Tag Archives: Thirst

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Downward Ascent 4: Ruining Our Appetites

‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for what is right, for they shall be filled.’ (Matt. 5:6)

Jesus wrecks our appetites. Sexy idols compete in vain with the One who offers Himself to us constantly; He becomes the meal, living bread and drink endowed with power to secure our deepest desires. I spoke with a young Hungarian man the other day who proudly declared his openness to many gods and lovers in contrast to the ‘rigid’ Catholic family he left behind. ‘But don’t you miss the One who abides with You through the Eucharist?’ Caught off guard, he nodded slightly, as if remembering a hundred such meals.

Fast food beckons to us constantly. For this we are right to feel poverty and grief. Some of us feel tempted. How blessed we are to know not only the right ethic but also the proper end of all of our hungers: Jesus Himself. To the hungry He calls out constantly: ‘The other gods cannot satisfy you; they commit not to your nourishment but to your destruction. Come to Me with your hungers: eat ME!’

Jesus has unique authority to become the ground of our righteousness. The Father ‘made Him [the Son] who knew no sin to become sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.’ (2C 5:21) Marvel above all marvels: God has made the way for us to become righteous in the whole sense of the word. He assumes our poisons and becomes the antidote for our warped appetites.

We can unite with the Source as the renewed source of our desires. Founded in Him, seeking only Him as our righteousness, we begin the awesome, arduous task of aligning our emotions and affections to His will. We can say with the Psalmist: ‘All my longings lie open before You; all my fountains [desires, longings] are sourced in You!’ We dare not separate our sexual passions from His refining fire. God present to us in Eucharist, Spirit, Word and holy friendship gifts us with the freedom and restraint to love what He loves.

A good pastor friend recounted a conversation with a congregant who had recently embraced his homosexuality and new lover. ‘Do you love Jesus more as a result?’ Deceived but not a liar, the duped man could not answer ‘yes.’

God-with-us becomes our righteousness. We hunger for Him before all others. That is why we fast. On one hand He is very near; on the other, far away and ours only in faith. So we choose to give up this or that in order to declare: ‘You, only You, have won my heart.’ Fasting rids us of many ‘foods’ that dull us—calories, booze, media, virtual distractions, benign ‘fillers.’ Before the One who is our righteousness, we dare to feel our emptiness. He takes us back to our beginning—Himself. We wait and long for and welcome the One who sustains our lives and who will guide us to a glorious end–Himself.

‘Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire but You. My heart and my flesh may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.’ (PS 73: 25, 26)

‘Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you will go hungry.’ (LK 6: 25)

Prayer for Thursday, March 20th: ‘Father, we welcome the truth of our hunger and thirst. By Your grace, gather up and unite our desires with You the Source of every good thing. Show us what we can lay down in these days of Lent in order to feel the ache that only You can fill.’

Prayer for Friday, March 21st: ‘Father, show us how Your Son is in truth our Bread. Sensitize us to the Word and Your abiding Spirit. Grant us patience to wait before You and apprehend Your whispers.’

Prayer for Saturday, March 22nd: ‘Father, as we wait before You, call to mind and heart those ones we love who have yet to yield their hungers to You. Might You alert them to the vanity of life apart from living in faithful awareness of You? And in faithful obedience, might Your Spirit quicken us to love them more effectually?’

Prayer for Sunday, March 23rd: ‘Father as we come to Your Table this day, help us to savor Your real Presence in the Eucharist. Enliven this most precious gift in us. Show us once more how You Jesus have reclaimed us as Your dwelling place. Thank You for offering Yourself afresh as our Source; thank You for becoming our righteousness.’

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Jesus: A Fountain of Living Water

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

Jesus: A Fountain of Living Water

40 Days of Mercy Devotional – Lent 2012 – Day 9

O inexhaustible spring of Divine Mercy, pour Yourself out upon us! Your goodness knows no limits. Confirm , O Lord, the power of Your mercy over the abyss of our misery, for You have no limits to Your mercies. (819)

If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, streams of living water will flow from within him. (John 7:37, 8)

Jesus, remind us how You stoop down to sinners in order to raise us up. Remove the shame that bars us from Your Presence. We pray for all who still hide from You in shame; let ‘Living Water’ flow to them. Use Your servants to make known to the shamed how You draw near to them in order to set them free.

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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The Advent of Repentance

This Advent I had the privilege of preaching several times at ‘Water of Life’, a large church in Southern California. After each service, many people came up to me seeking counsel on what to do with ‘gay’ friends and family members. Most poignant were the pleas of parents and siblings: ‘How do we love them while we disagree with their moral choices?’

