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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

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Burn. Again.

“Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. I [John the Baptist] am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the One coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry His sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire…He will gather the wheat into His barn, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire’ (Matt. 3:10-12).

Weary and controlling after Thanksgiving (why do joyful occasions make me a jerk?), I extended my misery to Annette and hurt her. Badly. To an outsider, my sin may not have been a felony, but it was one of those flashpoint sins that bound up a host of smaller historic ones; together, they effectively bludgeoned Annette.

At Mass that morning, I brought my sin into the light and heard the invitation that Leanne Payne gave us continuously (out of the mouth of a C.S. Lewis character): ‘Die before you die; there is no chance after that.’ In choosing to lay down my sin and destroy it at the foot of His Cross (‘please God, may it be so this time…’), I perceived with the eyes of my heart a fire raging around me, licking up the mess. God in Christ came with fiery love to destroy the sin that destroys through me.

Advent, like Lent, holds up a mirror to the spiritual monsters we can be—on one hand, earnest and devout; on the other, blackening eyes with limbs we thought were amputated long ago. All this requires is that we look intently and beyond our own selfish rationales in order to behold the hurting eyes of another and finally, the blazing love of God in Christ who awaits our fleshly offering.

In today’s Gospel, John the Baptist calls the religious to repentance, rather than the more obviously disordered. Ouch. Annette and I now attend polite religious gatherings defined by worship that is choreographed, carefully. Our prayers tend more toward ‘us’ the privileged interceding for ‘them’, the unfortunates. That gets ‘us’ safely off the hook and frees us to retain our reserve; it frees us from the flames.

In truth, most of us are deeply divided souls and our religious devotion may well tempt us to hide those divides for both the sake of convenience and appearance. In muted tones, mid-week, we hear of crippled marriages, the beloved son’s suicide, the ex-married and ex-middle class Mom who works weekends to eat.

This Advent I pray for the Cross to expose our Pharisaic mixtures and to provoke us into the flames, together, in this one body. I pray that simple songs might set our hearts aflame with His blazing love, that powerful preaching might convict us with signs and wonders following, that the Holy Meal endowed with the Spirit’s power might deliver us from demons, sear our flesh, and unite what’s left with God’s best for our broken lives.

Maybe John is asking us to lay down our linen blazers and tiny crosses around our fine necks; maybe he’s asking us to put our entire selves on the chopping block and to sob over the lies we told and the divided lives we lived. Maybe he’s asking us to forego social graces, to run boldly to the throne of grace (Heb. 4:14-16) and get messy, stripped and naked, so that at last we might say we only want Jesus and that only He can clothe us (Rom. 13:14) with what we need to live undivided, grateful lives.

Maybe then we the Church would not have to worry so much about ‘how to reach the lost.’ They would hear the sobs and see the beeline straight to the altar and would fall face down with us. Together with all the saints, we might cry out for mercy amid the roaring blaze of Love from which none will escape.

‘On that day, the Gentiles will seek out the root of Jesse, for His dwelling shall be glorious’ (IS. 11:10).

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Healing Power of Payne

‘To speak of the healing of the homosexual is to speak of the healing of all persons everywhere.’ Leanne Payne

Leanne Payne passed into glorious Life on Ash Wednesday. She left a glorious legacy of Life for DSM/LW. To describe her influence as foundational is an understatement.

As our staff memorialized her, I was amazed how each of us had experienced at least one profound, enduring healing encounter with her. In books and conferences, in Word and Spirit, she prayerfully brought Jesus, mighty and tender, into the deep aches and fractures of our humanity; she gave us language for our sexual disintegration and its restoration in Christ.

As I reflect upon her personal influence, I realize I could write a book on it. May it suffice to share some events that shaped my reliance on the Healing Presence.

Undone by ‘The Broken Image’, I first met Leanne face-to-face in Vancouver BC, 1982. I had the privilege of testifying before her last session. During the ministry time, I laid down all public composure as Jesus through Leanne instructed me to destroy strongholds of unclean thoughts. I had to learn how to fight for the integrity of my own ‘temple.’ His divine masculine will was empowering my own.

Soon after, we hosted our first conference with Leanne in West Los Angeles. There she did her first full scale ‘Renouncing Baal’ teaching in response to the hordes of young men and women from DSM who had just repented of gay practice. Bodies flew over pews as Leanne flung holy water (in a Presbyterian church at that!) and demons were expulsed. Leanne’s utterance, in a classy Southern drawl, ‘Patsy quick, get the holy water!’ remains a DSM mantra.

A couple years later, we had a full PCM in Los Angeles. As Leanne taught on ‘Restoring a Sense of Being,’ a young woman with SSA and a huge attachment wound walked quietly to the podium then respectfully asked Leanne to pray for her. Leanne stopped and quietly led us all into prayer; the result was a profound move of the Healing Presence into her depths. That morning, Jesus healed a young woman from a foundational wound; the rest of us discovered a healing key that is fundamental to our offering to this day.

I accompanied Leanne to her first PCMs in England; she had a wry form of expression that incited me. As she told a ‘healing of memories’ story that involved the surprise death of a beloved family bird (‘Tweedy’, Leanne mused, ‘was oven-baked…’), my cartoonish imagination went into overdrive and I began to laugh uncontrollably. Hundreds followed and the session ended in holy hysterics.

Annette loved Leanne’s feminine genius and felt a unique blessing from Leanne upon her own well-developed intellect. And Leanne’s mind was peerless in the way that she could assimilate different disciplines—psychology, philosophy, literature, theology, spirituality—into a coherent whole.

