An Evening Dawn (Updated)

We had the privilege of interviewing Dawn Eden at the friary Tuesday night.  One of the AirMaria friars had presence of mind to interrupt her prayers discreetly and ask her for a little time.  She most graciously consented and we are most grateful.

AirMaria has the complete interview and Dawn has posted the YouTube uploads (3 parts) to her blog.  The whole interview is well worth the watch.

I have known about her story for some time, but I did not realize how Marian and, in particular, how Kolbean she is.  That being said, I am blogging separately here on Dawn’s interview because I was deeply struck by what she said about the Blessed Mother and chastity.  The point in question is in the third part of the interview, below, where Fra Roderic asks Dawn a question about her work at 2:25.

I learned that very often people who have such an anger toward Christianity, anger towards the Church, anger towards people who promote chastity–this anger comes out of a fear of being judged, and the fear of being judged often manifests itself in a real aversion to Mary and Marian purity because they believe that the purity judges them.  .  . I myself had that fear of Mary.  It’s something that in a sense I am still working on, even though intellectually I know that there is nothing to fear.

But I think that as Chesterton wrote, people think of chastity as just being white, but chastity, he said, is something flaming like Joan of Arc.  And we see the fire and we fear of getting burned by it.  But it’s a purifying fire and the mantle that Mary has as Our Lady of Grace is a mantle that always wants to cover us in her loving protection.  The purity that can seem so daunting and so unreachable is actually a purity that wants to protect us and then while protecting us continue to purify us, but always out of love, not out of a desire to judge us or humiliate us, but always out of a desire to enable us to grow in love and while growing in love also to grow in repentance and in a desire to share that pure love with our neighbor.

. . . . I think that its our society that tries to tell us that the Christian religion is founded on judgment.  It is our own sins that will judge us.  There is judgment, but the judgment is from our own sins.  The judgment is never from the purity.  Mary’s purity is what saves us from the judgment of sin, when we in love and repentance come into her embrace and are embraced by her purity.

I think Dawn’s insight is extraordinary.  Those who do not understand purity feel judged by it because its practice is so “daunting” and “unreachable.”  But chastity is not to be feared.  It is a fire that burns, but it also purifies and inflames with true love.

The way to promote it is  not merely to articulate a high moral standard in a way that is intellectually compelling, but to show the beauty of purity.  Mary is the “way of beauty” as Paul VI once said.  It is in this way that we will be saved from judgment.  Right on, Dawn!

More and more, as I reflect on the writings of St. Maximilian and upon my own experience in the Marian apostolate, I am convinced that it is this way of beauty that is going to change hearts.  St. Maximilian, who understood and addressed the modern problems of religious indifference and secularism, knew instinctively that apologetics was not enough.  He was always willing to discuss and enlighten, but he placed far more trust in the simple act of giving out the Miraculous Medal.

That act does two things: it puts a sacramental, a source of grace, into the hands one who accepts it; it posits a personal act of mercy by which the giver acts in Our Lady’s name and under Her influence.  The act of giving the medal may certainly be accompanied by reasoning and discussion, but never by judgment or a facile estimation of someones motives or faults.  Honestly, without Our Lady we are liable to presume too much or misunderstand what is outside our experience, or simply not know how to reach someone who is far from our thinking.  What is needed more than anything else is grace.  That is the point of the Miraculous Medal.

I am so pleased that someone as articulate as Dawn Eden, someone who has shared the experiences of those who without faith have struggled with chastity, is so Marian and imbued with the spirit of St. Maximilian.  We need more of it–much more.


Dawn linked to this post and to another one of hers in which she tells the story of how she gave a miraculous medal to a celebrity.  Bingo.  This is exactly what I am talking about:

I had thought and prayed beforehand about what I would say. The message I received in prayer was that I could give the star the medal only if I could present it as a sign of God’s love for her. Left to my own devices, I would not want to exhibit a loving spirit to the star. However, it seemed that if I wanted anything good to come of the interaction, I didn’t have a choice.

The first thought that came out of my mouth was not anything I had practiced. I was feeling an overwhelming sense of awe at the fact that this woman, with whom I disagree on so much, could be doing such good by appearing at an event as a result of something I had done. The idea that she and I could be connected by charitable motivations was amazing to me.

So, I said, “As a Catholic, I believe in the Communion of Saints, which means that people on heaven and earth are connected to one another. I believe that you are a member of the Communion of Saints, so I would like you to have this Miraculous Medal.”

She put out her right palm. That sentence should be in capital letters, lit up like a neon sign. SHE PUT OUT HER RIGHT PALM to receive the medal! Glory Be!

