On the 22nd of July it was St Mary Magdalene’s Feast day. She has become very special to me, and has accompanied me on my journey so closely. I chose the name Magdalene for my special confirmation name when I was received into the Roman Catholic Church. I feel strangely close to her. I was born on Easter Sunday in 1970 at 5.40 in the morning. My romantic side likes to believe that this is around the time (on Easter Sunday 2000 years ago) that Mary Magdalene went to Jesus’ tomb. The Roman missal in 1570 described Mary Magdalene on her saint’s day as “penitent”; this was her defining characteristic for exactly 400 years until 1970 when the label was removed.
My lucky number is 13. My maiden name is Baker. My daddy always taught us that 13 was special because it was a Baker’s dozen. He taught us that Friday 13th was not to be feared for us. When everyone else was dreading it, we looked forward to it as a special family day, a lucky day. Mary Magdalene is sometimes refered to as the 13th apostle, or the apostle to the apostles.
My middle name is Marie. Marie derives from ancient (mry) meaning beloved. My initials (in anagram) spell out the word mags. The first letter of my Christian name, my middle, and maiden surname, spell out the first three letters of my Christian name. Silly little personal details that make me feel all rather especially chosen. For what I don’t know. Still listening and watching very closely. Maybe I will never know. Maybe for what I was chosen has already been.
I didn’t realise quite how special Mary Magdalene was to me, until I met her one day in a rather profound moment above the altar at Bromptons Oratory. That day I recognised something intimately familiar and strangely similar about us. I know that she is going to continue to be my friend until the day I die, and hopefully beyond.
This is the reading from Mary Magdalene’s feast day, it is rather poignant and beautiful.
Reading 2 Eph 2:13-18
Brothers and sisters:
In Christ Jesus you who once were far off
have become near by the blood of Christ.
For he is our peace, he who made both one
and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh,
abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims,
that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two,
thus establishing peace,
and might reconcile both with God,
in one body, through the cross,
putting that enmity to death by it.
He came and preached peace to you who were far off
and peace to those who were near,
for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
St Mary Magdalene Pray for us.