Pray for Charlie Sheen, and Lift Him Up

(photo: Angela George, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

It's tragic to see someone ruin his life. Charlie Sheen has been doing it publicly for years, with drugs, pornography, divorces, prostitutes, violence and drinking. Hurt children, siblings, parents. Not many are surprised that he's now HIV positive.

If anyone needs to learn that lots of money won't help you one bit if you're truly desperate, Sheen is that lesson. Narcissistic comments like:

The only thing I’m addicted to is winning. This bootleg cult, arrogantly referred to as Alcoholics Anonymous, reports a 5 percent success rate. My success rate is 100 percent. Boom, crush. Night, losers. Winning, duh.

Our pop culture extols partying, jokes about pornography, encourages "hookups," and promotes the accumulation of stuff. It also puts down faith and self control. It gives the impression that we're all immortal. There are so many living lives similar to Charlie Sheen, only less publicly. Running and searching, searching and running.

What heartache it must be for his parents who have surely been praying for him for years, for his health and his conversion.  His parents are strong believers. “I was raised Catholic, my parents were devout Catholics,” Charlie's father Martin Sheen told The Irish Times. He said:

My mother had family Rosary most nights in the house, I remember growing up. But when something is given to you, it’s not unusual to let it slip through . . . I loved the Church and the faith. But it wasn’t really something personal, it wasn’t costing me anything. We all yearn for the sacred, we are always looking for a transcendence; some people go about it with drugs or alcohol or sex or power or ego, whatever, and when they prove not satisfying and we come to our senses, we begin to realize that there’s another costly journey. It has to cost you something; if something worthwhile doesn’t cost you something, you are left to question its worth. And so I decided to go on that journey and, you know, I’m still at it.”

Martin Sheen was baptized Ramón Estévez, but when he started his acting career in New York, he changed his name to Martin (which he thought sounded less ethnic) and Sheen (for Ven. Fulton Sheen).  Having fallen away from the faith in his twenties, the older Sheen, now 74, once said his greatest regret was not being a practicing Catholic when his children were growing up.

Naturally I regret that I didn’t raise them as Catholics, but I can’t do anything about the past. I didn’t do anything damaging to them, but I didn’t inspire them either. My career and my self were the focal points of my life, not them. That changed. Now I balance my career with the rest of my life, and my children and wife are more important to me. I feel guilty that I didn’t do that earlier, but I have to be forgiving of myself as well as of others. 

Martin Sheen came back to the faith in 1977 after a heart attack and receiving last rites. He told Guideposts magazine:

My face-to-face confrontation with death and my own human vulnerability purged the need to be an empty celluloid image bent on the accumulation of such things as fame or wealth. I had been shocked into recalling something I had known all along but had forgotten: that love is the true foundation of happiness. Love of family, love of people, love of God... In the years since that painful night, Janet, our children and I have grown closer and happier than ever. I have long since returned to my Church. I have never forgotten that even though I turned my back on God, in my time of greatest need, he came to find me.

In one interview talking about his son Charlie's alcoholism, run-ins with the law, meltdowns and other ongoing problems, Martin Sheen expressed his love for his son and the pain of watching him struggle. “But we’re all pilgrims, after all, and his journey is not over yet. Pray for him, and lift him up."

Sometimes from the deepest holes come the deepest conversions. I'm asking Ven. Fulton Sheen to intercede for Charlie.