The hour that made Fulton Sheen’s day
By Katie Bogner
“The purpose of the Holy Hour is to encourage a deep personal encounter with Christ. The Holy and Glorious God is constantly inviting us to come to Him, to hold converse with Him, to ask for such things as we need and to experience what a blessing there is in fellowship with him.” From Treasure in Clay, The Autobiography of Fulton J. Sheen
What made Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen the man he was? Prolific writer, engaging preacher, and sensational radio and television personality, Sheen’s words remain relevant and powerful even now during the 100th anniversary year of his ordination.
When writing his autobiography shortly before his death, Archbishop Sheen credited one thing as protecting his vocation more than anything else — making a daily Holy Hour in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. He began this practice as a seminarian and made it a promise on the day of his ordination, never breaking his commitment over the remaining 60y years of his life.
Archbishop Sheen wrote in Treasure in Clay that there are three main reasons he revolved his day around the Eucharist and taught others to do the same. First, he saw it as a “sharing in the work of redemption,” giving us an opportunity to remain with Christ despite the evil in the world around us. He also saw that the only time recorded in Scripture that Jesus asked something of his Apostles was when He brought them to pray with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. Our Lord asked, “Could you not watch one hour with Me?” and we have an opportunity to answer that question during our own time of Adoration.
A third reason Archbishop Sheen gave is that by spending time with Jesus in the Eucharist we become more and more formed in His likeness, much like Moses was transformed when he returned after his time on Mount Sinai seeing God face to face. Our hearts are changed by remaining with the Heart of God present in every tabernacle and within every monstrance.
Both priests and laity alike, as well as non-Catholics, were encouraged by Archbishop Sheen to adopt the practice of the Holy Hour. Despite his busy schedule of travel, speaking, and mission work, he made time to be with Jesus every day, even if it took a little creativity or sacrifice. Undoubtedly, that time to pour out his heart in prayer and to listen in return made Archbishop Sheen into the person God created him to be. He said that many of his sermons, talks, and books were written in the presence of the Eucharist. After countless hours of prayer all around the world, Sheen died in his private chapel, showing through both his life and his death the devotion of a man totally reliant on His Lord.
We live in a busy world, making it hard to find even 15 minutes for ourselves in our packed schedules. But following the example of Fulton Sheen, maybe if we first pledge to give God back a portion of the time that He so generously has given us, our days would be more rightly ordered. We can soak in the radiance of our Creator during our hour in the chapel and in turn reflect His goodness and mercy in our work and homes.
LEARNING FROM SHEEN:
Make a commitment to dedicate time in prayer every day, even if you start with 15 minutes. Check out schedules for Adoration or Blessed Sacrament Chapels in your area and visit before or after work. Read Treasure in Clay or search online for the chapter “The Hour that Makes My Day” to learn more about his commitment to the Eucharist.
SHARING SHEEN WITH YOUR FAMILY:
Don’t be afraid to bring your children to the Blessed Sacrament, whether during a time of Adoration or adoring Jesus in the Tabernacle after Mass. Make a “Holy Half Hour” or even just a quiet 10 minutes, giving your children an opportunity to have time to talk to Jesus as well as to experience silence. Take along an age appropriate Bible, a rosary, or a journal to help your child pray. Sometimes a guide for Adoration or a journaling page can help as a tool.
Make use of these Adoration printables for you to use with your children, grandchildren, or classroom.
Katie Bogner is the junior high faith formation teacher at St. Philomena School in Peoria.