FULTON J. SHEEN, CATHOLIC CHAMPION
by Thomas C. Reeves
When American history textbooks mention Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen at all, it is briefly and in connection with the allegedly “feel good” Christianity of the 1950s. To some Americans, Sheen was merely a glib, superficial television performer and pop writer who blossomed briefly on the national scene and rapidly disappeared.
Many orthodox Catholics have a clearer understanding of Sheen, for more than a dozen of his books remain in print, several anthologies of his writings are for sale, and his television shows and tapes continue to be popular. The Eternal Word Television Network regularly features Sheen videotapes. Moreover, an effort is underway, formally inaugurated by the late Cardinal O’Connor of New York, to have the Archbishop canonized.
In preparing America’s Bishop: The Life and Times of Fulton J. Sheen (Encounter Books, 2001) I discovered a brilliant, charismatic, and holy man who has been underestimated by historians, largely overlooked by the contemporary mass media, and forgotten by too many Catholics. Indeed, I came to the conclusion that Fulton J. Sheen was the most important Catholic of twentieth century America.
Sheen was born in tiny El Paso, Illinois, in the north central part of the state, in 1895. His father was a modestly prosperous farmer in the Peoria region, his mother a hard-working and popular farm wife and mother of four boys. The Sheen children were gifted with high intelligence (one, Tom, had a photographic memory), trained to work hard (for most of his life Fulton would work a nineteen hour day, seven days a week), and encouraged to advance themselves through education. The parents also stressed the importance of their Catholic faith. The Sheen boys went to parochial schools, and the family attended church regularly and said the Rosary together nightly.
Fulton excelled in his school work from the start, and was an extremely popular youngster. Rather short (five foot seven) and slim, he was unable to compete effectively in athletics and so poured his energy into becoming a skilled collegiate debater. His beautiful speaking voice, penetrating eyes (inherited from his mother), pleasing personality, and outstanding academic preparation proved effective in competitions.
From Fulton’s earliest years, there seemed to be a consensus of opinion in the family that he would become a priest. After graduating from St. Viator College in Bourbonnais, Illinois, he went to seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. From there he went to the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. to earn a doctorate in philosophy. After ordination in 1919 and receiving two degrees from CUA in 1920, Sheen went to the prestigious Louvain University in Belgium. Here he earned a Ph.D. in philosophy with the highest distinction and was invited to try for a “super doctorate,” the agrege en Philosophie. He was the first American ever to receive such an offer. Sheen earned the honor in 1925, again passing with the highest distinction. He transformed his dissertation into a prize-winning book and won the respect and admiration of G. K. Chesterton, among others.
After a brief and successful stint in a slum church in Peoria (a test given by his bishop to see if he would be obedient), Sheen became an instructor at Catholic University. He was to remain on the CUA faculty, teaching philosophy and theology, from 1926 until 1950.
While proving to be a popular professor, Sheen’s interests were primarily off-campus. After writing two scholarly books, he began publishing a lengthy list of more or less popular books and articles that would earn him honors and praise throughout the country. In 1928, he went on the “Catholic Hour,” a nationally broadcast radio program. He quickly became the program’s most popular preacher and for more than two decades was asked to preach during Lent and at Holy Days. Vast quantities of letters and financial donations poured in on “Catholic Hour” officials whenever Sheen spoke.
Sheen was soon in demand throughout the country and Western Europe as a preacher, retreat leader, and teacher. He preached annually at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where he packed the huge church and received much attention in the press.
Francis Cardinal Spellman of New York, one of the most powerful figures in the Roman Catholic Church, took Sheen under his wing after World War II, and in 1948 invited him to join a world-wide tour and assume the bulk of the journey’s preaching duties. The two men greatly appreciated each other’s talents (the Cardinal was a superb administrator and fund-raiser), and in 1950 Spellman had Sheen named to head the American branch of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the Church’s principal source of missionary funds. The appointment came with a miter, and in 1951, Sheen was consecrated in Rome. Sheen flung himself into his new duties, revealing his great skill as a fund-raiser. He continued to produce books, articles, and newspaper columns at an astonishing rate, and accepted invitations to preach throughout the country and across the world. Sheen’s personal success at winning converts—the list included writer Clare Boothe Luce, industrialist Henry Ford II, and ex-Communist Louis Budenz—attracted national attention. Unmentioned in the press were the thousands of average Americans who came into the Church because of Sheen’s efforts.
