Author Archives: Mary

When Good Friday Comes

Why me? Why now? Why is this happening?!

That’s what we do when things go wrong. We ask, “Why?” We look for the reason. We search for answers to, “Why?” because we desperately hope that knowing the why will somehow help us begin to put things back the right way.

And sometimes we tell ourselves that if we just knew how things would turn out in the end, we would be able to relax a little bit. This struggle wouldn’t be so hard if we knew the outcome.

“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.” 

(Matthew 20:18-19)

It’s easy to forget that Jesus told the disciples exactly what was going to happen to Him, before it happened. Good Friday was laid out in clear terms: I will be handed over, mocked, scourged, and crucified.

I am going to be killed. Brutally tortured, in fact.

But—on the third day, I will rise.

And of course, it happens. The agony, the betrayal, the torture, the death.

The disciples witness Good Friday, just as Jesus promised. –And most of them run in terror.

Did they forget what Jesus said? Did they forget that this was all part of the plan? Did they forget that He would rise?

I seriously doubt it. When things go wrong, we ask, “Why?” Surely as Good Friday is happening each of the disciples remembered: Jesus told us this would happen.

So why did most of them run?

Well, we can’t say for sure. But I can venture a guess.

If I put myself in the disciples’ shoes, my reaction to Jesus’ prediction of the Passion is probably going to be like Peter’s: “Jesus, no! I won’t let this happen.”

No, Peter. You’re not thinking as God does. This is happening. And you’re not supposed to do anything about it.

Well that would certainly shut me up, and confuse me a bit. But upon learning that I’m not supposed to try and stop it, my personal reaction would probably be mostly to comfort myself with the fact that, when it was all over, Jesus said He would rise.

Pray that you will not enter into temptation.

Of course I’ll pray, Jesus. But at the end of this you’re still going to rise, right? I got this. I can hold strong for Sunday.

Stay up and pray with me. The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Sure, sure. I’ll pray. I’m praying, ok? Just gonna lay here and rest my eyes some while I pray.

My hour is at hand.

Good Friday came as Jesus promised. And, even though the disciples knew what was going to happen three days later, most of them still ran in terror.

They had the knowledge that this was all “part of the plan,” but when your friend and Savior and Lord is being tortured…who cares about the plan? Why is this part of the plan?! This is awful. Just awful. Make it stop.

…Sound familiar?

Good Friday is coming. {Maybe it’s already here.}

Yes, Jesus has conquered death and we can, and do, live in that victory. But Jesus promised that we would undergo trials and suffering, too.

This is all part of the plan.

“Do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange were happening to you; But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly”

(1 Peter 4:12)

So, when you encounter the Cross, don’t run. It won’t make it go away.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you are called to do something to fix it.

Pray. Cry. Sweat. Embrace. 

Victory will come. Indeed, victory has already come.

Take up your cross, and follow Him.

I’m Getting Old, Guys.

Well, it was going to happen eventually.

YoungAndCatholic.net is now MaryPearsonBlog.com 🎉

At just shy of 27, I think I can still reasonably command the descriptor of “young” –for at least a little while longer (..maybe?). But in matter of just a few years things were going to start getting real awkward, real fast. And while “Middle-Aged And Catholic” has a nice ring to it, I concluded it is probably safest to just stick with my actual name, as I don’t anticipate that changing with time.

I’ll be writing more or less the same kinds of things here as I always have: Matters relating to the Catholic faith, how I’m trying to live out my faith, and generally just what I feel God puts on my heart to share with all of you.

With the new blog title comes a shiny new tagline: “Words, when necessary.”

Yes, it is based off of that old quote attributed (most likely falsely) to Saint Francis: “Preach the Gospel at all times, use words when necessary.”  And yes, it is a little cheesy. That’s probably why I like it.

