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Inspirational Messages

by Fulton J. Sheen

      At one time it was believed that the sun moved about the earth; indeed, it did seem so to the eye, as we saw it purpling the dawn, and at night "setting like a host in the flaming monstrance of the West." But now we know that the earth moves about the sun.

     As there were two ways of looking at the relation of the earth and the sun -- one right and one wrong -- so there are two ways of looking at the relation between a person and the daily events and routine cycle of life. Some people live in such a way as to have all their moods determined by what happens to them in the world. They are sad when stars take up their encampment on the battlefield of night; and they are gay in morning's eyes. When there is rain on the cheek of nature, often tears bedew their own cheeks. What happens at the bargain counter, in the office or in traffic; the poisoned arrow of sarcasm, the overheard slur and the whining of children, so often make and mold our moods, that like chameleons we take on the color of the experience that presently imposes itself on us. When we allow ourselves to revolve about circumstances, our feelings become like the seasons, shrinking when some hard service must be done and fainting in the face of every woe. Even love is reduced to fickleness, so that the only love songs one hears now on radio and television are about "how happy we will be' when married; no longer does one hear the "silver threads among the gold", or the story of how happy the couple is that said they would be happy with "a girl for you, and a boy for me." As Edna St. Vincent Millay expressed it:
                          "I know I am summer to your heart
                            And not the full four seasons of the year."

     The condition of a happy life is to so live the trials and vicissitudes of life do not impose their moods on us. Rather, we become so rooted in peace and inner joy that we communicate them not only to our surroundings, but also to others. Tennyson spoke of such a character "with power on thine own act and on the world." Some radiate cheer and happiness because they already have it within them, just as some seem to have ice on their foreheads, making winter all the year.

     The problem is how to possess this inner constancy of peace which makes the depths of our soul calm, even when the surface like the ocean, is ruffled or mixed with storms or cares. The best way is prayer which gives us independence of moods in two ways: first, it exhausts our bad moods, by telling them to God.. The wrong way is to exhaust our bad feelings on human beings, because either they resent them, plan revenge, or they reciprocate by assuming an equally bad mood. Bringing them to God is exhausting them, just like bringing ice to the flame melts the ice. A very false theory in modern psychology is that whenever we feel pent up psychologically, we should give it a physiological outlet -- for example, "forget it; go out and get drunk," or "when the passions are strong, satisfy them."If every son-in-law did this with a mother-in-law who was "moody" with him, the population of the country wourl be reduced by one-teth. It is right to say that the mood must be emptied, but to empty in on ourselves, or on our fellow man, is to get it back either with a hangover or an enslaved condition we cannot break.

     The second advantage of prayer is not only to void our bad moods, but to replace them with good feelings. As we pray, the sense of God's presence and law becomes more intimate; instead of wanting to "get even with our enemy," we take on God's attitude toward them, which is loving forgiveness and mercy. We may even reach a point, if we pray enough, where we become unsatisfied until we render good for evil. Gradually we see that it is far sadder to be a wrongdoer than to be the wronged one; the injurer is much more to be pitied than the injured. Eventually we git rid of moods, cultivate a constancy which never retaliates, even as Stephen did, who after the example of Our Lord, forgave those who stoned him. In the strains of life, nothing is as soothing ans as strengthening as the comforting power of prayer.

Moods was provided by the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Archives -- Rochester Diocese of New York

Hound of Heaven

by Francis Thompson (1859 - 1907)


A failure for so-long; a one-time opium addict; died of tuberculosis. His poems, mainly religious, are rich in imagery and poetic vision.


I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbéd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat—and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet—
"All things betray thee, who betrayest Me."

I pleaded, outlaw-wise,
By many a hearted casement, curtained red,
Trellised with intertwining charities;
(For, though I knew His love Who followèd,
Yet was I sore adread
Lest, having Him, I must have naught beside.)
But, if one little casement parted wide,
The gust of His approach would clash it to:
Fear wist not to evade, as Love wist to pursue.

Across the margent of the world I fled,
And troubled the gold gateways of the stars,
Smiting for shelter on their clanged bars:
Fretted to dulcet jars
And silvern chatter the pale ports o' the moon.

