Category: Fast

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Grounded 6

Let’s start with confession: I find virtual Masses unsatisfying. They provoke hunger without consummation. Fill my little screen with big Pentecostal preachers any day. In quarantine, watching pale priests sup together then fade out is a kind of fast.

Maybe that’s the point. On Good Friday we fast from Jesus because He’s gone, in the tomb. We feasted at table, leaned on His holy chest, and now…our realized hope is but a body memory. We ache for Him. We ache more now. Yes, He is Risen, but in Covid-9-time the light of Life shines on an extended Good Friday.

We hunger and our roots fan out. Pope Emeritus Benedict muses on how Catholics going without Eucharist for a time invites our love to plunge deeper. ‘Voluntary spiritual fasting visually expresses the fact that we all need that healing of love which the Lord perfected in the ultimate loneliness of the Cross. Sometimes we need to hunger…if we are to understand the suffering of hungering brothers.’ Those ‘brothers’ apply to all Christians who for a variety of reasons are not free to partake of the Eucharist in the Catholic Church.

Since becoming a Catholic nine years ago, I have taken communion without my family. Daughter Katie joined me when she became Catholic a few years ago. Separate tables: nothing divides the fellowship of Christians like the Eucharist. A benefit in this ‘fast’ has been a deeper appreciation of the whole Body of Christ, and the traditions common to my evangelical (of many stripes) family members. In hunger I draw from their gifts and eat heartily.

Annette has cultivated a profound love of her Anglican tradition of Eucharist through leadership in Altar Guild where she shepherds and mobilizes devout women who care for the altar—its vessels and linens. Someone must set the table for Jesus and His people and these servants do it with exquisite care. Annette ached for her love of Jesus at altar during this quarantine. I was privileged to escort her into the church, darkened since early March, to strip the altar. This most solemn of annual events is typically reserved for Maundy Thursday. It was emotional, pregnant with meaning, as she carefully instructed me how to help her lay the altar bare in prep for reunion—His rising, and the congregation’s yet-to-be-determined next gathering.

For Holy Week, Annette and I thoroughly enjoyed our son Nick’s virtual version. Alongside his cohort Peter in Austin, the two laid a fine table—smart, funny, profound. Nick takes me to new depths. Afterwards, my other kids and I opened our Bibles to reflect upon the stunning humility, and hope, of Jesus’ self-giving.

We united in His love. He invited us and we encircled Him, as if for a few shining moments we partook of Jesus at the same table.

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fasting knocking on heaven's door

Fast Fruit: Knocking on Heaven’s Door

‘Because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice’ (Lk. 18:5).

Prayer and fasting are not sexy. As this 40-day ‘Becoming Good News’ ends, I am hungry and ornery, more inclined to fantasy donuts than holy apparitions. We as a staff have chosen weakness, a downward mobility, a reduction. We have gone without and prayed a lot. We are sensitized to the foul air of a clueless culture and worldly Church. And we have positioned ourselves near the Source, the oxygenated stream where ‘living waters’ first gushed and still flows.

Reduced to Jesus alone, we knocked. We admitted our defeat. ‘Unless You act, we’ve no hope.’ We remembered His saving action and bothered Him: we asked and asked and asked for Him to extend that victory to specific loved ones, to churches, to city hall and national courts. Here is some ‘fast fruit’ from the staff.

Like most of you, we knocked for family and friends dazed by the rainbow. And God answered. During last year’s ‘Becoming Good News’ fast, I had fought daily for a young man who was seeking Jesus but had no intention of giving up his ‘gay’ self. Early on in this year’s fast, he questioned me about what it might mean for him to begin pursuing women. Hah! Fluidity works both ways.

Amanda rejoiced that a woman she loves at her Living Waters group just let go of her ‘lesbian’ self in favor of Jesus’ reflection of her. Daniel’s chosen loved one just left a ‘gay’ marriage; he’s praying that Jesus would stir up her baptismal waters and reveal Himself as unfailing Love. Marco cast a vision of transformation for a couple worldly friends who are considering Jesus’ healing for their broken lives.

