Friday, July 22, 2011

Mary Magdalene

Rogier van der Weyden (1400-1464)
"Saint Mary Magdalene reading," before 1438
London, National Gallery
Every now and then, the antiphons of a saint's feast day correspond profoundly to the psalms that are prayed between them.  Today in Morning Prayer, the first psalm seemed to me as though it could have been written for Mary, in relation to its antiphon:

Ant.: Very early in the morning after the sabbath,
Mary Magdalene came to the tomb, just as the
sun was rising.

Psalm 63:2-9
A soul thirsting for God

Whoever has left the darkness of sin, yearns for God.

O God, you are my God, for you I long;
for you my soul is thirsting.
My body pines for you
like a dry, weary land without water.
So I gaze on you in the sanctuary
to see your strength and your glory.

For your love is better than life,
my lips will speak your praise.
So I will bless you all my life,
in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul shall be filled as with a banquet,
my mouth shall praise you with joy.

On my bed I remember you.
On you I muse through the night
for you have been my help;
in the shadow of your wings I rejoice.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand hold me fast.

Ant.: Very early in the morning after the sabbath,
Mary Magdalene came to the tomb, just as the
sun was rising.

We can imagine her throughout those nights between when He was entombed and when she discovered that He had risen, pondering in her contemplative way, the way her spirituality had been formed by her life, her heart, her experiences with Jesus, pondering all that had happened in her since the day she had knelt and wept before Him in sorrow for her sins and He wiped them away.  Pondering all that He had been through, understanding in a way that was uniquely given to her to understand, that He had died in the manner He did, on account of her sins.  That when He took the burden from her, it did not simply vanish as though it had never existed, but He drew it upon Himself.[1]

Yet such is not reserved for Mary alone.  We may follow in her contemplative way, particularly in setting ourselves before Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament.  Approaching Him on our knees, with our tears, concerns and sorrows, we may do as she did, and experience for ourselves the grace of Jesus lifting the weight of our burdens from us, absorbing our pain, and in its place, instilling His peace.     

[1] For more about this, see Adrienne von Speyer’s Book of All Saints.

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