It never fails. Every time I mention Mary on the radio, in an article, or on my blog, I get comments from agitated people who do not understand her role in the economy of salvation nor why we Catholics “worship” her. We don’t worship her; we venerate her as Christ’s mother.
I’ll try once, maybe twice, to engage them in a civil discussion about our Blessed Mother, but if my efforts are met with hostility, which they often are, I simply ignore further comments.
Sometimes I have to delete the comments and block the sender because I like to keep my comment boxes family friendly.
Sometimes, however, I have the great privilege of being the instrument for Mary to reach out to one of her children.
That happened recently when I posted about honoring Mary in May. It struck an angry chord in a man who commented again and again about the “fact” that Jesus committed suicide, which makes Mary a terrible parent because she stood by and watched it.
We know, of course, that Jesus did not commit suicide, but that he sacrificed himself so that we could gain salvation, and that Mary understood Jesus’ murder as a necessary part of God’s plan, albeit a tough one to accept.
I tried to explain this, but my explanations to the commenter seemed only to be sparking more aggression. Yet somehow, amid his aggression, I sensed grief.
Before long, the truth came out. This man was grappling with the recent death of his son in a car accident. What he really wanted was not to attack me, but rather to release the anger he’s been feeling for the past three years.
So, I let him.
I started praying for him, and asked Mother Mary to take charge of the situation, so to speak, and to really prove her motherly “power” in this man’s case. What happened has been most beautiful to see.
I’ve offered a few responses to his comments, but in the meantime, other commenters have come forward to offer responses that were as much full of understanding as they were full of explanations.
The angry commenter began to soften. His comments became a bit more questioning and less accusatory, and I could see that he was beginning to accept that others might actually have valid points in their differing perspectives.
Our Blessed Mother, I could see, was really taking hold of this man and mothering him even though he was convinced she’s a terrible parent.
I’m in awe of Mary’s handiwork, and I’m grateful to have been a small part of it. I’ve always known that she’s a mother par excellence, and when I get to witness her in action it sends chills down my spine.
Whether my commenter realizes it or not, he’s being expertly parented by the very person he accused of being a lousy parent. Mary is constantly on the watch for the right moment in which to enter the hearts of her children. When that moment comes, she enters with grace, finesse, and incomparable motherly love.
I’m still praying for, and exchanging comments with, the man who lost his son. I haven’t yet changed his mind about his misconceptions, but his last comment to me was, “I hope this dialog continues.”
I know Mary will take care of the rest.
(Fenelon, a mother of four, and her husband, Mark, belong to St. Anthony Parish, Milwaukee. Visit her website: www.margefenelon.com.)