Tag Archives: Catholic

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

St. Katherine

All Saint’s Day reminds us of faithful ones who went before us and made a way for our faithfulness. I celebrated this feast of gratitude for saints in heaven with saints on earth, both Catholic and evangelical, at our East Coast Training in Pennsylvania last week.

I was most grateful for an obscure saint but one radiant to me, Katherine Allen. She was catapulted into eternity after a fiery head-on car collision in 2014. To be honest, I hadn’t thought of her much recently. Until that training. 16 persons for whom she had given her life to reveal Jesus gathered with us and their stories moved me deeply. Around the Tidewater area of Virginia, Katherine had been the bridge for each of them to go from death to life: from slogging through pain-filled, divided lives to accepting Jesus’ invitation to bind up every wound and forgive every sin.

Katherine had a beautiful way of insinuating herself into a variety of persons’ lives—men and women, singles and marrieds, gender-benders and military officers, Church of God and Catholic. Through cheerful, attentive friendship, she mirrored back to each one the truth of how Jesus wanted access to the hidden (this is a very religious area) messes in each one’s life. Trust gained, she would then say something like: ‘Hey, I’m joining with a group of likeminded people seeking Jesus tomorrow night…Wanna come? I’ll pick you up.’

Each one then began the 20-week Living Waters series which Katherine ran like a champ. The groups swelled in size and soon she was running 3 or 4 programs a year, often simultaneously and in different churches throughout the area. Waters of healing rose in temples across town, and the faithful found a safe, dynamic place for becoming integrated human beings. She knew how to spot and cultivate lay leaders to tend this burgeoning work, and these ones—Shelly and Georgie and Joel and Tom and Terri and Bonnie (all present last week) and more became national-level leaders.

A fruitful life. Little did I know what Katherine possessed in her (gifting and character) and on her (Jesus’ anointing). We met in the early eighties when I was president of Exodus. She worked as a student advisor at a Christian college and was concerned about the growing number of persons ‘coming out’; not a struggler herself, she firmly believed St. Paul’s words: ‘We comfort others IN ANY affliction with the comfort we have received from the Lord’ (2 Cor. 1:4). She saw wounded seekers, not deviants, through the healing lens of Jesus. She was among the first leaders trained to run Living Waters and she never looked back.

Seasons change. Growing older, she handed off what had become a full-time effort and her replacement failed. Marvelous Tom and Teri Wright took over Living Waters regional leadership and faithfully ran our groups, but the culture had changed and momentum slowed. Then Katherine was killed: this punctuated poignantly what seemed like the end of a fruitful era.

I know better now. Maybe the seed must die in order to release many more. A healing army is arising in Tidewater again, a mystery for which leader Tom Wright has no answers. ‘It is just God’s timing; we had been held back and now the Spirit is mobilizing afresh those on whom Katherine laid hands’–each one intent on laying hands on others to release a fresh wave of ‘living water’ in Virginia.

Saints like Katherine—interceding now before the Lamb–are gifts that keep on giving.

‘He who goes out weeping, carrying seeds to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him’ (Ps. 126:6).

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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Surrounded 2 Mending the Net

Surrounded 2: Mending the Net

Since becoming Catholic, I’m more aware than ever of the ignorant, prejudicial attitudes that pervade both sides of our divided Church. I’m also aware of real ‘reformation’ differences that should be acknowledged and respected.

That is not my concern here. Sexually lost and broken people are. I am convinced that the unwillingness of both evangelicals and Catholics to first recognize the Jesus who is present in the other fractures and weakens our witness.

Our divides are like cracks in a glass globe that skews the Light of the world; our disdain for each other tears the net that would otherwise bring in a haul of fish.

God will have His way with His Church. I delight in witnessing how in Living Waters evangelicals and Catholics are coming together to heal and to heal others. Our just commenced group at my parish in Kansas City serves mostly Catholics but the team is equal parts evangelical and Catholic.

How wonderful that deep thinking, contemplative Catholics who tend to doubt their own capacity to administer healing to others are welcoming the charismatic candor of evangelicals who from the start of their faith life welcomed the call to heal in the power of the Spirit.

