Fulton Sheen Videos

Family Retreat p1: Choice

By Venerable Fulton Sheen

Do you realize that if you are consistent in this mission, you will be exposed to twelve talks? And I should tell you, that they will all be different. I will not be like the professor who travelled around the country in a car with a chauffeur. And the chauffeur always sat in the audience. One day the chauffeur said to him, “you know, I think that I have heard that lecture of yours a thousand times, and I could give it just as well as you do.” The professor said, “alright, you give the lecture tonight, I will dress up in your chauffeur’s uniform and sit in the audience.” The chauffeur gave a perfect lecture. That the end? A hand went up. “There’s a question that I should like to ask you. When you mix that H2SO4 with an NACO2 and then compare it with the photographic plates of the sun, how do you get the equation E=M/C2?” He said, that’s the most stupid question that I ever heard in my life. And to show you how stupid it is, I’m going to ask my chauffeur to answer it.

The subject of this evening’s meditation will be choice. I will try to bring home to you the supreme alternatives that are before us. The alternatives of our eternal destiny. And I will begin by giving you two examples of choice. Because after all, Heaven or Hell is before us every day. But there come great moments, too, when we make decisions for much of our life. One of theses stories will be taken from Paris and the other from London, and both of them from my own experiences.

I had gone down from Brussels to Paris to preach a sermon on the second Sunday of February. And I stayed in a small hotel. There was an Englishman playing the piano in an adjoining room, and playing it well. I complimented him, and then I asked him if he would like to go out for dinner. He said I’d never talked to a priest before in my life. We’re just like anyone else: you stick me with a pin, I will jump too. So we sat down to table in this small restaurant.

And he said, “do you ever have questions to answer? This is my problem: I have never met in my life, one who good man or one good woman.” I thanked him for the compliment, and then he went on. He said, “now this coming 11th of February, over there at that table, there was a lady trying to break a lump of sugar in a cup of coffee. She couldn’t do it so I went over and broke the lump for her, and she told me how mean her husband was to her. I asked her to come to live with me. Well she did and I get tired of them all after about 12 months. So,” he said, “this morning, I bundled up all of her clothes, I left them with the concierge, but she anticipated my move, and she gave me this note: ‘dear puppy, if you refuse to continue living with me until our anniversary at 11th of February, I shall commit suicide by throwing myself into the Seine.’ Now, may I permit her to live with me to prevent suicide?” I said, “no, you may not do evil that good may come from it. And further more she will not commit suicide.”

It got to be about 11 o’clock at night. He said, “I will walk you back to the hotel.”

“I’m not going to the hotel. I’m going to Montmartre.”

He said, “I was just beginning to think that maybe you were alright, and now you tell me you’re going up to that hellhole.”

“Well,” I said, “there’s something else in the hill of Montmartre besides dives. There’s a great basilica there, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. And every night for over 50 years, there are a thousand men in prayer, all night long.”

I induced him to come with me. He said, “how long?”

I said, “I will leave when you are ready to leave, though I intend to stay all night.”

He made no move to go until the sun came up over Paris and I read Mass.

And walking down the hill of Montmartre, he said, “will you stay in Paris and teach me to be good? It’s the first time in my life I have ever contacted goodness.”

I agreed to meet him at night in his courtyard at 8 o’clock. He came in with a woman–not the one that was involved in the story–and he said, “we will go out to dinner, the three of us.”

And I said, “no, this is not a social evening. You must make a choice. Either you are going out with that woman, or you are going out with me.”

He walked up and down the courtyard a couple of times and came back and said, “Father, I think that I will go out with her.”

And that’s the end of the story. The choice was made after having received a great grace. (Please God before he dies he will recall that night at Montmartre.) That was a choice for evil.

Another kind of choice…

Transcription unfinished.

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