It seemed to fit for a number of reasons:

  1. Even though people often use the quote to get out of saying the hard things, I do agree with the spirit of it. Our whole lives should give witness to Christ. We can’t always be preaching in the classic sense of the word, but we can, and should, always be preaching by the way we live our lives.
  2. Who of us hasn’t used some version of this quote to try to weasel out of saying the hard things? It’s a bad excuse, but sometimes I’m a person who makes bad excuses for not living up to my calling as a Christian. Own it, and work on being better.
  3. Words are necessary. And sometimes, as a mom of little people, I don’t always feel I have the proper outlet for my necessary words. So, this blog will [continue to be] be a place for those.
  4. Finally, as anyone who has ever met me can attest, I’m a pretty quiet person. I tend to only speak up when I feel necessary. In that way, I think the tagline in its most literal sense is pretty, “me.” 🙂

So, that’s that. I’m also not great with the website stuff so if things seem a little broken or “off,” or if you catch leftover “YoungAndCatholic” flare– just bear with me (and kindly let me know).

A Reader Asks: Sharing Newfound Faith With Friends

I’ve grown up in a Catholic faith, mass every Sunday and since
kindergarten, have been attending a Catholic school. For all of my
life, Catholicism can be found all around, whether at school or at
home, but for the longest time, I haven’t fully welcomed it in my
heart. It is currently my eighth grade year, and with a new religion
teacher, we are learning a new curriculum, Theology of the Body. I’ve
fell in deep interest with the topic and for the first time, I’ve felt
connected with my religion in all aspects of my life. Since learning
the curriculum I have truly grown closer to God. This new leaf has
lasted for close to a year now, it’s been just me and God.
 Today, as I grow in my faith and as I thrive for purity, I am dying
to share my somewhat newfound perspective with close friends. After
all, my friends are influential on me and I’d love for them to
understand where I’m at with my faith. Turns out, expressing those
feelings of religion to my friends is harder than I thought. Even
though they have gone to or do currently attend the same Catholic
school as I do, when I communicate my new perspective, it feels as if
I’m speaking a different language. I want to be able to express my
religion with my friends without feeling hurt about their passive
aggressive opinions. When I talk to them it sometimes feels as if I’m
apologizing for my beliefs, knowing that my opinion is contradicting
or annoying them. How do I maintain healthy relationships with my
friends if at times they draw me towards sin? How do I express how
I’ve “opened my eyes” to my religion as not just a phase, but
something that I want to make a part of my lifestyle and hopefully the
lifestyle of others?

Thank you for any advice you can offer!

 

Isn’t the Theology of the Body amazing? Praise God for this new leaf in your journey of faith!!

Reading your email, two Scripture verses came to mind that I’d like to share with you. The first is from the prophecy of Simeon regarding Jesus. Do you remember the story? You’ll find it in Luke, chapter 2. Jesus’ parents bring him to the temple shortly after his birth. There is a man there named Simeon, who the Bible tells us was righteous and devout, and that “the Holy Spirit was upon him.” Simeon was told by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before seeing the Messiah. And here come Mary and Joseph with their child, Jesus, and Simeon knows–through revelation of the Holy Spirit–that this is the Messiah he has been waiting for. He takes Jesus in his arms and says:

Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.

Cool! But why am I telling you this? Because of what he says next, to Mary:

and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

Reading your words about how you feel like your opinion is “annoying or contradicting” to your friends  I immediately thought of Simeon.

You see, Jesus was a sign of contradiction. As His followers, we are also going to be little “signs of contradiction.” In Acts 28 we actually find this same phrase used to describe the early Christians:

…with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against. (Acts 28:22)

(contra-against, dicere– to speak; i.e. “contradicted”)

In fact, St. John Paul II (who wrote the Theology of the Body!) actually wrote a book entitled, Sign of Contradiction, in which he argued that being a sign of contradiction is “a distinctive definition of Christ and His Church.”

All this to say- from a Christian perspective, feeling like “a sign of contradiction” means you are actually doing something right! So be encouraged!

The other Scripture that came to mind was actually recently read at Sunday mass:

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna, And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.

I thought of this as I read that your friendships sometimes draw you towards sin. Now, people are not lifeless members to be chopped off and cast aside. Your friends are fellow daughters and sons of God who are created in His Image, and you are called to love them as Jesus does–regardless of their beliefs or behavior. However, it sounds like there might be elements of your relationship with them that need to be “plucked out,” so to speak. Gossip…Impure or scandalous talk/ behavior… I don’t know. Whatever it is, things that lead us to sin are not conducive to real friendship anyway, so for the good of the relationship, these things need to be “chopped off.”

