Rousing Her Radiance: Day 37
The Child is a Warrior
‘I have quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me' (Ps. 131:2).
Nothing good comes easy, like shifting from evangelical to Catholic. In all the unknowns, one thing was clear: no one liked it! What could be shaken shook. But the sanctuary held this child like a mother. I experienced those losses and accusations like a child, an eternal one.
Head through Body sustained this one who found a home near the altar; I relate to the Psalmist who ‘yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord’ (Ps. 84:2-3). Before the host I experienced the culmination of my love for Church. Like a weaned child with mother, my soul rested in war.
I am writing this blog on the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome, that weird celebration of a Roman Church built in AD 324, still standing after countless battles. Each year that feast moves me inexplicably. Is it Her unstoppable power to regenerate and sustain those famished for truth, like the fresh waters Ezekiel describes gushing from the altar? ‘And where the river flows, everything will live’ (Ez. 47:9). Something of Her integrity sustains mine, renews me for the battle at hand.
I asked my pastor right off if I could start a prayer group at our parish for people like me, ones wanting to stay chaste in an unchaste world and scandalized church. A pedophile priest in residence for a year or so had rocked the parish. What better time, I thought, to gather in prayer? Every week, I brought my Divine Mercy pic into the chapel and a handful of broken people gathered to cry out for that river of Life. Some needed help to overcome porn. One man had been abused as a child by a priest. A young woman sought to stay true to Jesus after a same-sex relationship. A retired priest came once and was disturbed by my witness and encouragement of her chastity. No matter: it was my group, not his.
After time and good scrutiny, the senior pastor greenlit Living Waters at the parish. What a ride! We started small and grew each year. Most parishioners balked but a few bought in. No prob: this gift can only be received freely.
A handful of nominal Catholics tried to shut the group down due to the ‘threat’ it posed to vulnerable youth. That was tough. I had to fight to not lose heart. The pastor appealed their unfounded concern to the diocese. Aaaahhh, the hierarchy! Thank God for diocesan leader Dino Durando who advocated for us and won Living Waters protection from the Bishop of Kansas City.
We had work to do, battles to win. A traditional Catholic needed healing from clerical sexual abuse. Living Waters was a challenge for her (fiery witnesses, listening prayer, a song and Spirit-filled peer support group? Really?). She denied herself. Fragile, every meeting she wanted to bolt but didn’t. Jesus broke through and brought radical healing, so much so that she was able to testify in court on behalf of another victim. Her freedom set someone else free.
Thank God for the water flowing from our altar. Where that river flows, we live.
‘Thank You Jesus for granting us childlike hearts. We lay aside childish things and You equip us for battle, clear-eyed and faith-filled. What You say goes; You can’t be stopped. Thanks for raising us up to do Your will. We complicate things. Sorry. You are ever faithful. Restore our child-like trust in You as we do our part to prepare a people for Yourself.’
‘Father, we thank You for Jesus who established the Church on a Rock against which hell will not prevail (Matt 16:18). We pray for every Christian leader to build on Her firm foundation of sexual clarity and integrity. Father, unmask the deceiver and divider of Christians and unite us in one Spirit. As weak members of Christ, we ask for truth to guide our pursuit of sexual wholeness, for grace to sustain it, and for spiritual power to transform us. May we reflect the chaste radiance of Jesus (2 Cor. 3:18) as we “shine like stars in the universe, holding out the word of life” (Phil. 2:15-16) to a lost and hurting world.’