Filtering by Category: about me

setbacks and comebacks

Added on by Matthew Sutton.

I had wanted to complete a marathon. I had a setback and could not.

I trained for a long time to run the famous Brooklyn Marathon on November 15. But on September 26 during my long training run, I injured some tiny connective tissue in my right knee. I rested a week and then ran my longest run of the training, 20 miles, my longest run ever since ten years ago when I had completed the Chicago Marathon. Somehow, I was able to complete this 20 mile training run even though my knee was on fire. I depended on my spirit being on fire. You see, I wanted this run so badly to prove to myself that I could run the marathon. If I could endure the pain, I could complete this major goal I felt called to do for our sports4compassion community. After the very long training run, I rested for a little longer than usual and missed some small training runs. No big deal, I thought, since I had done the epic 20 mile run. I then tried to sneak in another two runs even with a still very sharp and constant pain in my right knee. It is hard to know for sure, but after those two runs, I think I completely damaged my knee for the long term. Since October 12, I have not been able to run or even walk for more than a mile without my leg giving out. So my sports for compassion has become a kind of sitting for compassion.

I used to think this pain and setback was just part of the training, just part of taking my body, mind, and spirit beyond what it had done. But now, I honestly feel very disappointed in myself. The setback is all I can see when the surge of pain comes up my knee into the hip and then strikes my heart. When I give this disappointment room in my mind, it takes over and brings me further into a downward spiral of even greater disappointment. Have you been in this downward spiral? I'm there now.

My prayer has been for wisdom and healing. I have prayed that I could somehow run this event for all those cheering for me and supporting our mission.

This year has been a blessing to me and many others because of our new sports4compassion movement. I know our friends at Heart's Home in Brooklyn have received your donations that support them doing their mission to be a presence of God to the forgotten. This year, we have experienced a great generosity of giving that included several half marathons, 5k races, and some epic bike races. For me, the Brooklyn Marathon was going to be my crowning gift and achievement for my year of health for myself and others, especially those most in need.

But this beyond did not go as I wanted.

I have to be honest with you, I am disappointed in myself. I have struggled to except this injury that has prevented me from running for myself and for others. I believed in myself to be running for you. And now I can not run.

But the Lord surprised me as he always does.

In prayer searching for his meaning in this setback, I have came to realize that by his grace, by his abundant grace, my running long races were a grace but also my not being able to run long races were a grace too.

What I have come to learn is that more people relate to my having this major setback than my other accomplishments for this movement. Telling my story of being setback has brought out other people's stories of setbacks. They hear my pain and reveal their pain. We share our sufferings and we search for the meaing within them. We together hear the Lord speaking to us even in this storm because he answers us "in the secret place of thunder" (Psalm 81:7).

Previously I had talked about my call to running a marathon this year as a call to follow Jesus' beyond. And it still is. I did not realize now that this beyond was not going to be 26.2 miles long, but instead the long run of learning even more deeply that it is all about him and always about his compassion for me and you.

My story is not done. Sports for compassion is not done. I will run this marathon for you. I will comeback.

This setback just prepares my comeback.

And so for you too. Whatever setback you have now is only preparing you for your great comeback in Lord Jesus Christ.

Stay tuned and keep supporting.

why are we reading this

Added on by Matthew Sutton.

Your professor (that’s me) has assigned you several required books because he thinks they will guide you to your goal to be a young intellectual and wisdom professional.

Some speak about this current age as the Information Age because so much information is accessible to so many people. Something new has happened in the history of humanity. Time was, one would need to undergo heroic tasks to acquire the information that is now so readily available to you on your phone, wrist, or glasses. There is something great here for the future of humanity, but most use this Information Age to access stupid information. You know what I’m talking about. Now you know, but did you really need to know?

Your educational path with me means that I hope to train you in becoming a wisdom professional — accessing the galactic nebulae of information, guiding them into sun-forming knowledge (something that you know and that’s not just accessible to you) and then transforming it a proper solar system of wisdom (knowledge that now guides you toward being a better you and guides our culture to being a better culture).

That’s me — forming your mind into a solar system — and that’s why we are reading this.

handing on the faith available

Added on by Matthew Sutton.
Handing on the Faith cover

My new co-edited book, Handing on the Faith, is now available! Edited with William Portier, this book is the Annual Volume of the College Theology Society and collects essays that explore the theme of how theology and catechesis interact. Is theology “handing on the faith,” or is the vocation of the theologian something more/different? What are the challenges and convergences for theology and catechesis in the classroom? This book offers the reflections and analyses of teachers across a broad spectrum of experience, background, and personal convictions vis-à-vis the importance of catechesis in the college classroom.

From the introduction:

Just about mid-way through the four-year commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, members of the College Theology Society (CTS) gathered in May 2013 at Creighton University in Omaha for the fifty-ninth Annual Meeting. In a signature passage from the Introduction to Gaudium et Spes, the Council recalled the church’s “duty in every age of examin- ing the signs of the times and interpreting them in light of the gospel …”[1] One of the signs of the times needing interpretation is what Sandra Yocum, in her 2007 history of the CTS, described as a “revolution in theological studies in every aspect from who produces theology to what is produced, from who teaches to who learns, and from where theological studies take place to what is actually taught in the undergraduate college classrooms.”[2] Professors and students are still changing. The “revolution” continues.

