Monday, March 18, 2019

My new memoir, Sunday Will Never Be the Same, is now available!

My editor Todd Aglialoro holds one of the
first copies of Sunday off the pressses.
Wonderful news, friends! My memoir is now available in stores and online: Sunday Will Never Be the Same: A Rock Journalist Opens Her Ears to God.

This is the book that readers have been asking me to write for fifteen years, ever since my story as a New
York City rock journalist turned Christian convert began to make the news. And it's an unusual story in that I don't condemn the pop and rock I loved; rather, I talk about how God worked through its beauty to increase my longing for him.

Wall Street Journal drama critic Terry Teachout writes:

This is the story of a young woman's journey through the dark minefield of modernity, of a lost soul who searched in vain for joy before finding it in the place where it had awaited her all along. It is a conversion story, written with equal measures of frankness and delicacy. It is also a vivid snapshot of the world of American pop music at century's end. Whatever your faith—or lack of it—you will put down Sunday Will Never Be the Same filled with gratitude for having been given the opportunity to accompany Dawn Eden Goldstein on her pilgrimage from confusion to certainty.

If you're looking to purchase Sunday Will Never Be the Same from Amazon, you may have a bit of a wait, as it immediately sold out there upon its publication, although the site will have it back in stock soon. But it's still available from Catholic Answers, the National Shrine Shops at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and wherever fine books are sold.

I am eagerly looking forward to giving talks about my memoir, and especially to the Washington, DC, launch on April 25 at the Catholic Information Center. Visit my Upcoming Talks page for more information, including how to contact me if you'd like me to speak in your city.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Speaking soon in Connecticut, New Jersey, DC and ... your city?

Friends, please keep an eye on the Upcoming Talks tab of this blog, as I have speaking dates coming up in Connecticut, New Jersey, and my current hometown of Washington, DC. I'm particularly excited about the Washington one, as it's a launch event for my new memoir, Sunday Will Never Be the Same: A Rock and Roll Journalist Opens Her Ears to God.

I'm eager to spread the word about my memoir, so do let me know if you'd like to bring me to speak in your city. See the bottom of my Biography/Contact page for my email address, or write me via Twitter @dawnofmercy.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

The treasures of Kanyakumari: My India teaching mission, part 6

I've been meaning to post about the tail end of my three-week teaching mission in India but have been taken up with a number of things, including preparing for the publication of my memoir, Sunday Will Never Be the Same. So, rather than tell how the rest of my time there went, I would like to show you some images and a video capturing my favorite experience of the trip: the visit I made on February 3 with my friend and co-professor Father Gregory Gresko, O.S.B., and our friend Andrea Lemon (who was behind the camera) to the Leprosy Rehabilitation Centre in Kanyakumari.

The Leprosy Rehabilitation Centre is a ministry of the Stella Maris Institute for Development Studies, which is run by the Daughters of Mary. Eighty persons live there — leprosy sufferers and their families.

Although leprosy is treatable and has been virtually eliminated in the Western world, in India there are still many people who become infected with it and suffer serious physical damage before they are able to receive treatment. At the Leprosy Rehabilitation Centre, victims of the disease, who are society's outcasts, are able to receive the medical care that they need while living with family members, each family in its own individual house. Their family members who do not already have the disease are protected from infection because sufferers are no longer contagious once treatment is underway.

A resident of the colony makes a necklace with an assist from the Daughters of Mary.

I thank the necklace maker. She gave me and my companions a number of her beautiful creations, but to me it was she and her fellow residents who were the real treasures. I was deeply moved by their warmth and dignity, even joy. The Daughters of Mary recognize and honor their humanity in a way that is radically different from the way they are treated in the outside world.

On the spur of the moment, we made a brief video for friends and family in which Father Gregory pointed out the new water system for which he had fund-raised. The $1,100 donation enabled residents to have running water in each of their homes. No more do they have to carry pails back and forth up the hill to the water tank.

Although the video's sound is poor, you can see the joy we felt among the residents.