These family members are now subject to deceived, politicized loved ones whose ‘gay selves’ have turned hard and cold toward the ones they left behind. Times have changed, people. No longer are we dealing with same-sex strugglers in search of alternatives to ‘the gay self’; this generation seeks only its confirmation. Those family members who cannot in good conscience bless him as ‘gay’ or her as ‘lesbian’ are deemed unloving at best, and probably abusive.

Repentance unto Mercy is the key. The Advent reading for that Sunday was from Is 40:1-11: ‘Comfort my people with great tenderness; the war is over–I shall give you a double portion for all your sins! I will lift up the low and dry valleys and level the mountains; I will make the crooked roads straight! Declare the good news boldly, do not hold back! I will shepherd you well, especially mothers with kids…’

I thought of the Gospel reading from that day, John the Baptist reiterating the essence of this call to repent unto the coming of Jesus, the One full of Mercy who fills us with His Spirit as the basis for a whole new way of living! (Matt. 3:1-12)

William Stringfellow says it best: ‘John the Baptist identifies repentance as the message and sentiment of Advent’–turning unto the tender Mercy of the God who grants us double in exchange for the mess we’ve made!

Amid the many questions and concerns about ‘gay’ loved ones, a river of Mercy ran through our exchanges. We repented of judgmental, critical attitudes, entrusting the loved one wholly to the One who knows all and works all for the good. Our prayer: help us to be insightful, patient agents of that good, that the deceived would have a loving witness of saving Love when they are ready for it.

We discovered that we can love deceived ones without compromise as we eagerly await their return to Mercy.

For every 3 or 4 tales of family angst that I heard, a man or woman would come up to me and quietly admit that like me they too had come out of homosexuality and were living hopeful, humble lives in that community  of faith. And one lovely Mexican-American couple confided in me that after three years of loving and interceding for a sister who had ‘married’ a woman, their beloved just left the relationship and is once again seeking the Mercy of God for her sin and conflict.

They are there for her. We the faithful are there for any who turn from worldly solutions to the Merciful One who gives us everything—Jesus Christ.

‘Water will gush forth in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.

The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground, a bubbling spring…

And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness.

The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way…

But only the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads.

Joy and gladness will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.’

Is. 35:6-10

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Boldness and Mercy

Day 30 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

Boldness and Mercy

‘If the Lord demands something of a soul, He gives it the means to carry it out; through grace, He makes it capable. At the Lord’s command, the soul can undertake things beyond its expectation if God’s power and strength, which makes the soul courageous and valiant, are manifest within it.’ (1090)

‘Your assignment on earth is to beg Mercy for the whole world.’ (570)

Jesus gave St. Faustina a bold calling: to immerse souls in the flood of God’s Mercy at Calvary. Prayerfully, she brought the miserable, the deserted, those deadened by sin and suffering into the Wound that heals—Jesus abandonment on the Cross, His Mercy pool of Blood and Water.

Jesus implored her to share His yearning for the lost. He thirsted for souls to partake of the fruit of His suffering. He wanted none to perish, for all to be saved. He gave her a share in that thirst and in that suffering. She boldly cried out for souls to turn to that Mercy. She persisted day and night in her intercession for souls. He goaded her:

‘Urge all souls to trust in the unfathomable abyss of My Mercy, because I want to save them all.’ (1182)

A bold call, and a bold claim on St. Faustina’s part: Jesus Himself chose her (among others) as His merciful ‘life-line’ for the lost. She believed Him resolutely and proceeded to pray boldly.

For her obedience, she endured constant attacks from ‘holy’ colleagues, which she quietly understood as nothing short of demonic resistance. She knew that the devil hated prayerful confidence in the God of Mercy; if he could discourage or distract the prayerful, souls would be lost to Mercy. So she fell to her knees and cried out for Mercy, enduring the scorn for the joy set before her–Mercy being released to the miserable, hers, mine, ours.

Consider the joy of her child-like warrior heart: she knew that the Father honors bold faith and answers those who persist in agreement with His heart. And what could be more in accord with that Heart than for souls to be liberated by the Mercy that cost Him everything?

Jesus asks for our bold prayers too. And like St. Faustina, we will be subject to terrific warfare. We are rescuing lives from the clutches of evil! We do well as prayer warriors to follow Jesus’ command ‘to go boldly to the throne of grace to receive Mercy, and grace to help us in our time of need.’ (Heb. 4: 16)

Embattled prayer warriors need Mercy! Tending toward the mystical, we vertical ones can lose sight of our own humanity and the impact of the battle upon us. We need normalizing relationships that are arms of this Mercy. These truth-tellers help us acknowledge our humanity and keep us grounded in our need for love.

