Thursday, July 23, 2015

New revelations on a little-known aspect of Daniel A. Lord, S.J.'s life

I went out yesterday to Chicago's Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery to visit the graves of the parents and grandmother of Father Daniel A. Lord, S.J. (1888-1955), the great Jesuit author who is a personal hero of mine, and to whom I dedicated My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints. What I discovered there will interest scholars and others who admire Lord's life and work.

In my hands in the photo is Father Lord's biography of his mother, Iva Jane Frances Langdon Lord: My Mother: The Study of an Uneventful Life (St. Louis, MO: The Queen's Work, 1934). He wrote it after his mother's death, because she had requested there be no monument upon her grave, so he decided to honor her wishes but also honor her with a literary monument.

Iva Lord's request went beyond merely asking that her own grave be unmarked. As Father Lord relates in My Mother, in a conversation he had with her less than two weeks before her death, her stated desire was that, after her burial, the headstones be removed from "all three" graves in the family plot: her own; her husband, George D. Lord; and her mother, Margaret Langdon. She moreover wanted the graves to be "sodded over." It was a bizarre request, to say the least. Father Lord writes, "What could I do?" The implication is that he acceded to her request. So, while I was able to obtain the plot's location from the cemetery's helpful staff, I expected to find no headstones on any of the graves.

What I found surprised me in more ways than one. First, the staff informed me that there were four bodies in the plot. The fourth was not Father Lord—he is buried alongside brother Jesuits in the Society of Jesus section of Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis. It was his brother, James G. Lord, whose existence was acknowledged only by scattered, somewhat cryptic mentions in My Mother and his autobiography Played by Ear. Father Lord writes that James was an invalid, and hints that his illness involved mental disability; the first stage of it was the "strange apathy" he displayed as a child. The last bit of historical information Father Lord offers about James is that Father Lord informed Iva just prior to his death that the Sisters of St. Mary had agreed to accept James as a permanent boarder, thereby assuring her that her invalid son would be taken care of after her passing.

Although I could have expected James to be buried in the family plot, the information given me about him by the cemetery (his name and date of burial) enabled me to track down his death certificate, which gives some very interesting new information.


The death certificate reveals that, as a permanent boarder of the Sisters of St. Mary, James received care at St. John's Hospital in St. Louis, which means that he spent the last ten years of his life in the same city where Father Lord was stationed as national director of the Sodality of Our Lady and editor of its publishing house The Queen's Work. So, when Father Lord promised his mother that the Sisters of St. Mary would care for James, he was also promising her that James would live near him. I had not realized that. It was also the hospital where Father Lord sought treatment over the years and where he himself would die on January 15, 1955—eleven and a half years after his brother.

Also, note the cause of death: a cerebral hemorrhage, which had lasted three days, and which was itself caused by a malignant brain tumor from which James had suffered for years. So, Father Lord, who outlived his brother by twelve years, had personally experienced caring for a close family member suffering from cancer. That is significant given that Father Lord's heroic witness in his own battle with cancer has inspired so many people, including Servant of God Dorothy Day.

The other surprise of the visit was that Father Lord, although honoring his mother's wish for no monument, did not in fact honor her wish for the graves of his father and grandmother to be sodded over. Good for him, I say! After all, his mother had no authority to cancel out her husband and mother's wishes.




Praying at the unmarked grave of Daniel A. Lord, S.J.'s mother. James's unmarked grave is to my left.




The grave of Daniel A. Lord, S.J.'s grandmother,  Margaret Langdon



The grave of Daniel A. Lord,S.J.'s father, George D. Lord

I am thankful that Ave Maria Press, which publishes my books, is planning to republish Father Lord's Letters to My Lord, which will bring to a modern audience the beautiful reflections Lord wrote during his final illness.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

"Chastity is 'in' because it’s rebellious"
National Catholic Register interviews me about the new Thrill

Today it is my joy to share with you National Catholic Register reporter Sarah Reinhard's in-depth interview with me about the new Catholic edition of The Thrill of the Chaste. In "Dawn Eden: Chastity Is 'In' Because It's Rebellious," I discuss the countercultural witness of chastity— an especially important witness given the Supreme Court's decision on same-sex marriage, and given the discussions to take place at the Synod on the Family.

