Mary Magdalene

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​I have always been intrigued by Mary Magdalene, maybe because with all the followers of Jesus she kind of stood out. She wasn’t his mother or other family member; she wasn’t the daughter or spouse of one of his followers, but she seemed to drift in and out of the Gospels much the way the other Apostles did. She was from the same area as most of the Apostles, near the Sea of Galilee, probably from the fishing town of Magdala, which appears to give her its name.

While Jesus didn’t particularly send her on mission work away from him as he did with the other Apostles, she was there to witness His ministry and evangelize about it, traveling after the Resurrection to the far reaches of Gaul, preaching His Word there, and then spending her final years in prayer and contemplation in a cave in France, near Arles, called Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. Prior to her thirty years of solitude, she preached and taught after arriving in a rudderless boat, showing us modern Catholics the inclusion of women preachers from the beginning. (One needs only look to St. Brigid and St. Hildegard of Bingen for two examples that Mary was not the only woman in this role). Her journey is not well documented, and as with much of her life is sometimes conflated with both Mary of Bethany and the sinful woman (from Luke’s Gospel). However, she is mentioned by name twelve times throughout all four Gospels suggesting that had she been anyone else, it would have been mentioned. It took until 1969 when the conflation was officially removed by Pope Paul VI and she was acknowledged on her own.

For a long time, and sometimes even today, she was thought to be a prostitute or the wife of Jesus, both of which are deemed historically inaccurate. On the other hand, she was beset by seven demons, all of which Jesus drove away. She may have chosen to follow him after he performed this miracle and returned her to herself. Either way, she appears to have been a part of his earthly ministry for most of his time and then after. Unfortunately, she left behind no writings of her own.

I also find the stories of her prominence in Jesus’ discipleship believable because of John and Paul’s depiction of her in such an important and dominant part of the resurrection narrative. I have observed both of them to be sexist and dismissive of women, and so I think their inclusion of Mary gives more weight to her role as well as a stronger plausibility in my mind. In fact, in the Gospel of John, he characterizes her as the first apostle.

In appearing in all four Gospels as she did, she is shown from different perspectives and parts of the whole story of what she witnessed. Being the earliest of the four, I’m more inclined to agree with Mark’s image of the empty tomb rather than some of the other representations.

She traveled alongside Jesus as he led his ministry both as witness and disciple. She isn’t seen in a woman’s role (as Martha and Mary were in their household). She also is not an elder wise woman or a mother like Elizabeth. She asks for little if anything unlike the mother of Apostles, James and John. In fact, Luke’s Gospel talks about her support of Jesus’ ministry financially.

She remained in Jerusalem and near to Jesus for the crucifixion, his burial, and resurrection. She is the one who discovered that his tomb was empty and was the first witness of that event, and upon further scrutiny discovered Jesus himself, although she did not recognize him at first. He directed her to return to the other apostles and announce his return. She was the first one to testify to his Resurrection, and in telling the Good News to the Apostles, she is rightly called the Apostle to the Apostles.

Her feast day is today, and a few of her patronages are close to my own heart. In addition to places she is patron of, she also watches over and intercedes for apothecaries, contemplative life, converts, and women.

Today’s Readings:

Collect 

O God, whose Only Begotten Son entrusted Mary Magdalene before all others with announcing the great joy of the Resurrection, grant, we pray, that through her intercession and example we may proclaim the living Christ and come to see him reigning in your glory. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
John 20:1-2, 11-18 

On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.”Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the Body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.”When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?”She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.”Jesus said to her, “Mary!”She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,”which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,”and then reported what he told her.

Further reading:

Who was Mary Magdalene?
Unknown Role of Christian Women in the Early Church
Thoughts on Women in Ministry
Did the Vatican Hide Art that Depicted Female Priests?

On Demand, Without Apology

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I listened to an amazing podcast last week from the women of Hysteria, who drop a pod every week with their perspectives on what’s going on in the news and the world. They are part of the Crooked Media family. I know, I post so much of Crooked Media’s media that I seem to be a stan, and to be honest, I am. I listen to most of their stuff, don’t agree with absolutely everything, but I always learn something.

This episode of Hysteria was called Abortion On Demand, No Apologies, and it is where I got the title for this post from. Erin Ryan and Alyssa Mastromanoco begun wuth a conversion about last week’s news and outrage and then Erin is joined by Grace Parra, Megan Gailey, and Dana Schwartz who all share very personal, and very poignant stories of their experiences with abortion and reproductive health. It is something that affects all of us every day. It’s very emotional for the podcasters as well as for me the listener. I was transported alongside them and I was touched deeply by their words.

I’m pro-choice, but that is all I will offer by way of my own opinions. The women of Hysteria really lay their experiences on the line. I’ll leave it to them to share their stories. 

One thing that was said however that I do want to share, and it stems from the Me, too movement, Times Up, Male politicians who know nothing of women’s bodies regulating them and passing laws that are not only Draconian, but also physically impossible to enforce (reimplanting an ectopic pregnancy in the uterus is one example). Whenever a man, and it is almost always a man, decides that an embryo is more valueable than a real live women, women all across this country need to rise up, protest, and in doing so are forced into a retraumatization of their original hell, whether that is rape, incest, abortion, or any other trauma faced. They are expected to bare their souls, and then they are often ridiculed and the men are often astounded that what happened to them is real, and they are sorry, but not sorry enough to let women control their own bodies.

I really don’t know which is worse – the original trauma or the reliving each and every time a politician decides that women need their help in making medical decisions. They relive the trauma, and there is no apology for them in their living nightmare.

Please hear these women.

