The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

“If I were not a Catholic…”

“If I were not a Catholic, and were looking for the true Church in the world today, I would look for the one Church which did not get along well with the world; in other words, I would look for the Church which the world hates. My reason for doing this would be, that if Christ is in any one of the churches of the world today, He must still be hated as He was when He was on earth in the flesh. If you would find Christ today, then find the Church that does not get along with the world. Look for the Church that is hated by the world, as Christ was hated by the world. Look for the Church which is accused of being behind the times, as Our Lord was accused of being ignorant and never having learned. Look for the Church which men sneer at as socially inferior, as they sneered at Our Lord because He came from Nazareth. Look for the Church which is accused of having a devil, as Our Lord was accused of being possessed by Beelzebub, the Prince of Devils. Look for the Church which the world rejects because it claims it is infallible, as Pilate rejected Christ because he called Himself the Truth. Look for the Church which amid the confusion of conflicting opinions, its members love as they love Christ, and respect its voice as the very voice of its Founder, and the suspicion will grow, that if the Church is unpopular with the spirit of the world, then it is unworldly, and if it is unworldly, it is other-worldly. Since it is other-worldly, it is infinitely loved and infinitely hated as was Christ Himself. … the Catholic Church is the only Church existing today which goes back to the time of Christ. History is so very clear on this point, it is curious how many miss its obviousness…”

— The late, great Fulton Sheen, quoted in a comment here.

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Thomas Scott

posted December 30, 2009 at 9:56 am

Awesome post – thanks for sharing. I’d love to use that in my RCIA class!

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The Barking Unicorn, Denver, CO

posted December 30, 2009 at 11:49 am

How could a Catholic bishop not know that Pilate never “rejected” Jesus but said to the Jews,
“I find no basis for a charge against him.” (John 18:33-38)
Pilate merely asked, “What is Truth?” when Jesus claimed to be it, a perfectly reasonable question. (He got no answer, incidentally.)
And if you really want a church that people really, really hate, try Westboro Baptist.

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posted December 30, 2009 at 12:16 pm

We bask in your hate Mr. Unicorn. God bless you and may Christ come into your heart these New Year 2010.

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Judy Bowman

posted December 30, 2009 at 12:55 pm

Mr. Unicorn,
What was the name of Westboro Baptist Church before it was Westboro Baptist Church? And what was the name of THAT church before it? And so on and so on, back to the day when the Augustinian monk said “no” to the truth of the Church and excommunicated himself? You see, we are and have always been The Church. Bishop Sheen knew that. The world knows that. Amen.

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posted December 30, 2009 at 3:05 pm

Ultimately Pilot did reject Jesus, condemning him to death to more or less appease the Jews and prevent descent with Rome’s provincial governance (even though he nailed the “King of the Jews” plank to the cross to snipe the Jews).

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posted December 30, 2009 at 5:38 pm

I believe the Orthodox Church was also pretty hated, if you check your Soviet history.

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posted December 30, 2009 at 6:00 pm

The Orthodox Church has something for which it is hated by the Soviets because it still embodies parts of its Catholic identity. The same going for any other church out there that claims to be as hated as the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church is so hated that she is infiltrated by her enemies to bring her caving in onto herself. She is also so despised by those who claim to be of her that but yet do not hold as Truth what she teaches. These same people work from within to try to change the very Truth that has brought us thus far.

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posted December 30, 2009 at 6:20 pm

Somehow the fact that the church is unwordly and counter-cultural is supposed to be airtight evidence that it’s the “true” church and God’s Own. On that basis, Jim Jones had a pretty good claim, as would Aum Shinrikyo (1990s reference – you remember, the Japanese cult which set off nerve gas in a subway). As to Sheen’s insistence that his religion’s truths are self-evident, that demands that anyone who doesn’t see that is either a fool or malevolent, God’s enemy in any case. It’s the mentality that leads people to fly planes into buildings. Wait for it…the Catholic rejoinder “but our self-evident truth IS the real one, not like their delusion!”

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I don't get it

posted December 30, 2009 at 10:34 pm

We bask in your hate Mr. Unicorn
What hate? Exactly how is it hateful to ask a question?

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Reginald Selkirk

posted January 7, 2010 at 10:48 am

“Look for the Church which is accused of having a devil, as Our Lord was accused of being possessed by Beelzebub, the Prince of Devils.”
That should be a clear vote for Satanism.

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Peter Nyikos

posted January 7, 2010 at 11:01 pm

kenneth, you are reading way too much into what Sheen wrote. He never used words like “self-evident” and “airtight”; all he asks you to do is to look carefully.
Mr. Selkirk, Sheen’s words need to be taken as a unit. His words recall the words of Chesterton on orthodoxy — the Church is attacked in all kinds of contradictory ways and it is the way it holds up under all the attacks because it has more of the truth in it than its attackers do.
You need to look at all Sheen’s criteria, because lots of faiths satisfy one or more of them. Besides, Satanism isn’t just accused of having a devil– it prides itself in having one!
Finally, I agree with phil that the Orthodox Church has just as much claim as the Roman Catholic Church to fulfill Sheen’s criteria.

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