I said to Dawn: Be sudden—to Eve: Be soon;
With thy young skiey blossoms heap me over
From this tremendous Lover—
Float thy vague veil about me, lest He see!
I tempted all His servitors, but to find
My own betrayal in their constancy,
In faith to Him their fickleness to me,
Their traitorous trueness, and their loyal deceit.

To all swift things for swiftness did I sue;
Clung to the whistling mane of every wind.
But whether they swept, smoothly fleet,
The long savannahs of the blue;
Or whether, Thunder-driven,
They clanged his chariot 'thwart a heaven,
Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn o' their feet:—
Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.
Still with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbéd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
Came on the following Feet,
And a Voice above their beat—
"Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me."

I sought no more that after which I strayed
In face of man or maid;
But still within the little children's eyes
Seems something, something that replies,
They at least are for me, surely for me!
I turned me to them very wistfully;
But just as their young eyes grew sudden fair
With dawning answers there,
Their angel plucked them from me by the hair.

"Come then, ye other children, Nature's—share
With me" (said I) "your delicate fellowship;
Let me greet you lip to lip,
Let me twine you with caresses,
With our Lady-Mother's vagrant tresses,
With her in her wind-walled palace,
Underneath her azured dais,
Quaffing, as your taintless way is,
From a chalice
Lucent-weeping out of the dayspring."

So it was done:
I in their delicate fellowship was one—
Drew the bolt of Nature's secrecies.
I knew all the swift importings
On the wilful face of skies;
I knew how the clouds arise
Spumed of the wild sea-snortings;
All that's born or dies
Rose and drooped with; made them shapers
Of mine own moods, or wailful or divine;
With them joyed and was bereaven.

I was heavy with the even,
When she lit her glimmering tapers
Round the day's dead sanctities.
I laughed in the morning's eyes.
I triumphed and I saddened with all weather,
Heaven and I wept together,
And its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine;
Against the red throb of its sunset-heart
I laid my own to beat,
And share commingling heat;

But not by that, by that, was eased my human smart.
In vain my tears were wet on Heaven's grey cheek.
For ah! we know not what each other says,
These things and I; in sound I speak—
Their sound is but their stir, they speak by silences.

Nature, poor stepdame, cannot slake my drouth;
Let her, if she would owe me,
Drop yon blue bosom-veil of sky, and show me
The breasts o' her tenderness:
Never did any milk of hers once bless
My thirsting mouth.
Nigh and nigh draws the chase,
With unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy;
And past those noised Feet
A voice comes yet more fleet—
"Lo! naught contents thee, who content'st not Me."

Naked I wait Thy love's uplifted stroke!
My harness piece by piece Thou hast hewn from me,
And smitten me to my knee;
I am defenceless utterly.
I slept, methinks, and woke,
And, slowly gazing, find me stripped in sleep.
In the rash lustihead of my young powers,
I shook the pillaring hours
And pulled my life upon me; grimed with smears,
I stand amid the dust o' the mounded years—
My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap.
My days have crackled and gone up in smoke,
Have puffed and burst as sun-starts on a stream.

Yea, faileth now even dream
The dreamer, and the lute the lutanist.
Even the linked fantasies, in whose blossomy twist
I swung the earth a trinket at my wrist,
Are yielding; cords of all too weak account
For earth with heavy griefs so overplussed.
Ah! is Thy love indeed
A weed, albeit an amaranthine weed,
Suffering no flowers except its own to mount?
Ah! must—
Designer infinite!—
Ah! must Thou char the wood ere Thou can'st limn with it?

My freshness spent its wavering shower i' the dust;
And now my heart is as a broken fount,
Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever
From the dank thoughts that shiver
Upon the sighful branches of my mind.
Such is; what is to be?
The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind?
I dimly guess what Time in mists confounds;

Yet ever and anon a trumpet sounds
From the hid battlements of Eternity;
Those shaken mists a space unsettle, then
Round the half-glimpsed turrets slowly wash again.
But not ere him who summoneth
first have seen, enwound
With glooming robes purpureal, cypress-crowned;
His name I know, and what his trumpet saith.
Whether man's heart or life it be which yields
Thee harvest, must Thy harvest-fields
Be dunged with rotten death?

