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My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints Paperback – May 14, 2012
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"Eden describes the lives of canonized saints and saints in waiting ... revealing how and why each one offers hope for abuse victims today. By doing so, she breaks through the artificial barriers often placed between us and those mighty representatives of God."-- William Doino, Jr., Inside the Vatican
About the Author
Dawn Eden, a former rock journalist and New York Post headline writer, is the bestselling author of The Thrill of the Chaste. Since the publication of her second book, My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints, she has shared her message of redemptive suffering and spiritual healing with audiences in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Having received her sacred-theology licentiate in 2014 from the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies, she is currently studying toward a doctorate at the University of St. Mary of the Lake.
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It took me nearly fifty years to understand that my having been sexually abused as a child affected me in more ways than one. Dawn Eden explains, offering both affirmation and hope. She speaks of one man suffering also from his "family's failure to provide him with protection"...and she speaks of our need as children for belonging and identity...and of "the lonely sense of isolation that is the result of having one's self-image disfigured by abuse".
Dawn applies her knowledge of theology and the lives of the saints to the suffering we have in our own lives in ways that I hadn't understood in my forty plus years of being a committed Catholic. Even though I already knew many of the saints whose stories she included, she presented them with fresh clarity and insight.
Dawn does not minimize either our past suffering or the effects of past abuse, as she shares her story and the stories of saints with delicacy and compassion. Yet, at the same time, she shows us God's great love and how he heals us THROUGH our wounds.
My emotions in reading this book were relief in understanding more clearly, and overall, a sense of hope and joy.
I don't know how the author pulled this off. Just be prepared to read each chapter slowly. Each usually incorporates histories of the lives of one or two saints (e.g. St Josephine Bakhita and St Thomas Aquinas) and shows what they suffered and offered to God, Intertwined with their stories is the story of the life of the author and what she suffered as a child, and her conversion to Catholicism. The voice of this author is kind; I would feel comfortable talking with her. A book to keep and grow with!
When I started reading, "My Peace I Give You", I could not put it down. When I had to put it down, I couldn't wait to get back to it.
I was not wounded in anyway, yet I found the book useful in several ways:
1) It helped me to empathize with those who are wounded and to have even greater compassion than I had before. I found myself reflecting back on my own childhood and the environment I was blessed to have through my parents, friends and relatives. When one grows up in such an environment it can be difficult to understand the spiritual and emotional challenges those who were abused can face. A book cannot possibly give me a complete understanding, but it has given me some helpful awareness and sensitivity.
2) While I am not a parent, I couldn't help thinking like a parent and how I might protect my child from things that may not seem so harmful. In our sex-saturated society, young children can be scarred through exposure to things we may not think about. Dawn's book heightened my awareness.
3) Even though Dawn discusses her own wounds, her discussion of them is veiled. She reveals no more than is necessary to make a particular point and to help the reader see that she is speaking from personal experience. The book is not dominated by Dawn's personal story. Rather, her discussion about the saints is dominant. Anyone thinking that they would get depressed reading this book, or thinking it is just another story about someone abused, would be mistaken.
4) I found the book lifting me up through other sufferings I deal with that are not of a sexual nature. Colossians 1:24 introduces us to the concept of redemptive suffering. For those who are not wounded, and are wondering if they should get this book, I would say this is a key reason to read it. Let the saints teach you how to deal with suffering of any kind. Moreover, Dawn has found some very interesting and inspiring stories about certain saints and blesseds, including some who are more obscure. There is a great deal of ethnic and racial diversity among Dawn's choices.
5) For priests - especially those who serve as spiritual directors and confessors - this book is a must-read. Once you read it, you may want to stock some for those souls in great need of such a book. I myself have been giving copies away, mainly to clerics. In fact, I would encourage people to get a copy for the priests in their parish and for their bishop. If they have more than one copy, they can give it to others.
6) I believe "My Peace I Give You" is something dioceses should be taking a closer look at. I seriously doubt there is anything out there like it for those who have suffered childhood sexual abuse.
7) I know people who were abused and have already been able to recommend this book to them. Having read the book, I'll know when to recommend it to others in the future.
Get this book and, after reading it, get a copy or two to pass along.