Thursday, April 23, 2015

Sights, sounds, and stories from my South Dakota tour


Today I returned from my first-ever tour of South Dakota, where I delivered five talks in four days. I spoke at college campuses and at the Lake Traverse Reservation, home of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate. It was a beautiful experience and I want to share some images and media from it here on the Dawn Patrol, especially since readers of this blog made it possible.

The idea for the tour began last October, when I noticed that one of my Twitter followers was Father Andrew Dickinson, pastor of the Pius XII Newman Center. At the time, I was looking to find an place where I could give a mission talk on healing from childhood trauma, as I had some leftover funds that readers had donated in 2012 so that I could speak on that topic in places that could not otherwise afford to host me. The same fund had earlier enabled me to speak to formerly prostituted women at the Project Dawn Court and to inmates at the Riverside Correctional Facility, both in Philadelphia.

I contacted Father Dickinson and let him know that if he would like me to give a talk on healing, I could provide my own airfare. He wrote back immediately and soon arranged for me to give not one, but three talks on the topic, as well as two talks on chastity. Most excitingly, he was able to arrange for me to speak at Lake Traverse Reservation, which would be my first-ever talk at a Native American parish.

The tour began last Saturday, April 18, at the University of South Dakota, where I gave a talk drawn from the new Catholic edition of The Thrill of the Chaste. (I know what you are thinking: College students willing to come out for a chastity talk on a Saturday evening must be very chaste indeed!) It was a joy to see how engaged the audience was and how interested they were in living their faith more deeply.


I was back at USD the next day to speak on My Peace I Give You. The crowd was small—it was a Sunday afternoon on campus, after all—but those who were there were interested, and several of them purchased copies of my books.



The crowds were bigger at South Dakota State University in Brookings, where about forty people attended the talks I gave on Sunday and Monday evenings. As at USD, the students were wonderful well-catechized, seeking to live Eucharistic lives. Father Dickinson kindly recorded both talks, so you can hear and download them via the graphics below.





To say that I gave this talk and that talk really doesn't capture the blessings I received on the tour. Everywhere I went, people were terrifically kind and hospitable. Just one example out of many: In Brookings, Ana, a homeschooling mom who is married to an SDSU professor, took me to the South Dakota Art Museum and afterward to a charming café (check out the French-style cup-bowls).





Finally came the talk that I had most anticipated: speaking at St. Catherine's Parish on the Lake Traverse Reservation in Sisseton. The pastor, Father Jerome Ranek, had done a fantastic job with advance publicity, even placing an ad on the front page of the local paper.

I had long wanted to bring Native Americans the message of My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints, as their population suffers a high rate of abuse. Speaking at Lake Traverse also offered the opportunity to address members of a tribe whose population included numerous victims of abuse perpetrated by clergy and religious. (See news stories here and here — but be aware that the articles contain highly disturbing details.)

I gave the same talk I gave at SDSU on the healing love among the Sacred Heart.




Before I arrived in Sisseton, several people, including both non-Native Americans and a member of the Lakota tribe, warned me not to expect many people at my talk, and not to expect those who did come to display emotion. They were wrong. The audience at St. Catherine's numbered thirty-five people—filling the chairs that had been set up—and was the most responsive of the entire tour.

Among those who came were about ten men who I was later told had been brought there by the director of a 28-day treatment program. They were among the most grateful. My joy at being able to provide comfort to them and the others who came was beyond words.

I did not sell copies of my books at this talk. Instead, I gave them away. By the time I finished signing copies, attendees had taken 35 copies of My Peace I Give You and ten copies of The Thrill of the Chaste. I also gave away wrist rosaries and a few beautiful polished stones that I had purchased at the art museum, in case some attendees wanted something other than (or besides) a religious article; both the rosaries and the stones had been blessed.

I asked those present to take photos so that I could show the donors who made the trip possible how their support was having an effect, and, Lord willing, inspire other reservation parishes to invite me to speak. The Tribal Secretary of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate graciously took the following photos and sent them to me for publication on The Dawn Patrol.



I thank God for this wonderful experience speaking at Lake Traverse and hope and pray that I will have many other such experiences. Next time, I hope also to spend more time on a reservation, getting to know Native Americans and their personal journeys.

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If you are able, please consider making a donation to help me as I continue my doctoral studies in theology and as I continue to share the message of My Peace I Give You. Thank you and God bless you.

L'Osservatore Romano reviews My Peace I Give You

I am overwhelmed with joy this morning upon discovering that today's edition of L'Osservatore Romano features a beautiful review of my book My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints.

