Detroit priest compiles Venerable Fulton Sheen’s latest book, ‘On the Demonic’

Fr. Dave Tomaszycki, left, who currently serves as priest-secretary to Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, poses for a photo with author, speaker and professor Scott Hahn after an interview on Hahn's podcast about "On the Demonic," a new book of the teachings of Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen edited and compiled by Fr. Tomaszycki. The book is available for pre-order through the St. Paul Center. (Courtesy of the St. Paul Center)

Late archbishop intended to write a book warning of demonic influences, Fr. Dave Tomaszycki says; book collects his teaching

DETROIT — From political and social turmoil, to times of great debate and confusion in society, and a rupture of trust both in and out of the Church, Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen wrote about the times in which he lived.

But his work is still very applicable today.

Archbishop Sheen (1895-1979), best known for his preaching and his popular television program, “Life is Worth Living,” was also a prolific author and a prophetic voice on the trials and tribulations the faithful would face in the modern era.

Archbishop Sheen published more than 60 books, but even then, the depth of his teaching hasn't been fully exhausted, according to Fr. Dave Tomaszycki, a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Inspired by his own study of Archbishop Sheen's works, Fr. Tomaszycki, who currently serves as priest-secretary to Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, has worked to compile another book delving into Archbishop Sheen's teachings on a particular danger the late bishop felt was creeping into modern society toward the end of his life.

Later this month, the St. Paul Center will begin publishing "On the Demonic," a book compiled and edited by Fr. Tomaszycki, a collection of Archbishop Sheen's teachings on the subject and history of the demonic, a topic the late archbishop intended to treat more comprehensively during his life.

“I was re-reading (Archbishop Sheen's 1974) book, ‘Those Mysterious Priests,’ in 2016, and I noticed he had a couple of paragraphs on the demonic, of which he said, 'I will treat in another book,'” Fr. Tomaszycki told Detroit Catholic. “He was saying he was going to write a book on this topic, which I thought was interesting. He has some extensive archives, so was there a book just sitting in the archives?”

Fr. Tomaszycki went to work scouring Archbishop Sheen’s various archives, from Peoria, Ill., to Rochester, N.Y., New York City, and Washington, D.C., looking for this long-lost book.

Finding no such publication, Fr. Tomaszycki decided to go to work. Gathering the words of Archbishop Sheen, primarily from a series of talks he gave in the late 1960s and early 1970s, along with a few of Archbishop Sheen’s columns from the Diocese of Rochester’s Catholic Courier, and with the backing of a few friends and his spiritual director, he compiled and edited “On the Demonic,” the latest book by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.

“It’s all Fulton Sheen’s words,” Fr. Tomaszycki said. “I compiled it, but it’s not like I’m explaining Fulton Sheen’s thoughts. When you read this book, it looks like Fulton Sheen sat down and wrote it.”

Fr. Tomaszycki was already familiar with Archbishop Sheen’s work after reading more than 20 of his books, but during his research, he pored over the archbishop’s books, columns and speeches with fresh eyes, pulling from various writing and talks Archbishop Sheen gave on the demonic, piecing together common themes from various talks.

“I think about 40 to 50 percent of the book is from the talks he gave, and a big chunk is from articles he wrote in his diocesan newspaper,“ Fr. Tomaszycki said. “He wrote 12 to 15 books in the 1940s, but there wasn’t much on the demonic; that came more in the 1970s. For most of this project, it was listening to his talks, digging through newspaper articles, and going through the archives. I even got some hand-written notes that made it into the book.”

Fr. Tomaszycki said Archbishop Sheen defined the demonic as anything that divides people and leads them away from God.

“He never gives us a definition of the demonic, but he gives us three signs of the demonic: a love of nudity, violence, and a schizophrenic mentality, or losing one’s identity,” Fr. Tomaszycki said.

Fr. Tomaszycki said Archbishop Sheen went into detail on how all three signs of the demonic take gifts from God — be it human bodies, human passions or human identity — and distort and re-orientate them to oneself, rather than toward God.

