Tag Archives: Guadalajara

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Heart of the Lion

‘I love you tenderly, faithfully, mercifully; and I will draw you into the embrace of My friendship, and hold you close against My sacred side until, at length, You come to abide in My Most Sacred Heart, the sanctuary of My elect, and the refuge of poor sinners.’ In Sinu Jesu

Leon (lion in Spanish) houses the longest running Living Waters group in Mexico. The city’s core is Sacred Heart Church, built only yards away from an archway commemorating the city’s founding in the 15th century. Displayed atop the majestic door is a life-size lion. Aha, I thought: The Lion of Judah endowed with power to vanquish sin, leading us into the House of the Lamb—Jesus’ Sacred Heart, Almighty God slain for sinners who welcomes the poor into the chambers of His compassion. The Lion becomes a Lamb: cleansing, feeding, healing, protecting the most vulnerable in the courts of His Heart, His house, in the city’s center. Jesus is the Heart of Leon.

We passed through Lion’s gate to go to Mass soon after arriving. It was Friday night, the first of the month—celebration of Jesus’ Sacred Heart. The house was packed, the pastor turned on and up, the rapt crowd hanging on every Word declared; passionate, yes, then quietly reverent for the Meal of His Heart, partaking of the Lamb broken for us. Afterwards, the pastor invited up all intercessors who wanted to pray for someone in need of Jesus’ Sacred, sheltering Heart; he offered each intercessor a red-ribboned medallion of that Heart as a reminder to pray daily for that one. The crowd stampeded the altar. Jesus is the Heart of Leon.

My Leonese friend, Samuel Rojas, exhausted his young adult life in ‘gay’ pursuits then began to be drawn back to Jesus through a devout mother. Sharp of mind, he realized through studying developmental psychology that his same-sex stuff was a window to wounds, distorted perceptions, and unmet needs. He wanted healing and began to seek it through Jesus’ Sacred Heart of love for him; practically, he attended Courage meetings in the city and Living Waters Trainings outside Leon. He was aggressive in pursuit of wholeness—lion-like—but at the end of the day realized that any progress in chastity was pure gift, born of the Lamb’s merciful Heart. Jesus, the Heart of Leon, shares His Heart with Samuel.

It was fun to watch Samuel grow. Each year, in weeklong trainings (Argentina, Mexico City, Guadalajara), he progressed, one step at a time. He caught a vision for life beyond abstinence, he started dating Alejandra and married her in Sacred Heart Church, the two had a son David, his mother came to get healing for herself….He has become a good leader of others, working in sync with his parish and pastor to accompany spiritual sons and daughters into growth in chastity.

After Mass Friday night, I was pleased to discover that our conference was to be held at Sacred Heart Church. We gathered joyfully; Mexican bearers of ‘Living Water’ witnessed to how Jesus restores His wounded and makes us healers in His house, merciful agents of His Heart. I realize that each one worshipping, repenting, and receiving healing from fellow members is being built together to take their places in His Sacred Heart–lion-like, utterly tender, imploring all—‘Come into the Heart of Leon and be set free!’

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

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esperanza

Esperanza

‘You are no longer aliens but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone’ (Eph. 2:19, 20).

Mexicans do it better. Living Waters anyway. Attribute it to truer body/spirit integration. Or greater openness to the Spirit. Or deeper awareness of poverty, submitted to God. All I can say is that I left Guadalajara full of hope (‘esperanza’ in Spanish) for a Church with whole Fathers who welcome the broken and raise up a host of healing sons and daughters.

Maybe it was the Church building itself. Perched atop the ground level where we prepped and prayed as a team, I did not see the sanctuary until the conference. White stone floors with windows, streaming sun and ascending onto a high unfinished ceiling where birds nested and sang throughout the day–‘Even the sparrow finds a home, a place near your altar, O God’ (PS 84:3)! And the altar: simple and sturdy, hewn from yellow onyx marbled in black, a rugged wooden crucifix loomed above, complemented by ‘Bienvenidos.’

The Guadalajara Team

The Guadalajara Team

Jesus welcomed us there; we found a place near Your altar, O God. This was partially due to Father Ricardo, a young priest who spoke movingly and hopefully of God bringing him to the end of himself, then ‘living water’: God’s merciful touch through the healing community. He invited us into that community, one he developed by pioneering Living Waters groups in his parish and beyond. I marveled during the first call for healing from the evils of adultery and childhood sexual abuse—both rampant in Latin culture and hidden behind the appearance of ‘honor’—as literally all 100 participants came forward for ministry! This never happens in the USA. It does in Mexico. Glory to our merciful King.

