Praised Be Jesus!
I hope that everyone is having a fruitful beginning of Lent! And I pray that you are all strengthened to carry out your resolutions and through them, grow closer to Our Lord! One of my absolute favorite Saints is undoubtedly Mary Magdalene (so be ready for numerous articles about her and other favorites). But I have to confess that my image of the great Magdalene is informed more by her legend than actual fact. Yes, we know that Mary Magdalene was the woman from whom Jesus cast out several demons who became one of the foremost of Jesus' followers, But in my mind, much of her is still colored by the misinterpretation of her being the prostitute, the woman of ill repute, and the sinner who falls madly in love with the person of Jesus Christ. This is the Mary Magdalene I love and the one who colors my side of Catholic imagination.
Mary Magdalene is the ultimate personification of the Lenten Season; it is in her that the words of the blessing with ashes on Ash Wednesday come alive: "Repent and believe in the Gospel" — for this becomes the motto of her whole life and being. Mary Magdelene is, in a sense, the prototype of conversion and typifies the Lenten journey. She is humanity who is far off, who has turned her face from the saving power of God, but it is through her encounter with Christ — or maybe even Christ's encounter with her — that she is transformed. It is this transformative encounter that leads this great sinner to the center of the Paschal drama, and through her repentance, she receives the great gift of being at the great consummation of salvation and is united to Christ in His crucifixion. The great sinner becomes a great Saint, and by her love for Christ and her sincere repentance, she is brought into ultimate union with Him upon the Cross and witnesses the fulfillment of this union by being the first to witness the resurrection.
In a sense, we are all Magdalene: We have all walked away from the love God has offered us, and it is through a meeting with Christ that we are brought back and unified in this love and have the great privilege of being witnesses of the resurrection. Mary Magdalene is our guide for our Lenten fast, for in her is made clear the way of conversion, that through encountering Christ, we encounter His love, and His love brings us to repentance, and our repentance leads us to union with His love. The Lenten season is one where we should be seeking this encounter with Christ, to seek His glance of love, and let that glance of love penetrate our very being, and allow it to transform us. This is the true spirit of the Lenten season: It is not a season where we are made to be abased because of our sinful past, but a time to repent and be raised to higher dignity, and we are brought into greater union with the Paschal drama, so we empty ourselves so we can be filled with the love of Christ, to seek greater union with Him.
As we continue our Lenten journey, may we continue to look to Saint Mary Magdalene as our model, and may we ask her intercession, that this Lent may lead us to closer union with the Cross of Christ, and lead us into the joy of the resurrection.
PRAYER TO SAINT MARY MAGDALENE
Saint Mary Magdalene,
woman of many sins, who by conversion became the beloved of Jesus,
thank you for your witness
that Jesus forgives through the miracle of love.
You, who already possess eternal happiness
in His glorious presence,
please intercede for me, so that some day
I may share in the same everlasting joy.