These demonic elements have always been around since the fall of man, Fr. Tomaszycki said, but the technological advancements of the 20th century contributed to the added depth and breadth of these influences on society.

The cover of "On the Demonic," a collection of teachings, writings and talks by Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen compiled and edited by Fr. David Tomaszycki, a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit.
The cover of "On the Demonic," a collection of teachings, writings and talks by Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen compiled and edited by Fr. David Tomaszycki, a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Archbishop Sheen had a growing sense of awareness in his time of these influences, which have had an ever-growing presence in today’s world, Fr. Tomaszycki said.

“The devil has always been around, but Archbishop Sheen did think it was a unique time he lived in,” Fr. Tomaszycki said. For example, he said, “there have always been evil men, but now we have nuclear weapons. With the way the whole world communicates now, it’s like a new Tower of Babel. He talked about how this new technology makes the antichrist possible because we now have the means to communicate with the world, to destroy the whole world.”

The book delves into how love of nudity, violence, and a schizophrenic mentality drives people away from God by cheapening sexuality, creating a desensitized society that is not fazed by human destruction and in which people don’t recognize themselves as made in the image and likeness of God — creating a world in which mankind worships itself, rather than worships God.

But the book offers an antidote: Jesus.

“Fulton Sheen gives three weapons against the demonic: the name of Jesus, the blood of Jesus, and Mary, the Mother of God,” Fr. Tomaszycki said. “Those are the three main weapons. It also points to the Cross as being a weapon against the demonic, and the holy hour. By the end of his life, (Archbishop Sheen) was really pushing for the holy hour, the need to pray before the Lord, to settle down enough to know the Lord and to fight the devil.”

For those familiar with Archbishop Sheen’s work, Fr. Tomaszycki hopes the book will be spiritually fortifying. While Archbishop Sheen spoke about how the demonic was infiltrating society, it can just as easily attack the faithful on an individual level, he noted.

“It’s easy to look into the culture and see the demonic at work, but the devil is attacking all of us,” Fr. Tomaszycki said. “There are a lot of things that we all fall into that we don’t realize. To know God is tough, but it’s very easy to know the world. Well, who is the prince of the world? The devil."

One of the temptations against which Archbishop Sheen warned was an overly political view of the world, Fr. Tomaszycki said, noting this was one of the traps into which the devil even tried to tempt Jesus himself in the desert.

"Archbishop Sheen said one temptation of the devil to our Lord is to be political," Fr. Tomaszycki said. "As a priest, if you preach politics, it’s way easier; you’ll get a lot more fans, but it’s not going to save anyone.”

It's been a four-and-a-half-year process for Fr. Tomaszycki to compile all of the writings and lectures Archbishop Sheen gave on the demonic and composing the works into a book worthy of the venerable's name, but so far, the feedback has been positive, he said.

“I did a podcast last week with Scott Hahn, and I forget his exact words, but he said something like, 'This is the clearest, most precise thing I’ve ever seen on the demonic.' It was very positive praise,” Fr. Tomaszycki said.

The book also received positive feedback from Archbishop Vigneron, as well as Peter Howard, founder of the Fulton Sheen Institute, and the late Al Kresta, each of whom offered written endorsements.

The back cover of “On the Demonic” relays how Archbishop Sheen wasn’t optimistic about world history, paraphrasing one of his quotes: “The Church is not optimistic about history; it has always seen that the final product of history will be the anti-Christ, the concentration of diabolical evil in human souls.”

However, Fr. Tomaszycki said, the kicker is the second part of the quote, which affirms mankind’s final destiny does not rely upon the outcome of history.

“'The only way out of that horror will not be a new social order, but a second coming of Christ to judge the living and the dead,'” Fr. Tomaszycki said, quoting Archbishop Sheen. “It’s very scary line, no doubt ... but the Church foresaw this. Jesus foresaw this. The Bible foresaw this. It’s going the way God knew it would go. We don’t know how, but if we stay with Christ, we are good.”

Preorder the book

"On the Demonic," by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, compiled and edited by Fr. Dave Tomaszycki, can be preordered for $17.95 through the St. Paul Center. Copies will begin shipping in July 2024.


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