Deeper still is the healing I see between evangelicals and Catholics in Latin America–a much more divided context than in the north due to historic wounding (300 years of Spanish colonization: imposing Catholicism and persecuting Protestants). Two nations we work with in the Southern Cone have forged a strong alliance, even though our Chilean friends are evangelical, the Argentines Catholic. Yet they love and value each other as people with traditions distinct from their own. The evangelicals benefit from the gift of Catholic thinking and symbology, while the Catholics grow from the beautiful healing community we work with in Chile.

That Vineyard Church in Santiago is a model of what every community could be for the sexually broken. With Living Waters rooted deeply in its DNA and core church members its leaders, this Body now has a well-deserved reputation as a safe and holy place for the divided to heal. I encountered more than a few persons from around Latin America who are integrating into that church family in order to grow in their integration of persons. The Vineyard is a place where one is free to struggle in the light of Jesus’ inclusive love and to take ground over time.

I love that place. The Argentine Catholics love it too; they are now working with Vineyard folk in their city to provide a healing community for the sexually broken there.

God wants to save the lost and the least. And He honors the coming together of Catholics and evangelicals who are willing to combine strengths and gifts in order to become an empowered, welcoming home for the broken.

A cracked lamp skews the light, a broken body struggles to heal, a torn net cannot catch fish. A united Church can land a good haul and clean it too.

Many Catholics and evangelicals from around the world will be joining our Becoming Good News prayer effort. Let us build a united house, pleasing to God, on our knees.

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.’

Download PDF

Surrounded 1: Chariots of Fire

It can be tough to burn with hope for some LGBT+ persons; allergic to chastity, alive to sensational new ‘sexualities’, they frame us as ‘haters’ and our fire dims.

As we prayerfully ‘Become Good News’ (starting Oct. 16th), it may help us to recall that God is igniting a global army of persons—each one divinely commissioned to do his or her part to liberate loved ones from enslaving ‘freedoms’. Like a station in a relay, every one of us can help a vulnerable pilgrim take the next step in discovering Jesus as the source of true liberty.

That helps me. Nearly overwhelmed by the gender fracturing in our day, I fret for lost ones and assume too much responsibility (and thus guilt) for their rescue. Recently I noticed a disoriented looking man after Mass who looked like he desperately needed to talk to someone about his divided life. I was happy to begin praying under my breath for him but failed to attend to him due to pressing issues that awaited me elsewhere.

Burdened by my omission, I confessed later to my pastor who wisely and simply said: ‘Andrew, do you not trust God to work throughout His Church to awaken a team of persons who will bring many strugglers into His freedom?’ He referred to the communion of the saints—a great cloud of witnesses in heaven and on earth who advocate for the saving of many lives, relentlessly. Some pray, others–in a variety of positions and relationships–launch out as answers to those prayers.

God assured me that day that there are many more for us in this ‘underground railroad’ than there are against us. I just needed to be reminded. We need Jesus to open the eyes of our hearts to behold what is going on in the Spirit, just as Elisha did for the poor man who went out to battle and could only see ‘an army of horses and chariots surrounding his city.’ Elisha said to him: ‘Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with the enemy… Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha’ (2 Kings 6: 15-17).

Open the eyes of our hearts to these chariots of fire–saints burning with simple, wise love for the lost–both in the unseen realms and in the unexpected partnerships God is forging here on earth.

I write this in route from Cordoba Argentina to Santiago Chile. My dear Argentine friends, Catholic, are digging a deep well of ‘living water’ in their university city and have prayed for creative ways to reach young LGBT+ persons. God united them with an old friend of theirs, an evangelical woman who runs a theatrical company in town; she sought them out for help in providing real answers for the young people she directs who are divided in their sexuality and seek a better way.

They are crying out for Jesus. He hears their cries and He is summoning you and me to pray and to act. We can do so urgently yet without strife, knowing that a global team is being assembled to set captives free, one station, one leg of the relay, one chariot igniting another’s, one at a time.