When, in 1951, the Archdiocese of New York decided to enter the world of television, Sheen was a natural choice to appear on screen. The initial half-hour lectures were broadcast on the tiny Dumont Network, opposite big budget programs by comedian Milton Berle, “Mr. Television,” and singer-actor Frank Sinatra. No one gave Sheen a chance to compete effectively. Soon, however, Sheen took the country by storm, winning an Emmy, appearing on the cover of Time magazine, and entering the “most admired” list of Americans. In its second year, “Life Is Worth Living” moved to the ABC Network and had a sponsor, the Admiral Corporation.
Sheen’s talks, delivered in the full regalia of a bishop, were masterful. He worked on each presentation for 35 hours, delivering it in Italian and French to clarify his thoughts before going on television. He at no time used notes or cue cards, and always ended on time. The set was a study with a desk, a few chairs, and some books; the only prop was a blackboard. A four-foot statue of Madonna and Child on a pedestal was clearly visible. Sheen’s humor, charm, intelligence, and considerable acting skill radiated throughout the “Live Is Worth Living” series, captivating millions eager to hear Christian (only indirectly Catholic) answers to life’s common problems.
Some of Sheen’s talks and writings dealt with Communism, which the Bishop, a student of Marxism and a personal friend of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, thought a dire threat to the nation and the world. But at no time did Sheen appear with or praise Senator Joe McCarthy (he had little use for politicians of any stripe) or directly support the Second Red Scare, which swept through the country during the early 1950s.
Sheen was also a student of Freud, and was consistently critical of Freudian psychology. Sheen’s best-selling book, Peace Of Soul, presented his views on the subject forcefully. At about the same time, the bishop wrote a powerful book on the Virgin Mary, The World’s First Love, followed a few years later by an equally impressive Life of Christ.
For all of his concerns about worldly issues, Sheen was above all a supernaturalist, who fervently believed that God is love, that miracles happen, and that the Catholic Church best taught the divinely revealed truths about life and death. As he put it in Peace Of Soul, “nothing really matters except the salvation of a soul.”
Still, Sheen was not a plaster saint. Vanity was a constant problem for him, and he knew it. As both priest and bishop, Sheen lived and dressed well and enjoyed the publicity he received in the media and the applause of adoring crowds. Perhaps more serious was an offense that was not discovered until twenty years after his death: while a young teacher at Catholic University, in order to expedite his academic career, he invented a second doctorate for himself.
Sheen could also be difficult at times when his authority was challenged. In the early 1950s, he and Cardinal Spellman, a very proud man, engaged in a bitter feud largely over the dispersal of Society funds. The struggle led to a private audience before Pius XII, who sided with Sheen. In a rage, Spellman terminated Sheen’s television series, made him a local outcast, and drove him from the Archdiocese. In 1966, Sheen became the Bishop of Rochester.
Bishop Sheen had been an active participant in the Vatican II sessions in Rome and thoroughly endorsed the reforms that followed. He tried to make his diocese the bridge between the old and new Catholicism, enacting sweeping reforms and making headlines in the process. Without administrative skills, Sheen alienated many in Rochester, and in 1969 he resigned and returned to New York.
During the last decade of his life, while battling serious heart disease, Sheen continued at a breathtaking pace to travel, speak, and write. During the course of his more than 50 year career in the Church, he wrote 66 books and countless articles. No other Catholic figure of the century could match his literary productivity. (Book royalties and television fees went almost exclusively to the Society. Sheen estimated that he gave $10 million of his own money to the organization he headed.)
In October, 1979 Sheen met John Paul II in the sanctuary of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Thunderous applause greeted their embrace. The Pope privately told the 84-year-old Archbishop that he had been a loyal son of the Church. Nothing could have been more pleasing for Fulton Sheen to hear. He died on December 9, in his chapel before the Blessed Sacrament.
