Friday, April 30, 2010

Treasure in Clay Question: Bishop Sheen Spiritual/Media Heirs?

I think there are plenty of energetic and charismatic Catholic apologists, but I find myself considering Catholic networks when I consider media heirs of Archbishop Sheen.

Of course, Mother Angelica's Eternal Word Television Network is a fixture in providing radio & television programming, and has quite a presence on the Internet.  It started with Mother Angelica but now has scores of personalities with a variety of Catholic programming.

The Canadian network Salt & Light TV produces some excellent programming, some of which airs in the US on EWTN.

One priest who harnesses New Media to spread the Gospel in a dramatic way is Father Robert Barron and his apostolate.  Just a few highlights: Fr. Barron is a fantastic teacher; has an excellent podcast, and his "Catholicism Project" is a "landmark, epic documentary series" to reveal the beauty & truth of the Catholic faith.

Whom do you consider to be the spiritual/media heirs of Archbishop Sheen today, in terms of using their gifts and zeal to spread the Gospel in unique ways?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Treasure in Clay Question: Bishop Sheen in the Internet Age?

The fragmentation in the media makes it unlike that even a priest of Bishop Sheen's zeal and intensity would be invited to have a national radio or television show.  There's so many diverse sources of media, and regular television shows are not watched as universally as during Sheen's time.

In Treasure in Clay, Sheen demonstrates how he is a man of many ideas to help get out a Catholic message.  In the chapter, "The  Bishop in a Diocese,"  Sheen writes of his plan to what looks like, instead of printing a stand-alone Catholic newspaper, take out a monthly one-page ad in the local secular newspapers to print a "mini-paper" with different categories, thus reaching a wider audience.  The plan did not go through because the Catholic paper had a long-term printing contract, according to Sheen.

Today, he undoubtedly would have harnessed the New Media.  I'm sure he would have had a blog, since he was such a prolific writer, and almost certainly a podcast or video podcast.  He would still publish his many books, of course, but he'd have a varied media apostolate.

If he were alive today, what do you think would be Bishop Sheen's primary method of spreading the Gospel?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Giveaway at Bonny Blue House for May's Book Club Selection: The Handbook for Catholic Moms

I noticed that Mary Ellen at Tales of the Bonny Blue House has a
Giveaway for next month's book here at the Catholic Post Book Group, The Handbook for Catholic Moms.  You can enter until tonight, so head on over there to leave a comment!

 There were also some other neat books and items she has been giving away all week, so if you like entering contests and winning fun things, enjoy the selection.  There would be some great Mother's Day gift items among them.

Treasure in Clay Question: Favorite Sheen Book or Books?

Archbishop Fulton Sheen wrote more than 60 books.

The first Sheen book I ever read was Life of Christ, but I have to say my favorite is This is the Holy Land, first published in 1961 and covers the trip he took to the Holy Land with several nephews.  It's full of photos of Sheen in various Holy Land locations and his reflections.  He writes about that book a bit in Treasure in Clay.

What is your favorite Sheen book and why?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New Page on Sidebar: How Do I Join the Discussion?

This is the text of a page I've added to the sidebar of the blog, just below the Home page button:  I'm reprinting it here in case anyone has any other tips for those new to blogs.  Please comment away.

I've gotten quite a few messages (either in person on via FB or email) from people new or unfamiliar with blogs.  So I decided to write this page to make it easier for you to be part of the discussion.  All you long-time bloggers, feel free to comment if you have any other tips.  I will add to this page as I make changes or as I get those tips.

I want to stress here that while I have been blogging for nearly 5 years, I have not taken advantage of all the different features of blogs.  While I am not a novice, I am still learning the process, which itself is changing all the time.  So be patient with me as this is a work in progress, in some ways the definition of every blog.  Often changing and morphing and updating with newer technologies and new ideas.

First, you might want to consider subscribing to a feed of the blog, so that you get a message when there is an update.  My primary web browser, Safari, allows me to subscribe to a blog via email, so I get an email when my favorite blogs update.  I believe there is a way for me to allow people to even more easily subscribe via email, so I've got that on my list and will update this page when I do.  Your web browser/mail program may have a similar choice, so look around on it and see.

You can also bookmark the Catholic Post Book Group and then visit whenever you have a chance, and then jump in the discussion whenever you want.

When you are ready to comment, there is a button at the bottom of each post there is a link announcing the number of comments on a post.  If you click on that link, you can post your own comment.  You may have to register with Google, but you can do so anonymously.   

You can also, when you make a comment, click a box that allows you to receive follow-up comments via e-mail.  This is a great way to keep in the discussion.

I have comment moderation "on" which means that I have to approve the comments that you make, so your comment may not show up right away.  I have comment moderation "on" for several reasons, among them: 1. every so often on people's blogs,  strange comment-bots leave Viagra or Chinese character comments, so those do not need to be part of the discussion.  I delete them right away. 2. if we do get into a heated discussion about a topic or a book, sometimes people can violate a comment code.

Here is the comment code for the Catholic Post Book Group:

 Anyone planning to join the discussion here is expected to follow these guidelines when commenting:

*I will express myself with civility, courtesy, and respect, especially toward those with whom I disagree—even if I feel disrespected by them. (Romans 12:17-21)

*I will express my disagreements with the ideas of others without insulting, mocking, or slandering them personally. (Matthew 5:22)

*I will not exaggerate others' beliefs nor make unfounded prejudicial assumptions based on labels, categories, or stereotypes. I will always extend the benefit of the doubt. (Ephesians 4:29)

*I understand that comments are moderated and will not be published if they are do not meet the guidelines. Repeat offenders will be blocked from making further comments. (Proverbs 18:7)

In searching around for a comment code, I found lots of great ones, and adapted this from Sojourners, because it is short & to the point.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Treasure in Clay Question: Any favorite moments?