My advice: Continue to be that “sign of contradiction” among those you meet, while making an effort to “pluck out” those elements of your friendship which pull all of you away from God. It doesn’t necessarily have to be one big conversation, but if something in your religion class spoke to your heart, share with your friends why you liked it and what it meant to you! If they laugh at you for it (because laughing at religion class was perhaps a fun pastime of your relationship), politely but firmly let them know that it hurts your feelings and that you’re starting to take this stuff more seriously. If the conversation turns to gossip, gently change the subject to something positive. You’re changing the rules of your friendship a little bit, so don’t be surprised when they’re, well, surprised. But don’t be wishy-washy, either.

This is exactly how evangelization happens. This is what the apostles did in the early Church. It’s what everyone who met Jesus and came to believe in Him did. They met a man who changed their lives, and He impacted them so much that they wanted to introduce Him to everyone they met–person to person, most often in casual conversations just like you have with your friends.

It is of course possible that these friends will not accept your newfound faith in Jesus, and that’s unfortunate. Sometimes when this happens, people may feel that you’re judging them because of your faith. Most often this is because they are doing things that they know in their heart are not what Jesus wants for them, and so since you’re now a follower of Jesus, they assume you will judge them as they fear Jesus has. This is all the more reason to really be Christ to these people. Be uncompromising when it comes to standing against sin, but unwavering in your love. If they draw back for a time, it’s ok. Don’t reject your friends for Jesus’ sake (He doesn’t need or want you to), but do take consolation in the fact that Jesus Himself was rejected for ours.

I hope this has helped in some small way. I will certainly be praying for you.

Jesus is so happy you have come to know Him! Cling to Him, and trust Him to guide your path and lead you to be the person He is calling you to be. And be that person! As St. Catherine of Sienna said, “Be who God meant you to be, and you will set the world on fire!”

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Why I Bought My Toddler Books On The Theology Of The Body

*Please Note: I was not asked to write this post or to review these books.  I just really am liking these books and wanted to share them with whoever might be interested.    

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The way of the world has always been a little “off,” hasn’t it?  As much as we are warned against the dangers of our confused culture of today, the truth is that the mainstream culture has really never been capable of producing on its own the kind of thoughtful and faithful human beings we are each created and long to be.  If cultures throughout history have been closer to the living out truth than we are today, it is only because of a handful of thoughtful individuals who– rather than running and hiding from a corrupt or confused culture– lived their lives in such a way that would end up being transformative to the culture as a whole.

I certainly don’t want “the culture” to raise my kids.  I don’t think anybody does, no matter their beliefs.  But the fact is that my kids (and myself) are going to be influenced by the culture in which we live; there is just no way around that.

We might visit an airport restroom and be greeted by this sign, for example:

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Gender identity or expression…What does that mean? And what’s with that strange-looking drawing?”

It’s all about as new to me at 26 as it would be to my toddler, who–let’s be honest– wouldn’t even notice the sign for a few good years yet.  But that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?  By the time he is old enough to actually notice stuff like this, it’ll likely go unnoticed.  It might even be considered “normal.”  Maybe words like “gender identity” will be learned along with words like, “boys” and “girls.”  Who knows.  That’s obviously the hope of a good many people who are influencing the culture today.

I say all this not to fear-monger.  Like I said, the culture of tomorrow will be shaped by people like you and me and my son, who hopefully will have a heart for truth that is eventually able to see through falsehoods like the pretend genders we might draw on bathroom signs.  While I wait, and pray for the culture to get there, I’m going to do my best to make sure my kids have every opportunity to see through the falsehoods being presented to them as truth today.

What Is The Theology of the Body?

