Friday, February 12, 2016

I speak to National Review Online on "How Mercy Frees Us from Bad Memories"

What a blessing it was to be interviewed by National Review Online's Kathryn Jean Lopez about my new book Remembering God's Mercy: Redeem the Past and Free Yourself from Painful Memories! K-Lo asked beautiful questions in the interview, which went online this morning. Here is a sample:

Why is it "remembering" God's mercy? What if I’ve never known it?

My book’s title is adapted from Mary’s words of praise to God: “He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy” (Lk 1:54).

If you feel you’ve never known God’s mercy, the title becomes meaningful when you consider that there is a difference between ordinary remembering and religious remembering. Ordinary remembering is recalling things that are past. But when we remember in the religious sense, like we do at Mass when we call to mind how God has loved us, we are not merely remembering past events. We are also remembering a divine person who loves us in the present moment. He loves us now with the very same love that he had for us at every moment of our lives and even before we were born.

So, to remember God’s mercy, we don’t have to try to rack our memory for times when we felt blessed—though that is certainly a good thing to do if we can. All we have to do to remember God’s mercy is to think about our longing for him in the present moment. That very longing, that heartfelt desire to know the peace of God, is a gift of mercy. The people who do not know mercy are those who have no desire for God to fill the empty space within their heart.

Why so much about mercy? How about justice and sin? Is this “mercy” business a softening?

Pitting mercy against justice is a false opposition. Justice and mercy are two dimensions of the same reality. Those who are unrepentant experience divine justice as punishment, whereas those who repent experience divine justice as mercy—even when it may involve suffering, as when I have to make reparation for a sin I committed. The very fact that Pope Francis is promoting divine mercy in this Year of Mercy shows that he believes there is a need for it—a need that would be impossible were there not the reality of sin.

Why is it so important for a person to know that he is in God’s memory?

It is important for me to know that I am in God’s memory because it shows me that my perspective on my past is incomplete. God sees the whole picture, because he is outside of time; all times are present to him. Whereas my thoughts might get mired in past pain, God sees my history only in light of the future that he has planned for me.

We can understand this if we pause to contemplate how the risen Christ recalls his own sufferings. In Luke 24, when Jesus encounters the disciples on the road to Emmaus and in the Upper Room, it is clear that his sufferings remain etched in his memory. Yet, as I write in Remembering God’s Mercy, his memories of them no longer bring him feelings of pain: “In his risen state, when Jesus remembers his passion, he remembers only his passion—the overpowering love he bore that led him to shed every last drop of his Precious Blood for our salvation.”

Likewise, if I know I am in God’s memory, then I know that my own past sufferings are not meaningless. As with the sufferings of Christ, who is the model for every sufferer, they are part of a larger story—a story that I know has a happy ending, because it ends with my present longing for the love of God. That longing itself, as I said earlier, is proof of that God is moving my heart, whether or not I am capable of sensing his presence.

Read the entire interview at National Review Online. Remembering God's Mercy is available from Aquinas & More (where it is on sale through February 16), Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and wherever Catholic books are sold.

Monday, February 8, 2016

New Advent features an excerpt of my new book, Remembering God's Mercy

Now that I've finished writing my doctoral dissertation, it is my joy to share with you news of my new book. Remembering God's Mercy: Redeem the Past and Free Yourself from Painful Memories goes on sale this week, and there is much wonderful news to report. In the coming days, I'll have several updates here on The Dawn Patrol. For now, you are cordially invited to read the excerpt of Remembering God's Mercy that just went up on the daily must-read Catholic headline site New Advent.

Here is how the excerpt begins:

Francis, in his first major interview as pope, spoke of his admiration for the early Jesuit Peter Faber, whom he would soon declare a saint. Since you can tell a lot about a man by his friends—including his friends in heaven—I began to read Faber’s spiritual diary, the Memoriale, to see what it might tell me about Francis’s spirituality. It was a revelation.

I found in Faber a man who had many of the same vulnerabilities as me. He battled anxiety, depression, and temptations to sin. Learning how he conquered those weaknesses helped me to better fight my own spiritual battles.

In the Memoriale entry for December 25, 1542, as Faber writes about celebrating midnight Mass, we see that he began Christmas Day in a state of sadness. He had hoped to receive Jesus in the Eucharist with feelings of Christmas joy. Instead, he writes, “I was feeling cold before Communion and was grieved that my dwelling was not better prepared.”

Just as he was thinking those thoughts, a feeling of consolation came to him with such suddenness that he knew it could only be a gift from above. “I received this answer accompanied by an interior feeling of devotion that moved me to tears: This is what the coming of Christ into a stable means. If you were already very fervent, you would not see here the humanity of your Lord because spiritually you would correspond less to what is called a stable.”

As I read those words, my heart tells me the saint was right to understand them as a message from the Holy Spirit.
Read the rest courtesy of New Advent, or just go to Aquinas & More, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon to purchase your own copy of Remembering God's Mercy.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

L'Osservatore Romano reviews the new Catholic edition of The Thrill of the Chaste

I am thrilled and thankful to discover that tomorrow's issue of L'Osservatore Romano features a warm review of the new Catholic edition of The Thrill of the Chaste. The heart of the review by poet and literary critic Elena Buia Rutt, which is in Italian, says (in my rough translation), "The strength of the book lies in the authenticity of the profound and articulate story of a lived experience: chastity, from what emerges from these pages, far from being a denial of sexuality, becomes a way to experience it in a mature and adult fashion."