One of my favorite stories is a small one: "Everybody's here!"   In the chapter, "In Journeying Often," Archbishop Sheen discusses the missions:

"Serving the missions makes one sick at heart if anyone is left out of the ark of salvation.  A blind boy at Lourdes was cured during the Way of the Cross as his father asked God to restore his son’s sight.  The first words of the boy as he saw his father and others were:  'Everybody’s here!'  That will be the missionary’s cry at Judgment when he sees his flock and is overwhelmed by the goodness of God.  Everybody is here who wanted to be here.”

That story in turn reminded me of the apocryphal quote attributed, I thought (until I tried to look it up on the Internet, where all truth resides--kidding), to Flannery O'Connor that the Catholic Church means, "Here comes everybody."  I couldn't find if she actually said that phrase, but Catholic writer Amy Welborn started a good discussion (with no answers) here.

Treasure in Clay is full of numerous stories about Sheen’s life and times.  What are some of your favorites?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Trailer for the Archbishop Sheen Documentary

WTVP (the local Peoria PBS Station) will air the documentary on Sunday, April 18 at 9:30 p.m.

I DVRd it on WTVP when it first aired the other night and we finished watching it last night.  I found it beautifully produced and extremely moving.

Did anyone else see it and what did you think?  If you didn't, it is well worth the time!  You can order a DVD from the Sheen Foundation as well.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Treasure in Clay: The Autobiography of Fulton J. Sheen

This is my review that appears in the April 18 issue of the The Catholic Post:

Don’t be alarmed if you feel tired after reading “Treasure in Clay,” the autobiography of Fulton J. Sheen, celebrated son of the Peoria diocese, and now under consideration for sainthood. I did, but not because the book is nearly 400 pages—it’s a fast, enjoyable read. It’s because the bishop was so busy and prolific in his vocation.

Fortunately for us, he was also an engaging writer. In particular, he’s the master of telling a great story. “Treasure in Clay” is full of those stories;, edifying, funny and illuminating, making it an inspiration for us to do more as Catholics.

In keeping with Bishop Sheen’s lists of threes, here are three main themes of “Treasure in Clay.”


Sheen was raised on “an ethic of work.” He writes, “(T)he habit of work was one I never got over, and I thank God I never did.” No, he certainly didn’t.

He wrote more than 60 books, recorded countless hours of radio and television programming, traveled and preached and converted people worldwide, and never seemed to tire. It was all in pursuit of the goal of bringing souls to Christ.

Holy Hour

Bishop Sheen promised at the beginning of his priesthood that he would pray a Holy Hour each day in front of the Blessed Sacrament, and considered spreading this devotion his greatest achievement for Christ. It reminds me of Mother Teresa’s answer to a question, “Why don’t you spend less time in prayer and more time in active work helping the poor?” Mother responded that without much prayer, their good work would not be possible.

Bishop Sheen himself believed that his Holy Hour helped him to do much good for Christ and avoid losing his zeal for souls.


Bishop Sheen titled the book, “Treasure in Clay” from 2 Cor 4, “But we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, so the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.”

Sheen draws a parallel between the priesthood and the ancient oil lamps for worship.—Priests hold the light of Christ, yet are fragile; true not just of priests, but of all Christians.

Bishop Sheen, especially in later chapters, written toward the end of his life, freely admits his flaws. What’s beautiful to read through these pages is how God still used him as a powerful vessel for spreading the light of Christ.

Some, but by no means all, of memoirs written in recent years can be dreadful to read. The authors freely mix fact with fiction, and write in a kind of forced, sarcastic realism that requires unpleasant moments to be rehashed in vivid, if not necessarily accurate, detail. There’s none of that in “Treasure in Clay,” and so to modern readers Sheen’s enthusiasm and optimism can be almost disconcerting. Ultimately, it’s refreshing.


This is the intro that appears on the first book page of the April 18 issue of The Catholic Post:

I am delighted for the opportunity to share my love of books, book discussions and media with Catholic Post readers.

More than a little about me:

Academic: my undergraduate degree (Kenyon College) is in English, with a focus on British literature; I have a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. I’ve worked in newspaper & magazine journalism, and later in communications in the right-to-life movement.

Personal: While my husband Joseph has a doctorate in theology, I’ll be reading and writing about books as a layperson, along with most Post readers. We have three lively and also book-loving children.

New Media: As a middle-aged writer, I’m a digital immigrant, not a native. Still, I firmly believe the Internet provides great opportunities for evangelization and connection. I love blogging and visiting blogs as a way to learn, connect and share with others around the world. I listen to podcasts, but don’t have one—yet. I’m on Facebook but not Twitter –yet. And so on…

I’m passionate about books & media, and a newer concept called “media mindfulness,” or media literacy in the context of faith formation. It’s not just about reading books or seeing the latest television show or movie or explore the Internet, but being able to process them in the light of our Catholic faith.

That’s why the book group component of the book page is especially exciting.

Am I hopelessly devoted to books and book groups? If it is a crime, guilty as charged. My daughters and I host a girls book group that meets monthly at our house. I’ve organized occasional outings for my son and his friends to explore-- in a very physical way--adventuresome books like the Chronicles of Narnia series. I started a local Jane Austen book group with a great group of ladies because I needed an outlet to talk about my favorite author. I moderate a cousin book group blog for my kids and their many cousins to meet online and talk about books. If those were not enough, I’m in the midst of planning a mother-daughter book group as my oldest draws near the teenage years.

I’d love to draw in from our diocesan family (and beyond) experts on the various books that the Catholic Post book club reads, enriching both the online and IRL (in real life) discussions. Our first book is “Treasure in Clay,” the autobiography of Fulton Sheen. I hope you’ll join the discussion online!