Andrea del Sarto, Pieta with Saints (1523)
Feast Day: Saint Mary Magdalene
Mary Magdalene has always held a special place of honor in my expressions of faith. She is, quintessentially, the misunderstood woman. Her strength and her stories have been the subject of theological exploration as well as mystical speculation, and I suspect much of that is intertwined with our cultural comfort with women’s leadership in spiritual traditions. Tonight, though, I post this tribute to one particular attribute of Mary Magdalene, in the midst of her wholeness, which resonates with me: she is a griever, a mourner, a leader in the care and keeping of the sacred space of the tomb in which the body of Jesus was placed after his death on the cross.
It takes strength and leadership to be a mourner, and to lead the way of the grieving to pay respects and share their feelings of loss. I celebrate this gift on her feast day, and share the following prayer as I close my day in stillness and reflection. Thank you, Mary Magdalene, for the small points of light you shed on the paths of the grieving. It is no surprise to me at all that you were the first to see the first light of the dawning resurrection.
Good Jesus, Saint Mary Magdalene was one of the women who assisted you and the apostles during your public ministry. She cried with the Blessed Mother and Saint John at the foot of your cross, and she helped to bury your dead body. For serving you with such devotion, she was the first to see you resurrected. I ask her to pray for me when I have opportunities to assist others as they approach death or grieve the death of loved ones. Inspire me, O God, in giving them your comfort, in helping them accept salvation, and in guiding the survivors to release their loved ones into your arms.