Continuing with the six-week Lenten reflection series based on the book, Seven Words of Jesus and Mary, by Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen at Saint Mary Magdalene Catholic Church, here are the quotes and questions that John and I presented from Chapter 5 – The Fifth Word: Religion Is a Quest. The chapter focuses on the word of Mary from Luke 2:48 – “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously” and on the word – “I thirst” from Jesus in John 19:28.
1. “And yet that thirst could have not only been physical, for the Gospel tells us that he said it in order that the Scriptures might be fulfilled. It is therefore spiritual as well as physical.”
2. “Every human heart in the world without exception is on the quest of God. Not everyone may be conscious of it; but they are conscious of their desire for happiness which some in ignorance, perversity, or weakness, identify with the tinsel and baubles of earth. It is as natural for the soul to want God as for the body to want food or drink…It is natural to want God; it is unnatural to satisfy that want with false gods…Not only is the soul on the quest of God, but God is on the quest of the soul, inviting everyone to his Banquet of Love..”
3. “And yet here, a woman addresses him who is the Author of Life, through whom all things were made and without whom nothing is made, as ‘Son.’ She called him that by right and not by privilege. That one word shows the intimate relationship between the two…”
4. “They [bigots] do not really hate the Church. They hate only what they mistakenly believe to be the Church. If I had heard the same lies about the Church they have heard, and if I had been taught the same historical perversions as they, with my own peculiar character and temperament, I would hate the Church ten times more than they do…”
5. “Why is it that in religion we want a proof and a manifestation so strong that it will overwhelm our reason and destroy our freedom? That God will never gant!”
6. “God is thirsting, too, for those who have lost the Faith. The position of fallen-away Catholics is rather unique. The seriousness of his fall is to be measured by the heights from which he fell. His reaction to the Church is either hate or argument. In both cases he bears witness to the Divinity of the Church. The hate is his vain attempt to despise. Since his conscience which was formed by the Spirit in the Church will not let him alone, he will not let the Church alone.”
7. “One need hardly ever tell such a sinner how wicked he is. He knows it a thousand times better than you…This consciousness of sin is not yet conversion, for up to this pint a soul may be repenting like Judas, only to itself…. The consciousness of sin creates a vacuum; grace alone can fill it.”
1. How is Judas’ reaction to his betrayal of Christ different from Peter’s?
2. Do you find it odd that St. Joseph’s recorded participation in the story of Christ’s life is so diminished? Why do you think that is?”
3. If you were a fallen-away Catholic at some point in your life, what made you leave in the first place? Did a practicing Catholic ever engage you? What brought you back to the Catholic Church?