I had a definite yet indefinable sense of calm when I opened the envelope and saw the date and time that I have been assigned for my Oral Comprehensive Exam for my Masters Degree. Now mind you this calm had nothing to do with how academically prepared I was or the hours of reading and research that had gotten me to that point. It was more like a comforting nod from the Communion of Saints that, with will and grace, I would not be alone and should not fear and go forward with confidence. The date meant one thing and one thing only to me. It was July 22nd, the Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene and in an instant I was transported to my youth and the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters who taught me in elementary school. I remembered the sisters who had a particular devotion to Saint Mary Magdalene.
The sisters recounted the beautiful story of Mary Magdalene that I later learned was a conflation of virtually every Mary/Miriam in the New Testament. The mistaken identity of Mary of Magdala made for a wonderful story of redemption, hope and the power the Gospel and of a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. In the years that followed I began to read more about the biblical Mary Magdalene who is named by all four of the Evangelists as one of the women who went to the tomb at first light on Easter morning. I learned of the Mary who was the first to experience the reality of the risen Christ in a Post-Resurrection experience. I learned of the Mary who was commissioned by the risen Lord Himself to go to the Apostles and proclaim the joyful Easter kerygma, “He is alive!” I learned that for these reasons she had been called the Apostle to the Apostles.
After all these years I am devoted to her and continue to pray for her intercession for me and for my students. And I always remember to give her her proper title…Saint Mary Magdalene…pray for us.
Susan O’Hara teaches theology for Saint Joseph’s College Online.