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
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