Thomas C. Reeves is a fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute and the author of several books, including A Question of Character: A Life of John F. Kennedy. His latest book, America’s Bishop, is the definitive biography of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. It is published by Encounter Books.our paragraph here.
What about Praying to the Saints?
The historic Christian practice of asking our departed brothers and sisters in Christ—the saints—for their intercession has come under attack in the last few hundred years. Though the practice dates to the earliest days of Christianity and is shared by Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, the other Eastern Christians, and even some Anglicans—meaning that all-told it is shared by more than three quarters of the Christians on earth—it still comes under heavy attack from many within the Protestant movement that started in the sixteenth century.
Can They Hear Us?
One charge made against it is that the saints in heaven cannot even hear our prayers, making it useless to ask for their intercession. However, this is not true. As Scripture indicates, those in heaven are aware of the prayers of those on earth. This can be seen, for example, in Revelation 5:8, where John depicts the saints in heaven offering our prayers to God under the form of "golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints." But if the saints in heaven are offering our prayers to God, then they must be aware of our prayers. They are aware of our petitions and present them to God by interceding for us.
Some might try to argue that in this passage the prayers being offered were not addressed to the saints in heaven, but directly to God. Yet this argument would only strengthen the fact that those in heaven can hear our prayers, for then the saints would be aware of our prayers even when they are not directed to them!
In any event, it is clear from Revelation 5:8 that the saints in heaven do actively intercede for us. We are explicitly told by John that the incense they offer to God are the prayers of the saints. Prayers are not physical things and cannot be physically offered to God. Thus the saints in heaven are offering our prayers to God mentally. In other words, they are interceding.
Another charge commonly leveled against asking the saints for their intercession is that this violates the sole mediatorship of Christ, which Paul discusses: "For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 2:5).
But asking one person to pray for you in no way violates Christ’s mediatorship, as can be seen from considering the way in which Christ is a mediator. First, Christ is a unique mediator between man and God because he is the only person who is both God and man. He is the only bridge between the two, the only God-man. But that role as mediator is not compromised in the least by the fact that others intercede for us. Furthermore, Christ is a unique mediator between God and man because he is the Mediator of the New Covenant (Heb. 9:15, 12:24), just as Moses was the mediator (Greek mesitas) of the Old Covenant (Gal. 3:19–20).
The intercession of fellow Christians—which is what the saints in heaven are—also clearly does not interfere with Christ’s unique mediatorship because in the four verses immediately preceding 1 Timothy 2:5, Paul says that Christians should interceed: "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and pleasing to God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:1–4). Clearly, then, intercessory prayers offered by Christians on behalf of others is something "good and pleasing to God," not something infringing on Christ’s role as mediator.
"No Contact with the dead"
Sometimes Fundamentalists object to asking our fellow Christians in heaven to pray for us by declaring that God has forbidden contact with the dead in passages such as Deuteronomy 18:10–11. In fact, he has not, because he at times has given it—for example, when he had Moses and Elijah appear with Christ to the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:3). What God has forbidden is necromantic practice of conjuring up spirits. "There shall not be found among you any one who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, any one who practices divination, a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer. . . . For these nations, which you are about to dispossess, give heed to soothsayers and to diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you so to do. The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brethren—him you shall heed" (Deut. 18:10–15).
God thus indicates that one is not to conjure the dead for purposes of gaining information; one is to look to God’s prophets instead. Thus one is not to hold a seance. But anyone with an ounce of common sense can discern the vast qualitative difference between holding a seance to have the dead speak through you and a son humbly saying at his mother’s grave, "Mom, please pray to Jesus for me; I’m having a real problem right now." The difference between the two is the difference between night and day. One is an occult practice bent on getting secret information; the other is a humble request for a loved one to pray to God on one’s behalf.
Overlooking the Obvious
Some objections to the concept of prayer to the saints betray restricted notions of heaven. One comes from anti-Catholic Loraine Boettner:
"How, then, can a human being such as Mary hear the prayers of millions of Roman Catholics, in many different countries, praying in many different languages, all at the same time?
