Msgr Stuart Swetland

What a great bio, Naval Academy graduate, Rhode scholar, ++++

God didn’t make us for this moment alone, he made us so that we can be set on fire, so we can go out and set the world on fire… be the fathers, the brothers, the sons, the friends, that we were meant to be.

Start with John 1, from the disciples of John the Baptist following Jesus to the calling of Cephas.

What was the meaning of the 153, the number of fish caught?

The 100 represents Israel, the 50 the nations, and the 3 being the Trinity. St. Jerome disagreed with this, saying that there were 153 species of fish, so this represented the whole world (one of each fish). St. Augustine said 153 had to be the symbolic number, because 10 represents the Old Testament, 7 represents the New Testament …

The whole point is that they were going to crazy lengths to figure out the meaning of the number -even though it may have only been the number of fish, nothing more- but the truth was that they knew that John didn’t just throw away stuff, everything was chosen was right. After all, he probably wrote this about 60 years after the events that he described … he chooses only seven signs (a perfect number) to illustrate everything that Jesus’ life meant.

Let’s go back to that first question in this account. “Where do you abide, where do you stay?”. Jesus replied simply “come and see”, it was about 4 in the afternoon. Sixty years later he new what time of day it was?

Simply because this was his call, when he became a disciple … he was one of those two “disciples of John the Baptist”. He new what time it was when he entered into a relationship with “He who is”.

Catherine of Siena had a revelation in which God told her that “She was ‘she who is not'”. In other words, we are held in existence because of God ongoing creative love, a recreating, a merciful love in a dying world, a world without hope, a world sinking into despair.

Either Jesus is the Lord of all of our life, or He is not the Lord of any of it.

For example, tithing is an Old Testament concept. In the New Testament it’s not 10% … it’s 100%. In other words, the question becomes how much of God’s money dare I keep for myself?

Msgr. Swetland was raised in a good, solid Lutheran family.  At the Naval Academy he encountered a “peace” church, which told him that he was not welcome in uniform. He took that as a reason to stop being Christian.


In every age there are Judas-types, and we have some in our midsts right now. It was a Catholic who wrote the HHS mandate, but they have made a mistake … they are waking up the Church.

This a moment where we have a choice – do we join the world, or do we stand up for Jesus Christ?


So he left the faith and became a worldly person. For awhile he had everything the world valued – success, money, career success … and he was miserable.

Misery upon misery, as his success grew.

But God is the hound of heaven … He will never leave us alone.

When he was graduate student at Oxford he formed an eating group with seven people … four of the seven were Catholics, including two who were daily communicants. All four of them simply lived their faith. They had peace and joy, something he did not have.

He discovered that they had a real relationship with Jesus Christ, and were willing to answer those questions when asked, even though he was very anti-Catholic at that time. Because of this he came to the Church in his third year at Oxford.

Grad students evangelize grad students, teachers evangelize teachers, and so forth. “Like upon like” evangelization … that is precisely what Jesus did with the apostles.

Jesus calls us to do the same, in the world in which we live.

The biggest group of Christians are Catholics … the second biggest are fallen-away Catholics. We must reach out to these brothers and sisters … we must.

However, most of us have swallowed the lie that we don’t talk about religion, which means that shut up about the one thing that should matter the most to us, to them, to anyone.

If we introduce friends to other friends, why don’t we introduce them to our best friend? The one who knows us the best, loves us the most.

Yet we – particularly as men – tend to hide behind masks, trying to hide who we are, because we are masking the fact that we fear that if someone sees the real me, they won’t like us, and certainly won’t love.

We have to drop these masks – we are not ok, unless Jesus Christ makes us so, via the power of the Holy Spirit.

We need to become only one man, the one who has been elevated, healed, brought into a unity of life (see Christifideles Laici, JP the Great). Our society is in the mess we’re in because of the masks, the separation between our faith life from the rest of our lives, our destruction of the unity of life.

On the other hand, allowing Christ to build a true unity of life in us, then the world will change.

For too long, Catholic Christians in America Catholic Christians have been ashamed of Jesus Christ, we have hid our light under a bushel basket. because we have been lukewarm.

Jesus tells us what he thinks of lukewarmness in Revelations 2 … “because you are neither hot nor cold I vomit you out”.

This must change … it must.

Now it’s our turn to take our place, to be set on fire, to allow God to change the world around us.

Being the men that we are called to be is something intentional … we must choose.

The first stage is that we learn that we are the beloved son of the Father; if that doesn’t happen at home we must help others.

The second stage is we become something, find out “if we have what it takes?”. We take all sorts of risks to answer that question, many stupid things.

The next two stages happen together – we become warriors and we become lovers. We are fighting against powers and principalities that are not of this world … “nobody is going to mess with our family”.

In doing this we learn how to become the lovers that we are called to be. We have to posses ourselves enough that we can give ourselves away.

Every morning we should wake up as ask “how can we serve our brides today, how can we serve our kids?”. Jesus washed the feet of his disciples … this is the model of self-sacrificial love that we are called to live. B16 said that in doing this Jesus exalted his disciples, he lifted them up to heaven.

We must exhibit this self-sacrificial love, if we are called to be the spiritual leaders in our family.

The next stage is to be king, which cannot be as it is with the Gentiles … must be of service.

B16 said that “the world offers us comfort, but we weren’t made for comfort … we are made for greatness“. The great amongst us are those who serve the rest.

God wants this. As a matter of fact, the only tragedy in life is to not become the saint that we were meant to be … lives of heroic virtue.

Every one of us ought to be canonizable … we must let the Spirit of the Lord transform us … we must be made perfect even as the heavenly Father is perfect.

The last stage is that of sage … we no longer rule, we are wise and prayer warriors for others. As we age we must sanctify our diminishments. This is culturally antithetical, which is youth-obsessed.

We don’t honor the elderly, because we have substituted comfort for greatness. We must change this, and honor those who have fought the good fight, in season and out.

These stages he borrows from John Eldridge, btw.

All of these stages must be sanctified by God, at each stage we must choose … “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”.

Some of us may be called to be martyrs, but for most of us we are simply called to the white martyrdom of following the Lord every day in our life, in season and out.

Praised be Jesus Christ … now and forever!

Msgr Stuart Swetland

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