Here are some highlights:
Who most needs to read your book? Who were you writing for? I ask, in part, because, as I read it, you spoke straight to my heart, so eloquently and deftly. 
My prime audience is single Catholic adults who have been chewed up, swallowed and spit out by the dating culture. Having missed the memo on abstinence, they are now seeking a happier way to live and love than what society is offering them. I want them to have the kind of book that I wish had been there for me when divine grace brought me to want to bring my lifestyle in line with God’s will. 
But in a larger sense, The Thrill of the Chaste is for everyone who suffers from existential loneliness — which, I think, really means everyone. Deep down, we all long for a person who understands us and loves us perfectly. But even if we find our soulmate in marriage, sooner or later, like the Cher song says, we all sleep alone. What do we do when we realize that no human being will truly satisfy us? 
I write for people who suffer this tension of living in the “now and not yet,” and I seek to give them hope through reflecting on how, even in this world, we can experience a foretaste of Christ’s transfiguration of our bodies, as the Catechism says (1000). We experience it through our participation in the Eucharist, in which Christ gives us his own embodied love and shows us how to embody that same divine love to others. 
At one point, you say, “Chastity is so out, it’s in.” Why do you think this topic has become such a hot topic? Why is this a topic people should read about, i.e., in your book (instead of just googling or reading chastity blogs)? 
Chastity is in because it’s rebellious. Practically the entire culture — certainly the whole of mainstream media, driven by advertising — is geared toward reducing human persons to objects. The chaste individual bucks the system because he or she refuses to buy into this culture of objectification. When we choose to be chaste, we assert our dignity as human persons, whose value is in who we are — not what we do or have done to us, what we wear or what we own. 
As far as why it’s better to read a book like mine than to just search online or read chastity blogs, I’ve got nothing against blogs; parts of the original Thrill first appeared on my own Dawn Patrol. But I think that a person who wants to make real and lasting change in his or her life needs to have an in-depth resource that can be consulted and reflected upon over time — a bedside companion, if you will, but of the chaste variety.
Read the full interview, and click the tabs at the top of this page for more information about me and my apostolate, including podcasts of talks on chastity and spiritual healing.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Chaste to Europe and back!
Sights, sounds, & stories of my five-country speaking tour

So much has happened since I last updated you on my life and apostolate! I returned June 12 from my three-week European speaking tour, and my heart is full of gratitude as I look back upon the wonderful people I encountered and the beautiful experiences I had speaking in five countries. Most of what I will share here are the public highlights; omitted are many of the friendships I made or renewed on this trip. Every person I spent time with in Europe, whether mentioned here or not mentioned, remains in my thoughts and prayers.

If you are interested in audio or video of my talks, you'll find many links in the text of this post. But if you don't have time to read the post through, you can find videos of my Aberdeen talks on YouTube, while podcasts of various talks are on iTunes and SoundCloud.

* * *

There is no better way to begin a tour than in Rome, and that is where mine began. I arrived May 21 and enjoyed a couple of days visiting with friends in the Eternal City before the Catholic Voices International Leaders Meeting began.

A special blessing was meeting Asia Argento, the gifted director, actress, singer/songwriter, and all-around artist with whom I had become friends after connecting via Twitter.

Asia is a deep thinker, and is on a spiritual journey that has taken her out of darkness and into the light of Christ. You can get an idea of what I mean from this recent interview, in which she speaks of feeling called to protect children's innocence. We shared with one another about where we have been and where we are going, and she gave me guidance about internalizing God's mercy, citing one of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen's books on healing.

I am not saying that everything Asia does has a Catholic sensibility. There are things she puts into the public sphere that I wouldn't recommend. (And I'm sure she wouldn't recommend everything I put into the public sphere either.) But I am saying that I am a better person for knowing her, and am thankful to be united with her in prayer.


The Catholic Voices International Leaders Meeting brought together Catholics from around the world who give their talents to help the Church make its voice heard more clearly and accurately in the media. I was invited by Austen Ivereigh (pictured above with Marilú Esponda of Catholic Voices Mexico and me), the coordinator and co-founder of the group, who is also the author of what is to my mind the best biography of Pope Francis, The Great Reformer.

