In my email on Sunday in regards to Sunday’s blog, I received the following response from a reader of the masculine persuasion who I have come to know as somewhat of a wise and wonderful wizard:
Greetings Lauri, nicely done. On that morning, the messenger was a woman, sent to awaken the men.
We should have learned from that story not to be afraid, to be calm and to change the world!
I could not have said it better myself and in these words, we get a glimpse into what it means to have received the call of the Magdalene!
Yesterday, I wrote about some of the common characteristics of men and women who have received the call of the Magdalene. Today, I hope to flesh out what the call of the Magdalene looks like and if you have received the Magdalene’s call, what that might mean in your life.
Who Was Mary Magdalene
Mary Magdalene was a close and intimate disciple of Jesus. Mary was NOT the adulterous or sinful woman portrayed in scripture – Pope Gregory, something or other, made a mistake when he preached on this, thereby sealing Mary’s fate in the institutional church. But, the demise of Mary probably didn’t start there! Canonical scripture (the ones that made the cut) tells us that Mary was healed of seven demons by Jesus. Modern scholars suggest that the seven demons metaphorically represent a process of spiritual healing and initiation completed by Mary and facilitated by Jesus. Canonical scripture also tells us that Mary accompanied Jesus in his ministry and supported him and that she bore witness to his death by crucifixion (unlike the male disciples, with the exception of John, who hid in the Upper Room in fear) and that she was the first witness to the resurrection and the one commissioned to bring the news of the crucifixion to the other disciples. Non-canonical scripture tells us that Mary was much more than even this. In the Gospel of Mary and the Gospel of Philip, along with the Pistis Sophia, Mary was shown to have been kissed by Jesus, suggesting a the possibility of a romantically intimate relationship and that she received secret teachings from Jesus that the other disciples were not privy to. In the Gospel of Mary, in particular, Mary demonstrates higher levels of receptiveness and understanding, compared to the other disciples, and that Jesus appeared to her for instruction that the other disciples did not have access to. These writings also reveal that Peter was jealous of Mary and her relationship with Jesus and that he struggled to accept Mary’s words, often refusing outright to do so.
Reading Between the Lines
Reading between the lines, what this conflict between Mary and Peter hints at is the origin of the split between the Mystical and Institutional church – Mary representing the mystical church and Peter the institutional. The Mystical Church seeks to know God through direct and personal experience, most commonly through contemplative prayer and meditation practices and trusting these direct and personal experiences as authority. We see glimpses of the Mystical Church within religious orders who have guarded and maintained the ancient traditions of contemplative prayer and in priests and lay people who have heard and adhered to the inner call to contemplation – regardless of their specific religious affiliation, or lack thereof. In the simplest terms, the Institutional Church seeks to know God through tradition and dogma as handed down by the pope and his bishops. Here, authority lies in the hands of single, (mostly) white, men.
History of the Mystical Church
There have been no direct histories written about the Mystical Church because the Institutional Church, for the most part, denies its existence. In order to see the history of the Mystical Church, we have to read between the lines. In spite of the attempts of popes and bishops to suppress the Mystical Church, it has always lived within the shadow of the Institution – usually presenting itself strongly in times of grave peril within the Institutional Church when dramatic reform was needed. The Mystical Church as been seen in the prayers of the Desert Mothers and Fathers, in the radical nature of the Franciscan call as pioneered by Sts. Francis and Clare, in the mystical visions of Hildegard of Bingen and promoted by her spiritual companion Brother Volmar, and through the ecstasies of St. Teresa of Avila and the writings of her spiritual brother, John of the Cross. (Interesting that the Mystical Church often presents itself in pairs!)
The Mystical Church Awakens
We have arrived in a time in history when the Mystical Church is trying to rise again, this time, not in order to change the Church, but instead, so that it may change the world (PS Pope Francis might be part of the Mystical Church!)! As the wise wizard stated above, it is time to awaken, to cast off our fear, to be calm and do the work of changing the world! It is for this reason that the Magdalene has planted herself within the hearts and minds of so many men and women. She is calling us to awaken, to do the work Jesus asked us to do, not because some institution told us to, but because we have heard the call directly from Christ (by whatever name you call the inner voice of compassion and love) and because we are choosing to obey the voice in our hearts and in our minds that commands us to:
Love one another.
Feed the hungry.
Clothe the naked.
Set captives free.
Heal the sick.
Give sight to the blind.
If you find yourself called to accomplish any of the above, if you consider this drive to love and serve as part of your innate nature, then, regardless of your religious affiliation (or lack thereof) you have received the call of the Magdalene. You are already awakened, now cast off your fear, cultivate peace and start changing the world! 🙂