Fire and Fortitude
‘Go forth from the quiet of contemplation and courageously bear witness to My truth.’ (Jesus to St. Catherine of Siena)
Christ’s coming at Christmas can only be received, treasured, contemplated; manifesting the Divine Child throughout the New Year requires all the courage and fortitude we possess.
Never before has His epiphany, or manifestation, been more urgent. The battle between Christ and anti-Christ in the form of gender reconstruction has broken out into the open. (I recently read an article by popular Catholic leader Richard Rohr who claimed: ‘The gender self is the false self.’ Really?) Calling all bright and shining lamps who can testify to the glories of Jesus and His Church–how His community liberated you to resume the journey to wholeness! The Spirit is summoning you to manifest the Almighty Mercy of Jesus amid the chaos at hand.
Reflecting on 2014, I can testify to the increase of darkness over God’s image in humanity, but also of the greater grace required to stand as His gleaming remnant. I refer not only to persons with same-sex attraction but all men and women burned by lust in whom Jesus has reclaimed authentic desire. Throughout a year marked by many obstacles, Jesus reminded me of Ezra’s words: ‘God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant, and giving us a firm place in His sanctuary…God has granted us new life to rebuild the house of God and to repair its ruins. He has given us a wall or protection.’ (Ezra 9: 8, 9)
New life to rebuild His house! Truly this is the season of the Church! He shines on churchmen and women who love nothing more than releasing streams of living water among the faithful through the word of their testimony and by gathering together to make a way for others to know His liberating truth.
That requires fortitude—the virtue of ‘firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of good.’ That virtue is worked in us by Jesus Himself as we say ‘yes’ to what He loves amid a thousand counterfeits. Annette and I have never been more hard-pressed on one hand; on the other, we experience the truth that ‘enduring difficulties, neither deliverance from them nor avoidance of them, constitutes the supreme moment of God’s power.’
Many difficulties, more power. Our gleaming as simple reflectors of His Mercy requires hardship. As the way narrows, we grow more desperate for Him, our limits eclipsed over and over by His superabundance. We live for Him and through Him. Our humble bush is consumed, but it is God that burns in us, He who cannot be extinguished and who through us will vindicate His glorious image upon the earth. ‘By standing firm we gain life’ (LK 21:19), and help others do the same.
‘Let’s wait and see is a dangerous saying. Who knows if we shall be around tomorrow? Surely the Savior will be there, but what about us? Life is not a light that can be enkindled again. Life is a fire given by God to burn on earth just once and never more! Dear friends, let us pay heed lest we miss the hour of this fire right here and now. O that today we would harken to His voice and harden not our hearts!’ Karl Barth