The woman in the pink sari lost her tongue to leprosy. She expresses herself through muffled vocal sounds and through face and body language. The head bobble that she makes in the video is, as one online article notes, a distinctive Indian sign of friendship.

I left the colony deciding to spiritually adopt everyone there, which for me translates into praying for them and helping support them financially. If you would like to support them as well, write the Daughters of Mary at the Stella Maris Institute,

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Who should be a patron saint for the Vatican abuse summit? Read the English text of my interview for Avvenire

Today, as the abuse summit begins at the Vatican, Avvenire, the magazine of the Italian bishops' conference, features an interview with me in honor of the Italian publication of my book My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints. Here is the interview in its original English; the questions are from Avvenire reporter Andrea Galli:

How did writing such a book cost you personally?

The most difficult aspect of writing My Peace I Give You was speaking about my personal experience of sexual abuse. I wanted to write of my own experience only obliquely, focusing instead on stories of saints who suffered abuse, but my original publisher insisted I share some of my own story as well.

Writing about what was perpetrated upon me was hard not only because of the discomfort in sharing something so painful but also because of the effort required to do so in a manner that took readers' sensitivities into account. Given that my target audience consisted of abuse victims like myself who might suffer from post-traumatic stress, I had to be careful not to write in a way that might trigger painful memories for them.

At the same time, I knew that if I were to model healing for readers, I would need to write frankly and honestly about my own experiences. It's not necessary for healing that a victim go public about what took place, but it is necessary that the victim be able to admit to himself or herself that the abuse happened. Only when we do that can we begin to recognize that what happened was evil and it was not our fault. No victim is ever to blame for his or her abuse.

The Church is concentrating on preventing abuse and punishing the abusers. Is there a risk of forgetting the importance of healing the wounds of those who were abused?

I'd say there's more than a risk. In my experience, it is a plain fact that, inasmuch as the Church on an institutional level considers helping abuse survivors at all, it focuses upon providing material or psychological help, ignoring the whole question of spiritual help.

The assumption at work appears to be that those who suffered sexual abuse by the Church's representatives must necessarily not want to be pressured to have anything to do with it spiritually. But spiritual help can be made available in a way that does not involve pressure. What's more, when the Church neglects to offer such help, it sends a message to victims of abuse that not only does the Church not care about their physical safety, it doesn't care about their spiritual well-being either.

In my experience as a victim of childhood sexual abuse and as one who has met hundreds of fellow victims, the greatest sufferings of abuse victims are their spiritual sufferings. I wrote My Peace I Give You because it seemed obvious to me that if we as a Church believe that all spiritual healing both comes from Christ and leads to Christ, then we have a responsibility to make such healing available to those most in need of it. It's part of our evangelical mission to participate in the work of the Divine Physician — or, as Pope Francis puts it, to minister in our ecclesial "field hospital."

In your book, you write about many saints. To which one would you entrust the Vatican meeting and why?

Among the saints in My Peace I Give You, I would entrust the Vatican abuse summit to Blessed Margaret of Castello, a Dominican tertiary who lived during the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries.

Although Blessed Margaret was not sexually abused, she was rejected by her parents because she was blind and suffered from physical deformities. As a young woman, prior to becoming a Dominican, she attempted to join a local convent but the sisters there soon felt threatened by her holiness and ended up casting her out onto the street.

Blessed Margaret is an apt saint for the abuse summit because she experienced rejection both from family and from representatives of the Church. Yet she did not leave the Church, and she forgave those who harmed her. She was a woman of great holiness and her witness should inspire us to be voices for the voiceless.

How has your book been received by people who were abused?

I had hoped that My Peace I Give You would show abuse victims that their wounds do not prevent them from receiving the love of Christ. Jesus wishes to heal them not in spite of their wounds but rather through their wounds.

The responses that I have received from readers show me that the message is getting through. They are surprised to learn that there are saints who had experiences like their own, and they are joyful to discover that even their most painful memories have meaning in Christ.

Amazon's website used to have a feature that showed which passages of My Peace I Give You were most popular with those who were reading it on Kindle. According to Amazon, the most popular passage in the book is, “All suffering contains within it the opportunity to become more like the One who suffered on the Cross.”

