Dear Michael Coren,
Although we have never met or corresponded, we have some things in common. We both have Jewish ancestry (though I, unlike you, was raised in the faith and was a bat mitzvah); we both admire GK Chesterton (you even wrote a book on him); and, last but not least, we are both Catholic converts. Or, rather, we were – until you were received into the Anglican Communion last month.
From your perspective, according to your National Post interview, you haven’t separated yourself from the “centrepiece” of your former faith – the Eucharist. But you are eager to distance yourself from other aspects of Catholicism: “I needed to find a place for me where I could worship God, where I could be given the Eucharist, but I didn’t have to buy into some of the social and moral teaching that I had not been able to embrace for more than
You mainly objected to the teaching on homosexuality: “I felt a hypocrite… I couldn’t look people in the eye and make the argument that is still so central to the Catholic Church, that same-sex attraction is acceptable but to act on it is sinful. I felt that the circle of love had to be broadened, not reduced.”
My question, Michael, is do you really believe in the full sacramental reality of the Eucharist?
If you do, then I cannot understand how you could separate yourself from both the Eucharist (the true one) and the Catholic understanding of sexuality – for my own experience has taught me the two are intimately related.
I suffered sexual abuse as a child that left me with feelings of worthlessness. During my late teens and 20s, as a rock journalist in New York City, I wanted desperately to be loved, but feared no one would love me for who I was. So I sought love in things that were not love, and fell into a cycle of depression.
I became a Protestant Christian in 1999 and tried to get my life on track. But it wasn’t until I entered the Catholic Church in 2006 that I began to experience real healing. Receiving Jesus’s Body changed the way I lived in my own body. It showed me how I could embody Christ’s love to others.
Jesus in the Eucharist shows me how to love fully, and how to remain in his love – by giving my life for my friends (John 15:9-13). When he gives me his Eucharistic Body, he does not withhold his fruitfulness from me, for he wants me to be fruitful in him (John 15:4-5). The way I experience this fruitfulness in my own life is through the virtue of chastity.
Chastity enables me to bear fruit by loving fully in every relationship, in the manner appropriate to the relationship. Since I am unmarried, that means loving fully as a daughter, as a sister, or as a friend – relationships that do not entail giving over my whole body to another person.
If I did seek to have the type of union that entailed giving over my whole body to another person – sexual union – then loving as Jesus loved would require me to vow to remain in that person’s love, and to be open to physical as well as spiritual fruitfulness. A sexual “love” that is intentionally sterile – either through contraception or through the choice of a partner of the same sex – lacks this essential Eucharistic dimension.
Heterosexual couples, of course, can be sterile naturally. But that is different from a sterility resulting from voluntary choice to forgo the type of union in which two human persons created to biologically complement one another truly become “one flesh”.
If we grant that God is the Creator, we have to grant him the power to enable human bodies to be a sign of heaven. God himself tells us, through his Spirit, that the body’s most powerful signification is in its being designed for fruitfulness. The only union that sacred Scripture describes as “one flesh” is that of husband and wife; it is “a great mystery” signifying Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:32).
It is not easy living up to the love that Jesus models. But the Eucharist teaches me not to be afraid of loneliness.
My loneliness is the empty space into which God wishes to enter. He wants me to make room for him so that my longing for him may grow deeper. As my longing deepens, it leads me to seek more ardently to bring into my earthly friendships the love that reminds me of my friendship with God.
And so, Michael, I have found it is with chastity that “the circle of love [is] broadened”. A love that is not open to the truth about the human person can only be a circle closed in upon itself.
Your sister in Christ,
Dawn Eden, author of The Thrill of the Chaste (Catholic Edition), will be speaking in Britain and Ireland from May 28 to June 11. For more information, visit dawneden.blogspot.co.uk