In his autobiography, Treasure In Clay, Sheen tells a story which shows this in action:
— Fulton Sheen, Treasure In Clay (New York, NY: Image, 1982), 278-279.“I remember a stewardess on an international airline who began instructions [in Catholicism]. When we came to the subject of confession and sin, she said that she could not continue. I begged her to take one more hour of instruction, and then if she did not like what was said, she could leave.At the end of the second hour on that subject, she became almost violent and shouted: “Now I’ll never join the Church after what I have heard about confessing sin.” I said to her: “There is no proportion whatever between what you have heard and the way you are acting. Have you ever had an abortion?” She hung her head in shame and admitted that she had.That was the difficulty; it was not the sacrament of Penance. Later on I received her into the Church and baptized her first child. From my experience it is always well never to pay attention to what people say, but rather why they say it. So often there is a rationalization of the way they live.”
That concluding sentence of the Bishop reminds me of a recent epiphany I had.
At the beginning of the school year I had some strange, shall we say, difficulties, with a particular person with whom I'm associated through work. For a while she appeared to not just be cold, but almost hostile towards me. A very opinionated woman, she seemed to live in and breathe anger and victimhood. In all honesty I found her anger and porcupine-ish posture revolting. I decided that with exception of professional contact I'd simply cut her off from my mental field of vision and count her as nobody.
Then I remembered that I was a Christian. And I prayed for a better understanding and mindset.
One day while I was tending to something as domestic as watching water boiling on the stove, without any preoccupation on the subject, a thought came suddenly: she is not hard and thorny as she puts on; inside she is a puddle.
The message came through loud and clear, but also soft and natural like the vapor rising from the just- now boiling water. It was as authoritative and unequivocal as someone had just told me that the sun would rise the next day. Through the vapor I clear saw a lonely, fragile and frightened little girl feigning aggression to preempt oncoming malice and injuries, real or imagined.
All my subsequent dealings with the same person have borne out the message. This has nothing to do with confession or sin, but rather with that "it is always well never to pay attention to what people say, but rather why they say it. So often there is a rationalization of the way they live.”