"Let any priest or layman try to converse with only three people at the same time and see how impossible that is for a human being. . . . The objections against prayers to Mary apply equally against prayers to the saints. For they too are only creatures, infinitely less than God, able to be at only one place at a time and to do only one thing at a time.
"How, then, can they listen to and answer thousands upon thousands of petitions made simultaneously in many different lands and in many different languages? Many such petitions are expressed, not orally, but only mentally, silently. How can Mary and the saints, without being like God, be present everywhere and know the secrets of all hearts?" (Roman Catholicism, 142-143).
If being in heaven were like being in the next room, then of course these objections would be valid. A mortal, unglorified person in the next room would indeed suffer the restrictions imposed by the way space and time work in our universe. But the saints are not in the next room, and they are not subject to the time/space limitations of this life.
This does not imply that the saints in heaven therefore must be omniscient, as God is, for it is only through God’s willing it that they can communicate with others in heaven or with us. And Boettner’s argument about petitions arriving in different languages is even further off the mark. Does anyone really think that in heaven the saints are restricted to the King’s English? After all, it is God himself who gives the gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues. Surely those saints in Revelation understand the prayers they are shown to be offering to God.
The problem here is one of what might be called a primitive or even childish view of heaven. It is certainly not one on which enough intellectual rigor has been exercised. A good introduction to the real implications of the afterlife may be found in Frank Sheed’s book Theology and Sanity, which argues that sanity depends on an accurate appreciation of reality, and that includes an accurate appreciation of what heaven is really like. And once that is known, the place of prayer to the saints follows.
"Directly to Jesus"
Some may grant that the previous objections to asking the saints for their intercession do not work and may even grant that the practice is permissible in theory, yet they may question it on other grounds, asking why one would want to ask the saints to pray for one. "Why not pray directly to Jesus?" they ask.
The answer is: "Of course one should pray directly to Jesus!" But that does not mean it is not also a good thing to ask others to pray for one as well. Ultimately, the "go-directly-to-Jesus" objection boomerangs back on the one who makes it: Why should we ask any Christian, in heaven or on earth, to pray for us when we can ask Jesus directly? If the mere fact that we can go straight to Jesus proved that we should ask no Christian in heaven to pray for us then it would also prove that we should ask no Christian on earth to pray for us.
Praying for each other is simply part of what Christians do. As we saw, in 1 Timothy 2:1–4, Paul strongly encouraged Christians to intercede for many different things, and that passage is by no means unique in his writings. Elsewhere Paul directly asks others to pray for him (Rom. 15:30–32, Eph. 6:18–20, Col. 4:3, 1 Thess. 5:25, 2 Thess. 3:1), and he assured them that he was praying for them as well (2 Thess. 1:11). Most fundamentally, Jesus himself required us to pray for others, and not only for those who asked us to do so (Matt. 5:44).
Since the practice of asking others to pray for us is so highly recommended in Scripture, it cannot be regarded as superfluous on the grounds that one can go directly to Jesus. The New Testament would not recommend it if there were not benefits coming from it. One such benefit is that the faith and devotion of the saints can support our own weaknesses and supply what is lacking in our own faith and devotion. Jesus regularly supplied for one person based on another person’s faith (e.g., Matt. 8:13, 15:28, 17:15–18, Mark 9:17–29, Luke 8:49–55). And it goes without saying that those in heaven, being free of the body and the distractions of this life, have even greater confidence and devotion to God than anyone on earth.
Also, God answers in particular the prayers of the righteous. James declares: "The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. Elijah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit" (Jas. 5:16–18). Yet those Christians in heaven are more righteous, since they have been made perfect to stand in God’s presence (Heb. 12:22-23), than anyone on earth, meaning their prayers would be even more efficacious.
Having others praying for us thus is a good thing, not something to be despised or set aside. Of course, we should pray directly to Christ with every pressing need we have (cf. John 14:13–14). That’s something the Catholic Church strongly encourages. In fact, the prayers of the Mass, the central act of Catholic worship, are directed to God and Jesus, not the saints. But this does not mean that we should not also ask our fellow Christians, including those in heaven, to pray with us.