Now of that long pursuit
Comes on at hand the bruit;
That Voice is round me like a bursting sea:
"And is thy earth so marred,
Shattered in shard on shard?
Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me!

Strange, piteous, futile thing!
Wherefore should any set thee love apart?
Seeing none but I makes much of naught" (He said),
"And human love needs human meriting:
How hast thou merited—
Of all man's clotted clay the dingiest clot?

 Alack, thou knowest not
How little worthy of any love thou art!
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
Save Me, save only Me?
All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might'st seek it in My arms.
All which thy child's mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:
Rise, clasp My hand, and come!"
Halts by me that footfall:
Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?

 "Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
I am He Whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me."

A Stroke of Lightning

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

1954 Vocation Issue of "Missionary Youth"


Originally entitled "Psychology of Vocations for the Young," this article was written by the Bishop for the 1952 Vocation Issue. We received so many favorable comments that we thought it advisable to reprint it along with the story of his own vocation.


A vocation is as the word implies, a call, a summons from God. This call can come in various ways: it may come with great suddenness, like a stroke of lightning; it can be pro­gressive and gradual like the flower­ing of a plant; or it can be habitual in the sense that one can never re­member having been without it.


The call does not come to the ear, but to the heart. One does not "hear" it as much as he knows it. It has the character of the ineffable, in the sense it can never be described. If you try to put it in words you find you can­not express them. That is why the young are often reluctant to talk about it to others, fearful they would not understand. All love is a secret pressed close to the heart, and God's love more so than others. Then, too, it is so very personal. Our Lord said: ".I call My sheep by name." This summons is so immediate and so in­timate that there is no other way to describe it than "God wants me," and that seems too good to be true.


This call of God produces two ef­fects in the soul. First, there is a sense of emptiness. The world does not satisfy. Soldiers who have been close to death, and thus begin to appre­ciate the purpose of life, have their vocation made known to them in the mysterious sense of a deep void with­in. This sense of emptiness does- not come from being jaded with the pleasures of life as much as it is a discontent with the world as the final answer to the problem of life.


After parties, dances and the good times of youth, there is still a rest­lessness within. "This is not what I want." While others are content with such legitimate pleasures, the youth with a vocation feels the tug of the Infinite. There is something else he wants, and is almost afraid to believe that it can really be God Who wants him.


Secondly, the vocation generates in the soul a desire to give oneself absolutely and completely to God; to become a Divine Expendable; to do anything God wants, whatever the cost. This is the human side of a vocation. The Divine side is the call of God; the response of the soul is the human side. For a true vocation there must absolutely be the call of God, for we must "be called by God as Aaron was." The responses on the part of the young never equal the summons. Many are called, but few respond. The response is like an egagement, the espousals for which do not take place until the vows are made. But this inner certitude that "I am loved by God" is not quite enough, for everyone has such a moment. There must also be the desire to accept all the responsibilities of being loved by God, namely a totali­tarian surrender to His Divine Will; a readiness to be used as God sees fit, even as Dostoevski said, "even to plug up a hole in the corner." What I want becomes lost in what God wills and as long as this identity of will perseveres, there is happiness.

The Hygiene of vocation is purity.

The most disturbing civil war that can go on within human personality is between the flesh lusting against the spirit. Vocations are often lost through the wind of passions, drown­ing the voice of God. Purity is the sacristan of a vocation and purity is reverence for mystery. The mystery begins with the fact that as the Scrip­ture says: "The body is for the Lord," therefore, the body will be used only in the way God dictates. If He calls my soul to total service, the body must follow as a slave. The dominating freedom over the carnal and the temporal is the sign of a great love. Love takes wings when it is pure, otherwise it is weighted down and cannot fly to God.


A vocation then is a falling in love with God, but it is a fall which is the prelude to a resurrection. In human love there is the meeting of two pov­erties; in a vocation there is a meet­ing of the proverty of self and the riches of God. Such love becomes an eternal flame ignited from the Heavenly Fire which is God. The youth who has a vocation is the ill­finite in construction.


Originally published in 1952 Vocation Issue of Missionary Youth



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