Saturday 22 September 2018

The Cries of Jesus from the Cross: An Anthology - Reverend Fulton J Sheen

The Cries of Jesus from the Cross: An Anthology
Reverend Fulton J. Sheen D.D.
Allan J. Smith (Editor)
Sophia Institute Press
ISBN 9781622826209
eISBN 9781622826216

Over the last three years I have read a dozen books by or about Reverend Fulton J. Sheen. A couple of the others were anthologies after a form and excerpts of Sheen’s own writings compiled by an editor. One was a flop and I never bothered finishing it. The books of Advent and Lenten meditations are well done but leave a reader wanting more. But I often find when I read something by Rev. Sheen, I want more. And this book falls in that category. Of the 4 or 5 books I have read that were compiled of Sheen’s works this is by far the best. Allan J. Smith is the editor of this amazing volume, and though his name does not appear on the cover, credit is due. From the introduction of the volume we are told:

“Given their importance and the impact they had on society, it seemed appropriate to bring together in this anthology some of Archbishop Sheen’s meditations on the words of Jesus and Mary from seven books he wrote from 1933 to 1945: 

The Seven Last Words (1933)
The Cross and the Beatitudes (1937)
The Rainbow of Sorrow (1938)
Victory over Vice (1939)
The Seven Virtues (1940)
Seven Words to the Cross (1944)
Seven Words of Jesus and Mary (1945)

This anthology has been arranged into seven chapters, each of which addresses one of the seven last words spoken by Christ on the Cross. And for each chapter, a passage from each of these books has been selected to provide seven unique reflections for study and meditation. 

1. The words spoken by Christ from the Cross
2. The Beatitudes
3. Sorrow and suffering
4. The seven deadly sins
5. Seven virtues
6. Groups who reject the Church and Christ’s teachings
7. The unity of Jesus and Mary

These reflections may be read one after another as they appear in this book, or they may be read randomly as the reader chooses. Since this anthology comprises seven Sheen titles, the reader may also read one complete book at a time. For example, by reading the fourth reflection from each chapter of this anthology, the reader will have read Sheen’s Victory over Vice; or by reading the third reflection from each chapter, he will have read The Rainbow of Sorrow.”

And for each of the seven chapters we have seven sections. So the actual sections in the book are:

First Word
Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
1. Father, Forgive Them, for They Know Not What They Do!
2. Blessed Are the Meek
3. Unjust Suffering
4. Anger
5. Fortitude
6. A Word to the Humanists
7. The Value of Ignorance

Second Word
This day thou shalt be with me in paradise.
1. This Day Thou Shalt Be with Me in Paradise
2. Blessed Are the Merciful
3. Pain
4. Envy
5. Hope
6. A Word to the Sinners
7. The Secret of Sanctity

Third Word
Woman, behold thy son; behold thy mother.
1. Woman, Behold Thy Son
2. Blessed Are the Clean of Heart
3. Suffering of the Innocent
4. Lust
5. Prudence
6. A Word to the Selfish
7. The Fellowship of Religion

Fourth Word
My God! My God! Why hast Thou forsaken me?
1. My God! My God! Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?
2. Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit
3. God and the Soul
4. Pride
5. Faith
6. A Word to the Intelligentsia
7. Confidence in Victory

Fifth Word
I thirst.
1. I Thirst
2. Blessed Are They That Hunger and Thirst After Justice
3. The Need for Zeal
4. Gluttony
5. Temperance
6. A Word to the Moderns
7. Religion Is a Quest

Sixth Word
It is finished.
1. It Is Finished
2. Blessed Are the Peacemakers
3. A Planned Universe
4. Sloth
5. Justice
6. A Word to the Sensationalists
7. The Hour

Seventh Word
Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.
1. Father, into Thy Hands I Commend My Spirit
2. Blessed Are They That Mourn
3. Eternal Freedom
4. Covetousness
5. Charity
6. A Word to the Thinkers
7. The Purpose of Life
About the Author: Fulton J. Sheen

The beauty of the way this book has been compiled is that it can be read many ways. You can read it in the transitional method of starting at the beginning and proceeding until the end. You can read thematically and read numbered sections in each chapter, for example read the second sections ‘Blessed are …” chapters. Or read through the fifth sections on the virtues. Or you can randomly open it and read any section for spiritual reading or deeper reflection. Smith states in the Introduction:

“For example, by reading the fourth reflection from each chapter of this anthology, the reader will have read Sheen’s Victory over Vice; or by reading the third reflection from each chapter, he will have read The Rainbow of Sorrow.”

For fans of Sheen’s works this book ties together the seven separate books and shows us the bigger picture of Sheen’s thought and theology. For people just beginning their foray into the works of Sheen this book will serve as an amazing introduction. The print edition is a round 400 pages, and the eBook edition comes in at 320. By today's standards where so many books are being published at under 250 or even right around 200 pages this book is a larger volume. But trust me it is worth it. This book is an incredible read. I average over 100 books read a year, and more than double that the last few years. This book is one of the best Christian books I have read in the last few years. 

Let me reiterate that, of the hundreds of books read in the last few years, one of the best!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Fulton J. Sheen:
God and Intelligence in Modern Philosophy
The Seven Last Words
Philosophy of Science
The Eternal Galilean
Calvary and the Mass
The Cross and the Beatitudes
Communism and the Conscience of the West
Peace of Soul
Three to Get Married
Life Is Worth Living Series 1-5
Way to Happiness
Way to Inner Peace 
Life of Christ
Missions and the World Crisis
The Power of Love
Footprints in a Darkened Forest
Lenten and Easter Inspirations
Treasure in Clay: The Autobiography of Fulton J. Sheen

Books About Fulton J. Sheen:
The Archbishop and I
Fulton Sheen - Louise Merrie - CTS Biographies

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