My address to the meeting was on healing from childhood sexual abuse. It was a revised version of the talk I gave at Mundelein Seminary last fall. I had an enriching time getting to know the members of the apostolate during the conference, and especially appreciated how they grounded their actions in the life of faith.

In Rome, I also had the honor of addressing seminarians of the Franciscans of the Immaculate at the invitation of my friend Fr. Angelo Geiger, F.I.. It was a joy to meet the friars and offer them encouragement in their vocation, as their institute has undergone some tense times of late. Since one of their patrons is St. Maximilian Kolbe, I spoke to them about Kolbe's role in my conversion and read them the section of my new book The Thrill of the Chaste (Catholic Edition) in which I discuss my journey to visit the site of his martyrdom.


On May 27, I left Rome for London, where the following morning found me in the Premier Christian Radio studio, speaking about chastity to Maria Rodrigues, host of the network's "Woman to Woman" show (click here to see a video clip if it is not displaying above). That same evening, I had the awesome experience of addressing one hundred people packed into a room at the University of Notre Dame's London campus on "Living to Love: Why Chastity Is Key." The talk, based on my The Thrill of the Chaste (Catholic Edition), was hosted by the Catholic Voices Academy, which has posted the audio online.

You can see me below after the talk with a group of women who attended (I'm in the long skirt). Lots of men were there too, and the attendees kept me there signing books for an hour and a half. Many of them told me they had come to previous talks of mine in London (this was my third straight year speaking there), and one had even attended my very first talk there, in 2007.


It is hard to put into words what it means for me to speak in the British capital. You'll understand somewhat if you listen to the recording of the talk and hear me speak about reparation. God in his goodness has granted me the opportunity to put something good into the world so that I might make up for the times when my actions harmed myself and others. I am truly blessed to be able to do this. My gratitude goes out to Catholic Voices, the Catholic Herald, Edmund Adamus, and all my London friends who have helped me find an audience in that city. I am also very thankful to Elaine Reid of my publisher's UK distributor, Alban Books, whose behind-the-scenes help before and during my UK/Ireland tour was vital to making the tour a success.

On May 29, the day after my London talk, I was at St. Mary's College, Oscott. The rector, Fr. David Oakley (who has the same patroness as the rector of the seminary where I am doing my doctorate), had graciously invited me to speak on "Celibacy and Communion in St. John Paul II's Catechesis on Human Love," which had been my topic when I spoke at the Josephinum in 2012. It was deeply meaningful for me to address the men studying at the beautiful and historic Birmingham diocesan seminary, especially as I hope to teach at a seminary myself after I complete my sacred-theology doctorate. And it was quite the treat to get to stay in the same room where Pope Benedict XVI had stayed!

One thing I didn't take into account when revising my talk for Oscott was that I would be addressing pre-theology seminarians (that is, those fulfilling their philosophy requirements) as well as those who had advanced to theology. Had I considered that, I would have reworked some of the language to clarify concepts that might be unfamiliar to those who have not yet had all their philosophy.

As it was, although I couldn't have asked for a more gracious and attentive audience, the responses afterward varied widely. As the seminarians paused to greet me at the table where I was signing books, some said that they liked my talk to the extent that they were able to understand it. Several said, "I wish I had heard you last week, before I had my ______ final" (fill in the blank with "moral theology" or "anthropology"; I heard both). And there was one—just days from ordination—who, bless his heart, went around saying to anyone who would listen that it was the best lecture he had heard in six years of seminary.

My next stop, on May 30, was in the south of England: St. Bede's of Basingstoke, in the Diocese of Portsmouth. The crowd was small, but the welcome was very warm, and the bishop's personal assistant afterward wrote an enthusiastic review on her blog. I was delighted to find Fr. Armand de Malleray, F.S.S.P., in attendance, as I had heard his reputation as a spiritual director and had read his powerful article on "Sustainable Sexuality" in Dowry magazine (click here to read online; the article begins on page 4).

