Thursday, July 24, 2014

Speaking July 31 in Washington on Ignatius Loyola, Pope Francis, & healing of memory

Please spread the word to anyone you know in the Washington, D.C., area, that I am speaking at the Catholic Information Center next Thursday, July 31—the feast of St. Ignatius Loyola—on "Healing the Memory: What St. Ignatius Loyola and Pope Francis Can Teach Us."

The topic is an adaptation of the message of my book My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wound with the Help of the Saints that opens it up to anyone with painful memories, not only victims of abuse. It also brings in the wisdom of Pope Francis—who has much to say on healing of memory—and the Jesuit spirituality from which he draws his insights.

If you are planning to attend and are on Facebook (which I am not), could you please do me the favor of RSVPing there? I ask because I have found that often the people who need my message most—those who have suffered abuse and are locked in misplaced guilt—are reluctant to attend my talks for fear that they will be "found out." If victim/survivors see that a number of people will be there—and that, moreover, the event is advertised for "family and friends" of those who have suffered trauma—it will help them gain the courage to attend. Thank you and God bless you.

What a Holocaust scholar can teach us on moral cost of admitting divorced & remarried to Holy Communion

On a recent visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's exhibit on collaboration and complicity in the Holocaust, "Some Were Neighbors," I saw a sign at the entrance bearing a arresting quotation from historian Raul Hilberg: "At crucial junctures, every individual makes decisions and...every decision is individual."

The words set the tone for the exhibit, which is, in the words of the museum's special-exhibits curator, intended to make visitors "think about their individual choices." And they succeeded in making me think, as a child of divorce and a survivor of childhood sexual abuse—abuse which is exponentially more prevalent in broken homes—about how parents' choices affect their children. It is an issue worth pondering at this time when some Catholic bishops, during the run-up to the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, are suggesting the Church should admit civilly divorced-and-remarried Catholics to Holy Communion.

Robert Spaemann points out in the latest issue of First Things that those who argue it is more pastoral to change the Church's teaching are effectively saying that the most charitable thing to do is to pretend that decisions made out of disordered self-interest do not have human costs:

The Church admits that it handled the sexual abuse of minors without sufficient regard for the victims. The same pattern is repeating itself here. Has anyone even mentioned the victims? Is anyone talking about the woman whose husband has abandoned her and their four children? She might be willing to take him back, if only to ensure that the children are provided for, but he has a new family and has no intention of returning.

Another new article on the topic, this one in the journal Nova et Vetera by a team of theologians analyzing "Recent Proposals for the Pastoral Care of the Divorced and Remarried," observes that some arguments for admitting the divorced-and-remarried to Holy Communion are based on "a broad version of 'fundamental option' theory, which claims that one can distinguish a person’s concrete behavior from his or her basic orientation towards or away from God."

The article's authors respond that
St. John Paul II’s encyclical letter Veritatis Splendor condemns just such a “fundamental option” approach, denying that one “could, by virtue of a fundamental option, remain faithful to God independently of whether or not certain of his choices and his acts are in conformity with specific moral norms.” “With every freely committed mortal sin, [one] offends God...; even if he perseveres in faith, he loses ‘sanctifying grace,’ ‘charity’ and ‘eternal happiness.'
They add that, even if one accepts fundamental-option theory on its own terms,
a fundamental option is likely in play when one makes basic decisions about the orientation of one’s life. A decision regularly to engage in sexual relations outside of a valid marriage is surely such a decision. It is a chosen habituation and a way of life. It is hard to describe this as a fleeting sin of weakness or passion.
In other words, at crucial junctures, every individual makes decisions, and every decision is individual—and every decision says something about who we really are.

For more reflections on abuse, healing, and Catholic sexual teaching, see Sean Salai, S.J.'s interview with me in America.

Monday, July 14, 2014

"Jesus did not live according to his fear"
I talk to Rachel Balducci about what it means to suffer in union with Christ

Today, Rachel Balducci, co-host of Catholic TV's "The Gist" and best-selling author of How Do You Tuck In a Superhero? And Other Delightful Mysteries of Raising Boys, has an interview with me on her Testosterhome blog about my book My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints.

At one point, Rachel gives me the opportunity to talk about how Jesus, through his sufferings, shows us how to live authentically:

I love this quote from the book: “We begin to see that even our most painful times contain beauty, inasmuch as they led us — however tangled our path — to our present life in the love of God.” So are you saying we shouldn’t be afraid to suffer?

Fear of suffering is part of being human. St. Thomas Aquinas points out that Jesus himself was fearful of suffering; he quotes Augustine, who said that the One who had the true body and the true spirit of a man did not have counterfeit human feelings. What harms us is when we live according to our fear. Jesus did not live according to his fear. He lived according to his Father’s will, and he had confidence in that will. We need to have that same confidence. It is very hard–it means taking up our cross daily–but it is the only way to live authentically, learning to pour ourselves out in love of God and neighbor.

