Tag Archives: catholic church

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Behold the Lamb 4: Refining Fathers

God always honors His Word and sacraments even if His servants act dishonorably. For example, I once had a pastor whose stellar preaching (some of his word-pictures still shed light for me on complex truths) coexisted with a trail of confusing seductions he initiated with women in our congregation. God’s Word prevailed (through our efforts and a long wait)–he was finally disciplined–but until then the congregation breathed toxic air. God sustains the faithful but sheep still suffer from sleazy shepherds. How much better for fathers of the faith to prepare for leadership through the splendid, humbling task of becoming chaste?

Here’s the rub. Due to the sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, in which entire dioceses have been brought to their knees by multi-million dollar settlements for victims, the Church is now super wary of any sexual vulnerability in her priests and religious. In the sexual arena, avoiding litigation seems the Church’s greatest goal; she fumbles at forthright, compassionate dealing with her fathers and mothers who actually need help in order to become chaste. ‘Just be chaste, don’t be known’, she conveys today.

To misquote Simone DeBeauvoir: ‘We are not born chaste, we become it.’ How else do we grow into integrated men and women unless we come into the Light with our misdemeanors before they become felonies? How many priests and diocesan workers do I know who fall regularly into masturbation/porn cycles, habits born of disintegration that keep them disintegrated, hobbled by shame and wounded in their self-gift? Having sinned weakly, does each one have a responsibility to come boldly to the throne of grace? Of course!

But that requires context for church leaders, especially those who always handle the confessions of others. Does the Church provide clear, merciful, powerful, and effective relationships through which these ones can break fear and silence and quicken the journey toward self-mastery and gender integration? Today’s Church, though clear on the requirement of priestly chastity, fails to invite most priests into the messy process of becoming chaste. In part due to the litigious mess she is in. I can almost guarantee you that the majority of priests will not take a seminary course on sexual integration this year.

That is at least short-sighted. Failing to provide wise preventative measures for her weak servants sets the Church up for further scandals and reveals an unloving, unreal expectation toward them. Everyone, especially her saints, is sexually broken! Lust in its myriad forms touches all of us. So must we as the Church provide real life opportunities for leaders-in-formation to be rightly formed in the sexual arena, without fear of being buried for being broken. Better to breakdown in the arms of the saints than to break another through lust.

My wife Annette is right. She claims that ‘the best preparation for ministry lies in discipleship: persons gathering long enough with safe, powerful saints in order to know themselves honestly in their sexual and relational depths, and to be known by Jesus through these members of Christ.’

At first I thought she was overstating her case. She was not. We as the Church must guarantee that our ‘Fathers’ do not go–it-alone. We have seen what happens when they do. Fathers and Fathers-to-be especially need refining love. Bring it on God.

‘Make Your Church wise and tender and strong toward her servants. Help her to love them like a good mother and father, only better. Reveal Your almighty tenderness to prodigal elder sons and daughters, O God; give them a fighting chance to come clean and become whole. You can only love us if we expose ourselves to love. Make Your Church a place of where we can come broken, boldly.’

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Repent

I joined the Catholic Church because (among other things) of her witness of marriage and chastity; I die daily as a Catholic because of fellow members who defile that witness by championing ‘gay marriage’ and all things LGBT.

Look no further than talk show host Stephen Colbert who regularly advocates homosexual practice or comedian Jim Gaffigan who led his family in waving rainbow flags at NYC’s recent ‘Gay’ Pride parade. Or the National Catholic Reporter who advocated that Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois be fired because he established guidelines to ensure that the ‘gay married’ and all who participate in sex outside of real marriage must first repent if they are to actively engage in the Church (Decree Regarding Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ and Related Pastoral Issues’, June 12, 2017 ).

Reporter Michael Sean Winters entitled his scourge ‘Bishop Paprocki’s Unhinged Decree on Same-Sex Marriage’ (June 26th, 2017). The only thing unhinged is a Catholic who claims to take his faith seriously and who advocates that vulnerable persons assume ‘gay’ selves and practices. Wounded people deserve better. Better is Jesus Christ.

The only way a compromised Catholic or any hypocritical Christian comes to know the real Jesus is by following Bishop Paprocki’s simple and merciful call to repent. Repent! We can turn! God gives us grace to come out of demonic shadows where even the faithful are reduced to worldly solutions and platitudes. Instead we can turn into His light and begin to face courageously the mess we have made of our lives, and the mercy that paves marks a whole new Way.

No-one knows better than myself the division of soul, and the spiritual darkness that surrounds, when a soul defies his or her Creator by ‘coming out’ into an alien LGBT self. That power is broken only through admitting one’s error and turning to Jesus. For this we need Church leaders and laity alike to follow Bishop Paprocki’s bold lead. I close with the Bishop’s wisdom:

‘It is not hateful to say that an immoral action is sinful. On the contrary, it is the most compassionate thing we can do to help people to turn away from sin. To ignore another person’s wrongful actions is a sign of apathy or indifference, while fraternal correction is motivated by love for the person’s well-being, as can be seen by the fact that our Lord Jesus himself urged such correction (Matt. 18:15). Indeed, the call to repentance is at the heart of the Gospel, as Jesus proclaimed, ‘The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Good News’ (MK 1:15).

The Good News is that God’s mercy and forgiveness extend to those who repent. Mercy does not mean approving of something that is sinful, but does absolve the wrongdoer after a change of heart takes place in the sinner through the gift of God’s grace. It is not the Church that must change to conform its teachings to the views of the world, but it is each individual who is called to be configured to Christ.’ (Homily for Prayers of Reparation for Same-Sex Marriage’ Nov. 20th, ’13)

Please pray that Catholics would align themselves with their truth about marriage, chastity, and the gift of repentance for all sexual sinners.

