Category: Catholic Sexuality

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Sacred Heart, Living Stream

I write this on the Feast Day of Jesus’ Sacred Heart: His generous love for each human being revealed in His pierced heart pouring out all we need to be free. Jesus’ Sacred Heart distills the meaning of mercy—so deep yet so simple that a child could behold His lovely face and wounded heart and know somehow that every tear can find its end in His embrace.

You are reading this on the third day of our Living Waters Training here in Kansas City. We are doing it: 60 brave souls turned off their computers and re-entered the land of the living. We gather through and for His Sacred Heart; we position ourselves before His river of Divine Mercy and welcome the flood that cleanses and the healing Presence that restores us as we offer His gifts to one another.

I can say without exaggeration that His Sacred Heart is our focus. The Church rightly identifies Jesus’ heart as the ‘chief sign and symbol of that love with which the Divine Redeemer loves all human beings without exception’ (CCC #478). O, how He loves us. We position our divided, parched hearts before His, pulsating with mercy for us. The Blood speaks a better Word and silences the din that might otherwise drown out His still small voice of Love. Speak Lord, Your servants are listening! Neither virus nor riot, war nor rumors of war, bad court rulings nor yellow journalists, will separate us from Love.

Real life has stripped us of self-reliance. We flee into the folds of His Sacred Heart, pierced for us: You Jesus, assuming our suffering and imparting the consolation only You can give. Divine Mercy is like a magnet that compels us to name every sin, every wound, every hardening part of us that needs to be made tender and new in His healing flood.

Our aim is not small. If we can discover afresh the Love that changes everything, then we can give that love away. We can heal others. As wounded healers, we serve the broken ever mindful of our weaknesses. Yes, He contains and sustains us, and He does so in the full light of what is still being healed. We dare not venture out from His heart. Only in union with Him do we offer others the mercy that frees every heart inclined toward His.

Jesus’ Sacred Heart is always inclined toward ours. That is our hope, the Source of ‘Living Waters’. Please pray for us! May His heart enlarge ours and release through us a river of mercy that will change the world, one grateful sinner at a time.

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Holy Resistance 2

By Marco Casanova

“You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt 16:18).

Usually trademarked by LGBT parading throughout the globe, June makes for an interesting month. The shameless gender bending movements have a way of releasing a seductive cloud over cities. We must fight for those who still “limp between two opinions” (1 Kings 18:21). May we be “unashamed of the gospel” (Rom 1:16) that calls us out of sexy idolatry into the reality of Jesus.

As a dude who’s struggled with homo-erotic compromises, this month can be a battle. I’m proud of the ground taken in my fight for chastity, and humbled that the power of Jesus made such a campaign possible. Yet recently I was cautioned that the idols had not forgotten my name. Even though “they have mouths, but cannot speak” (Ps 115:5), idols have a way of igniting a seductive fire. Its secondary smoke impacts me.

What do we do when we feel a subtle seduction? Rouse yourself to stand. Look to the witnesses who have gone before us: St. Charles Lwanga, a young adult who stood for Jesus in the lure of royal “gay” seduction; Sts. Peter and Paul, chosen apostles, who stood for the “foolish” Crucified One as the pagan world belittled their convictions. These men are no dusty museum pieces of trite devotion. They’re Body members who fight for us when we start feeling the resistance.

How did they do it? Their Friend set His heart towards them:

“I do not ask for perfection from those whom I have chosen to be My friends; I ask only that they give Me their imperfection and the burden of their sins, and allow Me to do for them what, of themselves, they are incapable of doing… ‘Without Me, you can do nothing’…Why is this word of Mine so often forgotten? It is a word of immense power for the healing and liberation of souls because, understood rightly, it obliges them to run to Me in every necessity of body, mind, or spirit, and to allow Me to be their Savior, their Physician, and their God.” (In Sinu Jesu)

This Church of ours was made to march; Jesus promises that hellish resistance will not stand a chance. Fortified by Him and His friends, we stand firm.

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Grounded 9

‘The dignity of every woman is the responsibility of every man.’
St. John Paul 11, Theology of the Body

The test of my love lies in marriage; it is revealed in the eyes and heart of a person, a woman, my bride.

I will not be judged on my ministry gifts; these I exercise freely and receive some reward from others who value a snapshot, a post card, an edited glimpse of me.

Annette witnesses the whole broken image, or rather a series of images—the unrated miniseries without end. God keep her.

Marriage casts a searchlight that reveals the delightful, dirty dance—how we bless and bedevil each other with our love, or lack thereof—the hopes and fears of all these years, 39 and counting for this marriage. Sure, there are gaps, every marriage has them, but also treasures hidden from others that confirm two persons’ best selves and establish home on earth.

I love what for me is the apex of Theology of the Body: John Paul exhorts marrieds to not reduce sexuality to orgasm but rather to recognize and savor the extraordinary sexual essence of her womanhood, his manhood—the person behind the passion. A whole-enough marriage summons that essence and gifts each party with the other.

