Tag Archives: Christopher West

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Mercy 1: Communion of Saints

‘Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses…’ (Heb. 12: 1a) 

mercy 11 by torbahopperMercy flows from the Head through the Body; Jesus shows unfailing love to us through our fellows. Some have long passed but await us in heaven. I draw encouragement daily from these saints, amazing men and women whose radical commitment to Cross and Church (the only way they endured the Church’s ambivalence to them was through the Cross!) blazed a trail for me.

How much more do I draw mercy from the saints still on earth who stand with DSM/LW? True friends emerge from the fight. The world and worldly church do everything in their power to discredit our efforts; blinded to their need for mercy, they make miserable those who see sin’s misery in sexual and relational brokenness. In the fire, God is forging alliances. Out of the bitterness of Christians for whom ‘love means never having to say you are sorry’, we at DSM/LW are experiencing sweet fellowship with likeminded saints.

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We share a commitment to the flourishing of God’s image in humanity, as well as a realistic view of how deeply we languish. Deeper still we agree on the power of Jesus and His Church to set us free to be good offerings for one another.

Take our alliance with Restored Hope Network and its Executive Director, Anne Paulk. Anne is a merciful fighter. Unstopped by a lesbian history and the loss of a traditional marriage due to a spouse’s homosexuality, she has forged a network that unifies and equips ministries like DSM/LW to offer transformation to the broken. She prays like a boxer, and leads like a classy, merciful woman. We are proud to support her and pray for all the ministries of RHN during this fast.

Christopher West introduced me to John Paul ll’s Theology of the Body (TOB), a book that centered me in life-transforming Catholic truth. West is among the foremost mouthpieces of TOB and beyond. He combines Catholic reverence with candor and innovation. He is a treasure to the whole church: to know him is to know Jesus better in the ache of one’s humanity. We are privileged to pray for his Cor Project during this fast.

Father John Harvey started Courage the year I started DSM. His forged a path for Catholics with SSA to lead chaste lives touched me deeply then and now. (In the last year of his life, 2010, I sought him for wise counsel.) A priest of extraordinary integrity, Fr. Paul Check, now leads Courage with vision and deep heart for men and women wanting Jesus more than their ‘gay lives.’ We shall also lift up Encourage, their support system for persons being converted through learning to love a family member with SSA. What a privilege to stand with and pray for this most timely ministry in the Catholic Church.

Lastly, we prayerfully uphold the legacy of Leanne Payne, seminal influence upon me and all of DSM/LW. We do so by supporting Gino Vaccaro, leader of Ministries of Pastoral Care (MPC), which seeks to distill the essence of Payne’s work and make it available to hurting ones in a profound and tender Way. Gino has loved me well and deeply; he recently challenged me in some areas with a kindness that broke me for the best. He embodies a kind of mercy that transforms lives. Praying for him and MPC is to pray for Jesus to multiply His ministry of healing.

We at DSM/LW are surrounded by mercy due to these merciful saints. Please join us in the next 20 days, starting now, to pray that our unified efforts would release drafts of mercy to a hurting Church and world.

‘…let us throw off everything that hinders us, and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.’ (Heb. 12:1b)

Day 1, Wednesday November 6th, 2013

Desert Stream/Living Waters: National Living Waters Leadership Training, November 16-22. Please pray that many would come and be encouraged to lead new groups throughout the US!

Restored Hope Network: aboutHope, Arkansas, Jan and Ted Schneider Directors. Specialty: ministering to grieving parents.
New Creation Ministries, Fresno, CA. Russell Willingham, Director. Specialty: overcoming sexual addiction.

Courage: All men and women with same-sex attraction (SSA) may receive the grace to discover and commit to a life of chastity in body and soul.

Cor Project: Spiritual protection for Christopher and Wendy West and all staff, associates and their families.

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Twenty Days For Mercy

‘O blood and water that flows from the heart of the Savior as a fount of mercy for us, [we] trust in You!’ St. Faustina

MASTER mercy 15 chriscrussell copyWhen the towers fall and our foundations are being destroyed, what can the faithful do? We can prayerfully cry out for mercy. The Lord of mercy will respond by gently ushering His broken, disoriented creation into His rest.

Today we highlight the importance of gender clarity and sexual chastity to a world shrouded in darkness. We at Desert Stream/Living Waters endure only because our feet are solidly planted on the Rock of Christ Jesus and His Church. There a river of mercy flows for all weary ones who struggle deeply with identity and desire but who have come to experience the folly of worldly answers. Surrender to Jesus alone corresponds with their deepest ache for love. What a privilege to do our part in ushering many onto that Rock, where mercy never fails!

We are heading into the joy of Christmas. In preparation for His birth, might you join us in ‘Twenty Days for Mercy’? Through prayer and fasting, we shall implore the Child-King to release those blinded by other masters. From November 6th to the 25th, we shall pray both for the sexually broken and for the Church, that she might reflect His mercy well. Truly the sexually broken are ‘harassed and rendered helpless’ by worldly powers (Matt. 9: 33-35); only mercy can bring them Home.

I shall write a brief daily devotional that will be posted on my blog and sent to you twice weekly. Most importantly, alongside of prayer for our Living Waters leaders, we are partnering with several excellent, like-minded ministries for whom we shall pray daily with specific requests: Courage, the COR Project, Ministries of Pastoral Care (MPC), and the Restored Hope Network (RHN).

Headed by Anne Paulk, RHN is a dynamic network that unites groups around the USA to offer hope and transformation for persons impacted by SSA and other sexual issues. The COR (Latin for ‘heart’) Project, led by Christopher West, heralds the life-transforming work of Theology of the Body, authored by John Paul ll. MPC, formerly Leanne Payne’s pastoral healing course, has a new leader, Gino Vaccaro, who has done a fine job re-launching Payne’s essential teachings through MPC.

