Tag Archives: Christopher West

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

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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Kingdom Fire and Foes

‘I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already blazing…Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, division’ (LK 12:49, 51).

As we proceed in our 40 days together, I am grateful for answered prayers.

The Bishops’ Youth Synod concluded with a 60-page text that roundly rejected the use of any LGBT+ language. On one hand, a victory.

On the other, the Church that stays true to her noble ethic must ignite sinners with an empowered Gospel—the witness of the living God who transforms them. Jesus wants to encounter us afresh with His declaration: ‘The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the good news!’ (MK 1:14). The Spirit invites us to marvel anew at this ‘new teaching, and with authority!’ (MK 1: 27), what St. Paul described unflinchingly as ‘the whole will of God’ (Acts 20:27). Do we still believe that Jesus is able to raise the disordered into lives of splendid chastity?

I urge us all to pray for the Spirit to consume our sound teaching, like fire blazing from hard wood.

Here we must name the barriers that prevent the pure fire of the Gospel from burning in our midst. In humility, we pray for:

Zero tolerance for any priest found guilty of manhandling children, and any bishop who covered for him. Here the state is helping us. The US federal government has undertaken an investigation of many dioceses, including one in Buffalo that is heart-rending in its allegation of a standing bishop who played ‘god’ in selecting which abusive priests under his charge could remain hidden and active. The Church that protects her honor and resources over the well-being of children invites demonic oppression.

Consistent discipline and clear channels of restoration for all priests and bishops who cross sexual lines with adults of either gender. These sinners mock chastity, abuse power, scatter the sheep, and throw a wet blanket on the fire of transformation. The sexual sin of leaders hinders those who aspire to authentic purity. Porn addiction and unchaste relationships (often in the form of weird emotional bonds) need to be faced squarely by leaders whose bishops also provide restorative care for them. Please pray that Living Waters might provide a safe place for clergy to resume the journey to chastity. Pray for almighty mercy to prevail over judgment in their lives. Today’s climate of abuse exposure makes it extra-hard for clergy to admit moral vulnerabilities, let alone outright failures.

Empowered, holy women to take their places in the Church. We cannot know the whole truth without feminine wisdom and discernment. The Synod called for a ‘courageous cultural conversion’ in the church regarding the female voice and vote. Let it be so, Lord. Becoming sexually whole is meaningless without women.

Bold and relevant witnesses of how to ‘live the truth in love’ (Eph. 4:15). We say we want to reach young people but with few exceptions (Christopher West’s Theology of the Body Institute being one) we have done a rotten job at translating our truth for new generations. The only way to break the formalism that besets most Catholics? Earthy witnesses of what Jesus can actually do: persons who articulate their messes and the splendid order acquired through confession, Eucharistic worship, and discovering chastity together. Jesus has power to make crooked lives pure and upright. Yet we rarely hear such voices. I’ve attended the second biggest parish in my city for nearly a decade, and have yet to hear such a witness. And this in an hour when God is exposing the Church’s sexually immoral secrets. Pray for us to expose boldly and well our lives of beautiful chastity!

Kingdom fire in the Church is our freedom. But her flame smolders—not blazes– due to abuse, sexual sin among clergy, and the absence of feminine wisdom and earthy witnesses in our midst. Pray for the Spirit to burn what is foul, rouse what is true, and ignite our blazing torch of salvation.

We are currently in a time of prayer and fasting. 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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river rising

Chastity and Mercy 6: River Rising

‘…Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, in order to present her to Himself as a radiant Church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.’ (Eph. 5:25-27)

Jesus reveals His self-giving to the church and world through a host of icons—relationships whose chastity makes Him known in ordered, exuberant love. St. Paul in the above passage uses the whole-enough love of a man for a woman to make earthy and evident Jesus’ cleansing love for His Church.

God gives us little room to write off such a parallel as lofty mysticism; rather, He insists that we embody the truth of the Gospel by offering ourselves generously and humbly to each other as His Spirit secures and empowers us. ‘Our bodies are a Bible,’ insists Christopher West.

