Rousing Her Radiance: Day 40
Rousing Her Gently, Firmly
‘Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for Her, to make Her holy, cleansing Her by the washing of water through the word, and to present Her to Himself as a radiant Church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless’ (Eph. 5:25-27).
My life is defined by a relationship; for me and Annette, freedom depends on the integrity of our gift-giving, man to woman, woman to man. During my last morning in India, I spent a half-hour or so in the wee hours processing with Annette her multi-leveled ‘life’ in my absence. Jesus requires much from each of us. Our capacity to accomplish His will flows from our ‘yes’—in sun and storm—to each other.
Our mutual submission in marriage requires the clear witness of Bride and Bridegroom. Jesus’ fierce love of the Church liberates my vocation as a husband. His chaste love fuels my chastity; its end is Annette’s well-being. He is the Way and makes the Way through His clear members. Accompaniment requires a goal and His is clear: realizing our agency as whole-enough gifts for the other.
Marvelous love! We are not alone in this adventure of a lifetime. We who began the journey unchastely know better than most the necessity of the Bride’s clear witness: the binary image in which we were made and His love that redeems our broken image.
The Church stumbles here. Her radiance has been dulled and diverted. Throughout this fast, I have often recalled a painting first discovered in a Lutheran parish in Copenhagen called The Bride in the Mud. A lovely bride in all her chaste finery, having tumbled down an embankment into a brook, sits in the muddy water. Her stunned and sad look is ever before me and summons my spirit. I ache for that Bride today. The Catholic Church—my Church, yes, but first His—has tumbled into murky waters.
I do not ache for myself but for the thousands I represent whose vulnerability to unchastity requires clarity and compassion, not an accompaniment to nowhere. Dear Pope, I long to hear you use ‘gay’ (or ‘trans’) and repentance in the same sentence!
We are the Bride in the mud, disoriented by confusing guides but alert, still mindful of who we are, whose we are, and where we are going. I am roused to rouse Her, my fellows, in this hour. We are a gentle people, without airs. We’ve no place in the hierarchy. But our poverty ushers in His Father’s Kingdom (Matt. 5:3). We will rise to make Her shine.
Our vision needs to be laser sharp; behold the chaste beauty of the Bride which no amount of disorientation can obscure! She shines even in Her debasement. We rouse ourselves as watchmen, giving ourselves and Her Bridegroom no rest, until She is lifted from the mire (Is. 62:6-7).
We do our part in the spirit of Haggai: ‘Who of you is left who saw Her in Her former glory? How does She look to you now? Does She not look like nothing? But now be strong, all you people of the land and do the work. For I am with you, declares the Lord Almighty. This is what I covenanted with you when I brought you out of Egypt. And My Spirit remains among you. Do not fear’ (Haggai 2:3-5).
The prophet helps us. We refuse discouragement when we look upon Her affliction. It rouses us to holy action. God is with us to do the work of prophesying, persuading, and gathering to repent and serve Her.
I have committed to meeting with Pope Francis before the synod concludes next fall. Jesus will make a way. Perhaps Francis knows few, if any, repentant sinners who refuse rainbow identification for the joy set before them. Perhaps he is unaware that Christians around the world are digging deep wells that transform the sexually broken into chaste warriors. Pray for that meeting.
In the meantime, we stay watchful and prayerful. These 40 days are only the beginning of our championing who She is and who She can be. She WILL be the Bride without blemish—utterly clear and compassionate. In the meantime, we summon Her radiance from the murkiness that engulfs Her.
‘No longer will they name You Deserted or call Your land Desolate…
You will be called ‘My Delight is in You’ and Your land, ‘Married.’
As a young man marries a maiden, so shall your sons marry You;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will God rejoice over You.’
‘Jesus, Bridegroom King, may we gently yet firmly champion Your Bride’s best. May we become that best in how we live and how we love Her. Make us prayerful and active in rousing Her chaste radiance for all Her members, especially those most vulnerable to unchastity.’
‘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.’