As I put it in her hand, I added something that I had thought beforehand of saying: “It represents God’s love that transcends gender — something you’ve talked about.”

Even if the celebrity, being a pretty radical feminist,–read Dawn’s post to find out the identity–may not have understood exactly what she meant by her last statment, a seed was planted.  Actually, her words were exactly correct, but the true meaning is hidden in the medal.

10 thoughts on “An Evening Dawn (Updated)

  1. The timing of this interview is mind-blowing for me. She answered more than a few of my questions and she stated things so eloquently … she stated things that I didn’t understand previously and she also stated things that I did understand, but could never express properly.

    Although i don’t know if my difficulty in placing a larger emphasis on Mary is one of purity (quite honestly, I never thought about it that way before) … it’s always more of an issue of once I place ANY emphasis on someone outside of God, I feel I am taking something away from Him. Yet, as Dawn said, I do intellectually understand it .. but there’s this big wall that prevents me from taking that next step. If Dawn is still working on this, well then .. maybe I shouldn’t feel so badly!

    I’m also now convinced more than ever that sometimes we just need to go through with the Consecration and wear the Miraculous Medal and allow for the graces to flow. I know for me, I want to have it all figured out ahead of time for fear of being a hypocrite but then I don’t allow myself the graces that I probably need in order to figure it out! The old vicious cycle.

    I wish I had met this woman … what a gem! I love her story about where her gift in journalism has taken her. In the thick of it, she probably could never have seen where her road was going to head … God uses our horrible mistakes in life and the misuse of our gifts to bring about extraordinary outcomes. Then in an instant, he reverses everything .. pulls the rug out from under and turns it all into something that no one could ever have pre-meditated.

    A friend of mine loaned me her book, “The Thrill of the Chaste” months ago and it sits in my very TALL stack of books that I long to read at some point. I think I may have to move this one up a notch or two. 😉 But, of course, she went and mentioned a couple more that I now need to add to the stack.

    If you feel an earthquake tremor in the near future , it’s probably my stack of books that toppled over from my nightstand onto the floor.

    If she heads to Griswold again … be sure to give us a heads up!

  2. Jen,

    You are are right, Dawn is an awesome woman!

    In regard to Our Lady, once you have won the intellectual battle, all it requires is an act of will (difficult for many of us) and an act of humility (VERY difficult for most of us!) to give ourselves to Her, who is dedicated to bringing you to Christ. Once you realize that this is the way God wants it, it becomes easy, but you have to make that first step.

    To help with this I meditate on the reason for the fall of Satan. I never could understand how Satan, with all his knowledge (as the Light bearer he was a member of the Seraphim) could somehow believe that he could directly challenge God’s power – his creator – I knew that he could not really believe that he would be able to do that! But what the Friars helped me understand was that he did not say that he would not serve God “directly” – that would have been stupid, and Satan was/is never stupid. Satan’s down fall was his pride – what he could not do was bend the knee to “the Woman” – a creature – far below him in dignity, yet raised way above him in stature, through the act of the second Person of the Trinity to become truly human in nature. She would be his Queen! And he did not pass the test; his pride overcame his intellect. We too are effectively called to the same test. And for those of us with ears to hear and eyes to see (AKA formation in salvation history), this means that we either accept, or not, Our Lady as our Queen and co-redemptrix, or suffer the same fate as Lucifer. Is our pride greater than our intellect. Can we make the act of will to make Her our Queen now on earth?

    After all, we must accept Her as our Mother in Heaven and our Queen, so why not just cut out fighting (which must be satanic in origin) the inevitable, and make the act of will NOW and give yourself to Her to whom Our Lord gave himself. This was His plan and His act of will, so make it yours and everything else will be given to you! It is both the simplest and the most profound thing you will ever do.

    And you will plumb the depths of it from the moment you do it through all eternity and never reach a full understanding. Because it is simple logically, but it touches the most findamental aspects of “agape”, God’s completely gratuitous love for us that he sacrificed His Son and gave us a Mother in the same act of will. Make your act of will and join Her Son in calling Mary “our Mother”, and thereby truly be able to call God Our Father!

  3. Jen, thanks very much for all your kind words. I’m so happy that you found my interview inspiring.

    Knight Errant [Would that be Father Angelo?], now it’s my turn to have my mind blown, because you hit upon something that struck me as I prayed the Fifth Glorious Mystery yesterday evening. I pondered that, while some commentators have said that Lucifer’s “non serviam” was a response to God’s plan for the Incarnation, it seemed to me that his real anger would have been at the idea of serving Mary, as Jesus’ plan was to elevate her from the humblest level of earthly existence to the queenship of Heaven.

