Hour of devotion inspirational to another

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, September 6, 2023

By Steve Stricker

Bishop Fulton Sheen (May 8, 1895 – Dec. 9, 1979) was known for his preaching and especially his television show, “Life is Worth Living.”  As a huge introverted Catholic, I admired his flamboyant style, spot-on messages of faith, and his sign off, “Bye now, and God love you.”

When Bishop Sheen was ordained, he promised to make a Holy Hour daily before the Blessed Sacrament.  For 60 years of his priesthood, he kept that promise as it was during this Holy Hour that he said he learned to listen and abandon himself totally to God’s call.  “The only time our Lord asked the Apostles for anything was the night He went into agony.  Not for activity did He plead but for an hour of companionship.”

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In 2011, my life turned upside down with the breakup of engagement and imminent move to Scotland bashed. I had both hips replaced three months apart, two procedures to remove gallbladder, vitrectomy on both eyes, and other health stuff, and I began attending daily Mass at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church. And per Bishop Sheen, daily spend an hour plus before Mass in silence with our Lord.

This column was prompted by summer seminarian, EJ (from Jackson) who made a major impact on me by not only his size at 6’5”, but also his humility, easy outgoing personality, and devotion to Father Mark at Mass.  EJ and I became friends and the week he left to return for his priestly studies at New Orleans Seminary, I sent a card thanking him and a few bucks for a sandwich back to NOLA.

A couple days ago, I received a card from EJ thanking me for the card, and inspiration to him for my hour of prayer and devotion to our Lord in silence.  Wow, I never thought my devotion to Bishop Sheen, our Lord, would inspire anyone else – not my intention – only to sit quietly and listen to his will for me be done.

As a huge introvert, I have to step out of the noise of life often to charge my inner batteries in silence that allows me to navigate this intrusive world, catch my breath, empty my mind, rest, analyze the good, let the garbage go, and listen to the sounds of silence, and God.

What are the sounds of silence?  A breeze blowing through the trees, birds singing, water rippling, lawn mower softly humming, weed trimmer, blower, single-engine plane overhead, traffic as folks come and go, Ole Miss Pride of the South practicing across the street,  Ole Patio cheers of Rebel faithful carried on the wind, Canadian Geese cackling overhead, crickets in the dark, kitchen clock reassuringly ticking in the night, cat, Jag sleeping beside me softly breathing, a jet high above flying east to west, no sounds as just before I go to sleep, empty myself, completely relaxed, and listening for God.

And loudly, Go Rebels!

Steve is an Oxford resident, received his Ph.D. in Counseling from Ole Miss, and can be reached at sstricker@olemiss.edu.