RCWP Canada Bishop's Message
Mary Magdalene in the Liturgies of the Sacred Triduum
Coming to the end of Lent and entering into Holy Week, I want to share a bit of how Cynthia Bourgeault concludes the course on Mary of Magdala, looking at the place of Mary in the Passion accounts and what they say.
She sees the presence of Mary in the anointing of Jesus for his burial and the anointing of Jesus at the tomb as bookends to the Paschal Mystery. In between, is her faithful companionship with Jesus through the crucifixion, death and burial. She is prominent among the women present in the passion narratives. In John's Gospel, she stands at the foot of the cross with Mother Mary, and her sister. In Matthew's Gospel, Mary Magdalene and another woman kept vigil at the tomb. And, in all the Gospels, she goes with haste to the tomb on the morning after the Sabbath to do a proper anointing of the body.
More than any of the male apostles, Mary Magdalene “gets it.” She understands Jesus and the meaning of sacrificial love. The necessity of Jesus to suffer is not to atone for the sins of humankind. The need to suffer is because this is the nature of true love - to give oneself freely for the good of the other and to create wholeness from broken parts. Her presence at the tomb is holding a tether, as it were, to his heart as he completes his redemptive work in the “descent into hell” going to the depths of the earth and restoring all creation to its original oneness. Because of her faithful love, she was the first to be commissioned to proclaim the Easter message: Love is stronger than death; Jesus is Risen! He is risen indeed!
As a way to reclaim Mary and her meaning at the heart of Christianity, Bourgeault proposes some adaptations in the Triduum Liturgies which can enrich our community celebrations:
- adopt a Liturgy of Anointing to precede the Holy Thursday liturgy,
Anointing liturgy, Mary of Magdala Inclusive Catholic Community Regina, SK, FDK photo
- develop the tomb watch following the Good Friday liturgy, and,
- make a place for Mary to proclaim the Resurrection in the Easter liturgy.
The Song of Songs is a poetic prototype of the Paschal Mystery – the transformation of eros into agape through the generous self-giving love that is stronger than death. Using material from the Song of Songs Bourgeault created a Liturgy of Anointing that is a prelude to the Triduum. It sets the tone that what is to come is all about self-giving love, the kenosis that is the essence of the Paschal Mystery. It is available here: Holy Week Liturgy of Anointing.
The Good Friday Vigil Bourgeault describes is a practice she observed at Vezelay in France. In the Gospel of Matthew (27:60-61) it is noted that, “Taking the body, Joseph (of Arimathea) wrapped it in fresh linen and laid it in his own tomb, which had been hewen out of rock. Then Joseph rolled a huge stone across the entrance of the tomb and went away. But Mary Magdalene and the other Mary remained sitting there facing the tomb.”
Following the Communion rite, two women bring forward a corpus and lay it on the altar and tenderly wrap it in the altar linens. Then they set a spice pot and candle beside it. The community remains in silent vigil as Mary and the other women would have.
To make a place for Mary in the Easter Vigil, she proposes to enact the Resurrection account much as we do the Good Friday passion and hear a woman's voice proclaim, “He is risen, he is not here!” Another option is to use a passage from the Gospel of Mary as part of the Word that is proclaimed.
What difference would placing Mary's faithful presence throughout the Passion by these adaptations make in our experience of the Sacred Triduum? Let's try and see!
[Jane Kryzanowski, Regina, SK, is bishop for RCWP Canada]
The April 15, 2019 issue of The Review is at rcwpcanada.x10.mx. There you will find original articles and links to the following:
- JESUS GARDENS ME
- LAUGHING WITH GODDE
- Comments to the Editor
- When did priests start saying Mass and when did presbyters begin to be called priests?
- Stop calling me 'Father'!
- RCWP Canada Bishop's Message: Mary Magdalene in the Liturgies of the Sacred Triduum
- The Triduum isn't a dramatic reenactment
- In new book, Richard Rohr says the 'universal Christ' changes everything
- Pope’s new youth doc draws largely rave reviews from young consultants
- WOC Responds to Pope’s Exhortation, “Christus Vivit”
- Women Church World, L'Osservatore Romano's women's magazine, will continue "without clericalism of any kind," even that wielded by certain women
- Called to Question: A Spiritual Memoir by Joan Chittister
- Is there space for women in the Church?
- Related on-line religious media in French, with English translations
- Francis comics
- Form for Messages to the Editor
- Links to RCWP Canada website
- Links to other progressive websites