During my first year of college, I kept a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe in my dorm room window, facing outwards, so that when I walked across campus I’d see her watching over me from the third floor. That image had always hung in a corner of the kitchen in my parent’s house. For me, it was a little piece of safety.
So I was taken aback when my friend P. asked me to take it down. He was asking on behalf of his girlfriend M., who said that seeing it up there made her feel sick.
A little background on M.: she grew in the kind of family whose Catholicism was composed mainly of sexual immaturity, self-righteousness, and the desire for control. The result for M. was that the image held a special kind of horror for her, since it was linked in her mind with everything that had made her childhood naerly unendurable.
But I was 19 and still in the Kantian school of morality (if it’s unpleasant, it’s probably good for you). So I snorted and said a flat “No.” After all, if she felt oppressed by an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the problem was clearly with her, not with Our Lady.
I even thought I was striking a blow for The Church. The World despises holy things, and is offended by them, right? Well, I wasn’t going to knuckle under just for the sake of somebody’s feelings. In fact, seeing the picture up there would probably be good for M.1
This is the same kind of reasoning that makes people believe that the best way to bring the Gospel2 to gay people is to throw around the word “abomination”.3
P. would have been within his rights to punch me in the head. Instead, he gave me a look of disbelief (mixed with pity) and walked away without a word.
Whoever runs away something truly horrible is really running towards Jesus — even if they think that He’s the one they’re running away from. When M. looked at Our Lady of Guadalupe, she couldn’t see a loving, comforting mother. All she could see was the emblem of her father’s rage and her mother’s neglect. Those things haunted her every day; she didn’t need any extra reminders.
The Sabbath is made for man, says Jesus, not man for the Sabbath. The same, I think, goes for nearly everything that we call religion.
It’s worth bearing in mind whenever we’re sure we know what we’re talking about.