Friday, April 22, 2011

Thursday's child

Yesterday was my fifth "birthday." It was five years ago on the afternoon of Holy Thursday that Father Jacek Buda O.P. received me into full communion with the Catholic Church, and I received the Eucharistic Lord for the first time at Mass that evening.

If you are among the Dawn Patrol readers who was praying for me during the time before or leading up to my reception into the Church (or at any other time), thank you from my heart.

Thanks too, and a very happy Easter, to everyone reading this who has been moved to check up on me. I remain on blogging hiatus as I study towards a sacred-theology licentiate at Dominican House of Studies, the same institution where I received my M.A. last May. Once I earn the licentiate, I hope to earn a sacred theology doctorate from the University of Fribourg, with the ultimate goal of becoming a professor of moral theology at a Catholic college.

In other news:

  • It has long been my desire to give talks to women who are in crisis pregnancies—to help them as they seek to change their behavior and build new lives. However, I did not know how to adapt the message of The Thrill of the Chaste in a manner relevant to their situation—a situation that, given that these women are estranged from their families, often includes the experience of childhood sexual abuse. That changed recently when I had the blessing of speaking to mothers and mothers-to-be living in a home run by Several Sources Shelters in New Jersey.

    I told my own story to the shelter's residents, but added a new angle, discussing how the experiences we had as children shape our adult identity. When we are mistreated by the people who are supposed to be forming us and protecting us, it leads us to a wrong understanding of who we are. Lacking a proper sense of identity, we lack the foundation to choose what is best for us, which leads us to make bad decisions. That's the bad news. But the Good News, I explained, is that, once we begin to understand who we are in Christ, we have the freedom and the power, with God's grace, to make decisions in a new way—founded on our realization of the great dignity we have in Him.

    It was a deeply rewarding experience for me to frame the message of my book—that is, of unmarried chastity—in a manner helpful to women who have suffered so much. As I write this, I am scheduled to give a similar talk to residents of a home run by the Sisters of Life, and I would like to give many more such talks. If you would like me to speak to women in crisis pregnancies, or to survivors of abuse, please e-mail me. For nonprofit organizations, I am willing to do so at no charge so long as my transportation and accommodations are covered. (If the talk is at a shelter, a room there is fine.)
  • I have written a proposal for a book along the lines of the talk described above, which also brings in key aspects of the Christian life not covered in my first book, such as the Eucharist, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and the Communion of Saints. The proposal is currently being reviewed by a publisher. Please pray for God's will with regard to this project. If I were contracted to write the book, doing so would deepen my apostolate, as it would give me a means of helping those who have experienced unavoidable pain find meaning and purpose in their lives. I would like to become an apostle to the weak in spirit in the way that my friend Jeffry Hendrix has become an apostle to the weak in body.[UPDATE, 6/1/11: The publisher has accepted the proposal--thank you for your prayers! See today's post for details.]
  • My master's thesis critiquing the Christopher West/Theology of the Body Institute approach to teaching the theology of the body is still available as a free download from Catholic News Agency. Click the link at the bottom of CNA's news article to download it.
  • If you have benefited from my master's thesis and would like to support my studies towards a theology licentiate and doctorate, I am very grateful for your donation, as my school does not offer scholarships to lay students. Click here to donate.
  • My friend Raving Theist, who guestblogged here as Raving Atheist prior to his conversion, continues to do wonderful work as webmaster and volunteer coordinator for author Ashli McCall, helping her minister to pregnant women who suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum. If you know a woman who has HG (an extreme form of morning sickness), please refer her to Raving Theist or Ashli will connect her to a former HG sufferer who will offer guidance on treatment, and will also send her a free copy of Ashli's book Beyond Morning Sickness.
Photo by Mark Judge.