Fulton Sheen: Communism in America
The whole world is sick. Not just one part of the world. When a human organism is sick, one cannot amputate an arm or a leg and feel that one has completely eradicated a poison, particularly when it is through the system. So it is with the world? It is impossible for us just simply to point our finger to one particular country and say that it is wrong.
Our great problem, of course, is Communism. What is the role of Communism? That will be our subject tonight or perhaps half of it: the role of Communism in the world, and also, in relation to it, the role of America.
The role of Communism, we will discuss, first of all, before the conversion of Russia–because Communism will never be defeated. Communism will be converted–if the world is ever to have peace–be converted to God. And then we will talk to the role of Communism after conversion.
First of all, the role of Communism before conversion…
The role of Communism now, in other words, what is it? The best answer to that question is given in the words of our Divine Lord. He said, “where the body is there shall the eagle’s be gathered together.”
Wherever the carcass is, there shall come the vultures. Very often, in the desert, an animal or a human dies, the moment of its death one can see nothing in the clear skies, and then suddenly, from out mass mountain vastnesses and rocky crags, these vultures of the skies come down to this glittering rottenness in order to devour it. These winged creatures are a kind of an avenger and a punisher. They are a judgment upon death and corruption. Just as soon as corruption sets in, these winged monsters appear, shrieking and croaking and winging their way to death itself. And that indeed is a symbol of civilizations, for they die too, just as well as animal and human life. And whenever a civilization begins to die, morally or spiritually, then there begin to appear vultures. And that is the mission of Communism in the world.
Communism is the scavenger of decaying civilizations. It makes this way into a country and into a culture only when that culture begins to rot from the inside. The measure of the incipient death in any civilization is the progress that Communism makes. Just as soon as this culture begins to die, then this wing scavenger, with the mechanical wings of hammer and sickles, descend upon these decaying countries in order to devour them.
Toynbee says in his history that 16 out of 19 civilizations that have decayed, from the beginning of the world until the present time, have decayed from within. Lincoln always said that America would never be conquered from without; if it ever perished–please God, it will not–it would come only from within.
The proper way then to look upon Communism is to see in it a judgment of God. Communism is something that came out of our Western Civilization anyway–came out of what was putrid and foul and tit in our thinking. There was not the single philosophical idea in Communism that did not come from the West. Its philosophy came from Germany, its sociology from France, its economics from England. What Russia gave it was an Asiatic soul and power and force.
Communism then is coming back upon the Western world because something died in the Western world, namely the strong faith of men in the God that made them. Before Russia is won back again to the faith, therefore, regard Communism as a kind of a manure–a fertilizer–it is a death that is spread upon the civilizations of the world, until the springtime of a newer and better world begins to come into being.
This is the role of Communism from a divine point of view, before conversion. And then afterwards, what will it be? When Russia receives the gift of faith, Russia will have a new role, and its role then will be then to be an apostle to the rest of the world. It will help bring faith to the rest of the world.
Why are we so hopeful about Russia? Why should it be the means of evangelizing nations of the earth? For one reason: Russia has fire. It has zeal! Communism has that.
The great shame of the world is that we have the truth but we have no zeal. They have zeal but they have no truth. Communism is like a fire that is spreading itself over the world, and this fire is already in their hearts. Some day, instead of burning downward that fire will begin to burn upward, in a Pentecostal fashion. Then it will bring light and peace and joy to man. Because today, it’s bringing hate and tyranny, and destruction and death.
Our Western world lacks that fire. We lack it, obviously. Where is the fire of patriotism today? The fire of men trying to kindle sparks of love and other men? We in the Western world are rather cold and dull and apathetic.
That’s one of the reasons why today in our Western world there are no longer any orators. We have only readers in the world. Why readers? Simply because we have not got enough in our own hearts to speak out. So something cold and dead and inert has to be read to man.
What girl is there, for example, that would ever take a man who rolled out a wedding proposal? Glory be to God! If he loves the woman he ought to be able to talk about her! We love God, we ought to be able to talk about him. We love our country, we ought to be able to talk about our country. We love our sciences, talk about our sciences.
Where are the fires?