Dana was nearly overcome by a deepening experience of Jesus’ heart and sight for her lost loved ones. During the fast, two of them went from darkness to light—hitting bottom and asking Jesus how to live out of His kindness. Ann had a Spirit-led breakthrough with a neighbor and Dean who prayed for several families rocked by LGBT+ realities said they experienced a spiritual ‘overflow’ resulting in renewed hope and courage to engage estranged members afresh.

We knocked and God opened (or we trust, WILL open) effective doors of ministry. We broke through to a couple of key communities with whom we have sought partnership; we prayed big for bishops overseeing areas where we want to dig deep wells of ‘living water.’ Amber has experienced an upswing in her ministry to young adults who are seeking help for shameful areas of their lives As the therapy ban hit Kansas City at the onset of the fast, therapist Abbey began to reach out to colleagues who like her love Jesus and clinically serve teens. She was provoked by the fact that most are now worldly and theologically disintegrated in their care. Erin, a grad student in a clinical Christian program, has taken up this burden as well. Her fellows are clueless about how to apply their deepest Christian values with their care of persons. We prayed together for effective engagement with conscientious peers. A smog hovers over the clinical community; we ask King Jesus for an awakening.

And we knocked relentlessly for Kansas City’s ordinance to be overturned. Our ministry rallied the only opposition to the bill–friends of DSM/LW made up half of those attending the City Hall battles, LGBT+ persons composed the other. A river of ‘living water’ ran through our efforts and gave us an ease and grace that would have been impossible without this prayer stream. Our good-natured joviality contrasted beautifully with the lamenting ‘victims’ draped in rainbow flags; one confused man dressed as a woman seethed an “I hope you burn in hell!’ at me. And I thought we were pegged the ugly fundamentalists…

We keep knocking. Doors of effective legal warfare are opening for us and we will see this battle through to the end. Like the persistent widow, we will pound at heaven’s door until justice is served. He answers. He will answer. Our hope is well-placed and sure.

‘Will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones who cry out to Him day and night? He will see that they get justice, and quickly’ (Lk. 18: 7, 8).

You can purchase “Becoming Good News” in book form directly from Desert Stream or get it from Amazon for your Kindle.

Please take time to watch our new video and become ‘Chaste Together.’

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Living Bread, for the World

Long before I centered on the Eucharist as the focus of worship—the real meal that Catholics celebrate–I understood this breaking of bread as how us saints can make known our brokenness to each other in fellowship. ‘Communion’ involves just that—gathering in community before the Crucified in order to place our wounded lives in His. Somehow, He takes the edge off our edginess and makes us better gifts for the world—a little more humble, clear, and merciful.

The meal we share isn’t an official sacrament but rather the common grace of the ‘one another’ that somehow gives us a share in Jesus’ words (Jn. 6:51): ‘I am the living bread that comes down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.’

When we gathered in Philadelphia last week for a ‘Gender Matters’ conference, I wondered who would break bread with us. I don’t know many Catholics there (it was sponsored by the Diocese) and I’ve little marquee value. Praise God.

How surprised I was to discover a host of hungry, humble saints from that area who came together to ‘eat’ with us that day—to go further along the little way of offering our wounded lives to Jesus and each other so He can season and solidify us—at least enough for us to convert the world rather than be converted by it! My fear turned to faith as I met person after person whom Jesus had connected to us through one person who knew another person who knew another, etc.

This is the miracle of Jesus’ Church composed of His many members—little grains of wheat, each one, crushed in surrender to Jesus and releasing many seeds in the dying that bears much fruit (Jn. 12:24), especially when we gather in order to become ‘living bread’ together.

