Tag Archives: Joseph Pieper

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Become Who You Are

The full stature of our humanity is always just outside our grasp. Someone truer, stronger, more tender-in-love awaits his or her true revelation.

As God made us in us His very image, He has wired us to represent Him more nearly, more authentically. For this we must reach. Joseph Pieper describes such inspired aspiration as magnanimity, our ‘yes’ to realizing the greatness He stamped upon every cell of our being.

He is faithful. We have all experienced leaders who have witnessed our childishness, roll their eyes, and mutter: ‘Grow up.’ Not our Father and Son. When we fall short of greatness, fumble the ball or even foul out, He loves us through our shame and gently commands that we become more. He wills what He commands. Nothing less than the power that elevated Jesus from the tomb infuses our weak ‘yes’; He helps us to break through the invisible wall that keeps us crowned by childish things.

The other day, in response to an attitude Annette witnessed in me as less than godly and manly, I sought the Lord and He invited me: ‘I want you to become bigger in this area. As you stand tall and refuse to bend, I will give you victory.’ He has. I must choose daily to stand in that higher place. As I do, I grow into the freedom for which Christ set me free.

It hurts but helps us to bump against low ceilings of immaturity. Growth requires our ‘yes’ to Spirit-inspired commands to break the previously unseen wall.

How sad when we don’t. I know a good man who loves Jesus and leads others in His Name who is convinced that he is intrinsically ‘gay.’ Though he refuses explicit homosexual behavior, he is bound by boyish dependencies that belie his 39-years. These friendships are flirtatiousness and campy; his immaturity confuses others and keeps him a pre-teen, emotionally speaking.

It’s hard to grow up. And our Father helps us. He knows we tend to familiar, lesser selves due to laziness and lack of vision. You could say St. Paul wrote most of his epistles for just that reason, to remind faltering Christians to become who God made and redeemed them to be.

LGBT+ month reminds us that we live in an age that has stripped ‘compassion’ of magnanimity; we have lost vision and spiritual power. Let us reclaim both. St. Paul’s words ring truer than ever: ‘For you were once darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord. Live as children of the Light’ (Eph. 5:8). St. Augustine says it another way. ‘Live up to what you have become.’ Become who you are.

Clear-Sighted Compassion

John the Baptist’s astute sight and sound: ‘Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’ (Jn. 1:29) takes my breath away. His vision stops me in my tracks and invites me to yield to Jesus whatever ‘sin-sickness’ needs His cure. He is masterful: re-entry into His wounds assures me that He will assume my dross while surrounding what is precious. And vulnerable. Repentance always requires healing Presence to fortify and lend form to what is weak but inclined to truth.

Last Sunday’s Gospel account met me poignantly, unexpectedly. Before the Lamb, I saw a picture of a car with a minor, almost unseen dent. The danger lay in rust slowly growing and extending its corrosive fingers from the minor injury. I knew what it was. Though familiar, the same new sin, it scared me. I needed to linger in the inner courts of the Lamb, facedown before the cleansing, healing flood still faithfully flowing from His wounds–a fresh washing, and drowning. I needed two things: to die afresh to that corrosion and to resubmit the wound to Him.

To be honest, that hurt my pride. And goaded my impatience. I am sick of this process! So easy to exalt the lifetime plan of becoming chaste—so easy until you hit a bump in it and are thrown off your proud horse, any illusion of having arrived.

I spent a longer time in His Presence than usual and asked what He was doing. Before I could hear, a deep sadness welled up in me, a nearly primal loneliness defined eloquently by Joseph Pieper ‘as a truly penetrating knowledge of created things that is associated with an abysmal sadness…which cannot be lifted by any natural force of knowledge or will.’

My first tendency is to renounce such sadness as ‘the worldly sorrow that brings forth death’ (2 Cor. 7:10). But this was different; God—not His enemy—was surfacing a deep sorrow related to historic disconnectedness. He timed it well, and I could see (my heart tends to ‘see’ things more than ‘hear’) His eyes looking at me with deep compassion. That freed me to grieve more deeply, and I recalled the many Gospel passages where Jesus looked at harassed, clueless people and had an immediate, gut-wrenching longing to help them, e.g. compassion (Matt. 9:36; 14:14; 15:22; Mk 6:4; 8:2). He looks at me kindly too.