  4. Dawn,

    Knight Errant is not Fr. Angelo … his blog name is frangelo. Knight Errant is a very active and articulate, married gentleman who can be seen frequently at the Friary, however!

    In following other links from this blog last night, I stumbled on the thought that you just stated … that Satan’s difficulty (and ultimate refusal) was not that of being a servant to God but that of being a servant to a mere creature, Mary. I now don’t remember if I found this from one of Fr. Angelo’s comments or one of yours! (Brain mush over here.) However, it was one of the things that I NEVER thought of before and never really made much sense to me before. It always seemed bizarre to me that Satan, in all of his intelligence, would think himself greater than his Creator and unable to serve Him. HOWEVER, humbling himself to a creature and having too much pride for that … well, now, that makes perfect sense!

    God’s blessings to you as you continue this journey of yours! And, by all means, come back to the Friary whenever you’d like. (I don’t the Friars will mind my extending that invitation to you … they probably already have.)

  5. Dawn … I just found where I read about Satan’s difficulty being with serving Mary … it was in Knight Errant’s comments to me! Duhhh. As I said, total brain mush over here! Thanks, K. Errant for that discussion, btw.

  6. Ave Maria!

    Firstly – thank you, Dawn, for giving this interview! I have followed your blog somewhat, and this seems to be the first testimony of your conversion that I’ve seen and it is an excellent one! Our Lady certainly had all of this planned when you came to CT!

    Secondly, Knight Errant was not Fr. Angelo, but my husband. I must say, though, that him having Fr. Angelo for his spiritual director and formator in the MIM has paid off! Thank you, Fr. Angelo, for your wonderful ongoing formation.

    I am reading a book I highly recommend to Jen and Dawn (perhaps you may have the book already). It is a booklet that I believe was out of print for a while, but is not back in print (available from Marytown ) called “Aim Higher! Spiritual and Marian Reflections of St. Maximillian Kolbe.” After reading the comments here, I happened to pick up the book this morning to continue reading it, and the very next entry in the book seemed perfect to follow your comments. Actually the entire booklet is extremely helpful in this regard, but I’ll just include a snippet for now! So without further ado, I allow St. Maximillian himself to comment:

    From Part I, Chapter 2
    17. The nearer we come to the Immaculata, the more we become holy. The Mother of God is the Mediatrix of All Graces, and holiness is the work of the grace of God. The devil knows that the nearer we are to the Immaculata, the more graces we receive from her hands. That is why he tries at all costs to draw the soul away from the Blessed Mother, even under the guise of devotion to Jesus. He knows that God established such a way through the Immaculata, and he likewise knows that when the soul departs from this way, it will not receive as many graces. Therefore whether we feel aversion, whether we are in darkness or in light, let us always advance by way of the Immaculata. It is a very important matter that our life be lived THROUGH HER, WITH HER AND IN HER. (sorry for the use of all caps, but this should be italicized and I don’t know how to do that in the com box!)

    18. The Immaculata is the ladder upon which we climb to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Whoever removes this ladder will not reach the top and will crash to the ground. We strongly believe that she leads us to Jesus. Let whoever teaches otherwise be anathema! Let him be anathema!

    19. If we wish to love Jesus with the heart of the Immaculata, receive him with her heart, praise him with her acts, make reparation and at the same time give thanks through her. Even if we were not to feel and understand this way, nevertheless it is so. Then with her heart, with her acts we praise Jesus, or actually, it is she who loves and praises Jesus through us. We are then her instruments.

  7. Dawn,

    As Other Mary says, I cannot take credit for Knight Errant’s blinding insight, though I must inform you that he is usually getting himself into trouble. JK.

    Actually, Franciscan commentators on Revelations 12 are quite fond of the interpretation of Lucifer’s fall that you mention. It’s a scotistic thing–Absolute Primacy of Christ. That’s a real mind-blower. ”

    “. . .That secret thoughts may be laid bare” (Lk 2:35). In a real sense Marian devotion does reveal an intention of the heart to be humble and to accept the path that Jesus Himself took.

  8. Mea maxima culpa! I am a trouble maker of the highest order. Of course in true Franciscan spirit I cannot claim this distinction as something I personally deserve, rather, I must give appropriate kudos to my teachers and formators (guess who?) for arming me with the wherewithal to create havoc where’ere I turn…….

    As to “blinding insight”, clumsy groping can sometimes yield a doorknob.

  9. Knight Errant says:

    “(guess who?) for arming me with the wherewithal to create havoc where’ere I turn…….”

    Ummm…that would be Fr. Bonaventure? teehee

    Seriously, thanks to all of you for great insight!

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