May 31 was a Sunday, so the kind couple hosting me in the Basingstoke area took me to Mass, and then I was off on a three-train journey to my next stop, some 413 miles north in Paisley, Scotland. A special treat awaited me along the way, as my dear friends Sarah de Nordwall and Kevin Turley met me when I stopped in London to switch trains. Kevin, by the way, is the author of a pamphlet on the saintly Irish World War I army chaplain Fr. Willie Doyle, S.J., a great introduction to a man who lived in deep spiritual union with the crucified and risen Christ.

My host in Paisley was Bishop John Keenan, a Francis appointee whom I have been blessed to know since 2007, when, as Catholic chaplain at the University of Glasgow, he attended a talk I gave in Dublin. EWTN producer Paul MacAree had arranged beforehand with Bishop John for me to record a 13-part series on The Thrill of the Chaste (Catholic Edition) for EWTN UK Radio while staying at the bishop's home. (Following Francis's lead, Bishop John has chosen to live not in the episcopal mansion, but in a parish rectory.)


My interviewer for the radio series was the buoyant, multitalented Fr. Frankie Mulgrew, a former stand-up comic whose father is the beloved comedian Jimmy Cricket. I was tremendously impressed with the depth of Fr. Frankie's questions — he knew my book better than I did — and the two days of recording whizzed by. I am deeply indebted to Bishop John and to the parish priest, Fr. Oliver, for giving hospitality to Paul and Fr. Frankie as well as to me, and for letting us take over their dining room for the duration of the recording.



On my third and final night in Paisley, June 2, I shared the message of The Thrill of the Chaste (Catholic Edition) with about seventy people, most of them young adults, packed into the back room of a Paisley pub. Many who came had learned of the event through social media, a reflection upon the efforts of Synod Youth and other local faithful who are responding to Bishop John's recent call to amp up the diocese's social-media presence. The crowd was wonderfully attentive and engaged, and there were some great questions during the Q&A.

A beautiful 150-mile train ride on June 3 took me up to Aberdeen. There, it was my great pleasure to stay once again as the guest of Bishop Hugh Gilbert, O.S.B., who had brought me to his diocese last year to speak on My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints.  (If you want kind hospitality, being treated as close family, you can't go wrong staying with a Benedictine.) For this visit, my topics were chastity and conversion as I gave three talks in three nights at different locations in Aberdeen. Two of the talks were recorded on video and are now available online at the following links: "My Tangled Road to Rome," delivered June 4 at the Bishop's House (from which comes the photo at right) and "Living to Love: Why Chastity Is Key," delivered June 5 at St. Mary's Cathedral.

On June 7, Corpus Christi, at St. Mary's Cathedral, the cathedral rector, Fr. Keith Herrera, gave the best homily I have ever heard in my life. His main audience was the children who were present for their First Communion, and their families. Thankfully, the homily was captured on video, so you can see and hear what I was privileged to take in that day.


After Mass, I had a quick lunch and headed to catch a flight to my next stop: Dublin! I arrived in the early evening and met for the first time the organizers of the Irish leg of my tour: Fr. Gavan Jennings, a priest of Opus Dei, and Caitriona Jennings of Pure in Heart Ireland. (More on Pure in Heart in a moment.)

A few months earlier, I had known Fr. Gavan only as one of my Twitter followers; seeing he was based in Dublin, I tweeted him asking if he might like to bring me to speak in Ireland after my talk in London. He responded with alacrity, gaining the sponsorship of Aid to the Church in Need and, with Caitriona's help, setting up a packed schedule. During the four days I was on the Emerald Isle, I gave four talks in three cities, as well as four radio interviews (including ones for the national networks of Ireland and Northern Ireland) and one video interview. In addition, before I arrived, Fr. Gavan and Caitriona had enabled me to gain advance press for the tour by connecting me with the Irish Catholic, whose reporter Mags Gargan gave me the opportunity to explain how chastity promotes human dignity.

The morning of June 8 saw my first two radio interviews, one after the other: RTE's "The John Murray Show" (listen online) and Spirit Radio's "Morning Show" with Jacki Ascough (listen online). My interview for John Murray was something of a coup, as I got to speak about God and chastity on national radio, which surprised a lot of people. Several who came to my talks in Dublin and Waterford said they heard about my talks through that show. But I have Jacki Ascough to thank for her show's bringing me to the attention of listener Geraldine Comiskey, who would report on my Waterford talk for the Sunday World; more on that in a moment.

