Martin Sheen on the Afterlife...and the Joys and Sorrows of His Life Right Now

As a big fan of "The West Wing," I always looked forward to any scenes in which President Bartlett's Catholicism came into focus. Bartlett, played of course by Martin Sheen, was a generally likeable, intelligent character, who often grappled with moral implications of his faith. In this recent interview with RTE's Gay Byrne, Sheen himself displays these same qualities, while discussing his family struggles, his return to the faith, and his meeting with Mother Teresa. The entire interview is about 39 minutes long, and it's worth watching. It can be seen here. A clip from RTE is embedded below. (h/t to The Deacon's Bench).

Throughout, Sheen speaks candidly, even on matters of prayer and church doctrine.

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When asked about his prayer life Sheen says, "The majority of my prayer is...thanksgiving.... 'Uphold me, oh Lord, as you have promised, and I shall live, and do not disappoint me in my hope.' That’s my prayer. That’s it. It’s a dialogue. God wants to be a part of our daily lives, our humanity, our doubts, our fears, our angers, our resentments, our disappointments, our brokenness. Any way that God can get in."

Later, Byrne asks him, "Do you believe in the real presence?", referring to transubstantiation. Sheen's replies, "I do, yes. I wouldn’t bother if it wasn’t that." His response is perhaps a slightly softer version of Flannery O'Connor's famous comment in reference to the Eucharist: "Well, if it's a symbol, to hell with it."

Kerry Weber

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