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462 • Part IV. Prayer: The Faith Prayed

Fr. Sheen was made head of the Propagation of the Faith in 1950

and was named a bishop the following year. In that role, he raised the

consciousness of American Catholics to the material and spiritual needs

of the Church’s far-flung missions. He wrote a number of books, several

of which focused on the Eucharist. In his pastoral work, he brought numer-

ous converts into the Church and conducted countless retreats, espe-

cially for priests.

Archbishop Sheen constantly promoted meditative prayer before the

Blessed Sacrament. “We become like that which we gaze upon. Looking

into a sunset the face takes on a golden glow. Looking at the Eucharistic

Lord for an hour transforms the heart in a mysterious way.” In his autobiog-

raphy, Archbishop Sheen wrote of “The Hour That Makes My Day”:

Neither theological knowledge nor social action alone is enough

to keep us in love with Christ unless both are preceded by a per-

sonal encounter with him. I have found that it takes some time to

catch fire in prayer. This has been one of the advantages of the

Holy Hour. Sitting before the Presence is like a body exposing itself to

the sun to absorb its rays. In those moments one does not so much

pour out written prayers, but listening takes place. The Holy Hour

became a teacher for me. Although before we love anyone we

must have knowledge of that person, nevertheless, after we know,

it is love that intensifies knowledge. (Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen,

Treasure in Clay

[San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993], 190-191)

In recent years, many parishes have introduced times set aside for

adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. In addition, thousands of believers

have discovered the spiritual benefits of meditative prayer and similar

ways of prayer. The positive fruits of such deep prayer have been dem-

onstrated in the personal lives of people committed to it, as well as in the

spiritual vitality of parishes where this occurs. The Holy Spirit, teacher of

prayer, is clearly present and active in these welcome developments in

the prayer life of the Church.

Archbishop Sheen encouraged the practice of prayer before the

Blessed Sacrament in his lifetime, and the heritage endures today. He died

in 1979 and is buried in the crypt of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.