An Episcopalian English Minister in the first world war, who did a remarkable amount of good with the English soldiers bore the name of Studdard Kennedy. He wrote a poem called ‘Indifference’. In this poem, he contrasted Our Lord coming to Calvary and coming to the modern city of Birmingham. And he says about Golgatha…
When Jesus came to Golgatha
They nailed him on a tree
They crowned him with a crown of thorns
Red were his wounds and deep
For those were crude and cruel days
When human flesh was cheap
When Jesus came to Birmingham
They only passed him by
They would not hurt a hair on him
They only let him die
For men had grew more tender
They would not give him pain
They only just passed down the street
And left him in the rain
And so it rained
The winter rain
That drenched him through and through
And when all the crowds had left the streets
Without a soul to see
Then Jesus crouched against a wall
And sighed for Calvary
They’re hate–their violence–was more tolerable to him than those who are neither hot nor cold; Scripture says God vomits out of his mouth. And this Russian fire has tremendous potentialities about it.
They do not deny God, they merely challenge God. They are not like our sophomores in college, who are dismissing him without any zeal at all. They are fighting against him because they know he exists. And someday they will love him.
And that will be the new role of Russia, and when finally it comes back to know its God, it will help bring it to though to the world.
As for ourselves, what is our role? Oh, we have a magnificent role, we in America. We are destined, under providence, to be the secondary cause for the restoration of the freedoms and liberties of the peoples of the world–the secondary cause–God is primary cause. Therefore we will have to make ourselves worthy of it. We will speak of that in a moment.
Our country has always had a great role. First of all, it was a sanctuary; a sanctuary for the oppressed, then it became an arsenal for democracy, and now it’s a pantry for the world; every American has given five dollars to Africa–that’s a mark of the beneficence and goodness; and America’s role, also, is now to roll up the curtain of the Eastern world.
I do not mean to say that the Western world is to perish, but rather America is to help give birth now to the Eastern world, in prosperity and peace and fraternity with the other nations of the earth, our great country was hidden for centuries behind a veil, as it were, and then the ships of Columbus pierced that veil, one by one.
And now it is the destiny of America to pierce another veil: the veil of Eastern peoples of the world, and whom we are so interested in our mission life, and to restore these people to some decency of living, for two-thirds of the people of the world go to bed hungry every night. But in order to do that, America must make itself worthy. And it will make itself worthy by regenerating itself.
That is why we asked you to write to our president to ask him for a day of reparation and penance and prayer and fasting for the peace of the world.
Remember Our Vested Lord said, “I came not to bring peace, but the sword.” What did he mean by that? Peter thought that he meant an outward sword, for the night Our Lord was arrested, Peter drew a sword, and as a swordsman he proved to be an excellent fisherman, for the best he could do was merely hack off the ear of the servant of the high priest. And Our Lord said to him, “Peter put thy sword back again into its scabbard. They who take the sword will perish by the sword.” Our Vested Lord was telling Peter, “I do not mean when I say, ‘I came to bring the sword,’ that this is a sword that’s thrust into the enemy. It’s a sword that’s thrust into yourself, to root out all of your selfishness, and sin.”
That’s the way that peace comes to the world. And also to men America has a far nobler destiny really than it knows.
And if there’s any way of telling what that destiny is I think that America’s role at the present time is very much like that of Simon of Cyrene. You remember Simon of Cyrene was a stranger in the city on the day the Friday that was called good, he stationed himself at a roadway in order to watch a man go to his death. He did not know who he was, he was just curious, a as some men are about men going to death, and as he watched the procession the Son of God carriers cross to Calvary. The long arm of the Roman law reached out to him, and said to him, “take up his cross, bear it.” He did not want to do it. But he took it and followed in the footsteps and the yoke soon became sweet, and the burden soon became light.
And America is at the crossroads too, the crossroads of a suffering world that is undergoing a crucifixion of Communism. And the long arm of providence is reaching out to America and is saying to America, “take up that cross–that cross of all the starving people of the world–take it up, bear it.” And America is presently carrying that cross.
Our great country does not know whose cross it is carrying. Actually, we are carrying a nobler cross that we know. We are bearing a nobler cross then we deserve. We have already saved the world from the Swastika, that would cross-out the cross and make a double cross. Now we must save the world from the hammer on the sickle. The hammer that would re-crucify men, and a sickle that would cut immature wheat in order that it would never be the Bread of Life.
And America’s role is to change these symbols so that, one day, men will carry hammers erect, and these hammers will look like crosses as they parade in the name of God. And the sickle will look like the moon under the Lady’s feet, to whom these broadcasts were dedicated, to bring you to God and to make Americans love one another unto the betterment of the world and a peace of human souls.
Transcript provided by WQPH