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A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Silence

The din surrounding Trump’s presidency invites me to sink into the Source, like a child escaping the surface noise by descending into a pool. There I hope to discover a hidden fount that liberates prayers for the man. Nothing else will do. Only the God who meets us in weakness, in silence, can help us now.

Last week I walked through two walls of protesters screaming ‘F**k Trump’ outside an airport. Amid the assault, I noticed one man holding a placard which displayed one of my favorite verses: ‘Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were once aliens in Egypt’ (EX 22:21). I thought of the Latin Americans I know who have helped revive the heart of Church and family in the north. For a flash, I wondered what kind of border best preserves the dignity of all persons, not only US citizens but also aliens in our midst whose gifts are greater than our fears. My thoughts dissolved in the barrage of vulgarities. Silence. Pray for the man.

I returned home to hear Madonna on the DC Mall muse on her plans to blow up the White House (she decided against it) while Ashley Judd coined her ‘Nasty Girl’ protest to protest nasty Trump. Another femme fatale lamented that she hadn’t machines guns in her vagina to aim straight at Trump. Hmmmm. More disturbing was the awareness that close Christian friends marched in smaller versions of ‘Women against Trump’ only to discover that they were unwittingly championing transgender and abortion rights. Since when does any man’s boorish persona justify a woman’s ‘freedom’ to annihilate her birthright or the child in her womb? Silence. Pray for the man.

Like you, I shudder at Trump’s self-congratulatory ways, how he apparently stays up all night to tweet back the stones hurled at him during the day. I pray that others might help him lose himself long enough to discover what best safeguards the dignity of all persons. His task is a crushing one. I love this country and honor the office of the presidency so I shall advocate for Trump’s best on my knees.

I am helpless on the water’s surface. Fox and CNN both confound me. Silence. I shall sink into the Source and pray.

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No Place like Home

‘I witnessed God’s glory in every broken life.’ Living Waters participant

We just finished our Living Waters group at St. Thomas More’s in Kansas City. It was a hard group–a handful dropped out and the deep needs that remained in the group seemed overwhelming. It helped that we met in the sanctuary where we were constantly drawn up into the huge Crucifix above the altar, a reminder that He was assuming the unbearable. Just below, we raised a 10-feet image of the Divine Mercy where the flow of blood and water rose in our midst. We finished the group refreshed, grateful. Some members and team commented:

‘I came to Living Waters expecting others to heal me. I found a group of people all looking to Jesus for healing who directed me to Him. Now I look to Him.’

‘I’m a giver in my church, the one others look to for healing. Living Waters focused the Father’s loving attention to my needs. I am learning to listen to His voice in particular areas where I need Him more than ever.’

‘I am not as afraid any more of my brokenness. I can trust God when He reveals areas of blindness and deep need in me. I am secure enough in His love to see things as they are, confident that His truth is my freedom.’

‘I’m in a painful, vulnerable season of my life. I have renewed my love for Christ Crucified; my wound invites me into deeper intimacy with Him.’

‘I love the Divine Mercy! Through the eyes of my heart, I now see that my same-sex attraction has a place to go. I am filled with new mercies to give as I go.’

‘In my everyday life, I am surrounded by people who could care less about holiness. In Living Waters I discovered a people whose priority is to grow in holiness. I am grateful to have found walking partners; I must have them.’

‘As a small group leader, I would show up empty every week. And every week, each small group member would bring her gift and God would fill us all. He is the healer and He uses every member. Healing does not rest on me.’

‘I had never taught the material before. As I did, God confirmed the work He has done in me and took me deeper.’

‘Now I have a mission: to make this offering known to my church connections. I want Living Waters to flow where I live.’

‘This parish had an abusive priest years earlier whose sin came to light later, creating scandal and the familiar skepticism that the Church damages the vulnerable rather than healing them. Through Living Waters, I discern that Jesus is taking back ground from the enemy. God through His Church heals His lambs.’

Abbey closed our last meeting by reminding us all that Living Waters is an open door, a community of healing that one can re-enter at any time. It is a place where Jesus redirects our focus upon Himself in a safe yet challenging way. It is a healing home where we too become safe ‘homes’ for others to know Him more.

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Night Nurse

No, I am not referring to the snazzy ’31 melodrama starring Barbara Stanwyck and Clark Gable nor the Marvel comic book of the same name. I am confessing my paltry efforts to serve Annette as she seeks recovery after surgery (and now healing from my hapless ‘night nursing’.)

I may be many things but ‘helpful’ fails to make the top 25. I’m not practical in the least; the Comiskey credo for fixing things is to push and press until the gadget either gives or shatters. Lucky Annette!

When she calendared her procedure, we both wondered how she might fare under my care. Would this bind or break us? Scorecard thus far: C+

Day #1: Annette goes under the knife for the first time since Sam’s birth–the last of four C-sections in ’87. I manage to be in the right places, cheering her on as she is whisked into oblivion and present in the room when she arrives groggy, nearly incoherent. When she comes to, the nurse asked her (as they now must by law) if she has been abused to which Annette answered: ‘only by my husband’s humor.’ Ouch. I recovered in time to fetch her pudding and ginger ale.

Day #3: Annette gets home fine but tires of pudding and ginger ale. I whip up a strange combination of greens culled from several bags in the bottom bin of the frig then add a Trader Jo’s grain blend. When some slopped to the floor, even the dogs refused to eat it. Isn’t that biblical? Annette settled for my fantastic yogurt bowl with blackberries.