The review is on page 4 of the newspaper, which is available online in PDF form. Its headline, translated, reads: "The journey of healing: From pain to violence to conversion." A brief teaser for the review appears on the L'Osservatore Romano website, and the review also appears in its entirety on the website of the Italian publication Tempi. (Not knowing Italian, I used Google Translate on the Tempi reprint to gain an idea of the review's content. My hope is that the piece will be included in the weekly English edition.)

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There is a Jewish prayer that expresses how I feel right now: Baruch atah adonai eloheinu melech ha'olam shecheyanu v'kiy'manu v'higyanu lazman hazeh. "Blessed art thou, O Lord Our God, King of the Universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this present season." I am deeply thankful for the divine providence that brought me to seek the Lord's face in the heart of his Church.

My gratitude also goes out to everyone who has supported me with prayer and encouragement since I began to share the message of My Peace I Give You. You are all in my prayers. Please keep me in prayer as I leave today to deliver a three-day workshop to the formators of a religious institute; the topic will be spiritual healing for adult survivors of abuse.

Monday, March 30, 2015

"What's Thrilling About Chastity?"
ZENIT interviews me on The Thrill of the Chaste (Catholic Edition)


Addressing the American University  Catholic Community at AU's multifaith center, April 20, 2013. To have me speak at your college or parish, contact me via the form in the right-hand sidebar.

Today I am overjoyed that the Rome-based Catholic news website ZENIT features an interview with me about The Thrill of the Chaste (Catholic Edition): "What's Thrilling About Chastity? Author, Speaker Considers Why Disdained Virtue Should Have a Better Reputation." Kathleen Naab, editor of ZENIT's English edition, read the new Thrill carefully and asked deep questions. Here is an excerpt:
ZENIT: The cover has a quote summarizing your book as "practical wisdom and theological insight." One of those insights, which I’m sure you’ve been developing both in your doctoral studies and in prayer, regards heaven. Could you explain how your understanding of heaven has helped you through loneliness, and also your hopes about a love that will last forever.

Eden: A running theme in The Thrill of the Chaste (Catholic Edition) is the message expressed by a remarkable passage in the Catechism, which says "our participation in the Eucharist already gives us a foretaste of Christ's transfiguration of our bodies" (CCC 1000).

That Catechism line is quite shocking when you think about it. It means that, even though I am not yet in heaven, receiving the Eucharist places me at heaven's leading edge. When I consume the consecrated Host, Jesus' incorruptible flesh touches my corruptible flesh. Shouldn't that change me? Shouldn't receiving Jesus' Body change the way I live in my own body?

In The Thrill of the Chaste (Catholic Edition), I reflect upon these questions and come to the conclusion that the only way to live fully is to live eucharistically. To live eucharistically is to seek to live in union with Jesus at every moment of the day, and especially to let Him teach me how to love.

That's where chastity comes in. Chastity is embodying Jesus' love to others -- loving fully and completely in every relationship, in a manner appropriate to the type of relationship. For someone who is married, chastity includes the marital act -- sexual intercourse with one's spouse -- because that is part of a full and complete marital love. For me, as a single woman, chastity means loving fully and completely as a daughter, as a sister, or as a friend.

When I love like that -- being present for another person just as Jesus is really present for me in the Eucharist -- I can be certain that, even if my love is not fully returned, it is never in vain. St. John tells us that love is from God (1 John 4:7). So, whenever I make a gift of love, God is present in that love -- and that means He is present in me when I love. I think that is what St. Paul means when he tells us that "love never fails" (1 Cor 13:8). No true gift of love dies, because nothing that belongs to God can die. All the love that I give will remain eternally within the love of God and the Communion of Saints in heaven.

Thinking about these things is a great consolation for me because it helps me to realize that I should not be afraid of loneliness. My loneliness is the empty space into which God wishes to enter. He wants me to make room for him so that my longing for him will grow deeper. That deeper longing will in turn lead me to seek more ardently to bring into my earthly friendships the love that reminds me of my friendship with Him.
Read the full interview on ZENIT.org.


Sunday, March 29, 2015

"A 'yes' of boundless width and breadth"
The Anchoress a-weighs in on the new Thrill of the Chaste



I had quite the beautiful surprise this Palm Sunday morning, as I awoke to find that Elizabeth Scalia had written on her blog The Anchoress that my new book The Thrill of the Chaste (Catholic Edition) "may well prove to be the perfect read during the upcoming weeks of Easter."

