Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Fulton Sheen, fully Archbishop Fulton John Sheen

American Roman Catholic Archbishop, Canonization for Sainthood began in 2002

"Some religions draw by force of arms; He would draw by force of love. The attraction would not be His words, but Himself. It was His Person around which His teaching centered; not His teaching around which He would be remembered. 'Greater love than this no man hath' - that was the secret of His magnetism."

"Sometimes the only way the good Lord can get into some hearts is to break them."

"Strong passions are the precious raw material of sanctity. Individuals that have carried their sinning to extremes should not despair or say, I am too great a sinner to change, or God would not want me. God will take anyone who is willing to love, not with an occasional gesture, but with a passionless passion, a wild tranquility. A sinner, unrepentant, cannot love God, any more that a man on dry land can swim; but as soon as he takes his errant energies to God and asks for their redirection, he will become happy, as he was never happy before. It is not the wrong things one has already done which keep one from God; it is the present persistence in that wrong."

"The Angelic Doctor himself is not certain that the astronomical theories of his own time explain the heavens and the movements of the sun and the stars"

"The assumption that numbers and mathematical or logical laws are mental is due to the even more widespread notion that only particular sensible entities exist in nature, and that relations abstractions, or universals cannot have any such objective existence - hence they are given a shadowy existence in the mind."

"The big print giveth and the fine print taketh away."

"The Book of Numbers relates that when the people murmured rebelliously against God, they were punished with a plague of fiery serpents, so that many lost their lives. When they repented, Moses was told by God to make a brazen serpent and set it up for a sign, and all those bitten by the serpents who looked upon that sign would be healed. Our Blessed Lord was now declaring that He was to be lifted up, as the serpent had been lifted up. As the brass serpent had the appearance of a serpent and yet lacked its venom, so too, when He would be lifted up upon the bars of the Cross, He would have the appearance of a sinner and yet be without sin. As all who looked upon the brass serpent had been healed of the bite of the serpent, so all who looked upon Him with love and faith would be healed of the bite of the serpent of evil."

"The Church makes no man less free than he was before. But we chiefly value freedom in order to give it away; every man who loves surrenders his freedom, whether his passion be the love of a woman, the love of a cause, or the love of God. . . Hence: Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Everyone wants the things that only a love of God will bring to him, but most men today seek them in the wrong places. That is why no one comes to God without a revolution of the spirit; he must stop seeking his good in Godlessness."

"The conclusion is that the physical theory and the mathematical theory of science are valid methods but not valid philosophies. Facts need interpretation the physical theory forgets that it has no such principles of interpretation with its own bosom."

"The danger today is in believing there are no sick people, there is only a sick society."

"The deaf who deny they are deaf will never hear; the sinners who deny there is sin deny thereby the remedy of sin, and thus cut themselves off forever from Him Who came to redeem."

"The degree of our devotion and love depend upon the value that we put upon a thing: St Augustine says, Amor pondus meum; love is the law of gravitation. All things have their center. The schoolboy finds it hard to study, because he does not love knowledge as much as athletics. Business executives find it hard to think of heavenly pleasures because they are dedicated to the filling of their barn. The carnal-minded find it difficult to love the spirit because their treasure lies in the flesh."

"The difference between the love of a man and the love of a woman is that a man will always give reasons for loving, but a woman gives no reasons for loving."

"The egocentric is always frustrated, simply because the condition of self-perfection is self-surrender. There must be a willingness to die to the lower part of self, before there can be a birth to the nobler."

"The essence of prayer is not the effort to make God give us something. Prayer, then, is not just informing God of our needs, for God already knows them. Rather, the purpose of prayer is to give God the opportunity to bestow the gifts He will give us when we are ready to accept them."

"The evil in the world must not make me doubt the existence of God. There could be no evil if there were no God. Before there can be a hole in a uniform, there must be a uniform; before there is death, there must be life; before there is error, there must be truth; before there is a crime, there must be liberty and law; before there is a war, there must be peace; before there is a devil, there must be a God, rebellion against whom made the devil."

"The fact the enemies of God must face is that modern civilization has conquered the world, but in doing so has lost its soul. And in losing its soul it will lose the very world it gained. Even our own so-called Liberal culture in these United States which has tried to avoid complete secularization by leaving little zones of individual freedom is in danger of forgetting that these zones were preserved only because religion was in their soul. And as religion fades so will freedom, for only where the spirit of God is, is there liberty."

"The familiar would of sense experience is not entirely objectively real, but is to some extent a product of the scientists' reasoning."

"The family tree of earthly ancestors was really not important; what was important was the family tree of the children of God He planted on Calvary."

"The first part, or the Æsthetics, which has nothing in common with art, disengages the a priori forms of sensible knowledge, namely, the forms of space and time, which furnish mathematics with their object. Æsthetics thus divorced mathematics from reality, for it makes the condition of mathematics not the real, but a mental form of space and time."

"The 'fullness of reality' in the second sense of the term is perceived by a combination of both intellect and sense, the senses knowing the particular characteristics, the intellect knowing the nature."

"The good repent on knowing their sin; the evil become angry when discovered. Ignorance is not the cause of evil, as Plato held; neither is education the answer to the removal of evil. These men had an intellect as well as a will; knowledge as well as intention. Truth can be known and hated; Goodness can be known and crucified. The Hour was approaching, and for the moment the fear of the people deterred the Pharisees. Violence could not be triggered against Him until He would say, 'This is your Hour."

"The greatest influence in writing was G. K. Chesterton who never used a useless word, who saw the value of a paradox, and avoided what was trite."

"The higher the love, the more demands will be made on us to conform to that ideal."

"The Lord hears us more readily than we suspect; it is our listening to God that needs to be improved. When people complain that their prayers are not heard by God, what often has happened is that they did not wait to hear God's answer. . . Nothing ever happens in the world that does not first happen inside a mind. When one meditates and fills the mind for an hour a day with thoughts and resolutions bearing on the love of God and neighbor above all things, there is a gradual seepage of love down to the level of what is called the subconscious, and finally these good thoughts emerge, of themselves, in the form of effortless good actions."

"The man is interested in the sowing of wheat in the field; the woman in making the bread."

"The mark of man is initiative, but the mark of woman is cooperation. Man talks about freedom; woman about sympathy, love, sacrifice. Man cooperates with nature; woman cooperates with God. Man was called to till the earth, to "rule over the earth"; woman to be the bearer of a life that comes from God."

"The mathematical method is disinterested in the efficient cause and the final cause or the goodness of a thing and it should not be so disinterested."

"The more He loved those for whom He was the ransom, the more His anguish would increase, as it is the faults of friends rather than enemies which most disturb hearts!"

"The mind has three operations: the formation of ideas, judgments and reasoning."

"The neighbor is the one who is in need of your esteem. The saints have more of our esteem than do sinners, but on this earth charity must be guided by the greatness o either spiritual or corporal misery. If two are in misery and equally needy, then we can give to the one closest to us either by blood or by friendship."

"The nice people do not come to God, because they think they are good through their own merits or bad through inherited instincts. If they do good, they believe they are to receive the credit for it; if they do evil, they deny that it is their own fault. They are good through their own good-heartedness, they say; but they are bad because they are misfortunate, either in their economic life or through an inheritance of evil genes from their grandparents. The nice people rarely come to God; they take their moral tone from the society in which they live. Like the Pharisee in front of the temple, they believe themselves to be very respectable citizens. Elegance is their test of virtue; to them, the moral is the aesthetic, the evil is the ugly. Every move they make is dictated, not by a love of goodness, but by the influence of their age. Their intellects are cultivated—in knowledge of current events; they read only the bestsellers, but their hearts are undisciplined. They say that they would go to church if the Church were only better—but they never tell you how much better the Church must be before they will join it. They sometimes condemn the gross sins of society, such as murder; they are not tempted to these because they fear the opprobrium which comes to them who commit them. By avoiding the sins which society condemns, they escape reproach, they consider themselves good par excellence."

"The old liberal rebelled against taxation without responsibility, the new liberal wants the taxation as a handout without responsibility."

"The person who thinks only of himself says only prayers of petition; the one who thinks of his neighbor says prayers of intercession; whoever thinks only of loving and serving God says prayers of abandonment to God's will, and this is the prayer of the saints."

"The physical method becomes a philosophy when it asserts there is no higher knowledge than the empirical knowledge of scientific phenomena. The mathematical method becomes a philosophy when it asserts that some higher knowledge is needed to explain scientific facts, and that higher knowledge is mathematics."

"The physical theory suffers from the same effect as humanism; it attempts to live on its own fat and breathe the very air which it has already exhaled from its scientific lungs."

"The physicist takes water, abstracts its quantitatively measurable aspects, reaches results about these aspects, and ignores the rest."

"The principle of democracy is a recognition of the sovereign, inalienable rights of man as a gift from God, the Source of law."

"The question: 'is the Euclidean geometry true?' has no significance for Poincaré, for these is no such thing as one geometry being more true than another."

"The refusal to take sides on great moral issues is itself a decision. It is a silent acquiescence to evil. The Tragedy of our time is that those who still believe in honesty lack fire and conviction, while those who believe in dishonesty are full of passionate conviction."

"The roots of this hatred and intolerance of religion lie in the essence of communist ideology. Karl Marx dubbed religion the opiate of the masses, and opined that, Communism begins where atheism begins. Speaking on behalf of the Bolsheviks in his famous October 2, 1920 speech, Lenin stated matter-of-factly: We do not believe in God. Lenin insisted that all worship of a divinity is a necrophilia.'"

"The science of a religious man must be scientific; the religion of a scientific man must be religious."

"The sciences need philosophy; philosophy, in turn, needs the sciences. On both sides, certain naive minds, too confident in their own forces and satisfied with ideas entirely too superficial, believed in the universal value of a single method. On both side a severe critique must lead each method back to its just limits, and teach them to ask aid of the other methods and manners of approach which, by their convergence, will permit the mind to embrace the diverse aspects of reality"

"The simple shepherds heard the voice of an angel and found their Lamb; the wise men saw the light of a star and found their Wisdom."

"The soul cannot be seen in a biological laboratory, any more than pain can be seen on an operating table."

"The State exists for the person, not the person for the State, democracy is founded on this moral principle of the political order. Totalitarianism, on the contrary, in all its forms, believes the person exists for the State."

"The sun which warms the plant can under other conditions also wither it. The rain which nourishes the flower can under other conditions rot it. The same sun shines upon mud that shines upon wax. It hardens the mud but softens the wax. The difference is not in the sun, but in that upon which it shines. The Divine Life which shines upon a soul that loves Him, softens it into everlasting life; that same Divine Life which shines upon the slothful soul, neglectful of God, hardens it into everlasting death."

"The temptations of the saints were seen as opportunities for self-¬discovery. They allowed temptations to show them the breaches in the fortress of their souls, which needed to be fortified until they would become the strongest points. This explains the curious fact about many saintly people-that they often become the opposite of what they once seemed to be."

"The term science means something quite different for our generation than it did not so many generations ago."

"The truth is the truth even if nobody believes it, and error is error even if every everyone believes it."