Please join us in Chicago July 27th-30th at the annual Courage Conference where we will share about our rich life together. As I said, we don’t speak together often so join us for this unusual opportunity. The Courage gathering offers an array of healing persons and gifts. Hope to see you there.

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Home. For Good.

‘The Word became flesh and made His dwelling with us’ (JN 1:14).

In youthful efforts to find ‘home’, a place of belonging where my part of the social equation fit and totaled something valuable, I failed. As ‘gay’ relationships faded, reliance on pills and powders grew. I wondered why I could not deliver on the good I possessed. That depressed me—I wasn’t being true to myself and others.

I had a pretty good home life but that did not make me a good child. I never swallowed the sixties’ rot that we were all God’s children, natively inclined to peace and harmony. I wanted to love but could not, not really. Good intentions capsized under the weight of selfishness. It made more sense to me that I was a child under the devil’s sway, estranged from the Good.

I knew Jesus was real but did not know how He could make me real; how could I align myself with His greater good and so become good? That’s why I love the Catholic Church’s reading this Christmas Day from John 1:1-18. God came into the mess we made of His world ‘and made His dwelling with us’; He draws near to us vagrant ones who become violent in our alienation when we do not recognize Him as our Father.

Maybe God knew that the ‘father’ bit was too much for our foolish hearts, how we project our fears of masculine power on Him. So God came as a child in order to free us to become children again, kids who know some good and long to become good. As we by grace see Him as He is—Almighty in a manger, Lord of all living yet lowly, we can get low and worship the child king. This Christmas, hold nothing back—let us offer Him the whole of our divided lives! Therein lays His power to make us His own, to make us good.

Get real. Become good. Forsake the lie that your good intentions suffice. Only God in Christ can give you a home—the Father’s embrace which transforms children of darkness into children of Light.

‘He came to His own but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His Name, He gave power to become children of God—children not born of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God’ (JN 1: 11-13).

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His Body Broken, Bursting with Life

What the world needs today is the credible witness of people capable of opening hearts and minds to the desire for God and true life.’ Pope Emeritus Benedict

The seed of God’s Life in us must be crushed in us and offered to Him in order for it to become fruitful (JN 12:24). Then we, like grain threshed and grapes stomped, become a meal for hungry ones.

I ate like a king at the Courage Conference in Chicago last week (Courage is the only recognized ministry in the Catholic Church for persons with SSA and their loved ones.)

I noticed Jill from a distance and remarked to myself how lovely she was: tender eyes as inclined to joy as sorrow, beautiful coloring, fragrant. I remarked to her that her womanhood was a gift to us at the conference. After years of walking with Jesus she could now receive that. ‘I marvel at how He keeps restoring me. I hated being a woman most of my life but now can accept the gift that I am.’

Riding the wave of a gay-affirming age, twenty-something Kevin recounted a series of ‘dating’ relationships with other men and the disintegrating effect they had on him and his family who looked on helplessly. His parting words were simple and epic: ‘Only Jesus can satisfy my longings. I will no longer look to mere men for what only God can give me.’

I sat down at table with a brawny man who alongside his wife looked uneasy. ‘I guess I‘d rather be somewhere else. But I am also glad. Our lives have changed since we discovered our son’s SSA. And I want to keep changing for the good so I can love him better.’ Another person at table, a mother, said this: ‘My daughter no longer practices her faith. But I have rediscovered mine. I now do all I can to help make my Church a merciful, truthful place for persons impacted by SSA.’

Courage helps us know Him more and serve His house better. Please pray for myself and other Courage delegates as we offer ourselves as witnesses of Jesus’ transforming love in preparation for the Catholic Synod on Family this fall.

Our goal is to influence powers-that-be who will make recommendations for pastoral care of persons impacted by SSA for the worldwide church.

Conference dates: August 10th-12th, Detroit Michigan; October 2nd, Rome Italy.

Suggested prayer: ‘Father, we thank you for the truth of how You made us and how You redeem us. Grant courage to the Catholic Church in her truth-bearing. May she not falter but carve a clear path of gender clarity and true chastity.’

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Papa Do Preach

‘All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to say nothing.’

For a Pope quick to quip about any number of thorny issues, Frances was strangely silent about the 62% of Ireland who legalized ‘gay marriage’ last month.

OK, OK, a Vatican official did declare the redefinition a ‘defeat for humanity.’ But for a Pope who insists on a merciful tone when addressing ‘gay’ issues, his omission here is nothing short of cruel.

Papa, preach on the beauty of man for woman and woman for man, and the dead-end of trying to make same-gender friends sexual complements.

Papa, preach on why the Catholic Church upholds marriage as a sacrament—a wellspring of grace to all every person who encounters a man and woman committed to lifelong unity.

Preach on why ‘gay marriage’ messes with kids by omitting 50% of what they need to become whole men and women themselves.

Papa, preach for the ones who have no voice.

Papa, on behalf of Christian families being torn apart by ‘gay’-identified members, preach on the beauty of repentance to chastity, and the thousands of faithful ministers who will walk with repentant ones to wholeness. Highlight Courage and the huge strides this most courageous apostolate has made in extending mercy to all persons impacted by SSA.

Papa, preach against the lie that ‘gays’ are an oppressed minority. Papa, preach the truth that the Irish were hoodwinked by a billion dollar gay organization from America that poured millions into Ireland and fueled a campaign based not on truth but emotional myths like all who are against ‘gay marriage’ decry human rights, economic recovery, and most of all, ‘love.’

Papa, preach on Jesus’ real love, the love that cleansed Mary Magdalene of her 7 demons and persuaded the Samaritan woman that mercy was better than sexual disorder. Preach on the splendor of mercy to supplant pagan counterfeits.

Papa, preach now on real mercy, and real marriage. Your silence is deadly.

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