Soul Saturday // Fulton Sheen

  Image by advtrphoto.com

Image by advtrphoto.com

Today's review of soulful media is the text Lift Up Your Heart written by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. It was written close after World War 2, however at no point did I suspect this and its longevity as a top seller is a sign of its value.  For our Theology of the Body study this text offers a breakdown of the ego, I, and the Divine-I and the journey we can take towards living fully in the Divine self. As Sheen states, "We are all recipients before we are donors; Our life was given to us; our education was given to us; our graces are given us, too" (67). The evidence provided by Archbishop Sheen supports the Church in teaching of God's creation and how our placement of His role in our psyche changes depending on our current knowledge of self. 

Sheen describes our ego as being like a tantrum-throwing toddler; our ego is reactive, emotional, and pleasure-seeking. Our ego is the lack of God, the root to all problems that exist in our physical lives, and chooses to follow the seven deadly sins rather than trust in God. All means trump the end due to the lack of respect or recognition of that end (and beginning). The subjective ego will always lack faith in the future or dwell on the past which Sheen states leads to anxiety as "it is the ego that must change its ways" (34). The change needed is the realization of the I, according to Sheen, beginning the process to the Divine.

I is the knowledge of the objective truth. God created us in His likeness, we all have a God-given vocation, there is a heaven and it is attainable, even the admittance of a "higher being" is a reflection of the I. One part of Sheen's dialogue which I appreciated was the inclusion of the writings of the saints to validate his claims. Through reading the saints stories, prayer, self-discipline, listening, etc., we can come to know the I that God created and strive to place the I in action, which is the Divine-I. It is not enough to only know that sainthood exists, we each have a responsibility to place the I in action and live like the saints. 

The Divine-I further requires us to accept the path God has placed us on. "We would all like to make our own crosses; but since our Lord did not make His own, neither do we make ours...every such task, every such duty, can be ennobled and spiritualized if it is done in God's name" (220).

The Divine-I is the full realization of the ineptitude of our humanness combined with the consecration to God's divine will. It is quite a lofty goal: Sainthood; however using baby-steps, incorporating God more into our lives, such as in a holy hour, it is attainable because it is God's will. Furthermore, in discovering the ways of living divinely, our anxieties are freed because as Sheen states "if a human being, made to the image and likeness of God, aspires by every word, deed, and prayer to make his end purpose identical with God’s Will, he has no contradiction in his nature and therefore he is at peace” (156). 

I am not doing the work justice in my short description and I don't want to make light its wisdom. There is a reason I found it on my local Catholic bookstore's shelf as it is a very necessary and profound read. Find some time in the next few weeks to Lift Up Your Heart and journey to spiritual peace with the Divine-I. 

Reflection: Saint Paul says:  "When I am weakest, then I am strongest of all" (2 Corinthians 12:10) When we no longer trust in our own power, then we are made strong with the power of God , for he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him" (230).  In what way are you relying on your human talents and not on God's will? It is easy but unfulfilling to follow our ego's wishes yet we continue to put false weight into such matters. Some of the strongest people I know are those who have full trust in God. In what ways do you rely on yourself more than divine inspiration? Are there any times in which you catch yourself "remembering" God? How can we work towards filling the gap between being ego-centric and God-centered? 

Act:   Find a copy of Lift Up Your Heart as it is definitely a must-read.  "Divine Love when it enters a soul (or, better, when we permit it to enter) takes possession of it, refreshes it, penetrates it utterly" (238). Make a conscious effort to add soulful media to your free-time and continue to work towards finding the Divine-I fully. 

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