In addition to our prayers directly to God and Jesus (which are absolutely essential to the Christian life), there are abundant reasons to ask our fellow Christians in heaven to pray for us. The Bible indicates that they are aware of our prayers, that they intercede for us, and that their prayers are effective (else they would not be offered). It is only narrow-mindedness that suggests we should refrain from asking our fellow Christians in heaven to do what we already know them to be anxious and capable of doing.
In Heaven and On Earth
The Bible directs us to invoke those in heaven and ask them to pray with us. Thus in Psalms 103, we pray, "Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word! Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers that do his will!" (Ps. 103:20-21). And in Psalms 148 we pray, "Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his host!" (Ps. 148:1-2).
Not only do those in heaven pray with us, they also pray for us. In the book of Revelation, we read: "[An] angel came and stood at the altar [in heaven] with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne; and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God" (Rev. 8:3-4).
And those in heaven who offer to God our prayers aren’t just angels, but humans as well. John sees that "the twenty-four elders [the leaders of the people of God in heaven] fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints" (Rev. 5:8). The simple fact is, as this passage shows: The saints in heaven offer to God the prayers of the saints on earth.
NIHIL OBSTAT: I have concluded that the materials
presented in this work are free of doctrinal or moral errors.
Bernadeane Carr, STL, Censor Librorum, August 10, 2004
IMPRIMATUR: In accord with 1983 CIC 827
permission to publish this work is hereby granted.
+Robert H. Brom, Bishop of San Diego, August 10, 2004
What is a Servant? Anyone who is devoted and a helpful follower or supporter.
"Servant of God" is the title given to a deceased person of the Catholic Church whose life and works are being investigated in consideration for official recognition by the Pope and the Catholic Church as a saint in Heaven.
Servant - Mother Angelica
Praise be Jesus Christ…. Now and forever. In June of 2004, along with 13 other men, I was ordained a deacon in the Archdiocese of Denver. It was the best of times… it was the beginning of time to learn who/what a deacon really is. All was progressing until about October of 2004, when I had a heart problem - a heartbeat problem that put me flat on the couch until I could get in to see my doctor. She immediately took me over to an adjacent cardiologist and persuaded them to see me that day as soon as they could. Long story short - it was perhaps a viral attack on my heart — and it was mostly resolved by two powerful drugs. But I was still weak and recovering.
About November, I discovered that I was losing weight - an unexplained weight loss. Nice if you know what is causing you to drop 25 pounds - but scary if you weren’t doing anything to become healthy. After a series of scans and tests — they said they thought that I had a suspected tumor on my pancreas. I remember my personal physician telling me that this was a serious illness — but whatever happened they would be able to keep me comfortable. Is there anyone here who doesn’t understand what the doctor was saying?
After meeting with an oncologist, a surgeon and others - they set a day for laparoscopic surgery. That’s the surgery where they go into your abdomen with two small turrets.
These are two small remote control video cameras that allow the doctor to see what’s going on inside. I was, of course under total anesthesia… and when they couldn’t find anything they decided to open me up completely. They went into my abdomen and other than some scarring on my liver, they couldn’t find any tumor or abnormality. Thanks be to God. Thanks be to God.
But for those of you who haven’t heard ‘the rest of the story’ — just like Paul Harvey used to do… here’s the other half of the story. Weeks before what turned out to become major surgery, quite coincidentally, I had discovered, picked up and started reading the life story of Blessed Andre Bessette. He’s now St. Andre… made a formal saint by St. John Paul the Great in 2010 — so he’s very much a saint for our times.
You who have read a book or seen a video of the life of Andre — you may think you know enough about this holy man of God… here are a few facts for any of us to learn more of this priest. He was born poor… and in poor health. He lived in Canada and was sent to the Holy Cross Brothers with a note from his pastor: “I am sending you a saint.” It was hard for them to believe — and because of his weak and frail condition and his lack of education - they decided to make him a doorman. Andre was later known to have joked, “They showed me the door…. and I stayed there for 40 years.”
