A lot of people thought Frank Sheed was insane.
Sheed was a well-educated lawyer, a well-trained theologian, and the owner of a successful publishing company. And yet Frank Sheed loved nothing more than to stand on a soapbox, in London’s Hyde Park, proclaiming the Gospel, defending the Church, and debating naysayers.
Even in 1930s London, a place known for eccentrics, Sheed and his wife Maise Ward stood out.
Their son Wilfrid would later recall their evangelization vividly:
“A group of city strays would gather in front of the rickety platform and hurl tipsy taunts or village-atheist challenges at my parents, who would answer with a gravity worthy of a lecture hall. My first thought was that they were going to get killed up there by some loudmouthed bully, and to this day I myself suffer from incurable stage fright. But on the way home, they might well complain about the blandness of the meeting: ‘If only a good drunk had come along,’ my father would sigh—surely as strange a wish as for rain on Sunday.”
Boldly and actively proclaiming the Word of God is often regarded as an act of insanity. In our culture, expressions of faith are met with skepticism and condescension. But Sheed offers a different perspective: “Sanity…,” he said, “means living in the real world. Some of the most important elements in the real world can be known only by the revelation of God.”
The Year of Faith, which begins on Oct. 11, is a year devoted to our sanity—a year devoted to knowing our faith more clearly, to seeing the world through the eyes of faith, and to living our lives in accord with the truths of our faith.
Pope Benedict XVI has proclaimed that the Year of Faith should be a “good opportunity to usher the whole Church into a time of particular reflection and rediscovery of the faith.” In the Archdiocese of Denver, our parishes and schools will offer opportunities to grow more deeply in faith. And I pray that we will also come together as an archdiocese to rediscover our faith.
On Oct. 11 I will celebrate Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception at 5:30 p.m. to begin the Year of Faith. I invite all of you to attend if possible. Before that, on Oct. 10, Dr. Regis Martin will address our call to holiness in the Year of Faith. And on Oct. 13 the archdiocese will sponsor a symposium on the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
I pray you will join us for these events. I pray also that you will use the resources provided by your parish and by other Catholic communities to grow in knowledge of faith. I pray you read the catechism with your family. I pray you will reflect on the Creed and pray it.
Most importantly, I pray you will rediscover the richness of our faith in the year to come. I pray that each of us will know the Father, and how he has called us to live. In 1967, Pope Paul VI wrote that in a world which is changing—where social, cultural, political and family life can often be unstable—we should “place our unshakable confidence in the Holy Spirit, the soul of the Church.”
Our world is changing rapidly. At times it seems indiscernible and disordered. But I pray that as our faith is enriched, we will be guided by the Lord’s order, which is both rational and just. I pray that we will see the world as God sees it—sanely.
YEAR OF FAITH EVENTS
Oct. 10: 7 p.m., free lecture – Regis Martin, “Vatican II, Catholic Culture and the Year of Faith,” JPII Center, 1300 S. Steele St., Denver
Oct. 11: 5:30 p.m. Opening Mass, Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, 1530 Logan St., Denver
Oct. 13: 8 a.m.-3 p.m., Symposium on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, JPII Center, 1300 S. Steele St., Denver. Cost: $25. Register: 303-715-3260
Read the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church during the Year of Faith: download bookmark at www.archden.org, click on Year of Faith logo