Resurrecting the Magdalene
In the Catholic Christian calendar, July 22nd is celebrated as the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene. While the Institutional Church does not honor her as such, Mary Magdalene was Jesus’ most devoted disciple, most wholly embodied his teachings, became his co-equal ministry partner and according to some, Mary became Jesus’ beloved wife, had the courage to stand with her beloved through his trial, crucifixion and death, who then presided over Jesus’ resurrection, was the first witness to the resurrection and who was then commissioned by Jesus, himself, to bring the good news to the other disciples and who was then ordained to continue Jesus’ ministry in his stead, but was just as quickly dismissed as Jesus was killed. From the beginning, Mary’s role as co-equal partner with Jesus was questioned, dismissed and later condemned. Within the span of a few short years, Mary was diminished from Beloved Partner and Apostle to the Apostles to whore and one possessed by demons.
This year, as we journey toward the Feast of the Magdalene we work together to resurrect the Magdalene from 2000 years of dismissal. Together we invite Mary Magdalene to rise from the dead – the death that was accomplished at the hands of a patriarchal and hierarchical world that could not imagine a woman as equal to the man they made into a god.
Through a re-reading of scripture, input, discussion and prayerful contemplation, we will take Mary off the cross upon which she suffered her death and restore her to her rightful place as co-equal with Christ. Like Jesus, Mary became fully self-actualized, living by and for the purpose of Love, and is now showing us how to do the same.
Scripture/Meditation Exercise I
Prayerfully and meditatively read the scripture passage below. This passage has traditionally been applied to Jesus. Here, the pronouns have been changed to reflect a feminine narrative, the “servant” being Mary Magdalene. Read it as if it is being attributed to Mary Magdalene. Allow the impact of that to settle into your being. How does that reading make you feel about Mary Magdalene? After you have allowed Mary’s call to be servant to settle into you, re- read the scripture as if it is referring to you. How does THAT make you feel?
Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
Upon whom I have put my Spirit;
she shall bring forth justice to the nations,
Not crying out, not shouting,
not making her voice heard in the street.
A bruised reed she shall not break,
and a smoldering wick she shall not quench,
Until she establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for her teaching.
Thus says God, the LORD,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spreads out the earth with its crops,
Who gives breath to its people
and spirit to those who walk on it:
I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
To open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.
IS 42: 1-7
Scripture/Meditation Exercise II
In some traditions, Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany are one and the same. Whether or not that is historically accurate we will never know. Regardless, the sacred act of anointing has come to be associated with the Magdalene, so we honor this here. Prayerfully and meditatively read the scripture passage below, conscious of the way in which Mary is already being questioned, condemned, even demonized by even those who were closest to Jesus. Even Jesus’ closest disciples struggled with Mary’s presence in Jesus’ life, and challenged the priestly roles she often assumed. How are you being invited to receive this reading in a new way – one that holds Mary’s priestly role as anointer as holy and sacred, specifically, anointing her beloved in preparation for his death.
Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany,
where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.
They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served,
while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him.
Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil
made from genuine aromatic nard
and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair;
the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.
Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples,
and the one who would betray him, said,
“Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages
and given to the poor?”
He said this not because he cared about the poor
but because he was a thief and held the money bag
and used to steal the contributions.
So Jesus said, “Leave her alone.
Let her keep this for the day of my burial.
You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”
JN 12: 1-11
Lauri Ann Lumby, OM, OPM, MATS is the founder and spiritual director of the Temple of the Magdalene and a modern day Magdalene priestess.
Learn more about the Temple of the Magdalene Priestess Training by clicking on the image below: