Thursday, July 22, 2010

Happy Feast Day, St. Mary Magdalene! (With an apology)

Today is the feast day of one of Jesus' very close friends, St. Mary Magdalene.  Before I begin, I want to first apologize to St. Mary M. for the fact that unscrupulous popular writers have recently dragged her good name through the mud.  I'm referring, of course, to The DaVinci Code and its offshoots and imitators.  I read the book several years ago, just to see what all the fuss was about.  (I got it at the library so as not add to Dan Brown's coffers.)  This ridiculous book poses the notion that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were not only married, but had a daughter called "The Black Madonna."  Even more implausible is the theory that Leonardo DaVinci painted Mary Magdalene (as opposed to, say, St. John) seated next to Jesus in The Last Supper.

Imagine!  As there are plenty of rebuttals to these audacious claims, I won't go into detail other than to note that "The Black Madonna" is actually the Blessed Mother.  It refers to a painting by St. Luke the Evangelist and is also known as "Our Lady of Czestochowa."  The faces of the Madonna and Child appear black due to soot residue from candles lit under the painting.

I often think of St. Mary Magdalene when I pray the Rosary.  She was present at the foot of the cross when Jesus died, so she is tied to the 5th Sorrowful Mystery.  She is also part of the 1st Glorious Mystery, The Resurrection, as she is the first person to whom the Risen Lord appeared.  Obviously, she was much beloved by Jesus.

There is some confusion as to the exact identity of Mary Magdalene.  There are three (possibly four) Marys mentioned in the Gospels: the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany (the sister of Martha and Lazarus) and Mary, the mother of James and Joseph. In the eastern church, there are thee separate saints called Mary. However, the Latin church argues that Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany are the same person.

If you read the Gospel accounts of the Resurrection, there are clearly at least two different Marys at the scene. But is one Mary perhaps Mary of Bethany/Mary Magdalene while the other is Mary, the mother of James and Joseph? If you read the other Biblical references to Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalene, children are never mentioned.

After doing some preliminary research, I'm more inclined to believe that Mary of Bethany is also Mary Magdalene. Jesus obviously loved Mary of Bethany ("She has chosen the better part..."), and it's clear that she must have been a very good friend as He visited their house frequently. It makes sense that this same Mary would follow Him to the cross and become the first person to witness the Resurrected Christ. Perhaps the confusion arises from the word "Magdalene" which can mean "curly hair". It may have just been an adjective to describe her appearance, which again makes sense as she was likely the woman who dried Jesus' feet with her hair.

I found the following articles very helpful, especially the first one:
St. Mary Magdalene:  A Model Penitent
Who Really Was Mary Magdalene?
St. Mary Magdalene:  Redeeming Her Gospel Reputation

You can read a short biography of St. Mary M. at Catholic Culture.

1 comment:

wynn manners said...

I, too, want to apologize to Mary Magdalene for all these misled people who deny her marriage to Jesus Christ (due to false theological programming they have yet to see through) & try to take away from her He to whom she is married for all Eternity in that closest of relationships possible -- as a divine role model for all truly *spiritual* marriages! (cf books by the devout Roman Catholic, Margaret Starbird)

Please have *compassion* for all of these, Dearest Mariam, for obviously they have had no actual direct contact with you or with your beloved husband to be able to know any better, including every Pope across history! You know, as fully as I know, that your husband, Jesus, has called you his "wife" in speaking to me, twice -- and once even called you his "angelic half" (on your Feast Day in 2006).

And Sarah, please, *you* too, forgive all these people for believing you never even existed!

And Yeshua, i *know* you understand the *reasons* for their blindness to the ongoing existence of yours & your wife's Beloved Daughter, of whom you have spoken to me. But please forgive them for thinking they know more about *your* life, then, than you & your own wife know about it! And please continue to smile, tolerantly, at so many of them trying to put you into the strait-jacket of *their* beliefs & expectations, expecting you to *conform* to that.

Clearly to those with a deeper scriptural understanding, the Apostle Paul *reveals* your marriage by the very fact that he *conceals* it! Paul was seeking to convince people that it was best *not* to marry (I Corinthians, chapter 7) and failed to point to the Best Example to be following for not marrying, ie: his Lord & Savior, Himself -- Jesus Christ. Rather, Paul only pointed to himself by way of example. Therefore, clearly, Paul *knew* that Jesus had been married to you, Miriam Magdalene, but not wanting to undercut what he was advocating, he remained *silent* about your marriage to your Beloved! And, of course, Gospel writers remained silent for the sake of the survival of your childen, who would've been hunted down & murdered by the orders of some Roman official as certainly as Herod had infants killed to try to kill your children's father, Jesus, so that there was no threat from children of the "King of the Jews" trying to overthrow those in power, once they became sufficiently mature, for the same reasons as Cleopatra's children (fathered by Julius Caesar) were murdered...

~~ wynn manners