Anna Sutherland (1989-2019)

Anna Sutherland passed away last Wednesday. She wrote the terrific article “Conservatives Must Increase Economic Security Not Undermine It,” as a guest contributor for Millennial. Her work was smart, thoughtful, fair, fact-driven, precise, and rooted in a thoroughly Catholic worldview. We invited her multiple times to become an official writer for Millennial, viewing her as a brilliant pro-family voice and someone who could—perhaps more effectively than anyone else in our generation—articulate an authentically Catholic, far more communitarian alternative to the popular strands of contemporary American conservatism. We are heartbroken by the news. She leaves behind a husband and three young children. All who knew her well attest to her character, loving nature, and deep faith.

Please join us in praying for her and all of her loved ones.

Her obituary is below, and you can find more information about her funeral mass and services here.

Anna Marie (Williams) Sutherland suddenly and unexpectedly passed away at home on Wednesday, March 6, 2019 of a cardiac condition. She was born to David and Marie (Miller) Williams on May 9, 1989. She married her college sweetheart, Edward Sutherland in 2013. She is sorely missed by her husband and three daughters Marie Ann (4 years old), Rose Colomba (2 years old), and Grace Faustina (4 months); parents David and Marie, siblings Sr. Maria Regina, SV (Karen), Doug, Clare, and Molly; parents-in-law Joseph and Geralynn (Rhein) Sutherland; siblings-in-law Justin and Anne-Marie (Sutherland) Ducote, Peter, Audrey, Thomas, George, Patrick, Michael, and Elizabeth Sutherland; and many aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Anna ran varsity cross-country and was captain of her track team during high school. She attended Hillsdale College and graduated in the top 10 of her class in 2011 with a degree in English.

Anna was a gifted writer and editor. Following college she worked on the editorial board for USA TODAY as a Collegiate Network Fellow for one year before working as a Junior Fellow with First Things journal for one year. Following her marriage to Edward Sutherland in 2013 she worked for the Institute for Family Studies (IFS), continued copyediting for First Things, and started freelance editing for many scholars around the world. However, more than anything else Anna loved being a mother. She gave herself completely to her daughters.

Anna possessed a strong intellect and character. She enjoyed discussing and debating religion, art, poetry, history, literature, and politics privately with friends and family, as well as publicly in the pages of First Things or head-to-head with the editorial board of USA TODAY. She was a voracious reader and instilled a love of literature in her daughters.

Anna loved her Catholic faith deeply. She attended SS. Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church in Sterling Heights, MI. She founded and headed a ministry at her parish that delivered meals to new mother and families facing a hardship.
She loved her husband, daughters, parents, siblings, and friends dearly. Her encouragement, loving heart, thoughtfulness, and generosity brightened many days for many people. She has left a hole in our lives, and is deeply missed.


Unbreaking America: A New Short Film with Jennifer Lawrence about Solving the Corruption Crisis with Political Reform

RepresentUs board member Jennifer Lawrence and Director of RepresentUs Josh Silver explain the dysfunction and legal corruption in the US system of government, how it can be fixed, and what the American people can do about it. The organization exists to bring together conservatives, progressives, and everyone in between to pass powerful anti-corruption laws that stop political bribery, end secret money, and fix our broken elections.


Pope Francis: Do You Live for Fire or Ash?

Here are some key points from Pope Francis’ Ash Wednesday homily:

  • Lent opens with a piercing sound, that of a trumpet that does not please the ears, but instead proclaims a fast. It is a loud sound that seeks to slow down our life, which is so fast-paced, yet often directionless. It is a summons to stop – a “halt!” –, to focus on what is essential, to fast from the unnecessary things that distract us. It is a wake-up call for the soul.
  • Lent is the time to rediscover the direction of life. Because in life’s journey, as in every journey, what really matters is not to lose sight of the goal.
  • Return to me, says the Lord. To me. The Lord is the goal of our journey in this world. The direction must lead to him.
  • Our thoughts often focus on transient things, which come and go. The small mark of ash, which we will receive, is a subtle yet real reminder that of the many things occupying our thoughts, that we chase after and worry about every day, nothing will remain. No matter how hard we work, we will take no wealth with us from this life. Earthly realities fade away like dust in the wind. Possessions are temporary, power passes, success wanes. The culture of appearance prevalent today, which persuades us to live for passing things, is a great deception.
  • Lent is the time to free ourselves from the illusion of chasing after dust. Lent is for rediscovering that we are created for the inextinguishable flame, not for ashes that immediately disappear; for God, not for the world; for the eternity of heaven, not for earthly deceit; for the freedom of the children of God, not for slavery to things. We should ask ourselves today: Where do I stand? Do I live for fire or for ash?
  • Prayer reunites us to God; charity, to our neighbour; fasting, to ourselves. God, my neighbour, my life: these are the realities that do not fade away and in which we must invest.
  • Outward appearance, money, a career or hobby: if we live for them, they will become idols that enslave us, sirens that charm us and then cast us adrift. Whereas if our heart is attached to what does not pass away, we rediscover ourselves and are set free. Lent is the time of grace that liberates the heart from vanity. It is a time of healing from addictions that seduce us. It is a time to fix our gaze on what abides.
  • Where can we fix our gaze, then, throughout this Lenten journey? It is simple: upon the Crucified one. Jesus on the cross is life’s compass, which directs us to heaven.
  • We will never move forward if we are heavily weighed down. We need to free ourselves from the clutches of consumerism and the snares of selfishness, from always wanting more, from never being satisfied, and from a heart closed to the needs of the poor.

