The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

For Veteran’s Day: a prayer by Fulton Sheen

posted by jmcgee


Our Father, who art in Heaven: give us, we pray You, the courage and the strength to stamp out the threat of paganism and slavery that hangs over the world today.

Be merciful to all those who have died in the service of our country.

Console those who have lost their loved ones in the struggle.

Help our fighting men to be always clean of heart and therefore unafraid.

Soothe the wounded in battle.

Sustain the courage of those who suffer persecution for conscience’ sake.

Have pity on all those who have been insulted, robbed, tortured, defiled, ensalved by their conquerors.

Grant wisdom to our leaders, civil and military, that they may most effectively direct our efforts, at home and abroad.

Teach us all to walk humbly with You, so that we may be worthy to conquer, and having conquered may build a peace with justice, based on the Brotherhood of Man, under the Fatherhood of God.

– From the Wartime Prayer Book by Fulton Sheen

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posted November 11, 2009 at 8:49 pm

“…the threat of paganism and slavery…”?
This is a prayer you feel is appropriate to cite on Veterans Day?
One which denigrates not just an entire religion (neo-Paganism), but an entire *class* of religions (anything that isn’t Christianity, Judaism, or Islam, according to the primary dictionary definition).
One which spits on the thousands of “pagans” of one type or another who have served in the United States military (myself included) for decades, often with distinction, and who have only recently been afforded the common decency of having the pentacle (an overtly “pagan” symbol) officially accepted as a marker of remembrance in military cemeteries?
Your “Brotherhood of Man” seems to only welcome one sort of “brother” in its ranks. You should be ashamed.

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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted November 12, 2009 at 6:43 am

You can’t be serious.
Do you have any idea what Sheen was writing about?
Good grief.
Dcn. G.

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posted November 13, 2009 at 3:14 am

Dear Father Deacon Greg,
I am sure that Joseph was quite serious in his comment–and, in my view, rightly so. While it is true that Bishop Sheen, writing in 1943, may have viewed Nazi Germany as embodying Paganism (despite the fact that, according to his biographer, Hitler was a member of the Roman Catholic Church until the day of his death), the use of the term in a pejorative sense is entirely out of place in today’s pluralistic society, where Pagans serve–and die–with honor in the service of the nation.
And, with regard to the tone of your response, may I ask whether you believe that you are bearing good witness for Christianity by being disrespectful and dismissive of other people’s religion?

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posted November 13, 2009 at 11:01 pm

Indeed I do, and I stand by my questioning of your choice, given the circumstances and terminologies of the world 60 years later. I don’t think it is outside the realm of probability that someone without our historical acumen (my own degree is History), might not make the connection that Bishop Sheen made, in linking– erroneously, I might add– Naziism and Paganism.
A simple parenthetical aside could make the whole issue go away. I would entreat you, should you choose to post the same quote next year, to take the opportunity to educate your readers as to what, in the context of 1943, “paganism” might have meant, and how it might differ from how the term is applied today. Turn it into a leaning opportunity, as it were.

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