Stay posted at The Dawn Patrol for updates coming soon about the final days of my recent India trip and my new memoir, Sunday Will Never Be the Same.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Trunk thriving: My India teaching mission, part 5

(For background on my India teaching mission, click here, or go here to see all my posts from India.)

Friends who had visited India told me I would find things here to be quite different from anything I had experienced before. I can't think of a better way to express that than this photograph I took on the grounds of the Archdiocese of Bangalore's pastoral center when I spoke at a symposium there last weekend. It shows a generous concern for nature that is part of the Indian mentality but would be shocking in much of the United States. The coconut palm was there when the center was built, so rather than uproot it, the builders simply built around it.

I have not had the chance to blog this week until now because of the demands of co-teaching fifty-one students in an intensive course in person at the Indian Session of the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences while simultaneously teaching twenty-three students in three course sections online for my full-time position at Holy Apostles College and Seminary. This update itself must be brief as I need to get sleep in advance of co-delivering ten lectures this weekend at a two-day symposium on marriage and family in Kochi (Cochin). In all my lectures here in India, I am speaking alongside my friend Father Gregory Gresko, O.S.B., who invited me to join him on this his fourth India teaching mission.

Did I mention how glad I am for your prayers?

Before leaving the Bangalore region last Sunday, Father Gresko, our friend Andrea (who took the photo above), and I visited Asirvanam. It's a remarkable Benedictine monastery that, under its current prior, Father Jerome Naduvathaniyil, O.S.B., has within the past two years built a sprawling and visually stunning complex of university buildings on its grounds and filled them with students. Father Gresko and I (pictured above next to the white-habited Father Jerome) gave an impromptu talk to the first-year students at the Divine Grace Nursing School there.

Flyer for this weekend's symposium in Kochi

Today was the final day of lectures for Father Gresko's and my class at the JP2 Institute. In less than two weeks, we have given thirty-two hours of lectures, which adds up to a two-and-one-half-credit licentiate-level course (licentiate here meaning an S.T.L. degree). On Monday, we have the honor of administering oral examinations to fifty of our students (the remaining one has an extension until Thursday). It will keep us busy for nine hours. After that, we will remain in India until February 4 to attend (and, in Father Gregory's case, speak at) the International Symposium on "Humanae Vitae: Fifty Years After" and to visit the sisters at the Stella Maris Institute for Development Studies in Kanniyakumari.

After Monday, I'll have a few days of rest before the symposium and will be able to post more about how my mission has gone. I can't even begin to express how much I have benefited from the experience of teaching a class of priests, religious sisters, and laywomen from India and Africa.

Thank you for your prayers and please know that I pray for you.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Safari so good: My India teaching mission, part 4

(For background on my India teaching mission, click here, or go here to see all my posts from India.)

I had an extraordinarily long travel day yesterday—from Changanacherry, where Father Gregory Gresko, O.S.B., and I have been teaching at the John Paul II Pontifical Institute, to Bangalore, to Mysore, and back to Bangalore—but the early-evening safari in Bandhipur National Park made it all worth it.

There were many beautiful moments, but my favorite was when our bus stopped just as this stunning creature was outside my window. I took this photo with my phone without having to enlarge the field of vision; the baboon was as close as it appears.

Today Father Gregory and I had the pleasure of speaking at a conference sponsored by the Archdiocese of Bangalore's Family Life Centre, "Hope for a Wounded World: The Church's Teachings on True Love in the Contemporary Culture Landscape." We delivered our talks after a powerful introductory speech by Archbishop Peter Machado, whom Pope Francis named to the Archdiocese of Bangalore last March. He spoke of the Church's mission to protect the unborn, to encourage spouses to allow God to plan their family, and to defend the truth about marriage and sexuality.

My talk and Father Gregory's complemented each other. He spoke on Karol Wojtyla's teachings in Love and Responsibility on education in love and sexuality, whereas I spoke on Wojtyla's writings after he became pope, "John Paul II on 'Adultery in the Heart' and Its Answer: The Gift of Piety."