More and more and more people started coming to this humble doorman… great long lines of people seeking his help. Andre’s answers were always the same… to pray… and to have devotion to St. Joseph. Four things began to resonate with me as I read the life story… Andre was holy — and as a new deacon I aspired to holiness… true holiness… But I was sick and having troubles putting much strength into my new role… Andre was humble — an area that I knew I needed help with… Andre had continuing stomach problems… what we now call severe indigestion. However - lines of people came to this humble doorman. They were poor… often desperate with no place to turn to. Quite a number of these folks began to have their prayers and needs met - often by miracles —- through God’s permission and the power of St. Joseph’s intercession. And it came to me just before the operation to pray to St. Joseph whom Andre had such great devotion to… and I prayed asking Blessed Andre to help with my stomach problem. And then I awakened after the operation to be told by my wife that she had spoken with the surgeon —- there was nothing found inside…. no abnormality. Thanks be to God.
Do I know it was a miracle? Not at all. The surgery effort was exploratory to see what was going on inside. Because they didn’t know for sure. But what happened was that all of us found out there wasn’t a reason to worry at that time. Thank you St. Joseph. Thank you St. Andre. Thanks be to God.
BTW: When then Brother Andre died, over a million people came to participate in his funeral. Do you think Andre touched many people and was involved in a lot of healings and miracles? Thanks be to God.
St. Andre Bessette
What is a Venerable? The term 'Venerable' means that the proposed case for sainthood has been prepared, sent to the appropriate office in the Vatican Curia... and has been approved and sent to the Holy Father who declares the person Venerable -- 'worthy of awe.
The Catholic Church celebrates what is referred to as the ‘Communion of Saints.’ This phrase means a family - a solidarity of brotherhood between we who are living on earth and journeying our way towards final union with Almighty God. Our ‘family’ also includes those who are in Purgatory — they are being prepared for certain union with God and His angels and saints. And finally, of course, those who are in heaven. We are all a part of this family, a Communion of Saints.
Recently, the Church celebrated the canonization of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity. She was formally recognized by the Church as a saint on October 16th. This past March, Holy Father Francis acknowledged a miracle - enough to pave the way for her canonization.
It happens that Dr. Anthony Lilles, STL was the spiritual advisor to the deacon 2000-2004 formation class for deacons in Denver. Our local deacon, Tom Fox (president of the Rim Catholic Evangelization, the non-profit association that formed and built KPIH Rim Catholic Radio) was in the classes formed in part by Dr. Lilles. Dr. Lilles and Deacon Tom have maintained continuing contact even though their work and roles in the Church have taken them to different states, geographically and ministry-wise. Lilles earned his doctorate in spiritual theology at Rome’s Angelicum and wrote his dissertation on Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity. He is now the academic dean of St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo. Deacon Tom serves as a deacon at St. Philip the Apostle Church and in the community.
About the recently canonized St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, Anthony Lilles said, “The Lord has chosen to answer her prayers for us. Before she died, when she was suffering with Addison's disease, she wrote that it would increase her joy in heaven if people ask for her help. The Church has recognized the power of her intercession for us.”
On an exploratory visit and orientation at the Dijon, France Carmelite monastery, the young 17-year-old Elizabeth was given a copy of a letter which was to be circulated for many to read. That letter would later become the now-classic book Story Of A Soul. On her reading of this ‘letter,’ Elizabeth had an experience of enlightenment. She quickly understood to what God was doing in the heart of Elizabeth.
Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity was born in France in 1880, and grew up in Dijon close to the city's Carmelite monastery. Lilles recounted that one time Bl. Elizabeth visited the monastery when she was 17, “the mother superior there said, 'I just received this circular letter about the death of Therese of Lisieux, and I want you to read it.' That circular letter would later become the spiritual classic Story of a Soul; in fact, what she was given was really a first edition of Story of a Soul.”
A quiet, contemplative-oriented soul, on reading Story of a Soul, Elizabeth came to ‘know’ that she should become a Carmelite. Before entering Carmel, Elizabeth worked with troubled youth in Dijon. She entered the Carmel in 1901 and died just five years later from Addison’s disease.
