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.
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.
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.