The God of Tough Places, the Lord of Burnt Men
As a priest and a physician, Richard Frechette has known the body, heart, and soul of people in the most anguishing of circumstances. He has carried out his double ministry over the past twenty-five years in settings of extreme poverty, violence, social upheaval, and natural disasters. This personal experience of tough realities has been at once a descent into chaos and an ascent into compassion, never more so than in his work in Haiti.
The reflections in this volume are less about Haiti than they are about real-life incidents that happened there, during a particular time in history. In a fuller sense, these reflections shed light on what happens in any place, at any time, to people of any race or class, who live out an assault on their human dignity. Whenever the dignity of human beings is marred, the human spirit finds itself in threatened conditions, and seeks desperately to preserve what is human about it. This is the unfailing light of God’s grace, ever present and faithful, fiercely persistent in trying to renew the face of the earth and the pilgrim human heart.
Grounded in space and time, and yet speaking of universal concerns, this very personal volume shows how the ancient human scourges of poverty, ignorance, illness, and violence desecrate humanity and weaken the spirit. Yet as Frechette shows, from these ashes many people, with the help of God, valiantly rise. This is a stunning work that crosses conventional barriers between the personal and the political, between degradation by others and elevation by selves.
“I will lead you by the way…. that you may become the brother of God and learn to know the Christ of the burnt men.” –Thomas Merton
After reading HAITI, Oscar-winning writer-director Paul Haggis says of author Fr. Rich Frechette: "He is a man who does daily battle with cynicism and hatred that threatens to overwhelm his faith in mankind, and somehow draws lessons so surprising that they threaten to make an old atheist, like myself, believe in God."
"Mother Teresa never sought fame—she was content to simply care for the sick and indigent without notice or fanfare. While she was unique in many ways, she was not the first, or the last, of great Catholic heroes who are blessed with incredible humility. Father Richard Frechette is cut from the same cloth... Haiti: The God of Tough Places, the Lord of Burnt Men is a riveting volume that requires a strong stomach. But the rewards, especially for Catholics, make the struggle worthwhile.... What energizes him [Father Rick] is the Haitian people—they never give up. Surrounded by horror stories, many of which are their own, they possess a will to live that would astound most of us in the developed nations."
–William A. Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, in Catalyst
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Table of Contents
1. The God of Rough Places
2. The Christ of Burnt Men
3. The Transfiguration of Barnabas
4. A Tale of Two Tragedies
5. On the End of the World (and Other Chances to Renew the Face of the Earth)
6. The Tiny Mustard Seed and the Ferocious Gates of Hell
7. The Deceased Pope and the Risen Christ
8. The Children of Cain … and Other “All Souls” to Be
9. Jonah Under the Withered Tree
10. The Presentation of the Lord and the Art of Un-Kidnapping (A Celebration of Light)
11. Good Fridays, Bad Choices—Voodoo and the Passion of Christ
12. To Eulogize a Saint: The Life and Death of Fr. William Bryce Wasson
13. Keeping Sabbath
14. The Thirteenth Day of Christmas
15. Crown of Thorns
16. Last Supper in the Shadows
17. Fr. Bill Wasson Remembered, for Forever and a Day
18. Assumption into Earth (On the Burial of Hundreds of Destitute Dead)
19. St Nicholas and the Antichrist
20. The Land of Milk and Honey