May is one of the traditional months in which the Catholic Church especially honors the Virgin Mary. Recently on the homeschooling blog of another Catholic mother, the author invited readers to honor Mary on social media and gave permission to use her posts. One of these I shared on my Facebook wall shows a picture of a man praying before a statue of Mary, and the caption reads, "Ad Jesum Per Mariam." I translated the Latin phrase at the top of my post, "To Jesus through Mary!" This is an expression of my joy. Mary invited me to the Catholic Church, the very Church founded by her son, Jesus. She has sustained me through her intercession and spiritual presence in times of trouble and distress. Most importantly, she led this once lukewarm Protestant back to Jesus, and my Christian faith is stronger than it has ever been in my life. I owe this Holy Woman an undying debt of gratitude.
Unfortunately, a Facebook friend commented in a way that robbed me of my joy. I should not have allowed her to affect my feelings in this way, but the good that has come of it is that I have been meditating on the importance of allowing other people to express their joy, to not intentionally rain on their parade. I don't know what the exact intentions of this person were, so I am trying not to judge her. She implied in her comment on my FB wall that it is better to go to Jesus directly than through Mary, and she ended with, "Can I get an amen?" I felt like she was inviting others to gang up on me. This will hopefully help me to endeavor to follow the Golden Rule when using social media myself. To add insult to injury, two of my other friends "liked" her comment. What good can come of being a killjoy? Is the desire to be "right" worth the expense of alienating a friend?
Now, having been Protestant all my life until my forties, I understand that most Protestants are ignorant of the truth of Catholic teachings. They believe the errors and lies they have heard. (For that matter, many Catholics received poor catechesis and do not know their own faith well.) It would have been fine to comment with something like, "I prefer to go directly to Jesus," thus opening up respectful dialog. Catholics are not required to go to Jesus through Mary, but there is a long tradition teaching that Mary IS the most direct route to Jesus. It is not a suggestion to worship Mary, but to allow her to be our spiritual mother, to ask for her prayers, instruction, and guidance, and to follow her pious example of discipleship.
This post is not intended to give an exegesis on Marian devotion, however. I don't care to argue theology. I care to argue for respect, sensitivity, and the withholding of unnecessary criticism and inflammatory comments, for the sake of true friendship and Christian unity. Especially if we don't know anything about the subject, and even if we do, it is often best to keep our opinions to ourselves, humbly seeking to understand through the Holy Spirit, leaning not unto your own understanding.
I saw a Facebook friend's joyful post about gains made toward "marriage equality" in the U.S. I don't believe that gay people can be married under the definition of what marriage is, but I saw no reason to kill her joy, or to try to get others to back up my viewpoint on her personal space. I was also caught off guard seeing young girls wearing heavy makeup on posts from dance recitals, but again, these mothers were sharing their joy and pride in their children. And I understand that under certain circumstances makeup is part of the costuming.
So before you assume you understand and jump to bring someone down, think. Have a heart with Jesus living in it. We don't always have to share in the joy of others, but we have no right to burst the joyous bubble of our brothers and sisters on Earth and in Christ.