March 6, 2019

Maiden Lane Church

During the 1920s, an assistant pastor by the name of Fulton J. Sheen was serving at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Soho Square, London. Every morning, when he opened the church at 7:00 a.m., a certain man would enter. He would stay until 9:00 and then receive Communion. Afterwards, he would remain in the church until 11:30, only to return in the afternoon and stay until the church closed in the evening.

After several months, Fr. Sheen approached the man and asked him, “were you always as good as you are now?” The man replied that, considering the grace he had received, he was “1,000 time worse now than I ever was.” The man then proceeded to recount that he had been an alcoholic. He was so bad that, when he came to the entrance of the pub, he would take off his shoes so that he could sell them for the price of some drink. But, the man said, every Ash Wednesday, he would take a pledge to remain sober, and faithfully kept it each time until Easter Sunday. Well, one year he reasoned with himself that, if he could do it for 40 days, he could do it for 40 years.

His exuberance was soon supplanted by a severe test. Descending the three steps into Corpus Christi Catholic Church on Maiden Lane in London, also simply called Maiden Lane Church, he proceeded all the way to the front pew, for a Benediction that was to be conducted. As Fr. Carney placed his hands on the monstrance, the man said he felt an “overwhelming passion.” The passion, however, was of the distinctly unpleasant variety. It was a passion for drink and vice. He said, “if the temptations of a lifetime were concentrated in one moment, they could not equal that agony.” He could not stand to stay in the pew. He exited the pew and ran the entire length of church, down the main aisle, and then stumbled on the three steps. As the Benediction bell rang, he “tore out” his heart, pleading with Christ for forgiveness and promising Him that he would go to confession.

Since that time, he told Fr. Sheen, he had no more drink and spent his days in prayer. Fr. Sheen asked him how much time he spent on average. The man replied, “18 hours.” Fr. Sheen then asked, “what do you consider a good day?” The man said, “24.”

He further explained that he lives in the same dive that he did when he was an alcoholic. Each night, he kneels beside his simple cot and prays for all the alcoholics in the world.



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