In the afternoon, I gave my first talk of the day, speaking at the Carmelite-run Avila Spiritual Centre on "How Jesus' Sacred Heart Healed My Memories." The talk (which I have given before — click to download an earlier version) encapsulated the message of my book My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints.

Speaking about healing in Ireland, where various kinds of abuse, violence, and trauma have taken their toll upon so many, was the fulfillment of a dream for me. I find that all too often in the Church, it is assumed that addressing abuse only entails getting victims psychological help. The truth is that no psychological help will bring healing if the spiritual wounds are not addressed as well. So I felt especially blessed to have the opportunity to help people who have suffered greatly to discover the healing grace and truth that is available to all of us through the Catholic faith.

In the evening, I spoke again, this time at the Davenport Hotel in Merrion Square on "The Thrill of the Chaste: Loving Fully with Body and Soul" (listen online). This was the best-attended talk of my tour; some 120 people filled the room, most of them young adults. The vibe was terrific; as you can hear in the recording, people were energized to hear the message. Despite what the local headlines were saying in the wake of the country's referendum legalizing same-sex marriage, no one could say that evening that Catholicism in Ireland was dead.

During the Q&A after my talk, someone asked me about teaching chastity to youth, which is beyond my area of expertise; all my writings and personal efforts to promote chastity are directed toward adults. So, perhaps with a nudge from my Guardian Angel, I asked Caitriona to answer, giving her a chance to speak about the vitally important work of Pure in Heart. For several years, the apostolate has been training Catholics age 18-34 to speak about chastity in schools so that youth might learn the virtue from people close to their own age, whom they can look to as models. I can't say enough good things about this apostolate. It has not only brought Catholic moral teaching into schools that are desperately in need of it (state-funded religious schools that are all too often Catholic in name only), but also produced among its members numerous vocations to holy marriages and to the priesthood and religious life.

The following morning, June 9, I caught a train and went up through the beautiful Irish countryside to Belfast, where Jo Kelly, a vivacious high-school teacher and faith formator was my host for twenty-four hours. I recorded an interview on chastity for the BBC Radio Ulster program "Sunday Sequence" (which would become the subject of online discussion after the host made an awful gaffe) and spoke that evening at a local hotel, giving another variation of my The Thrill of the Chaste (Catholic Edition). The size of the crowd was modest, which was not surprising given that it was Northern Ireland, but there was a good variety of people there, young and old, including my old friend Dr. Eamonn Gaines, lecturer in ethics at Queen's University, who acted as M.C., and a priest who I learned was that very day celebrating his silver anniversary of ordination.

June 10 saw me travel back to Dublin and then to Waterford for a talk at the lovely and historic Granville Hotel sponsored by the diocese's dynamic new ordinary, Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan, known to his flock as Bishop Phonsie. I was a bit nervous beforehand, not only because was it the last talk of the tour, but also because I was aware there would be a reporter there who had contacted me to say she wanted to profile me for the popular Irish tabloid Sunday World.

Thankfully, with God's grace, aided by the prayers of those who were accompanying me spiritually during my tour, I managed to overcome my nerves. All went smoothly, though I'm afraid I ran on a bit too long; seeing the M.C. standing at the side of the platform, I wrapped up quickly for fear of getting the hook. Still, it seemed to go over well; there were good questions from the audience, and afterwards I was kept for more than half an hour signing books.

Meeting the Sunday World reporter, Geraldine Comiskey, proved to be a pleasure. She was delightfully good-humored and at the same time serious about her craft. When her story ran on June 22 (click here or the image above to read) I was thankful to find that, beneath the tabloid's requisite sensationalism (which would have me be a "chastity guru" with "millions of followers"), key aspects of my message made it through.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that I received in Waterford some terrifically thoughtful gifts from Bishop Phonsie: my first-ever items of Waterford crystal. One was a picture frame, and the second was a rose, which I gave to my mother the following week for her birthday.

