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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.

god's compassion for our suffering

Added on by Matthew Sutton.

On March 9, 2013, I gave a powerful talk on God’s Compassion for Our Suffering during a conference on Three Things Talks at St. John’s University. I was so happy to speak about the compassion of our Father who reaches out to us through his Son and Holy Spirit.

In the course of the talk, I lead the audience through thinking about the story of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15:11-32).

Luke 15:11-32

The Parable of the Prodigal and His Brother

11 Then Jesus said, ‘There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.” So he divided his property between them. 13 A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and travelled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. 14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16 He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 17 But when he came to himself he said, “How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.’ ” 20 So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21 Then the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” 22 But the father said to his slaves, “Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!” And they began to celebrate.

25 ‘Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27 He replied, “Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.” 28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29 But he answered his father, “Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!” 31 Then the father said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.” ’

freedom and belonging

Added on by Matthew Sutton.

On May 27, 2012, the Feast of Pentecost (and my birthday), I presented on the blessings of the Holy Spirit and the meaning of freedom. The goal of the presentation was learning about the blessings of belonging to each other in the Holy Spirit.

In the presentation, I am welcoming new members to the Fraternity of St. Maximillian Kolbe, which is a lay group supporting the mission of Heart’s Home, a secular institute that serves the poorest of the poor.

If you would like to follow along, I examine three biblical passages Acts 2:1-13, Exodus 19:1-25, and Galatians 5:16-26, which are the readings for the Feast of Pentecost.

Please listen to learn the blessings of belonging freely to a family of compassion.

what makes a saint?

Added on by Matthew Sutton.

The NYC Catholic News Show Currents featured me in a story on what makes a saint. Here’s the story

Currents: What Makes a Saint?

I am speaking in the St. Thomas More Chapel on the campus of St. John’s University, my institution of higher (holier) education. My presentation was on the universal call to live a life of holiness, to live a life in a confessional attitude toward God. I’ve spoken about this idea before.

My thanks to the all the staff of Currents Web, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. You do great work for the Catholic Church in New York City.

a compelling trinitarian theology

Added on by Matthew Sutton.

Happily my article “A Compelling Trinitarian Theology: Hans Urs von Balthasar’s Theology of the Trinitarian Inversion and Reversion” has just been published by the International Journal of Systematic Theology. If your institution gives you access to the journal’s articles, you can find it here.

The abstract of the article:

In trinitarian theology, the problematic place of the Holy Spirit in the taxonomy of the immanent Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) does not seem to correspond to what is revealed in the economy (Father, Holy Spirit and Son). Because of this pneumatological problem, some theologians have abandoned the traditional trinitarian taxonomy. This approach, however, does not provide a finally convincing answer that is consistent with both the biblical witness and the theological tradition. In this article, I argue that Hans Urs von Balthasar’s theology of the trinitarian inversion and reversion does provide a convincing answer to the trinitarian taxonomy problem. After supporting my thesis by first referencing the traditional trinitarian taxonomy offered in Augustine’s de Trinitate and then examining the possibility of abandoning the taxonomy given by Jürgen Moltmann and Leonardo Boff, I will offer von Balthasar’s solution as the most compelling trinitarian taxonomy, especially in light of the ecumenical dialogue between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.