Our beautiful challenge? Always and everywhere we offer ourselves as either male or female, blessed with bodies that long for union. Here we discover that it takes God—we who drink deeply of His mercy and revere His truth—to reveal God. We can only master the unwieldy elements of our sexual desire when we are aligned with His desire for the other’s good, not merely with what feels good to us. Owning that goal and the gift one is makes us chaste, one day at a time.

And oh what divine strength and beauty flow from the chaste! No conflict here with virility and fragrant womanhood. Chaste sexuality creates a ‘glow of the true and the good irradiating from the ordered state’ (Pieper) which feeds the souls it encounters, surpassing the adrenal kicks of sexy idols. Icons need not flaunt; they reflect glory from their depths. The Creator shines through His ordered creation and invites the world to know Him through them, through us.

We’ve all tasted and seen God’s goodness through His human ‘windows.’ Seasoned male friendship has been for me, in the words of the Catechism, ‘the witness of God’s fidelity and loving kindness’ (#2346). Merciful faithfulness assumes the face of Jesus through friendships forged in Him. Such friendship empowered this icon (however ‘chipped’) to pursue a particular woman. Annette and I responded ‘to God’s call to give life by sharing in the creative power and fatherhood of God’ (#2367).

Yes, our chaste union is about God’s provision for us. And it is equally about creating and raising them—our kids, made and parented in His image as male and female. We are now a gender mosaic, distinct parts yet composed together in the whole of our lives, a glimpse for others of how Jesus’ love makes His members strong, fragrant, and fruitful.

My starting point en route to chastity was homosexuality; others begin with more traditional failures or just the nagging lie that ‘I will never be a good gift.’ We gather before Him as one Church before the one Cross where we welcome His flood of blood and water. As we bear one another’s burdens, the river rises–first ankle deep then up to our knees, climbing to our waists and then some until we are immersed in love (EZ. 47) and confident that the chaste One will complete our chastity. Along the way we become the flood, exquisite witnesses in humble frames whose very clarity and purity releases living water to all who thirst.

‘And where the river flows, everything will live’ (Ez. 47: 9b).

‘Thank You God for taking our frustrated gift-giving and drenching it in mercy. We just wanted to overcome shameful problems but all along You wanted to enjoy intimacy with us, and to make our joy full by making us Your witnesses. May we delight in the good gifts we are becoming–the clarity of sight and affection we are experiencing. Help us to see others as You do and to love them accordingly, beginning with our most basic commitments. Free us to become a life-giving flow of chaste love, at once tender and bold.’

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Magnificent Hope

While Obama’s White House shimmered in rainbow hues, while ‘the wicked freely strutted about because what is vile (‘gay marriage’) was honored among men’ (PS 12:8), faithful men and women gathered in Lancaster PA for the fourth annual Restored Hope Network Conference.

Hope fell on us like morning mist; it rained on a people leveled by the afflicting news that America had bent her knee to Baal as never before. We cried for our land and we cried for the God who had been faithful to the land, He whose merciful heart we betrayed.

And we cried tears of gratitude that we received the bitter news together. We were not alone: hope welled up in persons espoused to merciful Jesus in their same-sex attraction, parents and friends of ‘gay’-identified loved ones who love them too much to agree with their choices, godly counselors and pastors intent on championing the homosexually vulnerable onto chaste self-giving. In our brothers and sisters, we witnessed the Resurrected Christ. Exiled yes, but not forsaken. We have each other.

The Supreme Court declared its decision at the precise moment that Christopher West delivered one of the most magnificent talks I have ever heard: how our bodies and sexual desires disclose the cry of the cosmos for union, a bond fundamentally about spousal union with our God and chaste relating with each other, man and woman made in His image for passionate, creative, joyful living. West mentored me in my Catholic conversion; I respect him more than almost any other and I delighted that many of my RHN colleagues, mostly evangelical, reveled in his dynamic translation of St. John Paul’s teaching as much as I did.