On Demand, Without Apology Link to Podcast, originally airing May 23, 2019..

We Bend; We Do Not Break

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Original Artwork. Inspired by Captain America in Avengers: End Game (in his last big fight scene) and the brave protesters in AL, GA, MO, UT, and all around the country who are fighting for our reproductive rights and our freedom of choice of what to do with our own bodies. I had wanted to write an opinion piece about that subject, and I couldn’t find the words, but this little shield came to me. I wanted to share it today, the 100th anniversary of the House’s passage of the 19th Amendment! (c)2019

A Litany of Holy Women

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A Litany of Women for the Church

from Joan Chittister, OSB

Adapted from Benetvision – Benedictine Sisters of Erie, PA

We call on the holy women

who went before us,

channels of Your Word

in testaments old and new,

to intercede for us

so that we might be given the grace

to become what they have been

for the honor and glory of God.


Saint Esther, who pleaded against power for the liberation of the people, pray for us.

Saint Judith, who routed the plans of men and save the community, pray for us.

Saint Deborah, laywoman and judge, who led the people of God, pray for us.

Saint Elizabeth of Judea, who recognized the value of another woman, pray for us.

Saint Mary Magdalene, minister of Jesus, first evangelist of the Christ, pray for us.

Saint Scholastica, who taught her brother Benedict to honor the spirit above the system, pray for us.

16 Books Every Woman Needs to Read plus a few extra

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16 Books Every Woman Needs to Read from Bustle.

Plus, the books that I’ve read this year that I would recommend, either about women or by women or both:

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler

My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg with Mary Harnett and Wendy W. Williams

The Jet Sex: Airline Stewardesses and the Making of an American Icon by Victoria Vantoch

My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor

Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love, and So Much More by Janet Mock

Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (fictional)

The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story by Diane Ackerman

Game of Queens: The Women Who Made Sixteenth Century Europe by Sarah Gristwood

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

Domestic Violence Should Not Be Politics as Usual

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​Sunday will be the sixth anniversary of my friend’s death. She was murdered by her ex while simply living her own life, washing a tea kettle out when he came up behind her and ended her life. For all of us who are touched by domestic violence and abuse, we ask if there was something we could have done, something we should have been aware of. I participated in my own share of victim blaming until I saw the larger picture of having your finances and only home tied up with someone who is threatening. 

I think we all like to believe the best of people, and if we’re wrong, we just pick up and walk away. Everyone has friends they can rely on, but how true is that really? Can a mom, the mom who seems to have all the problems, is never on time, offering flimsy excuses with the two kids, both in diapers – can she crash on your sofa or spare room indefinitely? Are you friends with her domestic partner? Who will you believe?

Domestic violence can happen to anyone, and it takes on a variety of forms. Some, though not many, don’t realize they’re abusive; it’s the way they were raised, and they think it’s “normal” to slap your wife and kids or grab her or slam doors and drink a little too much. Others seem like the perfect couple, family, etc, and no one knows what’s going on inside someone else’s home?

For B, my friend, when she had nowhere to live, she arranged to live in her house. Her house, that she paid for, contributed to the down payment of, was responsible on the deed for, but also on the property where her ex lived. I thought that was crazy. However, what else could she do?

He threatened her, but people say things they don’t mean all the time.

Why didn’t she call the police? Well, she did, several times. In fact, the police paid a visit to their house the night before she was murdered. They didn’t believe there was a problem; not a real one. Don’t set him off, though.

I didn’t understand.

Now, in Congress, in the House of Representatives yesterday, a bill was passed that will now go on to the Senate to be voted on. If it passes the Senate, I have no doubt that President Trump will sign it. He signs whatever he’s told to.

This new bill, that might become a law, which by the way also exempts members of Congress from its new rules and changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as well as affecting private insurance and employer insurance along with Medicaid and Medicare, defines pre-existing conditions in horrific ways and will affect someone you know.

They say that pre-exisiting conditions will be covered, but that depends on the state you’re in, and legal access to health care doesn’t mean that everyone will have it or be able to afford it.

For example, four of the pre-existing conditions mentioned specifically are: domestic violence, sexual assault, c-section, and post-partum depression. What do these four things have in common? In addition to being completely and arbitrarily unpredictable and randomly occuring, they also only happen to women. The first two – domestic violence and sexual assault – are perpetuated by men onto women, but as is the case in many instances, women pay the brunt of the violence against them.

This is one of the most blatant and disgusting and obvious moments of victim-blaming.

They’re looking at getting rid of well visits and preventative care, maternity leave, and pre-natal care as well.

I’m appalled.

In today’s Congress, had my friend survived her gunshot to the head she would be blamed for it as a victim of domestic violence. It would be considered a pre-existing condition and not covered under the Republican’s repeal and regress health care plan.

They’ve had eight years to come up with something, and they’ve failed. However, they continue to punish women for their failure.

Do not let this Republican controlled Congress and White House continue to abuse women and their families.

If you or someone you know are in danger or in a domestic abuse relationship or situation, contact the The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. They can help you and find resources for you wherever you are.

If you or someone you know are an LGBT+ youth and in an abusive situation, contact The Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386. They can put you in touch with someone who can help you.

You are not alone.

The Future is Female

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In honor of the March for Science, held today across the country, a little word art. There are two women’s names that I’ve listed with only a last initial. Those are two women scientists I know in my personal life. They are an inspiration to me in more ways than one, and certainly more than just scientifically. 

We all have those girls and women in our lives.

Who are yours?

The Future is Female, done for the March for Science, April 22, 2017. Word Art. (c)2017