Elizabeth writes:
The promised freedoms of the sexual revolution having led her to a narrow and empty place, Dawn Eden began a socially risky pursuit of chastity. What she learned, and chronicles beautifully in The Thrill of the Chaste, are lessons meant not only for single women, but for men, too, and for couples. I think the book can forever change the way you think of “yes” and “no” as the world understands the words.

Eden’s first embrace of Christianity (and her first iteration of the book) had her living as a sign of contradiction against easy consent, even as she sought the husband she was certain God had for her. In this new “Catholic” edition of The Thrill of the Chaste, Eden is still living as a sign of contradiction — the world, after all, still misunderstands chastity as being little more than a dreary and joyless island of “no” — but she has become, also, a rather paradoxical witness to the world of “yes”. Her commitment to chastity and exploration of virtue has opened up for Eden a “yes” of boundless width and breadth, and within its depths reside the contentment and consolations of authentic love, which we all seek.
Read the rest at The Anchoress.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Requesting your prayers as I write my next book

Signing The Thrill of the Chaste (Catholic Edition) after speaking in Helena, Montana,
February 2, 2015. Photo: Fr. Sean Raftis

Today, as Holy Week beckons, I begin my next book, which will occupy me until I leave in late May for an international speaking tour. The topic is healing of memory, building upon a talk I gave last year at Washington's Catholic Information Center.

I consider this next project to be Book No. 4, since my recent Thrill of the Chaste (Catholic Edition) (a thorough revision of the 2006 edition) is truly a new book, as reviewers have noted.

In order to focus on my writing, I will be staying off my Twitter account as much as possible. (I long ago removed myself from Facebook.) If you need to reach me, I will remain reachable through the e-mail address listed at the bottom of my bio.

Please pray for me as I write this next book, especially that I may stay focused and that the Holy Spirit will grant me inspiration. If you would like to ask the intercession of saints, the patrons of Book No. 4 are St. Ignatius Loyola and St. Peter Faber. In addition to those saints, there are many other souls whose prayers I am asking as I write: Daniel A. Lord, S.J.; Louis Twomey, S.J.; John Edwards, S.J.; Francis Canavan, S.J.; Edward P. Dowling, S.J.; and Francis Schroen, S.J. (You may notice a pattern in that list; my choice of intercessors has to do with the book's topic.) Since these other souls are not canonized, please say a prayer for their repose before asking their prayers for me.

Know that you are in my prayers every day, as I pray each morning for all my supporters, readers, hearers, and everyone who has ever aided my apostolate. Thank you and God bless you.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Why the arms of Venus are no match for the heart of Jesus
I write on chastity & conversion in the UK Catholic Herald

With Brian Wilson, August 1988

The latest issue of the London Catholic Herald features my article "Nowadays, Chastity Is the Ultimate Rebellion," in which I discuss my past life as a rock journalist and share the message of my new book The Thrill of the Chaste (Catholic Edition).

Here is how it begins:

In Wagner’s opera Tannhäuser, a medieval minstrel returns to his village, seeking healing and salvation after having wasted years as the willing slave of Venus. But when his former neighbours learn where he has been, they tell him he has forfeited all hope. Once a man has tasted Venus’s delights, they say, he will never get her out of his blood.

Modern-day Tannhäusers are all around us: men and women addicted to pornography; singles seeking love through sex; and spouses desiring pleasure to the exclusion of procreation. Our Catholic faith teaches that a way of forgiveness and restoration is open to them. Yet all too often we give them up for lost, speaking of chastity as if it were a virtue reserved only for virgins. In doing so, we effectively buy into the culture’s lie that slaves to pleasure will never be able to find freedom in Christ.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen described a state of disillusioned satedness that he called “black grace” – a kind of fed-upness that could open the way for the “white grace” of conversion. Many who have bought into the lies of the sexual revolution find themselves confronted by the darkness of this black grace. If the truth about chastity is presented to them, they can attain transformation in Christ. I know, because that is what happened to me.

Read the rest of the essay and listen to the accompanying podcast on the Catholic Herald website.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Thrill lights up the Twitterverse!

I am excited and thankful to see that many people are taking to Twitter to express their appreciation of the newly revised Catholic edition of The Thrill of the Chaste.

It is a special joy to see the tweet from Bishop John Keenan of the Diocese of Paisley, Scotland, who even includes a photo:



(In other wonderful news, Bishop Keenan has invited me to give a Theology on Tap-style talk on The Thrill of the Chaste (Catholic Edition) in his diocese, which I will do during my upcoming UK tour.)