The morning of June 11, my last full day in Ireland, Caitriona took me to the Dublin-area headquarters of the newly launched Radio Maria Ireland, where Fr. Michael Ross, S.D.B., did an hourlong interview with me that passed very quickly. (The photo at left was taken there.) Fr. Michael's gentle, fatherly presence had a sacramental effect on me. There was a calm and sweetness about him that I especially needed at that moment, as I was feeling a mixture of emotions as the long tour headed to a close, plus my head was spinning from the intense schedule of the past few days.

The last public act of my tour was a video interview for iCatholic.ie (click here to watch). It was a pleasure to see the interviewer Fr. Bill Kemmy again, as he had interviewed me about My Peace I Give You when I visited Ireland in 2013. I am honored to have a part in the work he does spreading the faith via iCatholic.ie; the videos that he and his staff produce are notable for their substance and depth.

As I flew home on the morning of June 12, reflecting upon my tour, the only real regret that I had was that I would arrive too late for Mass. It was the feast of the Sacred Heart, which is my patronal feast; I have consecrated my celibacy to Jesus' Sacred Heart through Mary's Immaculate Heart. But there was a beautiful surprise awaiting me: when I returned to campus, I found that the Liturgical Institute's daily Mass had in my absence been switched to the late afternoon. So I was able to renew my consecration with thanksgiving for all that the Lord had done in the past few weeks to help me enter more deeply into my vocation as a speaker, writer, teacher, and missionary.

* * *

If you prayed for me as I traveled, or are among those who donate to support my apostolate, you are a part of any and all good I accomplished by God's grace during my tour. The Church in Europe is not like that of America; it is much smaller and poorer. Unless one is at the very top level of renown, which I am not, it is not a place where a Catholic speaker from overseas can expect to make a profit or even break even. My tour would not have been possible without your support. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. All who support my apostolate and studies in any way, spiritually or materially, are in my prayers every day.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Listen now: I speak on "Blessed Are the Pure in Heart"

I am delighted to share with you the talk I delivered at the 2015 Institute on Religious Life's national meeting: "Blessed Are the Pure in Heart."



The talk is mostly based on my upcoming book Remembering His Mercy, on Pope Francis's spirituality for healing of memories, though it begins with a section of my most recent book, The Thrill of the Chaste (Catholic Edition).

If you would like to hear or download other talks of mine on chastity and spiritual healing (the topic of my other book, My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints, visit my new iTunes podcast page or my Soundcloud page.

My next Dawn Patrol post, coming very soon, will be about the beautiful experiences I had during my recent three-week speaking tour of Europe.

Have you benefited from my talks or writings? If so, please consider making a donation to support my apostolate and doctoral studies. Thank you and God bless you.

Monday, June 1, 2015

On tour in Europe!

I was all smiles after arriving in Rome May 21. Photo by Father Joseph Roesch, MIC.

Just a quick note from Paisley, Scotland, where I am in the midst of my European speaking tour sharing the message of The Thrill of the Chaste (Catholic Edition) and My Peace I Give You. The tour is going wonderfully, praise God, and I am posting regular updates on my Twitter account (@mypeacebook). A highlight was my talk in London at the Catholic Voices Academy, audio of which is available online.

Please pray for me and my audiences as I prepare to speak in Paisley, Aberdeen, Dublin, Waterford, and Belfast. Thank you and God bless you.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Vatican newspaper & UK Catholic Herald boost my books

Thanks to all who read this blog for your prayers for my apostolate, as your prayers have borne great fruit with wonderful recent articles on my books about chastity and healing.

As I wrote earlier, the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano last week ran a rave review of My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints.

The latest news is that today, on the UK Catholic Herald's website, writer Francis Phillips gives me the opportunity to share "why everyone needs to learn what chastity really means."

I also recently had the pleasure of doing an interview for Catholic Exchange editor Michael J. Lichens, who asked great in-depth questions about how chastity relates to the entire Catholic life. You can download the podcast via the link in the tweet below.


Please continue to pray for me in my apostolate, writing, and studies, and know that I hold you and all my readers in daily prayer. Thank you and God bless you.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Sights, sounds, and stories from my South Dakota tour


Today I returned from my first-ever tour of South Dakota, where I delivered five talks in four days. I spoke at college campuses and at the Lake Traverse Reservation, home of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate. It was a beautiful experience and I want to share some images and media from it here on the Dawn Patrol, especially since readers of this blog made it possible.