Day #4: The flowers keep coming. As it is 25 degrees out, tulips and lilies and roses are a welcomed break in the gray but honestly, when the altar flowers from Christ Church arrived and more than filled the room’s only available corner, it looked like Annette was being memorialized. As she lay there sleeping, dignified by silence, I thought of why I love her more now than ever.

She suffers well and recovers better by doing everything the doc asks. She follows every label and takes every walk required. She does not complain and seems genuinely concerned when yours truly gets struck down by the flu. No matter. Over these days, I am motivated by Annette’s gorgeous resilience—how for the last 36 years she got up and served this family when she felt like slime. Bravo.

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Obama’s Confusing Legacy

‘The rights of black people are gay rights and the rights of gay people are black rights.’ Kevin Jennings

Living in a city built on a fault-line of segregation where the majority of African-Americans flounder in poverty and poor schools, I cheer former president Obama for provoking all ethnic minorities to break down barriers and become who they can be for the good of others.

What galls me is how he mistook ‘gender-identity’ variations for ethnicity in his 8-year-pledge to expand human rights. Yesterday, I drove up to a Starbuck’s window and faced a woman employing every hormonal and cosmetic means possible to erase her womanhood; she had entered into the dehumanizing zone of becoming gender-free. Her broad face, reddened with testosterone and a pale beard, was shocking to anyone encountering her and cruel to this woman who needs help to unpack her gender rejection, not a license to destroy herself.

Obama gave her that license. His administration placed gender identity delusions on par with ethnic civil rights. One of his final acts as president was to commute the sentence of transgender prisoner Chelsea Manning. That says first, in contrast to the best clinical evidence available, Obama has done more than any other leader on earth to perpetuate the lie that fragile souls who seek refuge in the fantasy of becoming someone other than who they are should be granted government advocacy to realize their ‘dream.’ In truth, Obama made this part of the American dream, a waking nightmare for all who surround this person’s tragic choice to worsen his or her fate. Through his Abortion and Transgender Services Mandate (ACTS, 2016), Obama made every gender-rejecting figment of the American imagination ground for government-funded sex changes.

Secondly, Obama stumped over and over to ensure that ‘gender identity’ freedom was placed on every list that included racial equality. He lumped a profound identity disorder with persons who have been stripped of every vestige of human dignity due to skin color. Obviously, this further slaps the face of persons who have suffered for centuries under the oppressive hand of the majority. Obama failed to distinguish between the intrinsic dignity God grants those who represent Him in a host of ethnicities, and those tempted to chase illusions in an effort to heal the rift in their gendered selves. For the gender confused, peace comes only from reconciliation to who one is before God as either male or female. While Obama summoned greatness from the ethnically oppressed, he further oppressed the gender fractured by offering dead-end solutions to their suffering.

‘There is an ecology to man. Man too has a nature that he must respect and that he cannot manipulate at will. Man is not merely self-creating freedom. Man does not create himself. He is intellect and will, but he is also nature, and his will is rightly ordered if he respects his nature, listens to it and accepts himself for who he is, as one who did not create himself. In this way, and in no other, is true human freedom fulfilled.’ Pope Francis

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(Not) Seeing, (Un)believing

Emptied and wearied by well-doing, I subjected myself to fools—fantasies that rushed into my void like sewage. I was as wanted and exciting as were those around me. I wanted my dream to come true.

Barely able to choose otherwise, I did. By grace alone (and a friend’s help), I made my way to Mass in a strange town and locked eyes with the Crucified over the altar. Bearing my little cross, I embraced Jesus and hid myself in His wounded side. When the priest read the Gospel—John the Baptist who upon seeing Jesus for the first time declared ‘Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ (JN 1:29)—this sinner heard those words for the first time. I saw the Savior.

Though disordered in heart, my gaze was clear upon the One who could order my affections and deliver me from demons. I was the worldly one whose sin needed to be taken away. I marveled at a truth I had never recognized: God became the lamb! Prior to Jesus, men used lambs to atone for sin but now Almighty God is the sacrifice. I passed through His purity into the bloody mess He became and emerged white as snow. Wow. For a few shining moments, heaven descended to this vessel, removing rot and imparting life.

I endured a silly homily about how we are all now like ‘little lambs’ and wolfed down the holy meal. I rejoiced: ‘Jesus just saved me! Again! He alone is the Lamb and I will follow Him wherever He goes. Where He is, I am free.’ Sobered and grateful, I became aware of the parish newsletter which featured a ‘gay’-identified couple extolling how welcoming this church was to them.

What? In the place of the great exchange—the very site where the Lamb removes sin and reorders hearts? Celebrating ‘gay’ love before the Crucified struck me as congruent as a cigarette girl hawking her wares in a lung cancer clinic.

The difference? Jesus gave up His breath to restore ours. The Lamb offers more than chemo—He gives us a whole new life, His very being transfused into ours with an offering of water, blood and Spirit (1 JN 5: 7, 8). How weak and short-sighted of the Church to place blinders on its members as to divert their gaze from the Lamb to sexually immoral bonds. Lord, have mercy. Jesus does have mercy, for all who have eyes to see. Behold the Lamb who takes away all our sin…

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