Friday, September 21, 2012

"Sheen is Still Relevant" : Guest Post by Emily Hurt of Theological-Librarian

In this month of celebrating all things Fulton Sheen, I’m delighted to share a guest post today from a very young blogger who admires and write about Peoria’s own Venerable Fulton Sheen.

Recent college graduate Emily Christine Hurt  writes about Fulton Sheen and other topics (including her job search) at Theological-Librarian.

I first encountered Emily’s writings on the Facebook page for the Catholic Bloggers Network.  Even though she writes about Fulton Sheen prolificially, I have to say that one of my favorite posts is when she describes an interview at the Library of Congress.  That's partly because my husband and I married at St. Peter's Church on Capitol Hill, adjacent to the Library of Congress, but also because I secretly I would love to be a librarian and find that a cool profession.

Emily, thank you for guest posting today, and sharing your love of Fulton Sheen.

About me and my blog:

I’m a 2012 graduate of Christendom College with a Bachelor’s in Theology.  I love Fulton Sheen, and if I were to ever pursue further theological studies, I would like to focus on Sheen.  I was born and raised mostly in Louisville, Kentucky, but lived in California for eight years.  I came back to the East Coast to go to Christendom College, in Front Royal, VA.  My work-study job in college was as a library page and desk attendant.  Since I loved it so much (enough to name my blog “Theological-Librarian” ),  I spent the first couple of months after college looking specifically for a library job that does not require a Master’s Degree.  Now I am now looking for any job that I can find.  I am also discerning whether graduate school is for me.

I started blogging in April/May 2011 while wrestling with the problem of suffering and our beloved History Professor’s cancer diagnosis.  For reasons still unknown to me, I felt the need to get my thoughts out to a bigger audience than just my journal.  

A lot of those earlier posts were more personal—they would only interest my friends or the Christendom College community—and frankly, I’m a little embarrassed when I look back at some of them.  Caroline Pollock, over at My Daily Diatribes also inspired me to blog and share my thoughts about something that was touching both of us. 

How I met Sheen and why I love him:

I first heard about Sheen in 2003, probably through some cassette tapes by Fr. Groeschel that my mother was listening to at the time. That Christmas, I read my first Sheen book, Life of Christ.  I was impressed by his writing style, his emphasis on the centrality of the Cross, and his unique explanation of Our Lord's words to Nicodemus, the Beatitudes, and more.

I kind of fell in love after that, and read everything I could get my hands on by Sheen: Peace of Soul, Go to Heaven, This is Rome, This is the Holy Land, These are the Sacraments, The Way to Inner Peace.  His books on the priesthood (Those Mysterious Priests and The Priest is Not His Own) gave me a strong admiration of and respect for the holy priesthood.

My sophomore year in college (Spring 2010), I had to write a History paper about someone who influenced modern history.  I first chose Jacques Maritain, for I don't know what reason (I stink at philosophy), but then got permission to write on Sheen, even though someone else in my section was also writing on him.  

In my paper, I said Sheen influenced history through: a) his anti-Communism, 2) his tele-evangelization, and 3) his missionary work with the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.  My History Professor (not the Awesome one mentioned often on my blog) told me about Thomas Reeves' biography of Sheen, America’s Bishop, which I used in my paper and read for enjoyment.
I realized how much I loved Sheen, declared my major (Theology), and determined to write my Senior Thesis on Sheen.

During the last semester of my Junior Year (Spring 2011), because of many events in the life of the college (two of our chaplains leaving due to ill-health within 3 days, and our beloved History Professor getting cancer), I began to wrestle with the problem of suffering.  I waded through pages and pages of Sheen during Summer 2011, particularly his words on the redemptive nature of suffering.  I tried to internalize those words  and to believe that this would all turn out okay.  This helped me not to ask “Why?” too much.

By August 2011, I’d narrowed down my broad topic of “something from Sheen’s writings” to: a) his Christology, 2) his views on the priesthood, specifically on the priest as a victim, 3) suffering, or 4) the Mass.  I even thought in my over-ambition about going through Sheen’s books chronologically to see how his Christology developed.

By September 2011, however, I had chosen my final topic: “Redemptive Suffering in the Theology of the Servant of God Archbishop Fulton John Sheen.”

In Chapter One, I looked at Sheen’s view of Christ as a Savior who came to suffer, and not just a moral reformer, and at his presentation of the Cross as always present in Our Lord’s Life in his masterful Life of Christ.  In Chapter Two, I looked at Sheen’s writings on the sufferings of the Mystical Body, how they resemble the sufferings of Christ, the intensity of love and hate directed toward both Christ and His Church, and how the world hates the Church because She teaches that suffering can be redemptive.  In Chapter Three, I looked at how Sheen views the Cross as the symbol of suffering, and love and the Crucifix (the cross + Christ) as the solution to the problem of suffering.

 I concluded by saying that Sheen is still relevant, because men will always have to suffer, and Sheen’s answer to the problem of suffering will always be relevant.  (This response  was partially to answer a college chaplain telling me that  Sheen was “outdated.”)

Why I write about Sheen on my Blog:

I love Fulton Sheen, I find inspiration in his writings; and reading Sheen has helped me to grow in my faith.  This past summer, I turned to my blog as a means of explaining for my own benefit and that of my friends Sheen quotations that puzzled my friends or people on the Fulton Sheen Facebook page.  I want to spread that love and explain some of his tricky statements—similar to what are known as the “hard sayings” of Our Lord—such as his argument that “We become like that which what we love,” and the assertion that “Sometimes the only way the good Lord can get into some hearts is to break them.”  This last quote is part one of a series, “God is Not the Author of Your Heartbreak,” with Part Two on Sheen’s words that God “kept a small sample of [the human heart] in heaven,” and Part Three on how love can transform our pain.

As I end all my posts on Theological-Librarian, borrowing from Archbishop Sheen:  God Love You!

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