The miracle of many members—Archbishop Chaput blessed our gathering as he trusted my colleague Marco Casanova who just finished seminary there in Philadelphia. With Chaput’s go-ahead, Marco began to connect with friends in the area who loved Marco and wanted to know what he was up to. I had come often to Philly to be converted by Christopher West and company (their take of St. John Paul ll’s work is splendid) so he did his part to direct friends our way, including his parents and sister who are now charter members of our Living Waters family. At West’s Institute, I had met moral theologian and bioethicist Dr. John Haas who I respect more than almost any other, so I was incredulous when he agreed to open our meal with a word on the dignity of gendered humanity that blew everyone away.

Especially lovely was a table full of radiant nuns—aptly called the Sisters of Life—who were directed there by my best friends in New York City, Joe and Anne Nolte, who know all about me and love this work anyway! We were hosted in the parish of Monsignor Hans Brouwers who had started Courage in Philadelphia years earlier; his still vital, fatherly advocacy was healing for all of us. We love Courage and took heart in partaking of their pioneering efforts in Philly. Friends from Baltimore who love Courage and Encourage joined us too, as did some cool evangelical friends of Abbey from her Penn State days.

Many more to name, no more room. It is enough to say that Jesus is joining His members together to become a fragrant, nutritious loaf of ‘living bread.’ He is doing it! We need not fear; let us rather behold the Spirit as He unifies saints who together are turning outward to become the ‘real meal’ for a world that will choke on its own poisons until we become what we eat—the healing body of Christ, broken for the world.

Bless you all. Please join us for our forty-day-fast: ‘Becoming Good News’ for the lost and the least, beginning October 16th. More on this next week!

You can purchase “Becoming Good News” in book form directly from Desert Stream or get it from Amazon for your Kindle.

Please take time to watch our new video and become ‘Chaste Together.’

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Fighting for Fruitfulness: Seven Truths for this Generation

While waiting in line at the market, I observed two young Latina women in matching jean jackets emblazoned with rainbows and crosses. They could barely keep their hands off each other and gave into a long messy kiss just outside the store. Shame? Intolerance? No signs of it. Fellow shoppers smiled and walked by as if pleased with this celebration of young ‘gay’ love.

Truth 1: The majority of young adults consider LGBT+ persons victims of injustice rather than violators of chastity. So morality has to do with justice–fighting for the civil rights of sexual minorities, not repentance from sexual sin.

Truth 2: These young adults are wrong. They came of age in an era that deifies every desire and champions each person’s right to create his or her own sexual universe. That is idolatry, and places a young person in grave spiritual danger. According to Scripture, these ones ‘worship and serve the creature over the Creator’ (Rom. 1:25); according to the Catechism, homosexual acts are depraved and disordered because ‘they close the sexual act to the gift of life, and do not proceed from a genuine emotional and sexual complementarity’ (#2357).

Truth 3: LGBT+ liberties emerge as the bitter fruit of the mess we made of male and female relationships in the twentieth century. Who knows anyone who seriously recognizes children as the main reason for sexual love between a man and woman? We have ‘contracepted’ ourselves to death while fueling ‘normal’ desire with lust, narcissism, misogyny, misandry, and abuses of all kinds. For some, same-gender love seems a consoling option amid a landmine of male-female hostility that hardly resembles ‘genuine complementarity.’

Truth 4: Though it is helpful to understand why some are more vulnerable than others to LGBT+ reality, we each must answer to God as to what we did with our bodies, including our wounded emotions and skewed sexual desires. That’s among the main reasons Living Waters exists: to help all persons—single or married, Catholic or Protestant, disordered ‘gays’ or ‘straights’—to prepare to say to Jesus: ‘With this one body I have bowed down before one God and one alone.’

Truth 5: The majority of historic Protestant denominations are now idolatrous in their understanding of homosexuality. After decades of ‘dialogue’ with the LGBT+ community, most have now pledged allegiance to the rainbow flag. And no longer uphold chastity as reasonable for young people. Every denomination that cedes to LGBT+ liberties (‘gay’ ordination and unions) initiates a slow suicide. They lose members until there are no more. God does not bless the Church that tolerates sexual immorality Remember Thyratira? (Rev. 2: 20-23.)

