The Priest is Not His Own (1963) by Fulton J. Sheen is a treatise on the role of the Roman Catholic priest. This guide asks those who would be shepherds to be as the original Shepherd, to be as close in thought and deed to another Christ as it is possible to be. Archbishop Sheen’s 1963 work The Priest is Not His Own asks the Catholic priest to view himself as not only a shepherd of his flock, but as a victim, just as Christ was a victim. Unlike priests of other faiths who offered sacrifices of animals and other men to the gods, Christ offered himself as the sacrifice that would save all mankind. The entire work is dedicated to this one idea, exploring the role and responsibilities of the Catholic priest through this willing victim lens. While Archbishop Sheen doesn’t ask the priest to sacrifice his earthly life, he does ask him to sacrifice his entire soul to Christ on the Cross in every Mass and his entire body to Christ with the breaking of bread. The priest must also sacrifice his place in the world, remaining sympathetic to man’s afflictions but not a part of them. Archbishop Sheen writes, “...Though we are in the world, we are never of it, for our High Priest has called us out of this world.” This separation from the world becomes more and more difficult as a priest receives honors and prestige (such as consecration as a bishop) or gains popularity (through “the press, television or radio”). Archbishop Sheen may have been speaking from experience, as he himself achieved a high position in the Catholic Church and garnered mainstream success through public appearances. For every question regarding the life and responsibilities of the priest, Archbishop Sheen returns to the High Priest and founder of the faith, Jesus Christ. The Priest is Not His Own is a valuable guide for the priest, seminary student, or simply the layperson seeking to become a better person of faith.
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