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Posted June 7, 2005

Book: Those Mysterious Priests
Author: Fulton J. Sheen
Alba House, NY, pp. 349

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

“A priest is mysterious, because he lives in two worlds. He is at his best when he leads ‘a double life,’ at once both human and divine.”

In this penetrating book written some five years before his death, Sheen explores this duality inherent in the vocation of modern-day priest: his need, like that of Christ, to feel the holiness of God that binds him to the Father; and at the same time his need to become a victim, like Christ, for the world’s sin, assuming its guilt and poverty in union with the Lord. In these pages he covers a wide range of topics including what it means to be both priest and victim; the priest’s role in continuing the incarnation, the passion and the resurrection of Christ; the need for a sense of humor in the priest who must be in the world but not of it; frustration in the priesthood; Mary as the mother of all priests and model of the lonely, obedient and chaste priest; the indispensable role of the Holy Hour in the spiritual growth and happiness of the priest. Sheen proves himself to be a truly prophetic voice for the twenty-first century. Written with the liveliness, wit and spiritual insight that continues to endear Sheen to millions, Those Mysterious Priests emphasizes the sense of obligation and spirituality that is such an essential part of any effect priesthood in the world today.

An Excerpt from the Book:


Humor is another side of joy. Humor came into the world at creation. There never was a brush touched to canvas, nor a chisel to marble, nor a dome thrown against the vault of heaven’s blue, but that a great idea preceded it, for all art is the expression of the ideal through the real. The architect, for example, who conceived the Cathedral of Notre Dame, had an idea of that cathedral in his mind before a single stone of it was put upon stone . . .

Almighty God willed that just as any great painting should make us think of the artist, and every great monument should remind us of the architect who designed it, so too, everything in this world should, in some way, remind us of Him. In other words, God made the world with a Divine Sense of Humor.

But what has this to do with a Divine Sense of Humor? Do we not say that a person has a sense of humor if he can “see through things,” and do we not say that a person lacks a sense of humor if he cannot “see through things”? But God made the world according to such a plan that we were constantly to be “seeing through things” to Him, the Power, the Wisdom, the Beauty, and the Source of all that is. In other words, the material was to be a revelation of the spiritual; the human, the revelation of the Divine; the fleeting and the passing, the revelation of the Eternal. The universe, according to His original plan, was transparent, like a window pane. According to that plan, a mountain was not just a mountain; a mountain was the revelation of the power of God. A sunset was not just a sunset; a sunset was the revelation of the beauty of God. A snowflake was not just a snowflake’ a snowflake was the revelation of the purity of God. Everything told us something about God, for by the visible things of the world is the power and wisdom of the Invisible God made manifest. According to this plan, every man was a poet, for a poet is one who is endowed with this sense of the invisible, the power of seeing God through things, and such is the essence of humor.

Table of Contents:

1. Psychotic and neurotic priests

2. The great divorce of priest and victim

3. The victimal side of Christ’s priesthood

4. The kenosis or emptying of Christ

5. The triple transference of Christ

6. Physical and mental transference in the priest

7. The continuation of the Incarnation

8. The continuation of the passion of Christ

9. The continuation of the Resurrection

10. The pleroma of Christ: the Church

11. The priest-victim in the mass

12. The Holy Hour

13. “Saints are lowered that the world may rise”

14. Little Jesuses

15. The glumness and the humor of priests

16. The priest and the world

17. The Lord and frustrated priests

18. Religious neuroses and the Holy Spirit

19. Mary: ideal, mother, and spouse