Here is the index:

  • “The Gospel and the Education of Our Undergraduates” - Sandra Yocum

Part I: Convergences

  • “The Heart Has Its Reasons: Giving an Account of the Hope That Is in Us” - Robert P. Imbelli
  • “Cardinal Dulles and the New Evangelization” - Anne-Marie Kirmse, O.P.
  • “Giving God the First Word: Spirituality as the Bridge between Catechesis and Theology” - Christopher Collins, S.J.
  • Hans Urs von Balthasar as Source for Teaching Theology in North American Higher Education" - Christopher Hadley, S.J.
  • “No More Time for Nostalgia: Millennial Morality and a Catholic Tradition Mash-Up” - Maureen H. O’Connell

Part II: Teaching Theology

  • “‘For I Handed on to You as of First Importance What I Myself Had Received’: Theologians and Handing on the Faith” - Aurelie A. Hagstrom
  • “Teaching Theology and Handing on the Faith: One Institutional Perspective” - David Gentry-Akin
  • “Handing on the Faith as a Guest, and Teaching Theology When You’re Not Teaching Theology” - Andrew D. Black
  • “‘Turn, Turn, Turn’: Considering Conversion in the Theology Classroom” - Katherine G. Schmidt
  • “Nurturing Aesthetic Sensibility, Religious Imagination, and the Use of Analogy in the Academic Life of Contemporary College Students” - Mary-Paula Cancienne, R.S.M.
  • “Beyond Sunday School: Affirming Faith, Challenging Knowledge in the College Classroom” - Emily Dykman, Michael Lopez-Kaley, and Laura Nettles
  • “Challenges Theologians Face Teaching about Marriage and Family” - Felicidad Oberholzer

Part III: Implications

  • “The True Knowledge of Religion and of the Christian Doctrine: Robinson Crusoe as Catechist and Theologian” - Curtis W. Freeman
  • “A Crisis in Catholic Identity: Lessons Learned from Catholic Relief Services” - Christine Tucker
  • “What We Have Loved, Others Will Love” - Donna Orsuto

It was a real sacrificial pleasure to work on this important project. I hope you’ll consider buying a copy of Handing on the Faith from Orbis Books or Amazon.

  1. Documents of the Ecumenical Councils, vol. II (Trent to Vatican II), edited by Norman P. Tanner, S.J. (London and Washington, DC: Sheed & Ward and Georgetown University Press, 1990), 1070.  ↩

  2. Sandra Yocum Mize, Joining the Revolution in Theology: The College Theology Society, 1954–2004 (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007), 4.  ↩

more good words about my book

Added on by Matthew Sutton.

"Hans Urs von Balthasar is increasingly acknowledged as one of the greatest theologians of the Christian tradition. Unquestionably, he was master of Western civilization as few have ever been and brought all into the key of Christ. His spiritual mentor in this vast undertaking was Adrienne von Speyr, whose work von Balthasar held to be more important than his own. Karl Rahner famously observed that the Christian of the twenty-first century would be a mystic-or not be at all. Adrienne von Speyr models this for us: she was gifted with a 'cataract of mystical graces.' Matthew Lewis Sutton's deep penetration into her mystical gifts offers an excellent introduction to her unique vision and also helps hit the 'reveal codes' button for von Balthasar's theology."

  • Raymond Gawronski (Dominican School of Philosophy & Theology, Berkeley, CA)

"This book has the potential to do for Adrienne von Speyr's theology what Father Edward Oakes's Pattern of Redemption did for Hans Urs von Balthasar's in the mid-1990s, in this case by accessibly introducing Adrienne to a generation of students and scholars. Focusing on the center of her thought-the opening of heaven through Christ's obedience so that we can share even now in the relationships that characterize the life of the divine Trinity, in light of her own experience of mystical penetration into the Father's sending of the Son and Spirit-Matthew Lewis Sutton ably presents Adrienne's teaching on the full panoply of theological topics. The convergence of her theology with von Balthasar's is striking."

  • Matthew Levering (Mundelein Seminary)

"Matthew Lewis Sutton's thorough, unpretentious, and lucid introduction to the person and work of Adrienne von Speyr is now the standard guide in English. Indeed, I suspect it will remain the standard for many years to come. If you're looking for an excellent introduction to Adrienne von Speyr, look no further."

  • Rodney Howsare (DeSales University)

"Matthew Lewis Sutton's explication of Adrienne von Speyr's insight into Christian spirituality untangles the style of the mystical writer, giving the reader access into the deep vision of this contemporary woman, which is too often dismissed as simplistic due to her uncomplicated language by some and as impenetrable due to her circular manner of her writing by others. Sutton's work uncovers wealth within subtlety and gives access to a truly inspired writer for sincere seekers of God's presence in the world. It is a must-read for those who have approached von Speyr but found her difficult to follow."

  • Justin M. Matro (Saint Vincent Seminary)

Please preorder Heaven Opens: The Trinitarian Mysticism of Adrienne von Speyr.