Wednesday, June 21, 2006

And all manner of things shall be well...

I was reading Mumcat's great reflection on Katharine Jefferts Schori's election to PB, and it got me to thinking about the role of women in the church through the years.

Mary Magdalene [not the one of the recent novel, but the one of the Gospels] was an apostle; she was never given that title, because she was a woman. Instead, she was wrongly characterized as a former prostitute.

Mary and Martha of Bethany were disciples.

So many women have served God with all their hearts, minds and souls, over the centuries, yet they would have never been considered for ordination.

So it's been with my gay/lesbian brothers and sisters in Christ, unless they simply did not tell.

It's only been a short time women have been eligible for ordination, 30 years in the Episcopal Church, and there's a movement to rescind that, as well as keep out anyone but (apparently) heterosexual men. All this is being held up to the glare of the convention's light.

It's easy to be angry, judgmental and condemning -- to become the enemy -- with a "thick film over the eyes of our soul."

In the words of one of my favorite female saints, Julian of Norwich:

"The soul that would preserve its peace, when another's sin is brought to mind, must fly from it as from the pains of hell, looking to God for help against it. To consider the sins of other people will produce a thick film over the eyes of our soul, and prevent us for the time being from seeing the 'fair beauty of the Lord'-- unless, that is, we look at them contrite along with the sinner, being sorry with and for him, and yearning over him for God. Without this it can only harm, disturb, and hinder the soul who considers them. I gathered all this from the revelation about compassion...This blessed friend is Jesus; it is his will and plan that we hang on to him, and hold tight always, in whatever circumstances; for whether we are filthy or clean is all the same to his love."

"Glad and merry and sweet is the blessed and lovely demeanour of our Lord towards our souls, for he saw us always living in love-longing, and he wants our souls to be gladly disposed toward him . . . by his grace he lifts up and will draw our outer disposition to our inward, and will make us all at unity with him, and each of us with others in the true, lasting joy which is Jesus."

May we yearn over the demagogues, for God. May we yearn over each other for God.

May we all come to unity with God.


Dustin Ridgeway said...

What evidence do you have that Mary Magdalene was wrongly mislabeled a prostitute?

Saint Pat said...

The burden of proof rests on the accuser. Show me the Bible passage that says she was a prostitute.

Pisco Sours said...

Was Mary Magdalene ever called an apostle? I don't really recall her ever having a title, really.

Doc Bubbles said...

Interesting. Though I feel more ambivalent on the results of the Convention, in the post I just completed, I also felt led to quote Julian's "All shall be well" Proving my theory: when times get tough, the tough read Julian of Norwich!

Saint Pat said...

Mary Magdalene was never formally called an apostle - my point. She should have been. She's sometimes been called "an apostle to the apostles," putting her in a secondary and more subservient role.

I read Julian's words over several times last night. With her eyes so firmly fixed on God, she helps me focus on what is important.

Rcatslady said...

The Ministry needs more Women. Women have Heart. Good blog.

Lee Alison Crawford said...

There is so much written about Mary Magdalene not being a prostitute, being confused with other women and being the apostola apostolorum that I couldn't even begin to tackle it here. Even Augustine called her the apostle to the apostles. Read John 20.1-18, leave out the foot race between the beloved disciple and Peter, and you see the risen Christ talking to Mary. Anyway, there is plenty out there about MM.

Saint Pat said...

There is nothing in the Gospels to identify Mary Magdalene as prostitute. She is identified as the one at the foot of the cross, and the first to speak to the risen Christ. It was a pope during the Middle Ages who first misidentified her as a "fallen woman," whether out of carelessness, confusion, or design, we can't say for sure -- maybe a bit of all three.

At any rate, I don't see any need to defend my assertion that Mary Magdalene was not a prostitute. It would be like defending myself that I am not an axe murderer. As I said, the burden of proof lies on the accuser.

Just try to find the passage that identifies Mary Magadlene as a prostitute. If she were the adulteress or the woman who wiped Jesus' feet with her hair, the Gospel writers would have known this and identified her as such -- they weren't shy about telling it like it was. Peter and the Sons of Thunder could testify to that!

There's an interesting article about Mary Magdalene in the Smithsonian Magazine -- go online to
the June issue