This Year, Try a More Integrated Approach to Lent

At Grotto, Mike Jordan Laskey writes:

In his brief remarks, Pope Francis hit on the Catholic Church’s three traditional Lenten practices, which, in addition to fasting, include prayer and almsgiving (material support for those living on the margins). Fasting finds its meaning only if it’s connected to the other two practices.

The Church certainly makes good sense lifting up these three disciplines, but after I learned that there were actually three things I was supposed to be doing in Lent instead of just one, I saw a potential trap right away: Three Lenten practices is way more than one Lenten practice. If giving up chocolate without praying or supporting the marginalized was more than I could reliably handle over 40 days, what was I supposed to do with three obligations?

A few years of pondering has left me with one idea: I think the key is to hook em together….

When I tried hooking my Lenten practices together for the first time, I noticed I was spending way too much money on purchasing iTunes albums. Plus books and DVDs and magazines. (I’m a media horder, essentially.) So I decided to fast from buying those things. I thought about people who don’t have the easy access to media that I take for granted, especially young kids whose families might not have the sort of disposable income my family had.

So I decided to spend my Lent praying for those kids. To keep it specific, I prayed for children in a few different school communities in lower-income areas that I knew about from teacher friends. Finally, I picked one of the schools whose mission was particularly close to my heart and donated to them about as much as I figured I had saved by fasting from media purchasing during Lent.

It wasn’t revolutionary, but it felt integrated, whole, and worthwhile. Plus, it wasn’t overwhelmingly hard. In fact, it felt easier than other years’ attempts — the unity helped each of the practices support the other two. I actually stuck with it until the end….

So my challenge to you is to think about doing something new this Lent — not necessarily more, but more integrated.


Pope Francis: God Created the Earth for the Benefit of All

via the Vatican:

God created the earth for the benefit of all, so that it would be a welcoming place where no one would feel excluded and where everyone could find a home. Our planet is rich in natural resources. And indigenous peoples, with their abundant variety of languages, cultures, traditions, knowledge and ancestral methods, become for all of us a wake-up call that emphasizes that man is not the owner of nature, but only its steward, the one who has the vocation to watch over it with care, so that its biodiversity is not lost and water can remain pure and crystal clear, the air clean, forests leafy and the soil fertile.

Indigenous peoples are a living appeal for hope. They remind us that human beings have a shared responsibility in the care of the “common home”. And if certain decisions taken thus far have ruined it, it is never too late to learn the lesson and adopt a new lifestyle. It is about adopting a way to move forward which, leaving behind superficial approaches and harmful or exploitative habits, overcomes atrocious individualism, convulsive consumerism and cold selfishness….

If we join forces and, in a constructive spirit, engage in patient and generous dialogue, we will end up becoming more aware that we need each other; that conduct harmful to our surrounding environment also negatively affects the serenity and fluidity of coexistence which, at times, has not been coexistence but rather, destruction; that the poor cannot continue to suffer injustices, and young people have a right to a better world than ours and await convincing responses from us.


Pope Francis Explains Lenten Fasting, Almsgiving, and Prayer

via the Vatican:

Indeed, when we fail to live as children of God, we often behave in a destructive way towards our neighbours and other creatures – and ourselves as well – since we begin to think more or less consciously that we can use them as we will. Intemperance then takes the upper hand: we start to live a life that exceeds those limits imposed by our human condition and nature itself. We yield to those untrammelled desires that the Book of Wisdom sees as typical of the ungodly, those who act without thought for God or hope for the future (cf. 2:1-11). Unless we tend constantly towards Easter, towards the horizon of the Resurrection, the mentality expressed in the slogans “I want it all and I want it now!” and “Too much is never enough”, gains the upper hand.