The idea for the tour began last October, when I noticed that one of my Twitter followers was Father Andrew Dickinson, pastor of the Pius XII Newman Center. At the time, I was looking to find an place where I could give a mission talk on healing from childhood trauma, as I had some leftover funds that readers had donated in 2012 so that I could speak on that topic in places that could not otherwise afford to host me. The same fund had earlier enabled me to speak to formerly prostituted women at the Project Dawn Court and to inmates at the Riverside Correctional Facility, both in Philadelphia.

I contacted Father Dickinson and let him know that if he would like me to give a talk on healing, I could provide my own airfare. He wrote back immediately and soon arranged for me to give not one, but three talks on the topic, as well as two talks on chastity. Most excitingly, he was able to arrange for me to speak at Lake Traverse Reservation, which would be my first-ever talk at a Native American parish.

The tour began last Saturday, April 18, at the University of South Dakota, where I gave a talk drawn from the new Catholic edition of The Thrill of the Chaste. (I know what you are thinking: College students willing to come out for a chastity talk on a Saturday evening must be very chaste indeed!) It was a joy to see how engaged the audience was and how interested they were in living their faith more deeply.


I was back at USD the next day to speak on My Peace I Give You. The crowd was small—it was a Sunday afternoon on campus, after all—but those who were there were interested, and several of them purchased copies of my books.



The crowds were bigger at South Dakota State University in Brookings, where about forty people attended the talks I gave on Sunday and Monday evenings. As at USD, the students were wonderful well-catechized, seeking to live Eucharistic lives. Father Dickinson kindly recorded both talks, so you can hear and download them via the graphics below.





To say "I gave this talk and that talk" really doesn't capture the blessings I received on the tour. Everywhere I went, people were terrifically kind and hospitable. Just one example out of many: In Brookings, Ana, a homeschooling mom who is married to an SDSU professor, took me to the South Dakota Art Museum and afterward to a charming café (check out the French-style cup-bowls).





Finally came the talk that I had most anticipated: speaking at St. Catherine's Parish on the Lake Traverse Reservation in Sisseton. The pastor, Father Jerome Ranek, had done a fantastic job with advance publicity, even placing an ad on the front page of the local paper.

I had long wanted to bring Native Americans the message of My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints, as their population suffers a high rate of abuse. Speaking at Lake Traverse also offered the opportunity to address members of a tribe whose population included numerous victims of abuse perpetrated by clergy and religious. (See news stories here and here — but be aware that the articles contain highly disturbing details.)

I gave the same talk I gave at SDSU on the healing love among the Sacred Heart.




Before I arrived in Sisseton, several people, including both non-Native Americans and a member of the Lakota tribe, warned me not to expect many people at my talk, and not to expect those who did come to display emotion. They were wrong. The audience at St. Catherine's numbered thirty-five people—filling the chairs that had been set up—and was the most responsive of the entire tour.

Among those who came were about ten men who I was later told had been brought there by the director of a 28-day treatment program. They were among the most grateful. My joy at being able to provide comfort to them and the others who came was beyond words.

I did not sell copies of my books at this talk. Instead, I gave them away.

By the time I finished signing books, attendees had taken thirty copies of My Peace I Give You and ten copies of The Thrill of the Chaste. I also gave away wrist rosaries and a few polished stones I had purchased at the museum, in case some attendees wanted something other than (or besides) a religious article. Both the rosaries and the stones had been blessed.

I asked those present to take photos so that I could show the donors who made the trip possible how their support was having an effect, and, Lord willing, inspire other reservation parishes to invite me to speak. The Tribal Secretary of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate graciously took the following photos, as well as the one atop this post, and sent them to me for publication on The Dawn Patrol.



I thank God for this wonderful experience speaking at Lake Traverse and hope and pray that I will have many other such experiences. Next time, I hope also to spend more time on a reservation, getting to know Native Americans and their personal journeys.

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If you are able, please consider making a donation to help me as I continue my doctoral studies in theology and as I continue to share the message of My Peace I Give You. Thank you and God bless you.