When it comes to individuals who transformed the culture of their day by seeking to know and live out the truth, perhaps one of the greatest examples from the 20th century is Saint John Paul II.  His commitment to living out the truth helped bring down communism and inspired thousands of young people to follow Christ.  I think our culture today, with its frantic attempts to deconstruct and redefine fundamental truths of gender and sexuality, is thirsting for the profound wisdom to be found in John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.  That’s why I’m introducing it to my children now.

Most people hear “Theology of the Body” and think of it as synonymous with “the sex talk,” but that’s really only a part of it (and it’s not the part I am interested in reading about with my two-year-old!).  In a more general sense, the Theology of the Body is what it says it is: It’s theology (the study of God) as it relates to our bodies.  Meaning, our bodies reveal to us truths about God, and because we are created in His image, our bodies also help reveal to us who God created us to be.

Theology Of The Body (For Toddlers!)

A few years back, TOBET released a series of books aimed at little ones (they have a set for older kids, too) which lays the foundation for a lifetime of learning and unpacking John Paul II’s timeless teaching on the Theology of the Body.  The three books are:

Everybody Has A Body: God Made Boys And Girls

Every Body Is Smart: God Helps Me Listen And Choose

Every Body Is A Gift: God Made Us To Love

“Everybody Has A Body: God Made Boys And Girls”

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This book is about as fundamental as you can get, but increasingly important in a culture that says our bodies are meaningless.  Our bodies are a part of who we are!

 

 

 

“Every Body Is Smart: God Helps Me Listen And Choose”

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“I have a body, and I learn from my body,” this book states.  We learn from our bodies, and we can choose to act (or not) based on what our bodies are telling us.  What an important concept to understand!

(I particularly love the page in this book that says: “When my body tells me that I want to run around, but I am at mass, I can choose to wait to play like a big boy.” Still waiting for the reading comprehension to kick in on that one! 😉 )  

“Every Body Is A Gift: God Made Us To Love”

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“Every body is a gift! God made us to love.  We do this with our bodies!”

This book touches on the concept of love as a free gift: A concept taught perhaps in high school theology, now being ingrained in my two-year-old’s subconscious.  We are created to love!  As beings of both body and spirit, our bodies play an essential role in how we give and receive love. My two-year-old may not understand all of the complexities of this reality yet, but we are already laying the foundation, and I think that is pretty fantastic.

If you’re interested in ordering these books (or in checking out the set for slightly older kids), visit the store at TOBET.org.

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Why Isn’t God Answering My Prayers?

I posted the Saint Andrew Christmas novena last week. I try to post it every year because it holds a special place in my heart. It reminds me of my first Christmas with my husband’s family back in 2011. It reminds me of my father-in-law (who now prays it with our family from Heaven).  Most importantly, it reminds me to focus my heart on Christ’s coming (at least three times per day) during this advent season.

So yeah, I love this prayer.

People often share novenas alongside stories of answered prayers. For example, the first time I prayed this novena I prayed for mine and Tyler’s relationship. He proposed 5 days after that Christmas. The next time I prayed the novena I prayed for us to be blessed with a baby within our first year of marriage. Our son was born ten months later.

God answers prayers.

Well, two years ago I prayed this novena for the intention that my father-in-law would be healed completely and miraculously from his cancer.

He passed away exactly 6 months after Christmas.

I feel a little bad saying that I don’t even really remember what my intention was for the St Andrew Novena last year. I do remember it was certainly harder to stay on top of praying it last year, maybe because it is such a reminder of Doug.

However, this year as well as last year I have received discouraged comments from readers (perhaps echoing my own fears) stating that God never seems to hear or answer their novena intentions. To those readers (and my discouraged self), I direct you to the first comment on the first post I ever wrote sharing this novena. It happens to be from my late father-in-law–the one who shared the novena with me in the first place:

I LOVE this “novena” even though the number nine has nothing in common with it! One year I prayed for the improvement of the financial situation of one of my adult children and their family… almost immediately after the prayer was done the husband lost his job!!! Funny (scary sometimes) how God works, that was what needed to happen to them in order to get things headed in the right direction.

God answers prayers, just not always in the way we expect.

Rest assured, dear reader, your prayers are not going unanswered, and God most certainly does hear you. His ways are not our ways.

Jesus, we trust in you!

novena

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