Reflection & novena prayers
written by Jennifer Ristine and illustrated by Danielle Storey.

Saints are ordinary people who open themselves to God’s extraordinary action. They discover an interior freedom to love God and others and let themselves be loved in the midst of the messiness of life.  They do not wait for ideal circumstances, but live their humanity with grace-filled hearts.  They accept the invitation to enter into the dynamics of Christian living, which in turn immerses them into the Paschal mystery of Christ in all its facets.

The image of Mary Magdalene at Pentecost offers hints of this dynamic.  The new image, created by Danielle Storey, reveals the beauty of her transformation at Pentecost.  Mary Magdalene reminds us that by our very creation we possess great dignity; however, our wounded human nature is in need of redemption and life circumstances may throw us off.  Jesus steps into the messiness of our lives to restore what was lost and unite himself, the bridegroom, with his bride.  The bride is the Church, of which each person is called to be a part.  In a mystical way, we are all called to be a bride, accepting the loving invitation of the bridegroom.  The invitation is one of deeper intimacy and a participation in his mission, to love as he has loved us.  We must be ready with our lamps lit.

In this new image, Mary is holding two artifacts found on the site of Ancient Magdala.  The Herodian style oil lamp represents her love for Jesus enkindled as she bears the light of Christ to the world.  The small vessel was used for ointments, balsams, or perfume, representing her feminine genius that acts as a healing agent in the world.  Mary Magdalene gazes outward with a posture of readiness, a flame upon her head to represent the gifts of the Holy Spirit that anoint her for the mission.

The hearts and rosettes on her garment are actual symbols discovered on a stone table in the middle of a first-century synagogue, uncovered in 2009 in Ancient Magdala.  A rosette and heart shapes are located at the top center of that stone.  On Mary Magdalene the hearts represent the ardent love that compels her to share the good news.  The rosette on the Magdala Stone represents the veil before the Holy of Holies, where God’s presence dwells.  On the image of Mary Magdalene, they symbolize the mystery of God’s presence that her humanity veils, reminding us that we too carry the Lord in fragile vessels.  Through grace, God dwells within us in an intimate way and desires that we make him known to others.

Let us befriend her, asking her to share the spiritual goods that she has received from the Lord, so we too will more fully respond to Jesus’s call to conversion, to accompany him no matter life’s circumstances, and to be missionary disciples full of ardent love for our Lord.

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