Read the full interview for more on redemptive suffering and healing. Many thanks to Rachel for the opportunity to share the message of My Peace!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I like to be in America!

The online home of America magazine today features "How God Heals Sexual Abuse: An Interview with Author Dawn Eden." An excerpt:

What do you want readers to take away from your writings?

I want people to know that Jesus, in winning the victory over sin, has won the victory over all the sins committed by us and against us. This is true for each one of us. The good news is that the evil we’ve suffered or that we’ve done in the past no longer needs to define us. We are defined by our union with Jesus in his passion, death and resurrection. The victory of Jesus on the cross frees us from all of the wrong or self-hating ideas we may have acquired from our abuse or from our mistreatment of ourselves.

The interview also includes my thoughts on Pope Francis's meeting with abuse victims, news of the upcoming Thrill of the Chaste: Catholic Edition, and more, so do read the whole thing.

I am deeply grateful to Sean Salai, S.J., a summer editorial intern at America, for enabling me to share the message of My Peace I Give You with the publication's audience, and to David Paternostro, S.J., for recommending me to him.

And speaking of great Jesuits, if you are in the Washington, D.C., area on July 31, the feast of St. Ignatius Loyola, come to the Catholic Information Center as I speak on "Healing the Memory: What St. Ignatius Loyola and Pope Francis Can Teach Us."

Monday, June 30, 2014

Offering free Spanish-language copies of My Peace to priests & religious

Today I was delighted to receive in the mail 25 copies of the Spanish-language version of my book My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints. I had ordered the copies of Mi Paz Os Doy: Como Sanar las Heridas del Alma con Ayuda de los Santos using a donation from a Dawn Patrol reader who sought to help spread the book's message of healing for adults who have suffered childhood sexual abuse.

I intend to donate the copies of Mi Paz Os Doy to priests and religious who minister to Spanish speakers, and can already think of about ten to fifteen who should receive them. But that leaves me with ten copies to give away.

So, if you are a priest or member of a religious order and would like a complimentary copy of Mi Paz Os Doy, please write me to request one. In your request, please let me know that you either have already read the English-language My Peace I Give You or that you will absolutely, positively read it if I donate one to you (in which case I'll send you both the English and Spanish versions).

Why does it matter to me that you read My Peace I Give You yourself rather than simply recommend it to those in your care? Because the book offers hope not only for victim/survivors of abuse, but also for those who care for them—showing how Christ takes up our own scarred selves so that we might become hidden in his radiant wounds.

I share the message of My Peace I Give You on EWTN's "Life on the Rock."

At the moment, this offer is only for priests and religious. I appreciate the work of permanent deacons, seminarians, and laypeople in ministry, and would open the giveaway to them had I more copies of Mi Paz Os Doy to spare.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Editor of America's leading pastoral magazine endorses My Peace I Give You

***Looking for my contact information or latest public appearances? Click here.***

Fr. David Meconi, S.J., editor of Homiletic & Pastoral Review—the foremost U.S. publication for priests and pastoral caregivers—has published an editorial endorsing My Peace I Give You, my book on healing from childhood sexual abuse. He recommends it as an example of how the Church under Francis is moving forward to help the wounded.

In the editorial, "Abuse and Scandal," Fr. Meconi writes:
Perhaps, God allowed us Catholics to become the opprobrium of the nations in order to show the world how best to put into place guidelines and policies that would protect his children.

Dawn Eden is one of these courageous children of God. She is a fervent student of theology, a public speaker, a Catholic convert, writer, evangelist … and a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. In her recent book, My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints (Ave Maria Press, 2012), Ms. Eden painfully and purgatively recalls her being abused as a young Jewish girl. At the age of five, she was manipulated by a 70-year-old janitor into lewd acts at the temple where her family worshiped. As terrible and (what used to be) unimaginable as this might be, Dawn reveals a new layer of hurt as she writes about the day she finally told her mother, who responded: “How could you let him do that? … If you knew it was wrong, how could you let it happen?” It has taken Dawn decades to begin to recover; and in imitation of the resurrected, yet still pierced, Christ, she has allowed these wounds to speak to our world of God’s power to heal and to transform each of us. ...

These efforts of hers serve as a microcosm of a greater story—the wounds of Christ’s body being healed by the grace of God—enabling a broken creature to stand up and announce that she is the daughter of an incessantly loving and ever-protective Father.

