Tag Archives: Communion

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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November 13, 2014: Bridal Bath and Meal

‘On that day a fountain will be opened to cleanse the house of David, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, from sin and impurity.’ (Zech. 3:1)

The Cross and its fountain of blood and water (Jn 19:34) is the source of our cleansing. Immersed, God cleanses us in order to wed Himself to us. As Brant Pitre reminded us, the Cross is bridal—the way Jesus lays claim to us as His ‘spouse.’ He gave all to gain us at Calvary; there, He pledged His life as the evidence of His ardor and commitment to us. He prepares us for communion with Himself through the ‘living water’ released on the Cross. 

Consummation requires purity, just as any marriage couple understands. We want to be clean in body and spirit for each other in the marriage bed. How much more for persons who seek intimate communion with the living God? We first discover this cleansing through the waters of baptism. Then we revisit those waters over and over through the confession of our sins and the reception of forgiveness.

More than merely looking back on our baptism, confession invites the Spirit of Resurrection to stir those waters and to grant us a double portion of God’s grace to go forward and overcome the sin. Through a priest or elder, as well as through trustworthy prayer partners, we do our part ‘to stay in the spray’ of Calvary.

Each confession matures God’s sanctifying work in our lives; every admission of disintegration makes us more whole! I love confession because I know it is the one act I am always free to do that will contribute instantly to intimacy with God. That intimacy requires an ongoing bridal bath. The world is dirty and our hearts are not immune to its filth. Daily life necessitates ongoing confession.

We wash ourselves in holy water in order to partake of the holy meal. Confession precedes communion. And what a feast God has prepared for us! Both Brant Pitre and Christopher West have done marvelous jobs in helping us grasp how communion is a bridal meal, the gift of God that conveys to us and secures in us the spousal union God seeks with us.

Pitre writes: ‘If Jesus is the Bridegroom and the Church His Bride, then the Lord’s supper is a wedding banquet in which God gives Himself entirely to His Bride in a new and everlasting marriage covenant.’ Through His broken body and shed blood, Jesus unites Himself to us His bride. That meal is the ongoing way we participate in and celebrate again our spousal bond—God dwelling with humanity through His sacrificial pledge of love. ‘The sincere gift of the Sacrifice of the Cross gives prominence to the spousal meaning of God’s love…the Eucharist is the Sacrament of our Redemption, and of the Bridegroom and the Bride.’ (JPll)

The world distorts our appetites, at once exaggerating and deadening real desire. Communion reminds us of whose we are; it invites us to partake of the very One who alone has power to reorder our desires around perfect Love. The bridal bath and meal grants us the grace to become a holy spouse–good gifts to Himself and others.

‘Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth.’ (Song of Sol 1:2)

Please join us as we pray for:

  1. Eastern Midwest Region, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Amy Van Cott – Coordinator:  For strength and vision for Amy, for existing groups and to see new groups established.
  2. International Theology of the Body Congress (www.tobcongress.com): Advance for beautiful teachings of John Paul II throughout the world.
  3. Denver Diocese: Discernment for timing and team of new Living Waters group.

“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!”


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Ache of God

Praying 40 days for repentance over sexual sin would be a vain task unless we encountered His ache of love for us.

Prayer unites us with His ache. Beneath His cross, we witness silently His naked broken body. Like rain from heaven, blood and water flow into our shameful nakedness and unites us with the Love that seeks nothing other than our good. Sexual sinners like you and I concur tearfully with Pope Benedict: ‘Any talk of love must begin with the open side of Christ.’

He aches for us, for our good, hating sin (never us!) only because it destroys us. So He pours Himself out generously, and awaits the time when we might stop beneath His cross and satisfy our misdirected appetites on Love alone.

He aches for us! He wants communion with us! Have you ever felt the acute pain of betrayal when a mere creature violated his/her covenant with you? How much more does our Creator ache when we bypass Him for a mere human image of Himself?

Having suffered to secure us in Love, He wants to waste none of His sorrows. He aches for us to abide beneath the cross, to linger there. He wants to reorient us around His ache for us; He delights when we soak in the water that cleanses and refreshes us, the blood that becomes our new life. We fulfill His ache when we welcome His passion as the foundation of our lives.

40 days of focused prayer may not be enough to reorient us wholly around His ache. But it’s a good start. And when we with broken hearts kneel before the cross welcome the fruit of His broken heart for us, we learn to pray for others.

God gives us His ache for the lonely and the lost; we grieve with Him for those wasting themselves on mere images of God. God wants them, Father to child, Bridegroom to bride. Prayer changes us by orienting us around His ache: first for us, and through our prayers, for the people He made and longs to redeem.

‘How beautiful you are, my darling. Oh, how beautiful! Show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face lovely.’ (S of S 2:2, 14)

Please join us starting Friday, September 28th, for our 40 days of repentance. You can download the PDF of the entire 40-day devotional now at : pray.desertstream.org.

If you want us to email you the PDF, or to send you a paper copy of the devotional, email Ann at aarmstrong@desertstream.org.

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Mercy Rising (on trembling legs…)

Join us today at 3pm (CST) as we intercede for loved ones in need of God’s mercy.

Mercy Rising (on trembling legs…)

40 Days of Mercy Devotional – Lent 2012 – Day 22

I know that the grain of wheat must be ground between millstones in order to become food. In the same way, I must be crushed in order to be useful to the Church and to souls. (641)

The Church is founded on forgiveness. Peter is a personal embodiment of this truth, for he is permitted to be the bearer of the keys, after having stumbled, confessed, and received the grace of pardon. Behind the talk of authority, God’s power appears as Mercy and thus is the foundation stone of the Church. Pope Benedict, Called to Communion

Simon Peter, Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you, Peter, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers. (Lk.22: 31, 32)

Jesus, we agree with You that sin crushes us. Thank You for not crushing us as a penalty for our sin; thank You for granting us Mercy. Only in Mercy can we repent and come to a full knowledge of the Truth. You are that Truth, Jesus. In the words of Peter, where else will we go? You are the key to our lives, the antidote to our sin and the secret of a future lived in union with You. Make us Merciful, as You were merciful to Peter and to us. Like Peter, may we  represent well the truth that ‘Mercy is the foundation stone of the Church.’

For the complete 40 Days of Mercy Devotional – Lent 2012, click here to download.  For a paper copy, United States only, please call Desert Streams Ministries at (866) 359-0500. 

Author’s note – Each day’s entry is based a passage from St Faustina’s diary. The passage entry from the diary is the number in parentheses at the end of each opening quote. 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’s Sacrifice

Join us today at 3pm (CST) as we intercede for loved ones in need of God’s mercy.

Mercy’s Sacrifice

40 Days of Mercy Devotional – Lent 2012 – Day 21

How sad I am that souls do not recognize Love. They treat Me as a dead object. (1385)

Do you despise the Church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? … A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread or drinks of the cup. (1 Corinthians 11:22, 28)

Jesus, thank You for Your Sacrifice of Mercy. We need it now more than ever! In Your Mercy, unite our divided hearts and make us whole in one-Spirit communion with You. Free us also for merciful communion with one another. Free us to love as You have loved us. We pray also for those persisting in sin, without repentance. Open hearts to their true hunger and true home at Table with You.

For the complete 40 Days of Mercy Devotional – Lent 2012, click here to download.  For a paper copy, United States only, please call Desert Streams Ministries at (866) 359-0500. 

Author’s note – Each day’s entry is based a passage from St Faustina’s diary. The passage entry from the diary is the number in parentheses at the end of each opening quote. 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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