Venerable Fulton Sheen: No freedom, No virtue

Catholic libertarianSome earlier posts explore the importance of liberty and free will in turning human beings into saints. In “God gives free will to make virtuous people,” there is the inevitability of evil in a universe where God wanted good men rather than robots.

In “Mind Your Own Business,” God’s oddly libertarian permissiveness regarding the evil in this world is not an invitation for men to fill the gap and to rule others lives in God’s place. Nobody likes a “busybody. “ The scriptures make it clear that the meddling of these bottom-feeders is not listed among the virtues.

fulton_sheenThe Venerable Fulton J. Sheen (died 1979) was an American Catholic archbishop, best known for his television preaching in the 1950’s (Life Is Worth Living). In 2012, he was officially recognized by the Vatican as having lived a life of “heroic virtue,” a major step towards being declared a saint.

He taught that human freedom is essential to the Divine purpose as is the possibility of evil. Men must have the freedom to do good or evil, otherwise true virtue not possible. As Archbishop Sheen wrote:

“Take the quality of freedom away from anyone, and it is no more possible for him to be virtuous than it is for the blade of grass which he treads beneath his feet to be virtuous. Take freedom away from life, and there would be no more reason to honor the fortitude of martyrs than there would be to honor the flames which kindle their faggots. Is it therefore any impeachment of God that he chose not to reign over an empire of chemicals?

Virtue in its concrete order is possible only in those spheres in which it is possible to be vicious. Man can be a saint only in a world in which it is possible to be a devil.

~Through the Year with Fulton Sheen, Servant Books, 1985 pp 110-111.

Not every vice is a crime