Books Comments

Chapters 21 and 22 The World's First Love: Mary, Mother of God 3

We conclude this work by Fulton Sheen with the final two chapters of the book. The last chapter is brief and again brings home the anxiety of nuclear threat under which the people of this time period lived. While, we have more, and more powerful weapons today that are in the possession of some unstable leaders, I don’t think we feel that same type of fear. Perhaps we’ve become too desensitized to the real possibility of nuclear attack and, until it happens, it does not occupy our thoughts or concerns. The penultimate chapter is the …Follow this path →

Chapters 18, 19 and 20 The World's First Love: Mary, Mother of God 1

Chapters 18 and 19 focus on the Rosary. Sheen addresses the common misconception that because the rosary is so repetitious it becomes boring and the words meaningless. He gives the analogy of a spouse telling his beloved, “I love you”. Truly, those words cannot be said enough and each time the meaning and feelings behind those words are unique. So too, the rosary. Each prayer is an “I love you” to the Trinity, to Our Lord and His Blessed Mother. I must admit, I too, earlier in my life, fell victim to the thought that …Follow this path →

Chapters 15, 16 and 17 The World's First Love: Mary, Mother of God 1

A few quick points this week with the busy days of Christmas and New Year’s vying for time! First, I love the vision Sheen offers on the enduring identities we are marked with in life. He speaks of how a woman can be a wife for given period of time, either until the death of her spouse or herself, but if she is a mother, that role is eternal!  If there are parts of our lives that are eternal, we would do well make them a priority in this earthly life! What other parts of …Follow this path →

Chapters 12, 13 and 14 The World's First Love: Mary, Mother of God 1

Sheen’s insight in Chapter 12 still rings true some 66 years later! He assesses the differences between men and women. To men, he assigns the “powers” of reason, governing, dedication to the temporal and material and being the giver. In these areas throughout history and for Jesus, according to Sheen, men have failed. While men have failed, women have not. One prophetic statement in this book written in the 50’s was that democracy was becoming an arithmocracy where people would no longer be self-determined personalities, but “groups moved by alien and extrinsic forces of propaganda.” …Follow this path →

Chapters 10 and 11 The World's First Love: Mary, Mother of God 1

So, I am going to overlook the comments that open Chapter 10 where Sheen describes men as irrational in certain matters of the flesh! The true focus of the chapter is that our crosses can lead to greater love. Permanent love, Sheen says, is only attainable by “passing through a Calvary”. That is a common perspective on the purpose for the pain, suffering and challenges in our lives. These difficult times can strengthen us or crush us. God does not desire the misfortunes that come our way, but these challenges can help us to attain …Follow this path →

Chapters 7 to 9 The World's First Love: Mary, Mother of God 1

In Chapter Seven, Sheen addresses the common perception of Joseph being the elderly husband of Mary. At the heart of the theory is the perpetual virginity of Mary. Sheen posits that is was easier to account for virginity due to Joseph’s old age than by virtue or, as Sheen so eloquently puts it, “To make Joseph appear pure only because his flesh had aged is like glorifying a mountain stream that has dried.” Joseph’s gift of his own virginity in their marriage becomes a gift of greater magnitude because he choose it. I like the …Follow this path →

Chapters 4 to 6 The World's First Love: Mary, Mother of God 2

Sheen devotes Chapter Four to establish the reality of the virgin birth. From the revealed Word of God in the Scriptures and the continuous teaching of the Church from its earliest days, the virgin birth was held and passed along to each generation. In Chapter Five, I find, what I’ll call “zingers”…these one or two liners that pack a concentrated dose of theological insight and cause me pause for reflection. The chapter focuses on the unique role of Mary as Mother of God and that to understand her we need to start with Christ. “Zinger …Follow this path →

Chapters 1 to 3 The World's First Love: Mary, Mother of God 2

It is quite evident that the threat of Communism was felt in every area of life in the late 40’s and early 50’s. “Red Scare” was the term used to describe the perceived fear of Communistic threats to the United States. Archbishop Sheen was not immune from the influence of this phobia as we find a unique comparison of Mary and Marx in chapter 3! I am going to place that section aside! In the first chapter, Sheen tells how all of creation, through its very existence fulfills the ideal for which God has brought …Follow this path →

Peter – Chapter Ten Quo Vadis: Peter's Way of the Cross

This final chapter leaves the pages of scripture and follows Peter as found in the tradition of the Church. In this tradition Peter is fleeing persecution in Rome and on the road meets the Risen Christ. Peter asks him “quo vadis” – where are you going? If you have not read about this encounter it is a very powerful moment in Peter’s life that required a reconfirmation of his decision to follow Christ, no matter what the cost. Peter’s death is his final testimony to his firm belief in Christ.  Gray concludes the book by …Follow this path →

Peter – Chapter Nine Peter Bar-Jonah: How Peter Came to Rome

This chapter focuses on  two key moments in Peter’s role in the early Church. Through a vision, Peter comes to understand that discipleship is no longer exclusive to the Jewish people, but now is to be open to receiving non-Jews as well. This inclusion also means abolishing the kosher laws that separate Jew from Gentile. The vision helps Peter to understand that no food or people are unclean. Gray points out that God gave the Israelites dietary laws because they wanted to return to Egypt to eat the meat of that land, pork. In prohibiting …Follow this path →

Peter – Chapter Eight Peter and Pentecost: The Transforming Power of the Holy Spirit

The Upper Room and Pentecost go together like a hand in a glove! Right? Well….Dr. Gray gives compelling reasoning why that may not be the most likely scenario based on what we read in that account found in the Acts of the Apostles. Gray feels the Temple is more likely the location. The Temple would hold special significance for the Jewish people. In the Temple area a multitude of people from different areas would have been gathered. The Temple would have facilities to accommodate the baptizing of thousands. Sounds logical, and as Gray points out …Follow this path →

Peter – Chapter Seven Discipleship at a Distance: Peter and the Passion of Christ

We all know Peter’s story! He is adamant in his profession of faithfulness to Jesus, but when that loyalty is put to the test, he is quick to deny. The title of this chapter is based on the passage following Jesus’ arrest found in scripture, “Peter followed at a distance (LK 22:54).” After Jesus is led away, Peter does not abandon him, but follows at a safe distance. Gray makes an interesting observation that “if we follow Christ in a discipleship that is comfortable and easy—from a distance—we’re setting ourselves up for a discipleship that …Follow this path →