And how a badass priest in Haiti turns on the lights while standing in darkness
Having read your piece from 2010 some time back, I have to say that it has stuck with me in a way that few pieces of writing ever have. Not the words themselves. They were, as is your usual modus operandi when stringing together random nouns and verbs, top shelf stuff. But they were just the brushes that painted an indelible picture of relentless hope and courage amid crushing despair, want and evil.
I'm not accustomed to thinking of men of the cloth as bad asses. But Fr. Frechette, while clearly possessing a heart of gold, undoubtedly has balls of steel. He's the real deal. Since reading about him, the thought has often struck me that if a lot of the folks here in this country who see themselves as being quite manly bad asses, such as those with their AR's strapped across their chests while sporting their pricey tac gear and screaming their testosterone dripping invective... if they had to travel with him in the environs he works in every day, would they be as bold when faced with the actual dangers he often has to deal with while doing his righteous work, or would they turn tail and run, crying like little girls and revealing themselves to be the cowards they're trying to hide behind all that bluster and firepower.
If it came to facing danger myself, I feel the same about Fr. Frechette as I now feel about the people of Ukraine: If I got to choose someone to face it with me, I'd take one of him or them as opposed to any hundred of our home grown manly men as described above, because their courage is real. While it may differ in origin - the Ukrainians' born of necessity, Frechette's of the simple premise that there's no better reason to do right than the fact that it's the right thing to do - it is the best kind of courage. It is dependable and enduring; confident not loud. And it is relentless in its hope. It is, for me, something to truly admire. And to aspire to.
And for anyone in the coming days inclined to bitch about the price of a gallon of gas or any of the other "hardships" we may face because a blackhearted man half a world away is currently working his evil upon a freedom loving people, I would suggest contemplating those Fields of Less Than Nothing for a while. Then think about what life is like here.
Courage, whether in large doses or small, is the true antidote to what poisons us.
I'm late again but, I am so glad I got to it eventually...awesome piece all the way around, loved the video and every word of the piece, yours and father Rick's...
Thank you for being you and for how you always reinforce my sense that there are more good people than is commonly believed and that there is always hope and a way to believe so
Extraordinary. I am at a loss for words.
Matt just incredible. While I am not smart enough to provide a pithy comment I am smart enough to know when I am moved by brilliant writing and story telling.
As someone who served in parish ministry for over forty years, this is the most sublime, hopeful, spiritually animating article I’ve read in two years. Thank you, Matt. Godspeed!
All right, people.
Matt may be bemused
and even a tad shocked
that his son is going into the ministry...
but are WE surprised???
Thank you Matt. This was just what I needed today.
So beautiful, Matt, both your struggles with the existence of good and evil, and Father Frechette's story.
I have a brother who is an agnostic and a retired professor of Rhetoric and Literature. He and I often have discussions in which I, a practicing Catholic Christian, attempt to respond to the sticking point, for him, about whether to believe in God: How could there be a loving God if He allows such suffering and evil to happen to the creatures He created? And if there is a God, what kind of monster must He be to witness, and not stop, all the suffering and evil?
It IS a difficult question, and the only way I've found to answer it is to point to the grace God makes freely available to us to create light and goodness in response to suffering.
People like Father Frechette inspire the rest of us to move from selfishness to loving and caring for others, and can sometimes inspire movements that change the world. With Jesus as the model of a movement that forever changed the world, we can be inspired by His followers, people like Francis of Assisi, Mother Theresa, and Martin Luther King, all of whose work and example inspired real change for the better in the world.
When the rich young man asked what he needed to do to have eternal life, Jesus told him to follow the commandments. When the young man asked what else he could do, since he already obeyed the commandments, Jesus told him that, if he would be perfect, he should sell all he owned, give it to the poor, and then follow Him. Although I have not sold all I owned and gave it to the poor, and I am very far from perfect, the example of Father Frechette inspires me to be a more faithful follower of Christ.
What an inspiring and touching piece!
I find it disconcerting that the good priest never gives any glory to God.
Another great piece...its why I pay the big bucks for the subscription. Thank you for this little piece of hope.
Matt. Jung expressed the duality of man but I lean toward Frankl's existential model. If you can still see beauty in the cesspool of a concentration camp, it's a recommendation for the best of the human spirit. Father Frechette is doing what he does because he'll be damned if he gives in to the despair.
One good thing about working with the dead is they cannot be hurt anymore. They have transcended the human limitation of pain, fear, shame and grief.
But those elements of life are what make us fully human. So we can embrace our humanity in all its complex contradictions and connect across all our boundaries through the shared understanding of what it means to be fully human.
So much sadness and so much dignity, compassion, nobility. Thank you, Matt. Both realms invited tears this week.
Evil leaves behind so many victims, Only such a man with the backing of God can endure and lift up others at the same time. Don’t we all wish we could contribute to the world in such a manner……..
God bless Father Rick! When crowns are given in heaven, he will have a multitude!
Thanks for the humbling story, Matt. And not only because of your expressive talents.
It’s humbling to remember that parts of this world are made somewhat less miserable thanks to the daily, dedicated efforts of those who take care of essential life chores in places too scary for most of us ever to have to see in person, much less year in, year out. And somehow in their souls and/or inner beings find more reward in that work than most would never imagine possible.
I was going to make a funny comment about a goiter but then read the article and ended up in tears. The other comment will have to wait.