L'Osservatore Romano reviews My Peace I Give You

I am overwhelmed with joy this morning upon discovering that today's edition of L'Osservatore Romano features a beautiful review of my book My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints.

The review is on page 4 of the newspaper, which is available online in PDF form. Its headline, translated, reads: "The journey of healing: From pain to violence to conversion." A brief teaser for the review appears on the L'Osservatore Romano website, and the review also appears in its entirety on the website of the Italian publication Tempi. (Not knowing Italian, I used Google Translate on the Tempi reprint to gain an idea of the review's content. My hope is that the piece will be included in the weekly English edition.)

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There is a Jewish prayer that expresses how I feel right now: Baruch atah adonai eloheinu melech ha'olam shecheyanu v'kiy'manu v'higyanu lazman hazeh. "Blessed art thou, O Lord Our God, King of the Universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this present season." I am deeply thankful for the divine providence that brought me to seek the Lord's face in the heart of his Church.

My gratitude also goes out to everyone who has supported me with prayer and encouragement since I began to share the message of My Peace I Give You. You are all in my prayers. Please keep me in prayer as I leave today to deliver a three-day workshop to the formators of a religious institute; the topic will be spiritual healing for adult survivors of abuse.

Monday, March 30, 2015

"What's Thrilling About Chastity?"
ZENIT interviews me on The Thrill of the Chaste (Catholic Edition)


Addressing the American University  Catholic Community at AU's multifaith center, April 20, 2013. To have me speak at your college or parish, contact me via the form in the right-hand sidebar.

Today I am overjoyed that the Rome-based Catholic news website ZENIT features an interview with me about The Thrill of the Chaste (Catholic Edition): "What's Thrilling About Chastity? Author, Speaker Considers Why Disdained Virtue Should Have a Better Reputation." Kathleen Naab, editor of ZENIT's English edition, read the new Thrill carefully and asked deep questions. Here is an excerpt:
ZENIT: The cover has a quote summarizing your book as "practical wisdom and theological insight." One of those insights, which I’m sure you’ve been developing both in your doctoral studies and in prayer, regards heaven. Could you explain how your understanding of heaven has helped you through loneliness, and also your hopes about a love that will last forever.

Eden: A running theme in The Thrill of the Chaste (Catholic Edition) is the message expressed by a remarkable passage in the Catechism, which says "our participation in the Eucharist already gives us a foretaste of Christ's transfiguration of our bodies" (CCC 1000).

That Catechism line is quite shocking when you think about it. It means that, even though I am not yet in heaven, receiving the Eucharist places me at heaven's leading edge. When I consume the consecrated Host, Jesus' incorruptible flesh touches my corruptible flesh. Shouldn't that change me? Shouldn't receiving Jesus' Body change the way I live in my own body?

In The Thrill of the Chaste (Catholic Edition), I reflect upon these questions and come to the conclusion that the only way to live fully is to live eucharistically. To live eucharistically is to seek to live in union with Jesus at every moment of the day, and especially to let Him teach me how to love.

That's where chastity comes in. Chastity is embodying Jesus' love to others -- loving fully and completely in every relationship, in a manner appropriate to the type of relationship. For someone who is married, chastity includes the marital act -- sexual intercourse with one's spouse -- because that is part of a full and complete marital love. For me, as a single woman, chastity means loving fully and completely as a daughter, as a sister, or as a friend.

When I love like that -- being present for another person just as Jesus is really present for me in the Eucharist -- I can be certain that, even if my love is not fully returned, it is never in vain. St. John tells us that love is from God (1 John 4:7). So, whenever I make a gift of love, God is present in that love -- and that means He is present in me when I love. I think that is what St. Paul means when he tells us that "love never fails" (1 Cor 13:8). No true gift of love dies, because nothing that belongs to God can die. All the love that I give will remain eternally within the love of God and the Communion of Saints in heaven.

Thinking about these things is a great consolation for me because it helps me to realize that I should not be afraid of loneliness. My loneliness is the empty space into which God wishes to enter. He wants me to make room for him so that my longing for him will grow deeper. That deeper longing will in turn lead me to seek more ardently to bring into my earthly friendships the love that reminds me of my friendship with Him.
Read the full interview on ZENIT.org.