This ugly chapter of the Church’s life has not been fully chronicled, but there is always the hope of Easter, and Christ’s promises of new life. Perhaps, we should all pray and work for that next chapter. Each of us should surely offer some sort of penance and sacrifice for the sins of our fathers. What special sacrifices could each of us make on, say, Fridays during Ordinary Time? Leaders like Pope Francis and Ms. Eden give me the verve to do so
Read the full editorial on the Homiletic & Pastoral Review website.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Bringing My Peace to NET TV & Washington's CIC

It has been a busy spring! On May 16, I graduated the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies, receiving a pontifical licentiate in sacred theology (STL), magna cum laude, praise God. The STL is given under the authority of the Holy See and qualifies me to teach on the seminary level. If you are among those who have been supporting my studies with prayers, please know that I am deeply grateful.

More prayers will be needed this fall, as I begin the last leg of my studies toward a sacred-theology doctorate. All the major coursework is over—now the main task is completing the dissertation, which I have already begun. To that end, I am delighted to be entering the doctoral program at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois, where the rector is Fr. Robert Barron of Word on Fire. My dissertation director is the prolific author and magnificent Thomist Dr. Matthew Levering.

Although my summer is mostly taken up with preparing for my move from Washington to Mundelein, I do have two personal appearances coming up in which I will share the message of my book of Catholic spirituality for adult victims of Catholic sexual abuse, My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints:

June 22: I will be the guest of Fr. Robert Keighron, discussing My Peace I Give You on the WOR Radio/NET TV program "In the Arena." 
  • The television version airs at 8 p.m. ET on the Diocese of Brooklyn's NET TV (in Brooklyn TimeWarner Ch. 97 and Cablevision Ch. 30) and will additionally be streamed online.
July 31:  On this, the feast of St. Ignatius Loyola, I will speak at Washington, D.C.'s Catholic Information Center on "Healing the Memory: What St. Ignatius Loyola and Pope Francis Can Teach Us." The talk is at 6 p.m.; see the CIC's website for more information.

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If you are interested in hosting me for a talk about healing sexual wounds with the help of the saints, or would just like to hear the message I share, here is a link to download a recording of the talk I gave October 20 at Jesus the Divine Word Parish in my home Archdiocese of Washington: "What the Saints Can Teach Us About Purification of Memory." Contact me through the e-mail address listed at the bottom of my home page, I am particularly interested in continuing my apostolate to inmates, persons who have been prostituted or trafficked, and persons in recovery, and would also like to speak to Native Americans and other underserved populations.

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If you have benefited from my writing or speaking, please consider making a donation so that I may continue to spread the message of healing sexual wounds with the help of the saints.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Watch now: "What the Saints Can Teach Us About Purification of Memory"

Courtesy of Diocese of Aberdeen videographer Father Tad Turski, here is the talk I was pleased to give March 2 at Greyfriars Convent in Elgin, Scotland.

The topic, "What the Saints Can Teach Us About Purification of Memory," is taken from my book My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints.

Monday, April 21, 2014

UPDATED: A note regarding Dr. Philip J. Mango

I recently received an e-mail from a reader of My Peace I Give You, my book on healing from childhood sexual abuse, requesting guidance beyond what my book could give.

My response was to refer the reader to a local religious order that could in turn recommend a spiritual director and a therapist. I added, “if they suggest for a therapist Philip Mango or one of the other therapists from the St. Michael’s Institute, ask them for an alternate suggestion. If they ask why, you can tell them to ask me.”

I did not want to tell why I would not recommend Mango, because I feared the answer would deter the reader from seeking professional help. But the reader wrote back asking the reason, so I responded:
I had a bad experience with Mango and reported it to the state; he was later disciplined.
The reply was not what I expected. The reader wrote back,
You cannot even imagine how much better it makes me feel and how validating it is to hear you say that. Because the thing is - some years ago I went to Mango for counseling and it was horrible.
This was not the first time I have heard from another person who had a negative experience with Mango. It was the fifth. But it was the first time that a My Peace I Give You reader reported such an experience. Since I feel a responsibility to my readers, I would like, for the record, to now say publicly that I do not recommend Mango.

After my negative experience with Mango, in 2007, I complained to the New York State Office of the Professions. Two and a half years later, they disciplined him. Although I do not know for certain whether the discipline was provoked by my complaint, the charges to which Mango admitted are consistent with what I reported. From the NYSOP website:
Philip John Mango, New York, NY
Profession: Licensed Mental Health Counselor; Lic. No. 000977; Cal. No. 24168
Regents Action Date: September 15, 2009
Action: Application for consent order granted; Penalty agreed upon: 1 month actual suspension, 23 month stayed suspension, 24 months probation, $2,500 fine.
Summary: Licensee admitted to charges of revealing a patient’s name, status, position, place of employment and private telephone numbers without the prior consent of the patient and not as authorized or required by law.
This is an opportune time to repeat advice I give in My Peace I Give You when speaking of how to choose a therapist: “If the name of the school the therapist attended is unfamiliar to you, search online to ensure that it is accredited.”

Mango’s PhD is from Clayton University.

UPDATE, 4/21/14, 7:10 p.m.: Rod Dreher tells about his own experience as a patient of Mango.