We were told that more than two hundred people turned out, although we were unable to see them all, as many were standing outside, watching the conference on video. What a blessing it was to provide instruction for such a vibrant and growing local church! Many thanks to Father Sunny Richard John, Naveen and Jini Lobo, and all the others who organized and promoted the event.

After my talk, I was joined by two local priests, Father Deva and Father Arokiaswamy, who assisted during the Q&A. 

There was one sad moment, as after the symposium I learned from two of the attendees that certain U.S. websites and media personalities that engage in vitriolic assaults against the Holy Father have gained a foothold in India. Here I had just spoken of piety, which includes respect for one's country, only to be reminded that my country's exports from some purportedly Catholic outlets include poisonous rumors and unrelenting suspicion of the Church's chief shepherd. Please join me in praying in reparation for the damage done to the Church and world by such self-proclaimed militants.

Tomorrow I am looking forward to visiting a Benedictine monastery and praying a rosary at a Jesuit cemetery before taking an evening flight back to Changanacherry. Many thanks to all of you who are praying for me during this grace-filled trip, where I am meeting so many wonderful people as I share the Good News of Catholic teaching on love and marriage.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Spice exploration: My India teaching mission, part 3

Father Gregory and I pose for a photo at the end of today's class. Nearly all the women in the class are religious sisters and all or nearly all the men are priests. They hail from India, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.

(For background on my India teaching mission, click here, or go here to see all my posts from India.)

Father Gregory Gresko, O.S.B., and I have been teaching our course on the indissolubility of marriage for three days here at the Indian Session of the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences and are settling into a pleasant rhythm. He designed the course and is the main lecturer, and I step in at various points to add information or shed additional light on the topics under discussion.

I make a point during yesterday's class.
Today I particularly enjoyed showing students how to understand the disputatio format of the Summa theologiae and explaining to them articles that are relevant to this week's lectures, including ST III, q. 29, a. 2, on whether Mary and Joseph had a real marriage, and ST Supp., q. 44, a. 1, concerning the metaphysics of the marriage bond (e.g. that it is an interior bond rather than something externally imposed). The students are highly motivated and ask great questions.

I can't even begin to describe what the meals here are like. My fear coming here was that I wouldn't be able to eat anything but bananas, as I don't tolerate hot spices well. But in fact the John Paul II Institute's cooking staff do an amazing job of making delicious meals that have full Indian flavors without the heat.

Andrea, a friend of Father Gregory's who came here with us to take our course, took the photograph above, showing yesterday's breakfast. The pancake is called appam, and the sauce includes ginger and onions. Delicious!

At my perch in our lecture hall.

Many thanks to those of you who have been praying for my safe travels. Early tomorrow morning, Father Gregory and I fly to Bangalore to speak at the symposium there that I mentioned in an earlier post. We are also going on a safari! The next time I post, I hope to be able to share with you a photo from my camera of a Bengal tiger.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Chalk and awe: My India teaching mission, part 2

(And you may ask yourself, how did I get here? See my previous post for background on my India teaching mission.)

Today, my first full day in Kerala, Father Gregory Gresko, O.S.B., and I began teaching our intensive course “The Indissolubility of Marriage: A Theological and Cultural Analysis” at the Indian Session of the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences. Our class of more than fifty students includes priests, sisters, and laywomen. All are from India or Africa, save for Father Gregory's (and now my) friend Andrea Lemon, who took the first picture below (the second was taken by a student, Sister Daisy).

Father Greg, wearing a wireless mic, addresses our class.

Team teaching: I add to Father Greg's discussion of respect with a discussion of intimacy as Father Greg looks up a reference for me.

It is a joy and an honor to communicate the teachings of the Church to this vibrant and diverse student body. I feel particularly blessed to be able to show the students an example of a woman teaching theology, as this particular branch of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute does not currently have women on its regular theology faculty (although it has had a female visiting theology professor at least once in the past). When Father Gregory introduced me as the first woman to receive a sacred-theology doctorate from the University of St. Mary of the Lake, several of the women in the class beamed.