Fulton Sheen’s Encouragement During Wartime

Memorial Day provides an opportunity to reflect on faith, patriotism, and the ultimate sacrifice. Much wisdom can be found in Bp. Sheen’s words of encouragement to soldiers in the Second World War, excerpted from his Wartime Prayer Book:

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 the 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.

We should not call God “good” because He does our will, nor should we call him “evil” because He does not.

Because there is a God, this war is not Hell. God permits it to happen only for a greater good presently unseen.

The war is more like Purgatory than Hell, for through its refining flames we were meant to have the dross of our materialism burned away.

It is not easy to explain why God permits evil; but it is impossible for an atheist to explain the existence of goodness.

How could a spiritless, soul-less, cross-less, Godless universe become the center of faith, purity, sacrifice, and martyrdom? How can decency be the decent thing, if there is no God?

Since God is love, why should we be surprised that want of it should end in pain, hate, broken hearts, and war?

There are only two philosophies of life: the Christian, which says: first the fast, then the feast; and the pagan, which says: first the feast, then the headache.

In either case, there is pain.

The Christian never ends with it, even if he waits until the end of time.

There is a greater tragedy than death: the victory of evil.

Image: MARGRATEN, NETHERLANDS – Mar 20, 2022: The crosses on military graves of fallen soldiers at the American cemetery. Shutterstock/Wirestock Creators

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