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.’

Download PDF

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.’

Download PDF

Ecstasy

The Crucified rallied the nations last week in Kansas City; under the flood of His Divine Mercy, we wept for joy. Ecstasy. No better way to describe the 80 Living Waters leaders who gathered around His self-giving in order to offer themselves better to others.

Jesus gift to us at Calvary is accurately defined as ‘ecstatic’: its Greek root means ‘to come out of oneself.’ Jesus’ dying released a river of blood and water. His life source left Him and became the source of our lives, the transforming power that renders us new creatures. Together, His ecstatic gift unites us as one Body. On the cross, Jesus made us His bride. You could say He consummated that union for us through the ecstatic love that crescendo-ed at Calvary.

God reminded us of that consummation on last week’s Feast of St. Augustine, who wrote: ‘This second Adam [Jesus] bowed His head and fell asleep on the cross, that a spouse might be formed for Him from that which flowed from the sleeper’s side…What can be purer than such blood? What more health giving than such a wound?’

We needed healing from His ecstatic wound, cleansing and repair for our wounds. Many tribes and tongues came together—a variety of ages, cultural traditions, economic and educational backgrounds. Most obvious was the divide between Protestants and Catholics. Many of our leaders from fiercely Catholics nations barely know any Protestants; and the vast range of the latter—from Anglicans to Pentecostals–have an equally diverse range of opinions on Catholics!

Our wounds are a great leveler. One priest among us shared with dignity his sexual abuse by an early mentor; he welcomed an ecstatic outpouring from evangelicals who loved him well through a variety of spiritual gifts. Humbly offering our wounds to Jesus via His members invites a rich exchange of ecstatic love that dissolves some of our corporate divides. Ecstasy.

Personally, each of us brought our sins against chastity—as diverse as our Christian traditions. We are united in the conviction that the second Adam always points us back to the first Adam ((Matt. 19: 4-6); at the same time, Jesus points us forward to the glorious redemption of our bodies, radiant in full consummation with our Bridegroom. We live now ‘in-between’ the times: although certain of design–the ecstatic complementary gifts that God fashioned from Adam’s rib—we are also clear on the chaos incurred by sin in our frustrated, fractured efforts to ‘come out of ourselves.’ We have done so regrettably; we, bathed in ecstatic love, assess the damage done: adultery, abuse, addiction, SSA, gender self-rejection, mangled marriages, persons tempted by bitterness due to betrayal then prolonged, unwanted aloneness.

Many different divides and one cure—the Bridegroom consummating love with us and releasing the flood that keeps our heart soft and straight, ready to tell the truth of sorrows and shame but more than that, how the ecstatic mercy of our Bridegroom is mounting, growing, its waters rising in our personal temples (Ezekiel 47) as we throw open the doors and windows and allow others to witness how His loving kindness has shattered the enemy’s design for us.

Our hearts speak truth—we at Living Waters are the first to declare our sin so that the triumph of mercy might extend to a weaker brother or sister. It does! We rejoiced in the epistle reading last week in which St. Paul exhorts us to turn from all sexual immorality as such sin exploits our sisters and brothers (1 Thess. 4: 3-8).

How liberating to hear God’s Word and to go boldly to the throne of grace, allowing the fire of mercy to burn off the deception that immoral acts are fine if each party consents. Lies that we have lived! We now want only to edify, not exploit, the weaker member! We wept as He rained mercy, not judgment, upon our corporate repentance.

As the nations shared of the impact of Living Waters, it was clear that this ecstatic witness of hope amid heinous sins had loosed a river throughout churches that is unstoppable. Instead of shame, the peoples of the earth are receiving a double portion of joy and favor (Is. 61:7), and ‘where that river flows, everything shall live!’ (Ez. 47:9).

His ecstatic love for us produces ecstasy. We live now to come out of ourselves and prepare a more robust, pure Bride for the One who gave all to gain us. No other way to live. No other way we want to live. His ecstatic love is better than any other way of life.

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

Download PDF
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