Throughout his life, Fulton Sheen was renowned as a theologian and philosopher, but was most iconic for being a rarity in the realm of Catholic preaching. As a host on nighttime radio and television programs, “the golden-voiced Fulton J. Sheen, U.S. Catholicism’s famed proselytizer,” had weekly audiences of up to 30 million.
One of his most celebrated sermons, Kenosis, comes from his only family retreat ever recorded on video. Given in the mid 1970s, he speaks to a live audience of all ages: young children, teenagers, and their parents.
What is kenosis? The theological concept can be hard to grasp, but in his sermon Sheen explains it beautifully in a way all can understand. Kenosis can be understood as Jesus becoming completely receptive to God’s divine will and humbly accepting the status of being human: through the hypostatic union Christ is perfectly Divine but also perfectly Human.
“Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied [κένωσις, kénōsis] himself , taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” – Philippians 2:6-8
Watch Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen’s full sermon on Kenosis below: