A joyfully Franciscan view of Catholic life, inspired by St. Clare (Santa Chiara) of Assisi!

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Chiara Offreduccio (St. Clare) was born in 1194. It is said that when her mother had Chiara in her womb, an angel appeared to her and said, "your child will be a light that will illuminate the world!" Hence, her mother named the child Chiara, which means "light. As G.K. Chesterton put it, St. Clare was a romantic figure just like Juliet was. However, instead of running away from her family in order to be with an earthly man, Clare gave up everything and ran away from her family for the love of her Savior!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

"For All the Saints": St. Mary Magdalene

A few days ago, I was trying to alphabetize my bookcase, and as I tried to yank out one of my old accounting textbooks, four tiny children’s picture books of the Saints that had been wedged in there and forgotten over the years came flying out. When I was a little kid, I absolutely loved reading about the Saints- in fact, I preferred stories of the Saints to the typical fairy tales.

The long-lost Saint books that I discovered the other day are called “Miniature Stories of the Saints.” The are divided into four little books- two about women Saints, two about men Saints- and have a picture and a one-page synopsis of about twenty Saints in each book. The books were written by Daniel A. Lord, S.J., copyright 1943. The text intentionally is geared towards very young children, and often very complicated details of the Saints’ lives are couched in very childlike terms. Nonetheless, the simple piety of these books is lovely and the pictures are absolutely gorgeous.

Thus, in honor of All Saints Day coming up, I’ve decided to reproduce some excerpts from these wonderful little books. Since you’ve certainly heard enough from me about Sts. Clare and Francis, I’m going to tell you about Saints that I haven’t really mentioned before but who were equally as important to the Church.

Today, I’d like to focus on St. Mary Magdalene. Now in all honesty, she was a Saint that I didn’t used to like very much. Even before all the “Da Vinci Code” hogwash came into the spotlight, I was duped by various media sources which tended to depict her as Jesus’ “girlfriend.” For instance, at my alma mater’s Lenten Stations of the Cross, the reflections always used this phrase that said, “And Mary Magdalene, who loved Jesus like none other, was at the foot of the cross.” Regrettably, because I was duped by skewed depictions of Mary Magdalene, there had been times when I even wondered why she was a Saint!

However, my thoughts about her began to change after all the “Da Vinci Code” bunk came into the limelight and I read various books that debunked Dan Brown’s specious claims. Considering all the lies that have been fabricated about her throughout the centuries, Mary Magdalene still is embracing the foot of the cross! Just as people bore false witness to Our Lord, spat on Him, mocked Him, and degraded Him, the same thing has happened to St. Mary Magdalene! Just as Jesus still infinitely loves us despite how much we hurt Him, St. Mary Magdalene is in heaven and still lovingly intercedes for us on earth. Jesus was Himself free of all sin, yet he loved us so much as to take on our sin and die for it. Similarly, even though Mary Magdalene was most likely not a prostitute herself, she has lovingly taken on the role of the heavenly patron and intercessor of all those trying to overcome sexual temptation.

One of the things that make St. Mary Magdalene’s life so powerful was the very fact that she wasn’t Christ’s spouse. Indeed, there might be many women out there who want to take on the role of Christ’s spouse as a consecrated religious Sister or Nun, but for whatever reason are not called to that state of life. St. Mary Magdalene is the perfect example of a woman who wasn’t His spouse, yet she managed to put all her trust in Him and love Him with her whole heart by being his disciple and embracing the cross! Hence, St. Mary Magdalene can also intercede for us so that we may learn to love God to the greatest extent possible according to our particular state in life.

Through God’s grace, St. Mary Magdalene has gone from being my least-favorite Saint to among my most cherished!


Anonymous Barbara from Montreal said...

Our world today has difficulty in accepting such passionate, but chaste love. Down through the ages, great saints were supported by other saints of the opposite gender -- of course Francis and Clare, Benedict and his twin Scholastica, Francis de Sales and Jane Frances de Chantal, Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, to list a few. As perfect a Man as Jesus is, He would rejoice in the close relationship of women. He chose her to be the one who would announce his Resurrection to the apostles. He knew whom He could trust.

11:52 PM  
Blogger Kelly Joyce Neff said...

Thank you Chiara!
I remember a confrere of mine, by the name of Madeline, telling me - it was so pitiable! - of her life full of misery -miserere nobis! - under the pall of her namesake. I felt so sorry for her, for hers was no joyous Franciscan penitence. All because of the misinterpretation of St. Mary Magdalen, who truly does deserve to be called the First of the Apostles.

I add me 'hear hear!' to what Barbara has said, above.
Pax et Bonum!

10:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my.. I named my third child "Madeline" in honor of St. MM. How I love her.

10:48 PM  
Blogger Brother Lesser said...

Wonderful posting. I went to St. Mary Magdalene in Willowick, Ohio when I was growing up so we really got to know all about her. It is so ironic that my first thoughtsas I was reading your post turned to St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross and I see Barbara nailed that one quite well.

Unless you have experienced the true depths of holy love, you cannot comprehend it other than in the sensual sense. I feel so very sorry for those people because they will never experience the purity of true love because they don't even know of it's existence.

9:41 PM  

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