Lastly, we will lift up the Courage and Encourage Apostolate, the only officially recognized arm of ministry to those impacted by SSA in the Roman Catholic Church. What a privilege to partner with leader Father Paul Check in supporting this vital global effort.

Daily we at DSM/LW will be lifting up these requests at 3pm in our offices, CST. Join us if you can or pray when it works for you! In the next three weeks leading up to Nov. 6th, Ann Armstrong (our beloved intercessor at DSM/LW) will write more on how we all can prepare to pray and fast effectively for our time together.

Please plan to pray with us. God acts when the faithful cry out for mercy!

Visit andrewcomiskey.com/mercy for daily updates during the fast.

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Deep Wells of Mercy

Day 24 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

Deep Wells of Mercy

‘He brought me into such close intimacy with Himself that my heart was espoused to His heart in a loving union; I could feel the faintest stir of His heart and He of mine. The fire of my created love was joined to the ardor of His eternal love.’ (1056)

Why are the sexually broken so often the recipients of Jesus’ Mercy in the Gospels?

To answer this, one must first consider the depth and power of human sexuality. God made each of us a deep well of desire for love—our very bodies, yearning to cast off their solitude, are inspired by the Creator to merge with others. Out of loving commitment to another, we then become creators of new life.

John Paul ll describes this as ‘the spousal meaning’ of our bodies; they are intended for the love of a good man or woman, and to be fruitful!

Sexuality has deep spiritual meaning as well. St. Paul likens the marital bond as the living witness on earth of Jesus’ spousal love for His bride, the Church. Each of us, single or married, compose His bride who awaits final consummation in union with Himself. Pointing to this greater spiritual goal to which our sexuality points, Christopher West writes, ‘Our bodies have theological meaning.’

Sexual love involves a necessary boundary that hides it from all but the bride and groom. Something so powerful and creative requires such protection; it is the only way we can experience nakedness without shame.

When sexuality is good, it is very, very good. And when it is bad, it is awful. Our sinful world breaks sacred boundaries and exposes sexuality to all manner of indignities. As fallen members of this world, we all perpetuate these crimes of passion and are victimized by them. Our shame is as deep as our sexuality is powerful. Yet deeper still is the longing for nakedness without shame, self-giving without blame.

Jesus knows the power of man for woman, woman for man, and the sinful oppression that hangs over this most powerful of unions. Such brokenness betrays His very image. So He acts quickly and decisively in Mercy to reclaim that image by restoring broken ones to His original intention for them.

He does so in the most tender, intimate ways possible: the generous father kissing his prodigal, gentle Jesus receiving the washing of the prostitute, the friend of the Samaritan, the just God who stands in solidarity with the adulteress.

He stoops down to the sexually broken and washes their feet. Perfect in love, He fears no contamination from the defiled. He hears those who cry out for Mercy from that deepest wellspring of desire. His intimate Presence converts them.

Jesus loves and cleanses these ones in the depths of their truest selves. No stone is unturned: every motive, affection, memory, lover is yielded to the One who has won their hearts. Desire is His domain! Thus the surrendered homosexual/prostitute/fornicator bears Life in his/her depths boundlessly. More are the children of the desolate woman (Is 54:1) than of a faithfully married Pharisee!

Amid all the sexual scandals in the Church today, we cannot lose sight of the quiet majority who has exchanged silent, cancerous sin for trustful surrender to Jesus. Just last week, I met with a group of Living Waters leaders who began the gathering by confessing sin. One admitted a disturbing erotic dream, another, the temptation of Internet porn, yet another, the need for limits in an overly dependent friendship, another still the over-identification with her children.

I felt proud to be among them; lovers of Jesus so inclined to His Mercy they cannot tolerate unspoken temptations! What may seem a threat to the integrity of the body of Christ becomes through Mercy the very antidote to the mess we are in. He is intent on transforming polluted wells into deep reservoirs of Mercy.

‘As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, O God. Deep calls to deep in the roar of Your waterfalls, all Your waves and breakers have washed over me.’ (Ps. 42:1, 7)

‘Spring up, oh wells, and restore the Bride. Let not former sin prevent you from embracing your merciful call. Let Mercy strike down shame and raise you up gloriously in this hour. His Body needs the testimony of Mercy in yours.’

Author’s note – Each day’s entry is based a passage from St Faustina’s diary. The passage entry is the number in parentheses at the end of each opening quote or simply a page number in parenthesis. Diary of St Maria Faustina Kowalska – Divine Mercy in My Soul (Association of Marion Helpers, Stockbridge, MA 01263) is available through the publisher or Amazon.com.

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Mercy From Rome

While doing a conference in Denver many years ago, a vigorous young man introduced himself to me as Christopher West; he was then the ‘marriage and family’ guy for the Archdiocese of Denver. He loved our emphases on healing through the cross and community. And he wanted me to have a copy of John Paul II’s book: The Theology of the Body, the late great pope’s sweeping take on human sexuality.

Wow. What a meal. For the next couple of years I slowly ate what I now regard as perhaps the most thorough and profound theological work on sexuality. It is a large meal, but not inaccessible. It undergirds the pope’s native compassion with truth: the truth of what our sexuality is for, not just what we should flee, and the deeper meaning of masculine and feminine communion in the divine plan.

Brilliant and relevant, prophetic and yet deeply, richly human; it reinforced what I knew but deepened and expanded the truths already gleaned from Ray Anderson, Karl Barth, and Emil Brunner. On planes and trains I would read a section and take notes on it. I would then meditate on the notes before tackling another section.

It prepared me for the battle at hand, the fight for God’s image in humanity being waged on every continent. In that battle, I needed reinforcement.

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