Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (1895-1979) is no stranger to
Catholics throughout the world who have read his books, watched him on
television or heard his recorded messages on tape, radio or CD. His cause
for canonization took another step forward at a Mass in the Cathedral of
Peoria, Illinois on February 3, 2008 when the sealed documents needed for
its introduction were sent to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in
Rome and his case was formally opened. Among his many books, ST PAULS
is proud to have published: Divine Romance, Eternal Galilean, Guide to
Contentment, Old Errors and New Labels, Prodigal World, Rock Plunged
into Eternity, Seven Last Words, Seven Capital Sins, Those Mysterious Priests,
Thoughts for Daily Living, Way to Inner Peace, Way to Happiness, Way of
the Cross, and You.
There is a certain timelessness about the writings and sermons of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, who died in 1979, that makes them timely to any age. The saintly, articulate cleric had the gift to penetrate to the depths of every subject he talked about. Thus, these two small books of essays (Thoughts for Daily Living and Walk with God) by the late archbishop are full of gems of both divine and human wisdom. Sheen was able to illustrate abstract ideas with concrete examples and stories so that the reader or listener could easily grasp the point he was making. In this he was much like our Divine Lord (a phrase he loved to use) who spoke in parables to communicate divine revelation about himself and the Holy Trinity.
Thoughts for Daily Living contains 59 short essays of about three pages each. They are grouped together around certain themes: happiness, love, habits and environment, will, character, forgiveness, humility, communication, hope, and finally freedom and man. Each of these essays makes a point that is worth considering. Sheen gives wise advice on virtues and vices. He was a good philosopher, but he also studied modern psychological theories and makes use of the positive discoveries of the social sciences. Also, since these essays were written in the 1950's as the Cold War was raging between Russia and the West, Sheen often points out the errors and weaknesses of Communism and Marxist-Leninist theory.
Walk with God was written in the 1960s and is very similar to the book mentioned above. The subtitle says that it is "Wisdom and Guidance to Help Us in Our Daily Lives." Here Sheen describes four different types of persons based upon the parables of Jesus, and the essays are grouped under four titles, plus a final section which describes the true road to happiness. Regarding the "four roads," Sheen says in the Introduction (p. ix) "There are four types of persons who miss their mark in the world, as revealed in the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son."
This volume contains 50 essays of two to three pages each. They are divided into four main sections: "Turning from the Road of Confusion," "Turning from the Road of Misguidance," "Turning from the Road of Evil Intent," and "Turning from the Road of Conceit." Here he deals with such subjects as good manners, teenagers, temptation, causes of violence, patience, jealousy, loneliness, and courtesy (very good), and in conclusion there are seven essays on the Beatitudes as the right road to follow.
These short, thought-provoking essays are vintage Sheen. In my experience, no one else wrote or preached the way he did. He was a supreme master of the spoken and written word. There is more than one reason for that: (1) he was highly intelligent; (2) he was well educated in America and Europe; and most important, (3) he was a holy, prayerful man. As he himself testified in his autobiography, for fifty years he made a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament every day -- and he never missed a day! Fulton J. Sheen lived with the Bible. He studied God's word and meditated on it every day -- it was his food and drink, it was the air he breathed. So it was from the abundance of his mind and heart, totally penetrated by the truth and love of God, that he spoke and wrote. These short essays bear testimony to Sheen's love for God and man, and are filled with both divine and human wisdom.
One or two of these gems make for excellent reading before retiring at night. --Kenneth Baker, S.J. in Homiletic and Pastoral Review, January 2010.
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen is always on the mark. Most of his writings are timeless in the sense that he speaks the truth about God, man and the world. What he said fifty years ago connected with people and those same words speak to us today. When this little book appeared in 1965 it was an immediate hit -- ninety-five essays on topics that concern most of us today. In four chapters Sheen presents short essays on four types of persons who miss the mark or do not achieve their human potential as children of God. Some, he says, are lost because of their own stupidity. Others are lost because of carelessness -- either their own or that of their parents. A third category goes astray because of their own deliberate choice; knowing what is good, they still choose what is evil. The fourth type is lost because they are blind to their own weakness and sinfulness.
When Archbishop Sheen speaks or writes he does it in light of divine revelation in the Holy Scriptures. He was a powerful speaker because he was totally immersed in the Word of God. One time he said that he spent an hour of preparation for every minute he spent in the pulpit. Those hours were spent reading and praying with the Bible. In these four chapters he discusses the parables of Jesus. He finds the four types in the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, the prodigal son and his brother, the elder son. The last chapter spells out the way of happiness which is found in imitation of Jesus, especially in the beatitudes. These short essays are excellent material for bedtime reading. Here you will find short essays on sadness, good manners, teenagers, habits, guilt, violence, patience, jealousy, forgiveness and many other similar topics.
In the last two years or so there has been a resurgence of interest in the books, talks and videos of Archbishop Sheen. During this time, as editor, I have received about eight books for review either about Sheen or reprints (like this one) of his books. He was very productive and wrote over sixty books in his lifetime. His cause for beatification has been introduced in Rome. If he is eventually canonized, he will be the first male saint born in the USA. Sheen is a good model for priests because of his great zeal in converting others and because of his eloquence as a preacher. What we need in this country are more priests like Fulton J. Sheen. --Kenneth Baker, S.J. in Homiletic & Pastoral Review, August-September 2009
Sheen meditations: With his extraordinary style, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen is still teaching and offering wisdom into this new age. Walk with God was first published in 1965, and was a best seller then. Its wisdom speaks as strongly to Catholics now. In 95 brief meditations, he covers every topic imaginable from sadness and doubt to teenage responsibility to the causes of violence, loneliness, forgiveness, and sympathy, to the way to ultimate blessedness. He divides the topics into Four Roads, followed by four types of persons who miss their mark in this life. Some are lost through their own stupidity and thoughtlessness; a second type are lost through the carelessness of others; still others go astray by deliberate choice; and the fourth type are lost because they are blind to their own sinfulness and need. Each one of these types is addressed by Jesus in his parables of the lost sheep, the lost coins, the prodigal son and the elder son. It is through those parables that Sheen frames the meditations, teaching readers the way Jesus taught. --Crux of the News, October 13, 2008