Nick Alexander, the speaker and musical parodist finds a recent interview of mine to be cause for jubilation:



Father Bryan Jerabek of Birmingham, Alabama, would like to see a bulk distributor make The Thrill readily available to the people in the pews:



Nunblogger Sister Anne Flanagan encapsulates the love story at the heart of The Thrill as she tweets my National Review Online interview:



A final thought today comes from David Mills of The Stream, explaining why he included my National Review Online interview among a list of recent notable online stories:



If you are enjoying the new Thrill, tweet me your photo and comment, and I'll be delighted to include your tweet in an upcoming post.

Follow me on Twitter @mypeacebook.

Monday, February 16, 2015

"There is 'poetry' in not being sick"
Catholic Spiritual Direction reviews the new Thrill

Today, Catholic Spiritual Direction features "Chastity: A Hymn to God's Providence," a wonderful review of my new book The Thrill of the Chaste (Catholic Edition). Father Angelo Geiger writes:

Dawn has a sense of divine providence working in her life, which, perhaps, is part of the thrill. Chastity is hard. Being a Catholic is hard, but, as Dawn points out, quoting a character in Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday, there is “poetry” in not being sick. Providence not only reorders our desires, but also reorders are manner of assessing what happens to us.

He adds that the new Thrill

is not just good advice from someone who has been there, though it is indeed that, and Dawn’s prose and characteristic humor make for enjoyable reading. The book is a hymn to divine providence, and specifically in the way it expresses the truth that the gift of ourselves to God is accepted and protected by His love. The Marian and filial, as well as spousal dimensions of the life of grace, are evident throughout, as Dawn encourages her readers to say yes to love, like Mary did at the Annunciation and Calvary. This makes all things possible—even chastity and bearing the cross of our woundedness.

Read the rest at SpiritualDirection.com.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Chastity is not the "in" thing to do — "and that is why it is so interesting! "
I speak to NRO on the Church's countercultural witness

National Review Online today features a new interview with me by Kathryn Jean Lopez in which I share the message of the new Catholic edition of The Thrill of the Chaste: "Understanding the Catholic Church's 'Yes.'" Here is a taste:

LOPEZ: Why would people even want to read about chastity? It doesn’t seem to be the in thing to do.

EDEN: No, chastity doesn’t seem like the “in” thing to do at all — and that is why it is so interesting! The media and their advertisers press on us from all sides, trying to sell us on no-strings sex and voyeurism, instructing us on how to objectify ourselves and others. “Sex sells” used to be a catchy adage, but at this point, we as a culture have become sated with sex. It has become a drug just like any other drug, giving a temporary high that leaves us lower than we were before.

Fulton J. Sheen called this state of disillusioned satedness “black grace” — a kind of “fed-upness” that could open the way for the “white grace” of conversion. In my experience, there are many, many people who have bought into the lies of the sexual revolution, seeking love through sex, only to experience the darkness of this black grace. If the truth of chastity is presented to them in its fullness — as a way to learn how to truly love and be loved — then they will be open to hearing it. If they then begin to implement it in their lives, they will be transformed. I know, because that is what happened to me.

Please do check out the entire interview and share it with friends. The breadth and depth of Kathryn's questions help make for the best interview I've done yet. One more snippet:

LOPEZ: What is the best-kept secret you refer to, about what the Church teaches about sex? How is it a secret? How can it be tweeted about? By which I mean, how can we better communicate it?

EDEN: The best-kept secret is that our sexuality — not just our genital activity, but everything we do — is designed to demonstrate and concretize divine love, a love that is necessarily creative. In marital love, that creativity includes pro-creativity, but that’s not the whole of it. For we aren’t all called to marriage, and our call to share in divine love doesn’t stop at marriage.

What I am trying to say is that every act of love is necessarily embodied, and that means that our sexuality — that is, our created sex as man or woman — always matters. I don’t love my mother and father as their “it”; I love them as their daughter. When I visit a friend in the intensive-care unit, I don’t wash off my identity as a woman when I sanitize myself at the door. No, I love that friend as a woman. Not by being girlish, not by wearing pink, not by telling stories of my daily life with “all the details” that make men’s eyes glaze over. No, I love as a woman because I love with the love that God gives me, in the body that he gives me.

That is what sexuality is about. It is creative because it comes from the Creator, who not only created me, but re-created me in Christ — and still does, every day. Deo gratias!

Dear friends, please spread this good news far and wide! Thank you, and God bless y ou!

Photo by Ron Sartini