Similarly, she possessed a heart for the whole Church which invited us to consider the healing power of holy symbols, namely the sacraments. She highlighted the many ways that the unseen Real manifests Himself; this not only healed breaches between divided parts of the body, it also contributed to our personal wholeness. Leanne helped us to become more thoroughly Christian.

No-one leader impacted me more. She loved me well, imparting generous encouragement, gentle wisdom, and severe warnings. She guided me as I wrote Pursuing Sexual Wholeness, then I poured her input and writings into the foundations of Living Waters. Her advocacy of Living Waters opened doors for national expressions of the program throughout the world.

When Leanne spoke, Annette and I listened. She earned her right to inform our lives. And when we disagreed (as sons and daughters must do in order to become who they are), we learned to wait expectantly for the season in which we could reengage once more. We could not refuse this foundational woman! She was a part of who we were as persons and ministers. To disavow her would have been to disavow ourselves.

Leanne was a prophet. She saw how the increasingly ‘gay-friendly’ Church signaled a lack of understanding of what it means to be human and thoroughly Christian. She grieved over the darkening of the Church’s mind and fought hard to make evident the Church’s foundational truths. For this she suffered. Unwavering in her convictions, often misunderstood and dishonored, her eyes saw beyond the obvious to what mattered. Hearts that see what Leanne saw are hearts that hurt. Her suffering was not in vain, as healing poured from her into our broken lives.

I am deeply grateful for the honor accorded Leanne in her last years by Gino Vaccarro, a spiritual son unlike any other, who with team will ensure that Leanne’s legacy proceeds with MPC. I am equally grateful for Leanne’s Wheaton prayer group, led by Sile Ellison-NiChionna, who surrounded Leanne with tender care in her last years.

Perhaps that prayer group is the primary legacy we received from Leanne. As the DSM/LW staff interceded for all who love her, I recalled that above all else, we are a prayer group who together seek the face of beautiful Jesus, listen for His healing Word together, then rise to offer healing to many. Leanne taught us that inspired pastoral care is how we best convey the Church’s vision of what it means to be creatively, humbly, joyfully human. Leanne embodied that. We will miss her. And we will continue to pray, to heal, to fight and to stand for what she imparted to us.

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October 25: Flesh of Our Flesh

‘The bride belongs to the bridegroom.’ (Jn 3:29)

We who welcome the Cross as the sign and seal of God’s unfailing love for us welcome Jesus as Lover. Calvary is the means by which He betroths Himself to us. His broken flesh is the means by which He incarnates Himself into our flesh—the whole of our humanity. Blood tore the veil of sin, water cleanses us for Him, His Spirit indwells us and makes us new. We are His, He is ours.

St. Paul recognized this profoundly. He addressed the sexual impurities of the Corinthians as the spiritual adulteries that they were. ‘The Lord is meant for the body, and the body for the Lord’ (1Cor 6:13) he exclaimed, then forbade them from spiritually bonding with false lovers as to prevent them from breaking one-Spirit communion with God. He reminds us that Christians—purchased by Jesus through His blood, and raised with Him through His Spirit–now belong to God in our very bodies. His faithful love commands a faithful, bodily response to Him.

I just met with an Archbishop whose eyes conveyed the depth of his spousal bond with Jesus. He wanted to know more about Living Waters but actually I needed to know something from him. As we shared with the Church leader about how we minister to persons coming out of deep sexual sin and wounding, he replied: ‘The key to all of this is intimacy with Jesus.’ Enough said. In exchange for all my words, he summarized the essence of what we and all healers do (or should do): invite broken ones into the Cross—bridal intimacy that has power to transform the most sin-wracked frames into vessels of honor.

Many of us have served couples whose one-flesh unity was ruptured by sexual infidelity; some of us have been those couples. The beauty of yielding our bodies to give love highlights the damage done by breaking vows with our bodies. If we can see and ache for the infidelities we have committed with each other, might we not ask God for the grace to feel the damage done when we as mere creatures violate our spousal pledge to the Creator?

His intimate love invites us to surrender our heart afresh to Him, especially when native lust tempts us to wander. As we grieve over sin, let us also lament the spiritual adultery which resists communion with the very One who is our cure. His very Presence is the antidote for the addictive soul; He alone composes us and invites us to rest once more in perfect love.

‘The knowledge that God is truly with us—that it is possible to be in familiar communion with Him—is the primary need of every lonely, suffering soul. Our work as ministers is that of praying “Come Lord Jesus” then inviting each one into the healing Presence.’ Leanne Payne

Please join us as we pray:

1. Ohio, Crispin & Annelyse DeBellis – Coordinators: For strength and vision for Cris & Annelyse, for existing groups and to see new groups established. Blessings on partnership with their church to establish more Living Waters groups throughout Ohio.

2. Aguas Vivas: Cordoba, Argentina, Maria-Innes- Coordinator: For Lord’s guidance, strength and protection as they finish their first Aguas Vivas (LW) group.

3. RHN: Prayer for wisdom, discernment and protection for RHN board members: Andrew Comiskey; Stephen Black; Karen Booth; Robert Gagnon; Denise Schick; Jason Thompson.

“Courage for Reverend Justin Welby (Archbishop of Canterbury), 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 OCTOBER 23, 24, 25, 26

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Advent 3: Offensive Jesus

‘When the John the Baptist heard in prison that of the works of Christ, he sent his disciples to Jesus who asked Him: ‘Are You the one?’ Jesus said: ‘Go and tell John what you see and hear: the blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense in Me.’ (Matt. 11:2-5)

Advent heralds the coming of God’s wild Kingdom. One cannot read the above account without being shaken up. What? God raises the dead? Heals the sick? Honors vagrants over the perfumed middle class who pay the bills? Since when? Thank God Jesus does not offend my parish in those ways! Read more »

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