I’ve been thinking about the excerpt from Bishop, later Archbishop, now Servant of God (he is in the first steps of canonization as a saint) Fulton J. Sheen that I posted yesterday, The Night Friends of Christ.
First, I was reminded of the kind of strong Catholic culture that used to exist in the United States mid-century, of which Fulton J. Sheen is probably the standout figure. Archbishop Sheen became an actual celebrity, a household name through his popular radio program and extremely popular television presence in two programs, Life is Worth Living and The Fulton Sheen Show, crossing confessional boundaries all around. Archbishop Sheen is still popular in Catholic circles, of course, and various episodes are available on Youtube, and reruns of his programs are broadcast (thankfully!) on EWTN, the Eternal Word Television Network, a cable station. In the excerpt from the book which I posted yesterday, it’s possible to gain a taste of what made Archbishop Sheen so very popular. His tone is one of the loving teacher, of a father teaching his child important things, though not teaching as though the child were stupid: not paternalistically, but paternally. This is something more easily seen in his television programs: his loving respect for the people in his audience, whom he knows and shows he knows are capable of understanding and of having faith, and of increasing both where already present. Is this so hard for us to do today? Can we not learn from a master who blazed a trail with love? Perhaps that way we could reach other night friends of Christ?
This leads to my second thought, of what a perfect descriptor “Night Friends of Christ” is for those people who are, for whatever reason—family, friends, profession, society’s ridicule (again a problem with the re-paganizing of our once-Christian cultures)—secret friends of Christ, willing to meet Him secretly in the night journeys of their own hearts, but not willing to meet Him in the daylight travelling with His Church, the Body of Christ, seen and known by all as a (gasp!) Christian. Will he next say he believes the Bible? All those dogmas? That there was an exodus? That Israel birthed a Messiah? That a man rose from the dead? That the Almighty God was born, through His completely unnecessary and unselfish love became what we are and suffered what we do in order to heal every instant, every contingent of our existence in this universe of pain and death? Why, yes, he might very well believe all that, and he wouldn’t be alone at all.
So, keep your eyes open for the Night Friends of Christ of your own acquaintance. Pray for them, whether you know of them or not. Most especially, be the example that they need to draw them out into the daylight, so that they might be willing to confront the secular world and its ruling paradigms, and so they will demand their right to their Lord’s, their treasured friend’s, Body!