Truth 6: Catholic bishops from around the world are gathering throughout October to create an authoritative document on how the Church shall deal with young adults. As mentioned before, LGBT+ matters are included in this working document which if approved by Pope Francis will become binding for the Church-at-large. Fr James Martin has his fingerprints all over it, including the call to endless dialogue with the LGBT+ community—‘the listening Church’…who must opt ‘for dialogue as her method and style.’ Hear me: I have endured three decades of ‘dialogue’ about LGBT+ matters with all the major denominations. Its end is death.

Truth 7: The time is now for the Church to uphold her truth about chastity infused with Almighty mercy. We listen to sinners and we call them to join us in route to integration—Jesus’ goal for all His followers. That has never changed. Please join us in prayer for the next 40 days starting this Wednesday, Oct. 10th. We will pray to ‘become’ good news for our LGBT+ loved ones. And we shall lift up the Youth Synod, in the hope that wise bishops will uphold the Church’s exquisite moral teaching as good news for a generation that will perish without it. We should not be afraid or intimidated. Truth is at once generous and firm. Truth sets us free.

We’ll be starting our prayer/ fasting time on October 10th for anyone who wants to join. If you’d like to pray along with us, let us know and we can send you a book or you can get it through kindle here: https://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Good-News-Andrew-Comiskey-ebook/dp/B07F95JKP5!

 

 

 

 

 

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Irresistible

In these last couple weeks of our fast, I’ve had the privilege of making two trips to the Northeast where I witnessed the irresistible splendor of Jesus in His Church, both evangelical and Catholic. The Spirit is stirring up His saints, girding them in truth and welling up like living water to grant the gender broken a better Word. One can have any number of freedoms and still be a slave! Jesus alone frees the sin-shackled and makes us true sons and daughters of the one Father.

In Pennsylvania, I gathered with a group of priests who meet regularly to share their sexual vulnerabilities and the healing love that sets them free; in New York City and New Jersey I gathered with turned-on Korean-Americans who are as committed to becoming whole as they are becoming good news for their LGBT+ friends. I spent most of my time in the borough of Queens where I invested in a church renowned for its efforts at creating emotionally healthy community and fostering racial reconciliation. Stunningly so! Yet the pastors have the wisdom to know the difference between ethnicity and gender identity issues; they celebrate a diversity of tribes and tongues while refusing the ‘gender spectrum’ ideology that fractures God’s children. Mercy welled up as we testified of His unfailing love that reconciles us to our true humanity—male and female–in this one body.

Before setting off for these trips, I had the privilege of assisting at the Mass celebrating the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome. It is my favorite feast of the church year, as it is the only one that celebrates the Church herself: the irresistible splendor of Jesus revealed in His body. As I read from Ezekiel 47 about the water levels rising in the temple until the saints are immersed and flowing out into the world in order to heal and feed the broken (‘their fruit shall serve for food and their leaves for medicine’, EZ 47: 12), I realized that this is our mission. It is being fulfilled as we gather and lift up Jesus as Healer!

In all of our Northeast gatherings, I fielded questions from countless saints who face increasingly complex hardships due to LGBT+ demands: the deacon working with a nominal Christian family whose 4-year-old daughter showed up in Sunday School as a boy, the assistant male youth leader who announced his ‘transition’ to womanhood, the influential minister now ‘gay married’ and adopting children while extolling the joys of ‘gay Christianity’, the worker whose ‘gay’ boss firmly encourages his employees to stick rainbow emblems on their office doors, and many who simply want to know how to care for loved ones who now live under the rainbow. As we prayed at every meeting for Jesus to come and show us His way–the mercy that is ours only as we enter through the gate of His body and blood shed for us in the one body–the water levels rose and immersed us in the divine love that breaks human enslavement. We bring a better Word endowed with power to save the gender broken. His love radiant in humbled, poured-out saints: Irresistible.

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