The other day, after two virus-inspired travel-free months, enjoying very much the rhythm of Annette and my uninterrupted life together, I noticed something: Annette’s peace. She looked lovely, at ease, a little playful. She was grounded because her husband was. I fell in love again.

Truth is, we married, committed to a long stint in grad school and baby-making, then I took off on a runway and never looked back. (I’ve accrued nearly 3 million miles with one airline.) Racing around the world may be good for the Kingdom but hell on a marriage. Annette learned how to partner with me from a distance. Costly. Our syncopated rhythm has not served her well. Her reward is heavenly, mine purgatorial. Who said life was fair? Mercy trumps justice!

Normal anxieties aside, she is more beautiful when her man is around. You could say the pandemic invited Annette to breathe. I savor the gift.

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Resounding Authority

‘I pray that you would know…His incomparably great power toward those who believe’ (Eph. 1: 18, 19).

Not a big surprise that sexual temptation has increased in the pandemic. But this Easter, with Pentecost right around the bend, I am fighting for a ‘yes’ to chastity that surpasses concession to moral sloppiness. Might our God-breathed resolve rise! Like a prayer, may our authority for purity resound and empower fellow strugglers around the world.

Doesn’t matter the season; we choose today who we will serve. This is what Catholics call self-mastery, taking charge over our own temples. God makes the way and invites us to walk in it. St. Paul couldn’t be clearer—Jesus bought our bodies with His blood and filled them with the Spirit that raised His dead body. Now we can act decisively and ‘honor God’ in our passions (1 Cor. 6).

Harder than it sounds. One cannot underestimate the depth of disordered desires, the divides that define and deride us. We invest more in porn than chastity; we think like Christians but worship at pagan altars. Our common enemy mocks our ‘yes’ to Jesus when we bow the knee to sexy idols. No wonder we’ve little appetite for real people. Shame and self-reproach are closest companions.

No good waiting for magic—the experience that changes everything. We admit powerlessness and we cry out for mercy; we activate the authority He has already given us. In the sexual realm, we act like our own exorcist, or master house cleaner. In the Spirit of Jesus, we cast counterfeits out of the temple. We let them in. Expel them, in the Name of Jesus. Use your authority: ‘GET OUT!’

Countless times, under the sway of temptation, I have simply chosen Him. I cling, His right hand upholds me. With one hand I embrace Him; with the other I wield the sword and decapitate snakes. Simple. Intimate authority that resounds throughout the universe.

All this is impossible without help, without Church. We MUST be known to a handful of persons who share our struggle and our commitment to chastity. Jesus in our friends is stronger than Jesus in our weakness. No other way than through the broken body of Christ—real members who fall, get back up, help us stand.

We are winning because He won already. That win is deeper in us today than it was yesterday. Our ‘yes’ to Him is far more powerful than the grip of sin. Every time we forego lust through our ‘yes’ to Jesus, holiness resounds and strengthens a host of struggling hearts.

Instead of lamenting the influence of charming idolaters, let us exercise our authority. We have power to unite the divided with robust chastity.

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Grounded 8

One strange (if inconsequential) impact of Covid-19 are ‘virtual’ running races. We who have preregistered for, say, half-marathons, are now instructed that the race will be 5000 (or so) solo ones—take to the hills of your choice, pound 13.1 miles yourself, send in your time, and receive a gaudy medallion in a private ceremony of your own design.

Pretty lame for an $80 investment—solos runs are what socially disinclined runners do all the time. After winter’s gloom, Midwest racers want to inhale Spring with others: first, the corporate anxiety of sizing up your competition then boom, out of the blocks, alternately goaded and annoyed by the guy or girl next to us who seem to have the edge, mile after mile. Finally, the last half-mile or so when you draw from untapped sources and lunge to a strong finish.

I love it! It keeps me sharp and in shape, a little defiant of age, still ‘enlarging the place of my tent, not holding back!’ (Is. 54:2) or in St. Paul’s words, ‘I press on to take hold of that for which Jesus took hold of me’ (Phil. 1:12). Running races compels me to reach for more. For the last decade of so, I have slowed only a little, and on occasion have surprised myself with better times.

But this 62-year-old mortal is feeling his limits. Last year I suffered a couple injuries while training with my junior partner in chaste crime-capers, Marco Casanova. New to competing, he ran through his limits and aced his first half-marathon in October. Since then, we’ve trained on long runs together, and, I say with feigned humility, he began to surpass me. Ouch. Experiencing him pace then disgrace me by jutting out til he ascended the hill and disappeared… well, I felt 62.

Why then did I ask Marco to do that blasted virtual run, my first? Cause I wanted the goad and I wanted to see God bless the guy as his gift accelerated and he celebrated the grace of running. As expected, we ran shoulder-to-shoulder for the first half, then Marco broke away. I strove to hold my own, and he found the groove right for him. In a flash I reckoned that others stronger and younger than me must share in this race and surpass me. How else will a generation be rescued from the stink of sexual sin? How else will She be made chaste, ready for Her soon-coming-King?

‘Forgetting what is behind, straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal…’ (Phil. 3:14)

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