If you are a reader, know that St. Elizabeth wrote several works which shared her great depth and spiritual insight.
A cardinal from Dijon France was cured of cancer in 1981 - and it was this cure that became the miracle leading to the beatification of Blessed Elizabeth.
Dr. Lilles said that in addition to her strong orientation to intercession, Elizabeth had a ‘spiritual mission’ to help draw souls closer to Jesus Christ.
KPIH Radio invites you to seek the writings of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity. You might check in at the parish library at St. Philip the Apostle parish to see if they have had any donations or acquisitions of writings by one of the powerful intercessors in our Communion of Saints.
This page informs and reflects on the lives, works, sacrifices, faith and miracles of Saints and Servants of the Catholic Church
Date of Birth 20 April 1923, Canton, Ohio, USA
Date of Death 27 March 2016, Hanceville, Alabama, USA
Birth Name Rita Antoinette Rizzo
Mother Angelica was born Rita Antionette Rizzo in Canton, Ohio, in 1923 as the only child of John and Mae Rizzo. Her childhood was marred by poverty and unhappiness. Her father abondoned the family when she was very young, and her mother struggled with chronic depression and poverty. They struggled to run a dry-cleaning business, living in a rat-infested apartment and barely making ends meet. Also, they suffered ostrocism for the divorce, and young Rita had very few friends. Rita learned responsibility at a young age, helping her mother run the business, and the hard work took a toll on her school grades. Later, she would remark "I worked hard for those Fs." She and her mother were not regular church goers, yet they were fervent in their Catholic faith and belief in God's providence. One day, Rita was making a delivery when she narrowly missed being run down by a truck. She said it was as though two strong hands had lifted her to safety. She immediately told her mother, and both took it as a sign. A few years later, at age 15, Rita developed a severe intestinal ailment and couldn't get medical care. She started praying the stations of the cross at her local church, and was miraculously healed. During one of her sojourns to St. Anthony's, kneeling before Our Lady of Sorrows, the impossible happened. "When I knelt I just knew it, I just knew it. I was to be a nun," Mother Angelica says. Directed by a local monsignor, Rita joined the Poor Clares, a contemplative order dedicated to adoration of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, in 1944.
Mini Biography By: anonymous
Trivia (9)Recovering from 2 strokes suffered since late 2001.
Her parents, John Rizzo and Mae Helen Gianfransisco, divorced in 1929.
Before becoming a nun herself, she had disliked all the nuns she had met, describing them as "the meanest people I've ever known."
Young Rita Rizzo's mother was opposed to her desire to become a nun. So she ran away from home to enter a convent under the name Sister Angelica, which nearly ended their relationship entirely. Several years later, her mother not only reconciled with her daughter, but became a nun herself. She was admitted into the same convent as her daughter, just as Sister Angelica was promoted to Mother Angelica. Reflecting on this turn of events, Mother Angelica recalls "I called my mother Sister and she called me Mother."
Is Mother Superior at Our Lady of the Angels Monastary in Irondale, Alabama.
Entered the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration monastery in Cleveland at age 21, and eventually helped open the Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Alabama in 1962.
Died on Easter Sunday.
Founder of the Eternal Word Television Network.
Was the founder of the E.W.T.N., and hosted a show on it.
Mother's story is available in several formats. Find one here:
http://www.amazon.com/Mother-Angelica-Remarkable-Network-Miracles/dp/0385510934/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1460760415&sr=8-7&keywords=mother+angelica+dvdType your paragraph here.
Venerable Fulton Sheen
If you combine all the love of every person in who ever existed from Adam and Eve to everyone alive today, that's still not as much love as God feels for you right now. --- Mother Angelica
Deacon Tom shares a recent homily he wrote about a very special saint for our time. --
What is a Saint? Saints, broadly speaking, are those who follow Jesus Christ and live their lives according to his teaching. Catholics, however, also use the term narrowly to refer to especially holy men and women who, through extraordinary lives of virtue, have already entered Heaven.
Saints and Servants
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