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Title: The Prodigal World 

Author: Fulton J. Sheen 
ISBN: 0-8189-0953-6 
Paperback: viii + 160 pp. 
Price: $9.95 + shipping 


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Sheen's extraordinarily insightful, if unique, interpretation of the Parable of the Prodigal Son in this work, is historical rather than moral. The younger son in the parable is Western Civilization. After many long centuries in union with the Father's house, the Church, Western Civilization took its inheritance -- not inheritance in the form of gold and silver, but spiritual capital in the form of the eternal truths necessary for salvation. Carried away by its newfound independence from the Father's House, it began little by little to spend the patrimony that Christ committed to His Church: first its belief in the need for authority, then its belief in Scripture as the revealed word of God, followed by its belief in the Divinity of Christ, the necessity of grace and, finally, the existence of God as Lord and Supreme Judge. In our own day, it has spent its last penny living riotously. How it can come to its senses once again and find redemption is the subject of this book.
 
The country was in its worst depression ever. People were jobless, poor and desperate. The First World War and the Russian Revolution had only set the stage for much greater calamaties yet to come. With prophetic insight, Fulton J. Sheen (1895-1979), who had just turned 40, delivered these powerful messages that are as applicable today -- with very few exceptions -- as they were on the day when they were penned. It is obvious from these pages that they were the product of many hours spent in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament eliciting the aid of the Holy Spirit. 

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"The Prodigal World: In a unique interpretation of the Prodigal Son parable, Sheen likens the prodigal son to Western Civilization. By leaving the family of the father (the Church) and striking out on his own, Western Civilization spent its share of the fortune given it. Sheen traces the spending of this 'spiritual capital' since the 16th century and explains how 'living riotously' has hurt mankind. He offers ways to help find redemption in the Father's eyes. One of three new books offering to modern readers -- especially those who have never been exposed to Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen -- a compilation of some of his wonderful and touching words from the Catholic Hour radio addresses. Other titles include You and The Rock Plunged into Eternity." --Crux of the News, March 1, 2004

"A series of 17 radio addresses for 'the Catholic Hour' weekly broadcasts of December 1935 to April 1936, this little book shows the priest-author at his rhetorical best. The first half of the book is an allegorical interpretation of Jesus' parable of the prodigal son. Archbishop Sheen casts Western civilization in the role of a 'prodigal world' that has squandered its spiritual capital by taking leave of the Father's house, the Church. Far away from its true home, the prodigal world attaches itself to movements and ideologies that reduce human beings to the purely material and tehreby deny them their freedom to struggle against sin and enter into the loving embrace of the divine Father. How can the prodigal world find its way back to the Father's house? In the wake of communism's demise in Eastern Europe and the rise of new dangers posed by terrorism, spiritual individualism and an arguably hedonistic mass culture, many of Archbishop Sheen's applications of Catholic principles may seem outdated. Yet, transposed to the present, his invitation to combat a materialistic view of reality by shining the light of Catholic moral wisdom on the challenges facing America continues to have a prophetic ring. 'Talking about the stars and stripes will not save a country that has been blessed abundantly by God and then forgets God,' he said.           The second half of the book takes up the more timeless theme of 'the seven last words of Christ,' a topic that Archbishop Sheen would revisit every Good Friday for 30 years from the pulpit at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. Preachers and catechists reading these chapters will be struck by the highly imaginative ways in which the archbishop draws on biblical imagery and traditional metaphors to elucidate core Catholic dogmas. Whether in print, on the radio or in front of the TV camera, Archbishop Sheen belongs to a class of his own as a communicator of Catholic wisdom and truth." --Fr. Massa, Professor, Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, Huntington, NY for CNS Online, July 3, 2003