As I welcomed His consolation where I need it most, many faces of persons I love who also face a similar loneliness came to mind and I could see and weep for them with fresh compassion. I recalled a boy in my neighborhood whom I see often playing by himself; he is being raised by a group of ‘intersectional feminists’, I presume ‘lesbian’-identified, with one ‘transitioning’. His family beliefs preclude any bridge to manhood for him. I will advocate for him, starting on my knees: ‘Jesus, good shepherd, give me Your eyes and heart with which to see, to feel deeply, to act with compassion for him.’

May we welcome the Lamb of God where we most need Him and allow His compassion to infuse how we love others.

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

Chastity: Order in Our Courts

Chastity: Order in Our Courts

Following Jesus to Calvary requires temperance, that gift of the Holy Spirit which sets love in order within us. The ordered soul loves to linger with Jesus. Yet we with shifting, bloodshot eyes struggle to keep watch with Him. Gerald May is right: ‘Addicts cannot meditate.’ So we cry out: ‘Come Holy Spirit, set love in order within us by uniting us with the One who has power to compose us. Make us whole as we fix our eyes on the One who suffers to set us free!’

Leanne Payne describes the peril of the divided heart: ‘An unhealthy fantasy life destroys. It wars against the true imagination which can intuit the real and thus is creative. When our minds are pregnant with illusion, we cannot be impregnated with what is true.’ (The Healing Presence) This Holy Week let us ask Jesus to take every lie that divides our hearts and unite us with Himself through His Spirit. May we linger longer with Him, uniting our suffering with His as we await new life.

Chastity is the first fruit of temperance. It derives its meaning from 1Cor. 12:24 in which St. Paul describes how God orders His members into one whole Body, ‘giving greater honor to the parts that lack it.’ So too does God order the various parts of our individual humanity into a whole. Chastity involves the integration of sexual love—the powerful, frustrating well of desire we bear in our bodies—with our first love relationship with Jesus (CCC #2335).

The Holy Spirit guides this lifetime goal of integration. Becoming chaste is about becoming whole, and involves as much our accepting the good gift of our gendered humanity as it does rejecting ‘the seductive power of an artificial civilization driven by lust and greed.’ (Joseph Pieper; 1Thes. 4:3-8)) Knowing how we subject our gift to La La Land, we cry out: ‘Jesus, the very forces that gave us life now threaten to destroy it. Have mercy, holy God!’

He does have mercy. His kindness draws us and binds up our fractures so we can abide longer with Him. His purpose in ordering our sexuality? So we can enjoy creation with the One who created it. He does not want His world to demonize us but rather to be a source of delight, within the loving limits of truth and the Spirit-fed virtues of temperance and chastity. How liberating to turn from sensational self-interest toward a genuine desire to know and honor the whole of a person!

We cleave to the One who is ‘resolute toward Jerusalem’ where Calvary awaits Him (LK 9:51). He calls us to walk with Him so we can gift others with a whole (enough) witness of gender clarity and tempered desire. We become for them a witness of the God who amid suffering binds up sorrow with love.

‘We seek to be chaste because someone we love needs us to be chaste.’ – Heather King

Fortitude

‘He who loves his life will lose it.’ (JN 12:25)

‘Because we are vulnerable we can be brave,’ says Joseph Pieper. CAN be brave. The truth is—most of us are cowards who seek first to preserve our lives from further wounding. Persons who demonstrate fortitude give up their lives to follow Jesus; they entrust to Him the diminishment they experience from others and somehow thrive on His nourishment, especially in suffering. When the battle gets harder, brave Christians get better. Through Jesus. For Jesus. Let me give you three examples of fortitude in action.

Sara married young to a fellow Asian, a Christian, who deserted her for another woman. She could not agree to dissolve the marriage as she made vows not just to a man but to the Man. For fifty years, she has stayed faithful to God and to the man she still considers her husband. Robert Gagnon is an Ivy League scholar who wrote the best book ever on ‘The Bible and Homosexual Practice’ (Abingdon Press). Over the course of his academic career, he has been reviled by peers while his work remains the gold standard. Sue entered into lesbianism after an abusive childhood in England. She sought spiritual answers and became a Buddhist nun. In Thailand she met Jesus, the Man of her dreams who equipped her to become a healing missionary. Surrounded by the heavenly host, a compromised church, and a gang of sinners who are becoming saints, she delights in partnering with Jesus to awaken hearts from the drowsy idolatry/immorality of Thailand.