And the witnesses of healing: Samuel whom God transformed from ‘gay-identified’ to family-defined as he now faithfully leads a wife and son (and Living Waters group in nearby Leon), Francisco and Meric who became a godly, chaste married couple with the help of Fr. Ricardo and Living Waters, Lalo for whom Jesus broke the grip of depression and released him to fruitfully serve others, and many more. Hope rose like the river in Ezekiel’s temple (EZ 47), so much so that a man locked up in shame due to years of sexual abuse and addiction wept for the first time in 10 years and declared: ‘I know God has more for me than abstinence.’

Amen. We are all works in progress, much like the sanctuary herself which awaits His finishing touch. But we aspire in hope, fed by the healing Presence which flows from the altar. Guadalajara granted me a fresh glimpse of the readiness of God to heal. All it takes is a humble clean pastor who gathers his lambs and teaches them to yield to the Father through the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit.

‘In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit’ (Eph. 21, 22).

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

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healing ethnic shame

Healing Ethnic Shame

Roque Daniel Delgado’s stepfather was Mexican. Real Mexican. Santiago dressed to the nines, stuffed his Chicago home with colorful paintings and big furniture, insisting on speaking Spanish, and took pride in his Catholic family which extended throughout the Guadalajara area like a fast-growing bougainvillea vine.

Actually, Santiago started life in Mezquitic, an impoverished village 100 miles from the big city. He worked as hard as a man can. Strength and tenacity propelled him north and into the Rio Grande; he swam to America and did not look back till he reached Chicago.

At age four, Roque met Santiago. He was the father he knew. Besides teaching his kids gratitude for what they had, and a reverence for God, Santiago was also an alcoholic, a sexual addict, and fought explosively with Roque’s mother.

Mostly, Roque checked out. He was at best ambivalent toward his stepdad and relieved when Santiago abandoned the family after his mother’s mental health breakdown when he was 11. When Sanitago left, so did speaking Spanish and Mexican pride. For Roque, good riddance. His life digressed into homosexual then transgender chaos until Jesus reclaimed him through His faithful members (another story….)

One memory of Santiago remained with Roque. Just after their marriage, Santiago took his new wife and kids in a new, snazzy camper-van on a 2000 mile journey from Chicago to Guadalajara. Throughout the December of that year, Roque marveled at the breadth and depth of Santiago’s Mexican family. The small Chicago clan was subsumed by this greater one with whom they gathered constantly, usually around meals and Advent services in ornate churches and cathedrals. Roque also remembered the bleak poverty of Mezquitic and the shack Santiago grew up in. It frightened Roque in its filth; the kids relieved themselves with the pigs.

Beauty, poverty, ambivalence. When Roque returned to Mexico last year to help us out with our third Living Waters Training, the Holy Spirit whispered to him that He was going to reclaim what was precious from Roque’s Mexican roots. All roads led to Santiago, whom Roque had barely seen for twenty years. God began to stir up memories, mostly negative, which required that Roque open his ‘stepfather wound’ and wash it in the fountain of forgiveness. Beginning to speak Spanish again and engage with his fellow Mexicans demanded that Roque own who he was as son of Santiago, a man of Mexico.

Last week Roque and I (and a host of others) returned to Mexico for our fourth training there. This time we centered on Guadalajara; Roque recalled sites he had shared with Santiago 27 years prior, especially the cathedrals. In the light of love of Jesus and his new family, Roque beheld the past with renewed vision. He remembered a strong, proud man surrounded by his family who tried to give his son good things.

Our training was a couple hours north of Guadalajara. En route, we got lost as we (including Roque) drove slowly through the choked streets of a village; it was primitive, fiercely poor. When we asked for directions, a woman said: ’You are in the wrong place; this is Mezquitic.’ God on the move through a faulty GPS– Roque connected with memories from decades earlier, and inhaled the hardship that had forged Santiago.

Little had changed in this forgotten town. Roque could not forget his first exposure to the poverty of the only Dad he ever knew. Tempted by revulsion, he opted for compassion. And pride in Santiago for what he had achieved. In truth, Roque bears the good of Santiago—his strength and tenacity, the proud dignity of a Mexican man.

As we drove out of the town, we came upon a small plaza with a church. ‘My dad and the whole bunch of us went to a fiesta there after church one day.’ The sun shone on Roque that day: his heart is now able to reclaim what is good and true about his roots. As our training progressed, I welled up with pride as Roque humbly and deeply shared his ethnic wound and its redemption. In Spanish!

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