Rob Gagnon summoned for us the same hope that sustained St. Paul in his multiple distresses, a hope that matures in us only through affliction. By granting us a New Testament perspective on how the Gospel shines brighter in darkness than in presumed light, Rob inspired us for the battle at hand.

Most hopeful of all were the stories of men and women captivated by the darkness of ‘gay’ and ‘tran’ selves and the earthy, holy, persistent love of Jesus and His members that set each free. A former drug and ‘gay’ sex addict, Ron Citlau is now a Reformed senior pastor, father of four, and champion of the homosexually broken in his denomination and beyond; he preached powerfully of the divine intimacy that became his hope. That hope now empowers every word he speaks. After his message, he gave two simple words: hope and power. Most of us rushed the altar where prayer ministers administered the Spirit of hope. The One who always seeks the lowest, driest ground in us filled us to overflowing.

Let hope abound as never before.

‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’ (Rom. 15:13)

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November 7, 2014: Fearful Bride

‘If we are to evangelize the “prostitutes and sinners,” it demands that we be secure enough and mature enough in our own freedom to not be evangelized by them.’ Christopher West

Exposed by loving eyes and primed with living water, the Samaritan ‘bride’ raced off to tell others the good news about Jesus. Newly kindled faith made her fearless. All she wanted was for her friends to know ‘this man who told me everything I ever did.’ (Jn 4:29)

And guess what? ‘They came out of town and made their way toward Him’ (v.30); many became believers as they heard Him and attested to the fact that ‘this man really is the Savior of the world.’ (v.42)

Jesus really is the Savior of the world—beautiful and strong enough to draw real sinners and transform them through the miracle of His dynamic presence. On paper, few Christians disagree with this but in practice we doubt His power. What else explains our fear-based approach to sinners?

I have seen a retreat among many colleagues of mine in the day of ‘gay marriage’ and litigation for any act that can be interpreted as ‘anti-gay.’ Our blogs and Facebook posts are full of disturbing new gender-bending advances. We talk about the holy remnant, the shrinking faithful, and the need for higher firewalls to protect the few from infection.

False liberties tempt us to create a ‘we-them’ mentality. When we conceive that temptation, the faithful retreat in fear and strategize ways that the church can withstand the deluge. I understand this, and some caution is not unwarranted. The gay agenda is just that and seeks to rout out truth, especially from the church.

But the Church is the Church, against which hell will not prevail. We have Jesus’ transforming beauty on our side! We do not need to construct a more water-tight ark; we need to equip and commission simple rescue boats to save lives enslaved by many lovers. I am convinced that a generation weaned on gay-friendly everything is crying out for living water. ‘Gay’ freedom kills. Jesus saves.

Weary veterans of the culture wars need to reenter the waters of Life again. Like the Samaritan ‘bride’, we need to hear the voice of the One who exposes our fearful, self-protective ways and who gives us mercy in exchange. Let mercy alone guard us. May mercy overcome fear and motivate us to proclaim the freedom only Jesus Christ offers.

‘There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives our fear…The one who fears is not made perfect in love.’ (1 Jn 4:18)

Please join us as we pray for:

  1. Northern California: Peter Kockelman – Coordinator: For continuing strength and vision for Peter and group leaders in the region.
  2. Living Waters Lithuania: For the Lord to continue to strengthen and protect the leaders Vilma Karveliene and her team; for translation of the revised Living Waters guidebook to go forward smoothly.
  3. Encourage: Bob and Susan (National Overseers) – For grace to equip and unify chapters of Courage around the country.

“Courage for Pastor Phil Strout (National Director Vineyard USA), that he would ensure that the Church becomes            a clear fountain of transformation for persons with same-sex attraction!”

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD BLOGS & PRAYER POINTS FOR NOV. 4, 5, 6, 7

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