Tuesday, July 22, 2008

St. Mary Magdalene - July 22nd

Today is the feast day of Mary Magdalene, a woman from modern-day Migdal in northern Israel.

Sometimes referred to as "the Madeleine," mystery and confusion surround her life.

According to Western church tradition, she is the "sinful woman," the sister of Lazarus out of whom Jesus dispelled seven devils. She has been called Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha. In popular Christian culture as a prostitute, she is depicted with long, red unveiled hair.

However, the Church celebrates her feast of July 22nd as the woman "to whom Christ appeared after his resurrection, not as the sister of Saint Martha nor as the sinful woman whose sins the Lord forgave." She is often shown with a vessel of oil, which she used to anoint the Lord's feet, then wiped clean with her hair.

The Eastern church distinguishes between these three persons, stating that Mary had been a virtuous woman her entire life. She was granted her the title, "Equal of the Apostles." She is celebrated as the first witness to the Resurrection. This is significant, because woman were not allowed to be witnesses in legal proceedings. Her witness would have been "illegitimate," and yet Jesus commissioned her to go tell the others of his return. She is also depicted in Eastern iconography with oil, but as a myrrhbearer, one who would anoint the lifeless body of Jesus.

Gnostic texts paint Mary as one having been given a "secret knowledge" by Jesus, of which the other Apostles were jealous. Poor hermeneutic studies of these ancient gospels have led to the claim that perhaps Mary was married to Jesus. The stuff of legends, heresies, and the Da Vinci Code!

So who was this woman? A sinner? A prostitute? Wife of Jesus? Possessed? Apostle to the Apostles? I suppose we'll probably never know, but we do know a few things for sure.

One, she was the first witness to Jesus' resurrection.

Scripture paints a vivid picture of a woman in the gardens of a wealthy man, outside the city. It's a Sunday morning, and the sun has not yet risen. She has come alone. She has a capsule of oil with her. Entering the tomb of her friend, she finds it empty.

Then she loses it.

Can you blame her? She's just given her entire life away to a man who, despite all his promises, is dead. And now even the body was gone. Jesus asks her why she is weeping, but she doesn't recognize him. Finally, he calls her name - and only then does she understand.

Secondly, Mary is a figure of sorrow, of beauty, and of penitence. She is depicted weeping, grasping the foot of the cross in agony, anointing Jesus' feet with her tears.

Is it any surprise then, that I chose Mary as my patron saint? Sure, it's a bit of a faux-paus for a
male to choose a female as his patron, but hey - that's my prerogative as an Anglican!

It's rather easy for me to be sad. Certainly, it's easy for me to believe that "they have taken my Lord away, I do not know where." It's difficult to actually trust promises of resurrection and new life. More often than not, I find myself willing to mourn an empty tomb, while God sneaks up behind me. Even then, it takes calling my name, before I "get it."

We've all been there - some more than others. The good news (no pun intended) is that God indeed sneaks up on us. He takes the oil we've brought for anointing a dead body, and makes it a sacred vessel, for the healing of the sick. He empowers us to run with that message, and go about the business of building God's kingdom.

"O God, when others were ready to condemn Mary Magdalene, Jesus accepted her with all her imperfections. She in turn accepted Your Son as her Saviour. It was to St. Mary Magdalene, before all others, that Jesus committed the message of Easter Joy. Through her intercession may we proclaim Christ as our living Lord, and one day contemplate Him reigning in glory. Amen."

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


This is so sad. No matter where you stand...Have we really come to this?

Watch the video here. Pray for Bishop Robinson. Pray for my own Bishop, too.

"The language of the Kingdom of God is to speak of despair, without despairing."

Monday, July 14, 2008

Crazy Love

From a book I'm reading:

"We have no right to ask God why he allows suffering in this world - not if we're allowing it, too."

Friday, July 11, 2008

Practicing Love

What helps you to love others?

Monday, July 07, 2008

Sit Down and Shut Up

Sit down and shut up is exactly what I need to do. This past week has been insane. There are tons of things going on in my life and in the lives of those close to me lately. Birthdays, ministries, new births, illnesses, schoolwork, tragedies, music, new friendships, money, old friendships, heartache - you name it.

At night, my brain just won't shut up either, mostly because I've been chattering away all day, and it's remembering that. This week, heavy doses of alone time and silence and "letting the dust settle" are in order.

Glory to God, whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. Glory to him from generation to generation in the Church, and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever, Amen.

Saturday, July 05, 2008


Perspective is a funny thing. I'm thinking about how two people can agree on, or like a particular "thing" - but for different reasons.

For example, I love elaborate vestments (see below!) because they're beautiful and aesthetics help me draw closer to the Divine. Someone else may like them because they're canonically "correct," and what "the Church ought to do," and order helps them see God more clearly. Someone else may like them because they're subversive to the culture around them, and there they find Christ. Yet another might hate them for the same reason.

We think we're all in agreement, but it can be disconcerting to realize we like the same "thing," but for a different reason. We may not be in agreement at all!

And sometimes, we realize that what we thought we liked about it - the aesthetic, the order, the subversiveness - points to a deeper truth about ourselves and our relationship with God. We may have to let go of the reason for liking or disliking something - the aesthetic, the order - in order to see things the way they really are.

Using vestments as an example here - it could be anything. Church-related or not. An object, an ideal, a place, a person.

I know I'm being all highly theoretical and wishy-washy, so if this makes any sense at all to you, bravo :) Just thinking out loud again.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Jesus, Not Prada

This is funny. And true.

It's not Prada but Christ that guides vestment choices, says paper

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Wearing ornate liturgical vestments symbolizes the spiritual transformation of the person wearing the clothes, not his love of fashion, the Vatican newspaper said.

"The priest does not choose such ornaments because of an aesthetic vice -- he does it to put on the new clothes of Christ," said an article in the June 26 edition of L'Osservatore Romano.

Liturgical vestments represent "dressing oneself anew in Christ" in which the priest "transcends his identity to become someone else," to become one with Christ
through a process of interior transformation and inner renewal, it said.

"The pop
e, in short, does not wear Prada, but Christ," it said.

Read the rest here.

Ugly vestments should be anathematized.

Honestly, she's my Presiding Bishop, but I hate her vestments. What season is that? Lenteradventecost?