God takes no delight in mystics who ‘spiritualize’ human need, those yearnings of the heart and body which must be worked out on earth. We do well to seek merciful others for our wounded humanity. They free us to stay pure and true to our bold call to implore sinners to discover Mercy themselves.

Such ‘grounding’ takes a shrill, otherworldly edge off our prayers. They begin to resonate with merciful tones for the suffering of others, imploring Jesus to prepare us His bride to become rich and practical in Mercy. How else will the sin-sick find a place in the Mercy pool if the Church doesn’t exhibit such Mercy?

‘O Father, make Your Church glorious, rich in Mercy and purity, winsome to all who seek an answer to our hope. Show them the Mercy You have shown us; make us evident, shining bearers of Mercy. Enfold the lost through us, O God. In agreement with You, we want none to perish. You delight in the death of no-one. (Ez. 18:32) Through merciful repentance, may many find life in Your house.’

‘For Zion’s sake, I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake, I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch…

I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give Him no rest till He establishes Jerusalem, and makes her the praise of all the earth.’ (Is 62:1,6,7)

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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The Gaze from the Cross, Part 3

Day 18 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

The Gaze from the Cross, Part 3 (Please also read Part 1Part 2 and Part 4)

‘I desire that you know profoundly the love that burns in My Heart for souls, and You will understand this when you meditate upon My Passion. Call upon My Mercy on behalf of sinners; I desire their salvation.’ (102)

The beauty that becomes ours from the Crucified is never intended to be only a personal work. The test of Mercy lies in our releasing that Mercy to others.

For such a deeply wrought work of grace to remain locked up within us belies the gift itself. God digs a deep well of Mercy in us for a purpose–the saving of many lives. Without welling up and finding other thirsty souls, the waters of Mercy in us become dank then drain away altogether. We must provoke one another with this truth: He made us alive in order for us to make others alive in Christ.

The personalization of Mercy to the exclusion of others is a unique temptation of our ‘Living Waters’ ministry. We major on the sanctifying of the saints more than evangelism; we emphasize the nuances of the damaged soul in which healing may be described as a slow, cylindrical ascent.

An important work! And yet ‘inner healers’ can lose sight of a bigger, urgent picture: the blinding power of the flesh, world and devil upon non-believers in contrast to the eye-opening power of the Blood and Water; Heaven’s rescue at Calvary in contrast to an eternal Hell for those who fail to turn to Mercy.

St. Faustina calls us simply to remember the dire state of sinners and to lay them constantly before the Crucified. ‘When I see Jesus tormented, my heart is torn to pieces and I think: what will become of sinners if they do not take advantage of the Passion of Jesus? In His Passion, I see a whole sea of Mercy.’ (948)

Extending the Mercy we have received onto the lost is essential–for their eternal destiny and for our own spiritual maturity. Let’s seek in this fast to make prayer for the lost an ongoing part of our prayer lives.

St. Faustina’s witness helps us here; her focus on the Cross and its flood of Blood and Water can become the locus of these prayers. Following her example, I simply cry out for this ‘liquid love’ to become apparent to loved ones far from Him; I implore Jesus’ Mercy on their behalf, and place them in the pool of healing awaiting them.

In this we imitate Jesus who upon the Cross did not think of Himself but rather of sinners, crying out for them to the Father, as He did for the two criminals hanging alongside of Him at Calvary. Rather than get stuck on their sinfulness, He prayed to the Father to forgive them for their sin: ‘they don’t know what they are doing,’ He prayed (Lk. 23:34). And one surrendered to Him, guaranteeing the ex-con a place in Paradise (vs. 42, 3)

Let us pick up our little crosses and pray. Such intercession primes the way for holy words and action; we are preparing ourselves to be one of many answers to our merciful prayers for others! Let our prayers pave the way. We lay the lost down on the healing ground of Calvary, then we seek to be agents of Mercy for them.

‘Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.’ (James 5:20)

‘Jesus, grant us Your urgent heart for the lost. Forgive us for becoming insulated in our Christian communities. Remind us of our former states, when You rescued us from the judgment of sin and death. Might You use our prayers to reclaim sinners? Would You also prompt merciful action toward them? Activate us, Your merciful evangelists. Like St. Faustina, prepare us to give an account for souls.’

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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