As a member of the Angelic Warfare Confraternity, the Dominican Friars’ apostolate for Catholic men and women who pray for one another as they seek to grow in chastity, I was deeply honored when the confraternity’s director, Father James Dominic Brent, O.P., recently sent an e-mail to members urging them to read my book My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints. Here is Father Brent’s message:
Greetings in Christ to the brothers and sisters of the Angelic Warfare!
Jesus is living and active in our midst!
Today I would like to give you a concrete example of how Jesus is living and working among us. Everyone in our Confraternity should know about a book authored by one of our own members. Her name is Dawn Eden, and many of you may know of her book The Thrill of the Chaste. That book tells the story of how she went from leading a worldly lifestyle as a journalist to seeing the truth and beauty of the Church’s teaching on chastity. Recently, she has written a new book titled My Peace I Give You. The new book is about healing from sexual wounds with the help of the Saints, and so it has great significance for our times.
In My Peace I Give You, Dawn goes through the lives of several Saints, Blesseds, and holy people, and shows how their lives shed light on the power of Jesus Christ to heal sexual wounds.
The book opens with the story of St. Josephine Bakhita – an African woman who was captured, enslaved, and regularly beaten by her masters, but who came also to learn of the love of Jesus Christ and to put her faith and hope in him. Through the power of her faith and hope in Jesus, St. Josephine came into the Church and was profoundly healed of her wounds. The transformation of St. Josephine Bakhita is a sign that Jesus is present and active in our midst.
As the book unfolds, Dawn does two things. She gradually tells the story of her own life, her journey to faith in Christ and the Church, including the story of sexual abuse she suffered in her own childhood, and the aftermath of that abuse over the course of her lifetime. Woven into the telling of her story, however, are an abundance of lessons she has learned from the lives of Saints, Blesseds, or holy people in the Church. Our Lady teaches Dawn of the abiding presence of God’s love in the midst of pain. The life of St. Gemma Galgani teaches how God can redeem flashbacks. The story of St. Therese of Lisieux teaches about memory, and the graces that are there for us in our memories, and the ways of spiritual childhood. St. Maria Goretti’s life is a lesson on forgiveness. Dorothy Day’s life has a lesson on the power of the Sacrament of Penance to work transformation after a life of sexual sin. St. Bernard of Clairvaux is a lesson on the meaning of true love. And most interesting of all to us is what Dawn learns from the story that is at the heart of our Confraternity – the story of how St. Thomas was treated by his brothers while being held captive. The story, as we know, is that is his brothers sent a prostitute into his cell in order to seduce him. Dawn sees in the story not merely a temptation of St. Thomas, but a genuine violation of his purity. Because St. Thomas too suffered a violation of his innocence, St. Thomas is in fellowship with all who have been sexually violated in any way. He too can be called a patron Saint of forgiveness.
My Peace I Give You contains many more lessons from many more Saints and Blesseds, but what is most unique about the book is how Dawn reveals to us her own interior process of re-reading her life history in the light of the Saints. Dawn identifies with the Saints, and shows us how to do the same. Her book is not just an old fashioned “lives of the Saints,” but a living illustration of what it means for one of us to live in communion with the saints. The book is a window into the life of how Dawn herself, who knows well the effects of sexual sin, believes in the Saints, looks to the Saints, lives in the light of the Saints, knows the care of the Saints, and so shares life with them in Christ. It was for this that Jesus Christ died and rose, that we too might share his life, not individually, but together with one another, with those on earth and those in heaven.
For anyone who has suffered from sexual abuse, Dawn’s book is a must read. The testimonies of victims who have read it are powerful testimonies indeed. But in my opinion, anyone who suffers from the wounds of sexual sin in any way whatsoever will also find in this book a powerful aid for healing and renewal.
“Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” (Rom. 12:2)
I urge all the members of the Confraternity to share in the important work of our fellow member Dawn Eden. She has told me personally: “I believe that My Peace I Give You is a fruit of my AWC consecration. Being a member of the AWC and so benefiting from the prayers of the Confraternity members as well as the entire Dominican Order, I became more conscious of how God gives us grace through the Communion of Saints. That grace not only brought me to a new level of healing; it also strengthened and emboldened me to become more apostolic, as I wanted others to share in the love of Christ that I had received.”
I urge everyone to get a copy of My Peace I Give You, read it and be blessed by it, and then tell everyone about it. Or simply forward this e-mail to others. You never know who you are helping and how.
Our world needs healing.
Today begins a series of thirty Masses offered for all the members of our Confraternity. Let us pray for one another…
Fr. James Dominic Brent, O.P.
Director of the Angelic Warfare Confraternity
Dominican Province of St. Joseph