Two new articles came out yesterday about My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints: a feature in The Tidings of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which is the largest diocesan newspaper in the country, and Kathryn Jean Lopez's Q&A with me in National Review Online.
I'm thrilled to get the Tidings press in advance of my upcoming speaking tour of Los Angeles and San Diego (see my tour itinerary). And of course, for an author, there's nothing like the K-Lo treatment in NRO. Lopez played devil's advocate, resulting in some questions I hadn't been asked before—and so causing me to give some answers I hadn't given before. Here is an excerpt from the NRO piece, "Peace the World Cannot Give":
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: How can saints help with much of anything, particularly anything having to do with sex?Read the full interview at National Review Online.
DAWN EDEN: The saints don’t just give us help here and there; as one of the Eucharistic Prayers puts it, we rely upon their constant intercession for “unfailing help.” I write in My Peace I Give You that, in manifesting God’s design for humanity’s total vocation, the saints show us what it means to be fully human. To be fully human means first and foremost to love — to love God, and to love my neighbor as myself for the love of God. That is the highest virtue — the theological virtue of charity — and virtue by its nature is a power given to the entire person, which for human persons means body and soul. Therefore, if I am to have true virtue, I cannot just love in a disembodied way. I love as I love because I have a female body, and that body is part of how I love—whether I am engaged in a physical act of love or just thinking about a loved one.
Now, for the Church to recognize a saint, it is not enough that the candidate for sainthood have ordinary virtue. A saint has to possess heroic virtue. So we know that every female saint not only possessed charity, but possessed heroic charity, loving fully, as a woman, in every relationship, according to the type of relationship. If she was a daughter, she loved fully in the manner proper to being a daughter; if she was a wife, she loved fully in the manner proper to being a wife. And likewise with friendships — hers was not a disembodied friendship, but a fully present friendship, loving her friends as their sister in Christ. And likewise for every male saint—he loved others fully as a man, according to the type of relationship.
Why is all this important for victims of childhood sexual abuse? Because the problems faced by victims are not primarily problems having to do with the action of “sex.” They know how the marital act works: Everyone does, in my experience. Speaking for myself and for fellow victims I have met, what they need is help with the noun “sex”: learning how to be fully integrated as a man or woman. That’s where the saints can help.
LOPEZ: Isn’t the Catholic obsession with dead people, their bodies, and their things a bit odd?
EDEN: First of all, the saints, although dead in this world, are alive in the next. What’s more, they’re united to God, who cares about each of us individually. So, to call them “dead people” is misleading. It’s people on this earth who lack faith, hope, and charity—including myself at times when I fail to live up to the graces and calling of my baptism—who are the real “dead people.” Jesus told the Sadducees that, when we speak of God as being God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we affirm that he is not God of the dead but God of the living. So if anything, the saints are more alive than we are!
Second, we respect the body, whether living or dead, because the body is properly united to the soul. It’s the body and soul together that make the person. The saints in heaven await reunion with their bodies, which will be restored by God in a new way on the last day. So, the relics of a saint are very important in that they share in the holiness of the saint’s soul, and they point to the reunion of body and soul that will come with Christ’s return.