in the book. “There is really only one answer: We have to become saints.“
We. Not just the priests or religious or people working directly for the Church, but everyone. “Now you, for example, have a certain station in life,” Archbishop Sheen continues. “It may be on a farm, it may be in a sick bed, it may be in an office, it may be in a home. It makes no difference how humble the work is.”
We tend to overcomplicate life. But sanctity is truly as simple as inviting God into your everyday moments. Archbishop Sheen is only one of the many modern saints, canonized or on their way to official sainthood, who give us hope that we, too, can become saints — that we, too, as members of Christ’s body, can help clean up the mess of the Church.
Other saints who come to mind are St. Gianna Molla, whose radical decision of motherhood and protecting the life of her unborn child led to her canonization. Sts. Louis and Zèlie Martin, parents to St. Thérèse, also led simple yet holy lives; though they each originally desired to enter the priesthood and religious life, God used their “yes” to marriage to bring into the world one of the greatest saints of the modern era — not to mention four other daughters who also entered religious life. Blessed Chiara Badano died at 18 of bone cancer, but she is remembered for her joy and faith even through this affliction. Even younger than Chiara, Venerable Carlo Acutis is on the path to sainthood for something the media evangelist Archbishop Sheen would have approved of: creating a website to record Eucharistic miracles from around the world.
These saints didn’t do anything miraculous during their lives. They weren’t missionaries or mystics. But they allowed God to sanctify their lives, using each gift for the good of others even at the cost to themselves. As we look forward to the beatification of Archbishop Sheen, let us ask for his intercession to become like these everyday saints.
Ava Lalor is assistant editor for Our Sunday Visitor.