MINI REVIEW: THROUGH THE YEAR WITH FULTON SHEEN
Daily reflections for the whole year...
I've had this book in my personal library for many years now and have even begun it several times, but always seemed to drop off halfway through the year either due to big life changes, general business, or (most often) simply not finding a good way to work it into my daily schedule. 2022 finally proved to be the year that I stuck with it, largely due to the simple trick of leaving a space for the book on my nightstand and reading that day's entry right before I went to bed.
HOW I RATED IT
4/5 While Fulton Sheen is certainly one of the wisest and most pious members of The Catholic Church, there were some questionable editing choices in terms of how the daily reflections are split up that held this back slightly for me.
I am certainly not in a position to critique the actual works of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, but I can share some thoughts on the editing quality, what kind of content is present, and how it all made me feel from a spiritual perspective. First off, when I say "editing" I am really referring to the way the book's content was collected/curated from Sheen's various works (perhaps there is a better literary term for this). As I understand it, each daily reading is taken from excerpts of various sermons/homilies and writings That Fulton Sheen gave over the course of his life in the priesthood (I do not know if they are all specifically from his time as an Archbishop). For the most part, I found these passages to be profound and thought provoking. There are times where it was obvious that subsequent days were taken from the same oration or writing. Sometimes the curation worked perfectly well with one day's reflection building upon the previous one and then there were other times where I felt like I'd read an incomplete thought (because of the editing) and that those passages should not have been broken up. There were also one or two occasions where I felt as though the editors/curators ended an entry early to make it extra shocking or profound. This is not only unnecessary because Sheen was quite bold in his statements already, but also left me feeling a bit put off to the extent that I did not walk away with what the editors intended for me to meditate on. One particular example of this an exchange between Sheen and a woman who was the victim of a sexual assault. This excerpt cuts off with a pretty messed up response to the woman's plight and surely that was not the extent of his reply to her as he seemed to have the capacity to be just as compassionate as he was provocative.
Religious books are often not the flashiest or most luxurious pieces of literature on the market, but Ignatius Press has produced a sturdy, well-made paperback that is nicely formatted with fonts and spacing that are easy on the eyes. The cover is also reasonably well designed and is made of a durable, glossy material.
I am so glad to have finally read this cover to cover and will almost certainly pick it up again in a future year (you could certainly read this on repeat if you'd like to, but I have a very similar book that I'd like to reflect on next year). I'd highly recommend this to any Catholic who is looking for a sustainable means of increasing their daily prayer/meditation/spirituality.
(+) Short, profound passages that are great for reflection
(+) Designed for daily reflection with passages ranging from a single paragraph to a single page
(+) Easy to fit into any schedule as long as you find a way to facilitate remembering to read it every day (though I missed a day here or there and just doubled up the next time)
(-) Some of the passages are cut up strangely, seemingly in an effort to force a punchline that wasn't needed