It is quite evident that the threat of Communism was felt in every area of life in the late 40’s and early 50’s. “Red Scare” was the term used to describe the perceived fear of Communistic threats to the United States. Archbishop Sheen was not immune from the influence of this phobia as we find a unique comparison of Mary and Marx in chapter 3! I am going to place that section aside!
In the first chapter, Sheen tells how all of creation, through its very existence fulfills the ideal for which God has brought it into being, with one exception. From a towering redwood tree to a tiny ant, all of creation bears and shows forth the fullest purpose of its creation. However, for people, Sheen states, God has two pictures of us: what we are and what we ought to be. Through the choices of our free will, our two pictures differ. But there is one person, Sheen tells us, for whom God sees only one picture – Mary! Being a numbers person, I like the mathematical reference he gives, we are a minus sign (I would suggest a “less than” sign), Mary is an equal sign. To visualize –
What we are < what we ought to be
What Mary is = what Mary ought to be
These simple comparisons can help inspire us to strive to balance the equation. We have a model, Mary, who fulfilled God’s ideal. Through her example and intercession we can improve to becoming the people God created us to be!
In Chapter Two, Sheen looks at love and the gift of freedom. He show the differences between true freedom and our construct of freedom. I found several of Sheen’s statements in this chapter provided a wealth of reflection material. Here are a few I found insightful:
- When man falls in love with God, he immediately goes out in search of a neighbor.
- Freedom implies not just a mere choice but also a responsibility for choice.
- Love therefore is not only an affirmation; it is also a rejection.
- Augustine has said: “love God, and then do whatever you please.”
- And there is the freedom of a total abandonment to God: our free will is the only thing that is really our own. Our health, our wealth, our power – all these God can take from us. But our freedom he leaves to us, even in hell. Because freedom is our own, it is the only perfect gift that we can make to God.
Mary makes that perfect gift to God, mentioned in the last bullet point, through her consent at the annunciation, “Be it done unto me, according to your word”.
What new insights did you gain from these chapters? Feel free to comment and/or to expound on any of the thoughts above!