Three factors mark each of their lives. First, they suffer because of what is right, not because of foolish daring. Sara believes she made a vow until death. She’s not dead yet and cannot in good conscience yield to the men who have wanted her. Robert stands on a profound understanding of God’s will for the sexual redemption of persons. Period. He cannot change that truth even if popular opinion does. Sue must be faithful to God’s call, however difficult that call is. The failure of others does not negate God faithfulness and call on her life.

Their diminishment in battle has not resulted in death—martyrdom—which is the highest honor accorded to persons possessed by fortitude. These three major on endurance, a second facet of fortitude; they sustain ‘little deaths’ as they endure shame for the joy set before them. No grim-faced sufferers these—each exercise what Pieper describes as ‘a vigorous grasping and clinging to the good’, namely holding fast to the little cross Jesus has asked of them as He steadies them with His Cross. Endurance for them is neither passive nor mournful but active, drawing water from an unseen but very real Source. And joyful! I have seen each of these three in serious hardship but never once succumb to self-pity, a third mark of fortitude. They refuse to be broken by grief; their losses and tears draw them closer to Jesus.

For us all, fortitude frees us to face our vulnerability in faith; we entrust ourselves to the One who does not promise freedom from injury and sorrow but freedom for Himself. He makes us alive in the fight for what is authentically good and true and beautiful. The battle prepares us for heaven.

Sara has a Bridegroom who awaits her; she is making herself ready for Him. Robert’s reward is thousands who through his work ‘run in the path of God’s commands’ (PS 119:32) and who teach others so. Sue is Jesus’ presence for a harassed people who under her care come clean from sin and demons. Fortitude frees her to prepare a tribe for heaven, for Jesus. Those who lose their lives find them, many times over.

Love and Wisdom 2: Why Mercy Must Inform the Homosexual Wound

‘Love Molds Wisdom’ Joseph Pieper

The nearly uniform acceptance of homosexuality today cannot hide the wound at its core. No amount of societal celebration cures the wound; it masks it, thereby exploiting persons who buy the lie of ‘gay goodness’.

Citing the disconnect between an age that celebrates ‘gay marriage’ while astronomical rates of depression, loneliness, and substance abuse continue unabated for ‘gay’ men, Michael Hobbes (himself ‘gay’-identified) ponders without answers why the liberated are still enslaved to self-destructive behaviors. (Together Alone: The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness, Huffington Post; Mar. 2nd, ‘17). TO his credit he refuses to cite homophobia as the scapegoat for a recent survey of ‘gay’ men in New York City in which 75% defined themselves as anxious, depressed, chemically addicted and having risky sex.

Hobbes stops short of citing the homosexual condition itself as the problem. He does however give anecdotal evidence to the early wound in the gender identity development of men who later ‘gay’-identify. One man wonders if the fickle cruelty of peers in San Francisco is due to ‘the bullied having become the bullies. You grow up with all this baggage then realize that all the men around you share the same baggage.’ Hobbes quotes a sociologist who surmises that a male-only community ‘magnifies the challenges of masculinity. Masculinity is precarious. It has to be continually enacted or defended…’ In other words, a group of men trying to work out their masculinity by seeking to prove themselves sexually is a high risk, no win equation.

The late Dr. Joseph Nicolosi knows why. In his excellent article, ‘The Traumatic Foundation of Male Homosexuality’ (Crisis Magazine, Dec. 19th, ’16), he convincingly charts how adult homosexual behavior is rooted in early gender trauma and thus has an undeniable dimension of hostility. Think about it: how could a person who has rejected his gender value due to a break in early bonds, sexual abuse, or other sources of traumatic shame, find harmony with a similarly fractured person? The eroticization of the wound electrifies then burns out an already vulnerable person. ‘Gay is good’ defies wisdom and sound judgment.

But wisdom is not enough; it can only highlight what we need. Or rather Who we need. The only hope for the ‘gay’ wounded is the healing, saving love of Jesus. Persons whose fractures run deep and who fear no healing exists anyway are prone to defenses that guard their wounds. The wound then becomes the basis for an identity and a host of bad habits. Only Divine Mercy conveyed by loving, wise friends can function like ‘living water’; as Jesus astonished the Samaritan woman, let us surprise the wounded with kindness that frees them to admit their suffering and open to Mercy Himself.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: