Perpetuating the work, ideas, and writings of Al Fritsch, SJ (9/30/33 - 3/5/24)


Fr. Al Fritsch was a unique leader in the call to heal our wounded Earth. His voice was one of clarity and intellectual depth, and his writings inspired countless individuals throughout the world.


March 2024

Facing Troubles in Our World

To many pious Christians, the story of Jesus driving money-changers from the temple seems out of place; Jesus is so mild and gentle that this turn to activism seems at first to be beyond his personality. However, in other parts of the Gospels he is direct and confrontational: with Scribes and Pharisees and with the woman at the well. Jesus regarded this Temple as a place of deepest respect with the presence of the Father; it must not be desecrated. Furthermore it was meant for ALL the people, not a commercial few who had advantages.

It is true that each follower fashions the Lord Jesus in a manner that is closer to his or her own personality. Not many of us would rise in a fit of righteous anger and drive out the profiteers who had made his Father's house into a den of thieves. Not many have the deep sense of respect that Jesus had for this place! It was not in his bones to do nothing; Jesus did not mince words or deeds. Furthermore, Jesus took this action with the sudden burst of the Holy Spirit and did not first tell his disciples what he was to do or to follow him. In all four Gospels the tale is told and in each, the ones who disliked him began the plot to put him to death.

During this Lent we have the opportunity to ask ourselves what we ought to do when confronted with small or large tasks ahead. We do not want to deny them, or to excuse ourselves at this time for treating them. Certainly, we don't want to escape to a world of dreams or allurements. We want to follow Jesus, even if the action is not as dramatic as overturning the tables of the changers. Perhaps a search among our postponed activities will lead us rapidly to the neglected task we must do, given the resources and time we have left.

Before scratching our head for that singular deed needing confrontation, let's consider a second case where the issue is one involving a number of us (a family, group, class, or local community). The action to be taken needs to be a cooperative venture and that can be more difficult than an individual action. Jesus' disciples did not help him in the overturning action, for he acted alone. In a joint venture the decision must be made to act in such a fashion or with others. Listen to how the Spirit speaks to us.

Our broader world has its troubles needing confrontation. As active Christians we need to face the impending catastrophe in a cooperative as well as confrontational spirit. Active global cooperative participation is called for and should be addressed if we are true to the Lord. We must not leave the scene and give it to others, for we as Christians suffer together in the Body of Christ.



Discovering Our Consolations

This is my son, the beloved. Listen to him. (Mark 9:7)

This unknown soul came up and thanked me for a little something I had said and done, and it came at just the right moment in my life. My work that day was transfigured; it was full of light. Was it a moment of consolation?

We all need the consoling touch of God's hand in our lives. We are not tough guys who can make it through life with nothing but a promise. We need a good word, a pat on the back, a smile -- all these are the seasonings, which make the everyday life flavorful and livable. And we are confident that our merciful God gives these moments of encouragement. We are blessed and if we take a moment, we discover the consoling spirit in the sea of love in which we are immersed as a complex event that is really celebrated twice in the liturgical year: once in the high summer in early August, when the glory of the Lord is shining with full foliage and harvest produce, and once in Lent when Jesus and the disciples need consolation to carry through the upcoming Calvary experience.

Jesus takes three Apostles up the mount carry on his mission. While standing in center stage, Jesus talks with Moses and Elijah; thus he stands out as the greatest of the lawgivers and prophets. Jesus' face is radiant and shines like the sun. Peter's reaction is to say -- "It is good for us to be here;" in our everyday language he could have said -- "Let's take a picture" -- and he offers to erect a stone memorial (incidentally, today on Mount Tabor sits the beautiful church of the Transfiguration). The three tents refer to the giving of the law in the Feast of Tabernacles. God the Father confirms the solemn occasion through sanctioning of what Jesus is doing, all while the disciples freeze in fright.

The Transfiguration is filled with consolation. Jesus needs this for the final mission -- and so do the disciples. After the horrors of Jesus' Passion and Death comes the glory of Resurrection. To be transfigured (transformed so as to be glorified) is to anticipate what is approaching and reach beyond. Transfiguration is the vision of a better world, and occasionally we come to the hilltop, a vista from which we see a horizon. No wonder the Transfiguration occurred on beautiful Mount Tabor overlooking the lake and rolling hills of Galilee. We too need our moments of consolation -- and God provides them. Stop a moment and look at our awakening landscape; God gives us precious moments that are the Gift Giver's consolations to us.



Becoming an Activist Like Jesus

How can I be like Christ? The crisis today is that we hold back out of fear. We lack willingness to follow the prompting of the Spirit. Believing and loving communities profess a common creed and unite in worship to express their faith and love. However, communities of hope are far less easily defined. The prisoner behind bars with little hope of freedom or the hungry child in the sub-Saharan village with parents dead from Ebola may appear to have little hope, but when they await the Spirit acting within them then hope springs eternal. There are times when those who are free to act and not restricted must break that silence. Jesus Christ is that hope for all, the physically restricted (imprisoned, orphans and terminally ill) and the ones who have opportunities to fulfill that deepest hopes.

Liberation means breaking the bonds that close us off, opening us to act in spiritual ways. Even when someone is behind bars or on a hospice bed -- a joining of hopeful hearts, whether through active work or passive suffering, becomes a single act of saving our wounded world. We share a joint enterprise in and through Christ and so his coming is our hope realized in space and time. By analogy, we "incarnate" Christ (by being the type or embodiment of the Incarnate Mystery) in our own lives. We make Christ present through our actions; we offer the opportunity for Heaven and Earth to meet in visible form through our actions.

Now is the acceptable time! Now is when Earth and Heaven meet. Anytime we become deeply immersed in earthly affairs and yet do this in a godly manner, we participate more fully in the incarnate mystery of Jesus Christ. We are faced with climate change that is of human origin and we know full well that with determined effort on the part of all participants we could move to an energy economy that is far less hurtful. However, delaying the changes allows the profit-makers to continue in their greedy practice. To allow the privileged few to take advantage of this time and we do nothing is sinful -- and we are never allowed to foster such a sinful condition. To act and be like Jesus is to make Heaven and Earth kiss and the hypostatic union shine in our own imitation of Jesus God-man. Through grace we act.

Our action reflect our words, for we show that we are willing to make this more than an academic exercise of defining the Incarnation of God becoming one of us. By acting we say we will stand behind what we say and know to be true. Heaven inspires us and Earth calls us to do meaningful things. If we truly believe that God's creation is meaningful and worthy of preservation, we will act in such a fashion that will halt those who want to destroy this precious Earth. The seriousness of the situation calls us to break the bonds of paralysis and even at high cost and risk to ourselves do what is publicly needed to stop the disaster facing our world and to imitate Jesus in doing so.



Speaking the Word


Send Victory like a dew, you heavens,
and let the clouds rain it down.
Let the earth open
for salvation to spring up.
Let deliverance, too bud forth,
which I, YHWH, shall create. (Isaiah 45:8)

The angel announces Good News that the Eternal Word is now among us. A new age dawns and Mary becomes the focus of attention at this blessed moment. We have our God among us and we dare to follow Mary in saying "yes" to the unfolding mystery. Mary in her transparency and purity speaks for the whole human race. We stand beside her accepting the divine Word and presenting him to others. While we do not physically bear Christ through the gestation period, we carry the gift of Christ to others when we bear Good News, Word being incarnate.

God reaches down ever so gently; Earth, personified in Mary, springs up with a "yes," and deliverance occurs. From Mary's human womb "buds forth" a savior. This imagery is the opposite of what some painters depict, e.g., a richly decorated Mary prayerfully meditating on the monumental event of the Annunciation. Rather, hers is a joyful response but one filled with the need to be of service to her cousin who is with child in old age. God being with her in a special way is magnified by a journey to help another -- a sense of selflessness and a dynamic moment to share Good News.

God speaks in the person of Jesus. Hollywood theatricals would have been quite different, but that is not God's way. The Holy One wanted no parade of a political Messiah with sword-wielding angels slaying the Roman legions. Even his disciples still had such grandiose messianic expectations at the time of the Ascension. The alternative involves humble people who now see that the lowly are exalted (Luke 1:52), a radical democratic, grassroots movement from bottom up, and now becoming incorporated within our Christian political aspirations -- though it has taken centuries of struggle to be realized.

Women show a uniqueness in a humble way of healing, their grace and their courage is central to the drama of Incarnation. Mary is the prime collaborator in the great mystery of redemption, the one who says the ultimate "yes" to God, "let what you have said be done to me." (Luke 1:38). She becomes Theodokos -- the bearer of God; she is full of grace, mother of the Savior, New Eve, foremost model of all women, central receiver of the Good News; and her affirmation is an acceptance from the fullness of freedom in her heart. Her prayer of joy, daily Church recitation, is one of the most revolutionary responses in human history -- the hungry filled with good things and the rich sent away empty (Luke 1:53); all generations will call her blessed, because God has done great things for her, (Luke 1:48) -- a person of utter humility.


Earthhealing, Inc.

Attn: Mark Spencer - 241 Haiti Rd. Berea, KY 40403

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Dear readers: we thank you for your generous contributions to help sustain Fr. Al's writings. Your support is needed now more than ever in our challenging world. Donations may be made sent to 'Earthhealing,' c/o Mark Spencer, 241 Haiti Road, Berea, Kentucky 40403. As we continue to confront climate change, we appreciate any donation you can make to help us persevere with this vital mission. We hold your feedback in high regard, and look forward to keeping in touch. Please reach out to us anytime at