 Here is a link to read the review online. You can also see how it looks in the newspaper (page 4) or see how Google Translate renders it in (very broken) English.

If you are a regular visitor to The Dawn Patrol, you may be forgiven for having a case of déjà vu. I am grateful and, to be honest, amazed, that this Thrill of the Chaste review marks the third time in seven months that my work has been reviewed or published in the Vatican newspaper. In April, L'Osservatore Romano honored me with a review of my previous book, My Peace I Give You, and in October it ran an article I wrote about my graduate-school experiences as "a woman in a seminary." I am now hoping that the editors will also like my upcoming book, which draws from Pope Francis's Ignatian spirituality:  Remembering God's Mercy: Redeem the Past and Free Yourself from Painful Memories.

Thanks so much to all my readers who pray for my studies and apostolate. Knowing that I have your prayers strengthens, especially now, as I enter into the final weeks of writing my doctoral dissertation, which I must complete before Christmas in order to graduate in the spring. Please know that I pray for you and all my readers every day, at every Mass.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Speaking at Marytown at an event heralding the Year of Mercy

I have long wanted to speak at Marytown in Libertyville, Illinois, which is the National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe, whose intercession led me into the Catholic Church. Now, thanks to the Institute on Religious Life, that dream is coming true, as the IRL has invited me to speak at Marytown on December 5 as part of a day of recollection in preparation for the Year of Mercy. My topic, "Remembering God's Mercy: What Pope Francis Can Teach Us about Healing of Memories," is drawn from my upcoming book, also titled Remembering God's Mercy. For more information and to register in advance, download the event flyer.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

First Things reprints my L'Osservatore Romano article: "A Woman in the Seminary"

Just popping my head out from Dissertationland to let you know that, thanks to the good people at First Things, my article that appeared last week in L'Osservatore Romano is now available in English: "A Woman in the Seminary." (Update, 11/23/15: It also appeared in the November 6 English-language edition of L'Osservatore Romano [page 14].)

Please keep me in your prayers as I write my dissertation. I pray daily for all my readers—that includes you!

Monday, October 19, 2015

L'Osservatore Romano publishes my article "A Woman in the Seminary"

Photo by Joy Rhine for the Saint Benedict Forum
Page 5 of today's issue of L'Osservatore Romano, the official newspaper of the Vatican, features an article I wrote about my experiences as "A Woman in the Seminary."

My hope is that, by writing on the joys and difficulties of being among the few women studying for a pontifical doctorate, I will help the Church better understand what female theology students have to offer and how to welcome them. In composing the article, I was encouraged by Pope Francis's repeated exhortations for the Church to develop its "theology of women," and by his creating new opportunities for female theologians.

Right now, the article is available only in the original Italian, which you can read online or download as a PDF. I am hoping it will be in the weekly English edition as well, which will be published on Friday, in which case I will link to it here. Otherwise I will seek to have it reprinted in an English-language publication. (Update, 11/23/15: The article did appear in the English edition, on page 14 of the November 6, 2015 issue. It also appeared on the First Things website.)

It is a great honor to be published in L'Osservatore Romano, and I am most grateful to the editors for giving me a voice in its pages.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Now available for pre-order: My upcoming book on healing of memories, "Remembering God's Mercy"

Here is the beautiful cover of my next book, Remembering God's Mercy: Redeem the Past and Free Yourself from Painful Memories, due in February from Ave Maria Press and now available for pre-order on (in paperback; it will later be available in e-book format as well). I am deeply thankful that Austen Ivereigh, the acclaimed biographer of Pope Francis, calls Remembering God's Mercy "a life-changing book."

The book's cover includes what publishers call a "reading line" that tells more about its theme: "Embracing the Wisdom of St. Ignatius and Pope Francis." The "Ignatius" is the Jesuit founder Ignatius Loyola (nothing against Ignatius of Antioch, I assure you), whom I wrote about earlier in My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints. Now, with Remembering God's Mercy, I draw upon Pope Francis's wisdom as a means of going deeper into classic Jesuit spirituality, showing how St. Ignatius and St. Peter Faber (canonized by Francis) point the way to healing of memories.

I wrote Remembering God's Mercy as a gift to the many readers of My Peace I Give You who wanted a book like My Peace that they could give to anyone in their family in need of healing. Especially on my mind and heart as I wrote it were military veterans, adult children of divorce, and those who struggle with any kind of addiction or unwanted attractions.

Soon, the Amazon page for Remembering God's Mercy will include more information about it, including a "Search Inside" feature. In the meantime, if you would like a preview of the book, you can hear me read an excerpt of it in my recent Chapel talk at Hope College.

I would be grateful if you would please say a prayer that Remembering God's Mercy reaches those who would be most helped by it. Also, please pray for me as I complete my doctoral dissertation, as I am hoping to graduate in May with my pontifical doctorate in theology and begin a career in teaching. I pray every day for you and for all who read my writings or have otherwise heard of my journey to faith and healing in the heart of the Catholic Church.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Why it's misleading to say "love is love"

Here is a clip from my talk on "The Thrill of the Chaste" last month at Hope College. The talk was sponsored by the Saint Benedict Forum, which has a very nice writeup by a student on their website, including complete videos of both the talks I gave at the college (the other was on healing of memories).