The root of all evil, as we know, is sin, which from its first appearance has disrupted our communion with God, with others and with creation itself, to which we are linked in a particular way by our body. This rupture of communion with God likewise undermines our harmonious relationship with the environment in which we are called to live, so that the garden has become a wilderness (cf. Gen 3:17-18). Sin leads man to consider himself the god of creation, to see himself as its absolute master and to use it, not for the purpose willed by the Creator but for his own interests, to the detriment of other creatures.

Once God’s law, the law of love, is forsaken, then the law of the strong over the weak takes over. The sin that lurks in the human heart (cf. Mk 7:20-23) takes the shape of greed and unbridled pursuit of comfort, lack of concern for the good of others and even of oneself. It leads to the exploitation of creation, both persons and the environment, due to that insatiable covetousness which sees every desire as a right and sooner or later destroys all those in its grip….

All creation is called, with us, to go forth “from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom 8:21). Lent is a sacramental sign of this conversion. It invites Christians to embody the paschal mystery more deeply and concretely in their personal, family and social lives, above all by fasting, prayer and almsgiving.

Fasting, that is, learning to change our attitude towards others and all of creation, turning away from the temptation to “devour” everything to satisfy our voracity and being ready to suffer for love, which can fill the emptiness of our hearts. Prayer, which teaches us to abandon idolatry and the self-sufficiency of our ego, and to acknowledge our need of the Lord and his mercy. Almsgiving, whereby we escape from the insanity of hoarding everything for ourselves in the illusory belief that we can secure a future that does not belong to us. And thus to rediscover the joy of God’s plan for creation and for each of us, which is to love him, our brothers and sisters, and the entire world, and to find in this love our true happiness.

Dear brothers and sisters, the “lenten” period of forty days spent by the Son of God in the desert of creation had the goal of making it once more that garden of communion with God that it was before original sin (cf. Mk 1:12-13; Is 51:3). May our Lent this year be a journey along that same path, bringing the hope of Christ also to creation, so that it may be “set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom 8:21). Let us not allow this season of grace to pass in vain! Let us ask God to help us set out on a path of true conversion. Let us leave behind our selfishness and self-absorption, and turn to Jesus’ Pasch. Let us stand beside our brothers and sisters in need, sharing our spiritual and material goods with them. In this way, by concretely welcoming Christ’s victory over sin and death into our lives, we will also radiate its transforming power to all of creation.


20th Century Critiques of Populist Nationalism Remain True

Pope Francis recently cautioned the world about the rise of populism and nationalism, comparing this development to the interwar period. We see it in the xenophobic backlash to the refugee crisis, as well as rising antisemitism, anti-Muslim discrimination, and other forms of bigotry. We see it in the rise of far right parties (often with neo-fascist roots) and Donald Trump, whose former chief strategist Steve Bannon (an alt-Catholic admirer of the integralist Charles Maurras) is working to undermine Catholic social teaching and the great achievements of the 20th century that were (mostly) achieved through the leadership of the Christian Democratic leaders the pope has repeatedly praised. None of these reactionary ideas are new. Thus, old critiques of populist nationalism remain just as true today as they were in the 20th century.

In The Fate of Man in the Modern World, Nicolas Berdyaev offers one such critique:

Nationalism turns nationality into a supreme and absolute value to which all life is subordinated. This is idolatry. The nation replaces God. Thus Nationalism cannot but come into conflict with Christian universalism, with the Christian revelation that there is neither Greek nor Jew, and that every man has absolute value.

He adds:

Nationalism preaches either seclusion, isolation, blindness to other nations and culture, self-satisfaction and particularism, or else expansion at the expense of others, conquest, subjection, imperialism. And in both cases it denies Christian conscience, contraverts the principle and the habits of the brotherhood of man. Nationalism is in complete contradiction to a personal ethic; it denies the supreme value of human personality.

The Christian response to a globalization that is excessively materialistic, individualistic, and libertarian is not supporting the return of nationalism but embracing a globalism shaped by solidarity, the recognition of both rights and responsibilities, respect for the dignity and worth of every person on the planet, social justice and authentic freedom, and a commitment to the global common good.