On Tuesday, a surprise came in the mail: an envelope from the Apostolic Nunciature containing a Benedict XVI souvenir rosary, a photograph of the Holy Father, and, best of all, a beautiful letter from the Holy See's Assessor (click to enlarge):*
I had sent a copy of my new book My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints to the Holy Father along with a letter of appreciation, which included a request for prayers for myself and my mother. So it's not a total shock to receive a reply—but, still, how wonderful! It means so much to know that the Pope has received my book; that he is praying for me; and, especially, that he read my letter, in which I sought to encourage him. I love him very much, both as my Holy Father, and as a theologian whose writings and addresses are a source of spiritual nourishment for me. Knowing that he carries the weight of the world on his shoulders, I'm exceedingly thankful to know that I was able to give him words of appreciation and gratitude.
Here is part of what I wrote to the Holy Father:
Please accept this copy of my new book My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints with my deepest gratitude for all you have done to help the wounded find healing in Christ, and particularly for your sensitive outreach to those who have suffered childhood sexual abuse.
I was born in a Jewish home and was myself abused. My healing came through encountering Christ in the Church. In My Peace I Give You (which carries an Imprimatur from my ordinary, Donald Cardinal Wuerl), I seek to bring Christ to my fellow victims through the lives of those whom Your Holiness has so beautifully called “translations” of Christ: the saints. I also hope to show pastoral caregivers that there is much more they can do for the abused than merely refer them to therapists. Not all victims need therapy, but all who have suffered any evil need to know the love of their heavenly Father.
I believe that people who have suffered trauma as a result of the abuses that are widespread in secular society—the sins committed against the family and against the dignity of the human person—are going to be vital members of the next generation of Christian witnesses. Their witness will be particularly powerful because, having experienced their own Passion, they have risen to new life through faith in Christ.
*I'm leaving off the signature and letterhead from the scan of the Vatican letter, as I discovered in the past that if you post documents on the Web on their original stationery, there are unfortunately people who will use them to create forgeries.
If you would like to learn more about My Peace I Give You, visit its Patheos Book Club page.