The book is the color of a box from Tiffany’s, the jewelry store. But what’s inside You’re Worth It! Change the Way You Feel About Yourself by Discovering How Jesus Feels About You is all the more beautiful. Danielle Bean, who is editor of Catholic Digest, dedicates the book “To Jesus, whom I love in my own small and imperfect way. I wrote this book with you and for you, praying to touch the hearts of those who would read it. These words are for you. This book is for you. Your will be done.”
The dedication begs the questions: What if we did everything this way? What if this was the fuel for our lives? If this sounds like the desire of your heart for your life, this book might just be for you. Bean talks a bit about the book as a door into deeper faith. It might just be what you were looking for this Lent to know and become more like the love of God.
Kathryn Jean Lopez: What do you mean when you write: “We can’t heal wounds if we won’t admit they are there.” What does that have to do with Christian faith? How do “we all need healing”?
Danielle Bean: We are all walking wounded. Women especially, I have found, are wounded by the ways in which we have been used up and rejected by the cold indifference of this world. We are all sinners, too. We hurt ourselves and we suffer the consequences of others’ sinfulness, but Jesus came to triumph over death and sin. He came that we might know life and love. Many of us put on a “brave face,” though, and are afraid to admit our wounded brokenness. Perhaps because we have been hurt, many of us fear being honest about our weakness. It is in telling the truth about the ways in which we are broken, though, that we can truly find healing in Jesus.
Lopez: You raise the question about Mary “How can we relate to a perfect woman?” Good question. Did you have a breakthrough moment?
Bean: I would say that my “breakthrough” moment was inside of my own marriage and motherhood. We experience so much pain and disappointment inside of human relationships. Even very good marriages and healthy family lives challenge us to give up our selfishness for the good of others. Not always an easy calling! But when I consider the fact that Mary, though perfect in every way, is mother to each of us -- even the worst kinds of sinners and fallen human beings -- I know the kind of pain she must suffer in loving us despite that imperfection. We can see that imperfection in ourselves and others, and know the reality of a mother’s love that transcends that.
Lopez: How do you share your love of Mary without adding to confusion about what Catholics believe about her?
Bean: It’s okay to admit that you have issues with Mary! I am a cradle Catholic and still sometimes I am not sure that I “get” Mary in all the ways that I should. But when we look at Mary’s life and example, the way in which she always points us to Jesus -- there is no confusion there. Mary doesn’t want us to focus on her -- she wants us to focus on her son. The fact that God chose to elevate a human woman like Mary speaks volumes to dignity of women and the value of motherhood -- but if all you ever understand about Mary is that she tells us “Do whatever He tells you,” you’re doing alright!
Lopez: What does Mary Magdalene — and Pope Francis recently elevating her to an official feast on the Church calendar — mean to you?
Bean: Mary Magdalene sets such a beautiful example of love and loyalty for us. She was one of the first women to have a deep, personal, and intimate relationship with Jesus, and she was a witness to the horrors of His suffering and death. I think her simple presence and witness to His sufferings are deeply meaningful, especially for women. We too can be witness to God’s goodness and love, just as Mary Magdalene was.
Lopez: What does Mary Magdalene tell us about thanksgiving?
Bean: Mary Magdalene was so grateful for Jesus’ personal love and healing that she gave up everything and became one of his first followers. We too are called to follow Jesus in thanksgiving for all He has done for us. I love that Mary Magdalene was witness to not only Jesus’ death, but also His resurrection. She saw it all, and God rewarded her faithfulness.
Lopez: How can “Loving Baby Jesus” — one of your section titles — change your life?
Bean: Some of us might have difficulty with understanding and loving Jesus as a man. Many women have wounded histories and complicated relationships with men in real life. But I think it is very helpful to remember that Jesus came to us as a tiny, helpless baby. He made himself vulnerable to us in a way that appeals to our nurturing natures, and the ways in which women tend to love and care for others. Jesus wants to have a real, human relationship with us, and coming to us a baby is a natural way for women to relate to him.
Lopez: “We all long for the kind of nurturing, motherly love that can only come from Mary.” Speak for yourself, many a non-Catholic might say. What would be your response?
Bean: Every person needs a mom. Let’s start there. We all need a mother’s unconditional and nurturing love. We know that human beings thrive when they are given that kind of love and care. Whether you have been blessed with a wonderful earthly mother or not, we have all been given the great gift of Mary as our heavenly mother. When Jesus hung dying on the cross, He saw His mother’s love, and chose to give us a share of that great goodness too. You might resist Mary as your mother, thinking you don’t “need” anything but Jesus’ love, but what kind of help and encouragement might you be missing out on? Jesus gave us Mary for a reason, and He entrusted us to her care because of how much He loves us and wants what is good for us.
Lopez: “Do not fear.” But there’s a lot to fear right about now. Do you not watch the news?
Bean: Oh, I sure do. There is plenty to fear out there, but these are not my words, they are the words of Jesus, and He speaks them to us outside of time. I sometimes have to talk to myself in simple terms like I talk to my kids, reminding myself that we already know the ending to this story, and it is a happy one. Jesus triumphed over sin and death, and whatever evil we might suffer or fear in this world, God is bigger than all of it. He died for love of us, and by trusting in the goodness of that love, we find our own triumph over all the fearful, temporary things of this world.