Matt Labash is one of my favorite writers for the Weekly Standard. He's always had a bit of Hunter Thompson and P. J. O'Rourke in him. Writing, for him, often entails adventure. Getting down with the locals, He's got enough down-home, good ol' boy irreverence that he could write a diverting piece about redneck moonshiners, fly-fishermen, oddball politicians, and cranks of all kinds, and make you feel like you met someone interesting. But he's always been a bit of a smart-aleck, and it sometimes amazed me that he could convince people who maybe should know better to open up to him. Lately, he's branched out a little, moving into the mean city streets. Last year he wrote a couple of long pieces, one on the bombed out moonscape that is Detroit and the people who still live there, the other on the unquashable Marion Berry. But even though Labash writes with sensitivity, there's always the bemused wise-cracker lurking in his voice.
So back in early March, my copy of the Weekly Standard arrived with a most depressing cover. It showed a man, obviously fighting revulsion, dragging a body bag from a ruined building in Haiti. And the cover story was a long one. I was busy getting ready to go to Europe, and really didn't want to trudge through a depressing story about an earthly Hell recently made ever more hellish. But the writer was Matt Labash. As the magazine sat on my stack, I kept thinking: Why would they send Labash? How would, how could his outlook and style fit in such a place?
I finally read the story last week and it was one of the most affecting pieces of journalism I've ever read. A large part of Labash's story is a profile of Fr. Rick Frechette's work in the ruins of Haiti. And Labash brings out the humanity of this down-to-earth saint who is doing God's work and bringing God's grace to a place that seems all but God-forsaken. It is a story that is at once astonishing, humbling, and inspiring. A saint, among other things, is a person who is to be an example of how we are to love. Fr. Frechette is such an example. If you're like me, it's probably not the kind of story you'd want to pick up and read. But read it.