One Book, One Diocese
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen is a person very likely remembered by most of us.
His cause for canonization is currently underway. We are excited to present
his autobiography as this winter’s selection for the “One Book, One Diocese”
In this publication, we learn much about this great leader’s early
childhood, his call to the priesthood and his work during the years of his
life as a priest. Archbishop Sheen chose the title “Treasure in Clay” for
his autobiography because he wanted “to point out the contrast between the
nobility of the vocation to the priesthood and the frailty of the human
nature which houses it.” He adds later: “Each priest is a man with a body of
soft clay. To keep that treasure pure, he has to be stretched out on a cross
of fire… In the middle between the mission and the human instrumentality
there is always the outpouring of the love of Christ.”
“Treasure in Clay” gives us details of Sheen’s childhood years—for example,
how his parents sacrificed for the family and how he was brought up with a
hard work ethic. He entered the seminary during World War I and was ordained
a priest in September of 1919 in Peoria, Ill. He obtained a doctorate in
philosophy from Catholic University in Washington and continued his
education in Belgium in order to “know what the modern world was thinking
and how to answer the errors of modern philosophy in the light of St.
Archbishop Sheen describes his call to the priesthood as un-datable,
persistent and silent, giving him no rest. He became uncomfortable when he
thought of doing anything else. He shares that he always approached the
Communion rail with the words, “Oh, Lord, I am not worthy.” He moved toward
the priesthood with the idea that God could take a lump of clay and place a
treasure within it.
Sheen also shared how he needed to be a victim priest just as Christ was and
how it was the Lord Himself who laid the cross on his back. He talked much
of the discipline of the Lord and the ‘chisel’ of the Divine Sculptor. All
go together to make the man a better representative of Christ.
During his long confinement in bed due to illness, he gazed on a large
crucifix that reminded him of the suffering of Christ and our salvation that
it bought. To him the crucifix was not representing something that had
happened in the past, but rather something that is happening. He had a
hunger for souls and points to his daily Holy Hour as the reason he was able
to touch minds and hearts.
Archbishop Sheen touched many lives through his writing, his missionary
work, radio and TV, and a multitude of other great works. His signature
television program, “Life Is Worth Living,” drew an average of 30 million
viewers a week in the 1950s. His autobiography, is an inspirational read and
one that leaves the reader with a deep gratitude for priests. This book
offers a treasure-trove of wisdom and is a lasting testimony to a life that
truly was worth living.
By Carolyn May
Coordinator, Spiritual Activities for the Laity
Member, Diocesan Evangelization Committee
2013 Southern Nebraska Register Publication Dates
(Resume Jan 4, 2014)
November 27 (Wed.)