Sunday, March 29, 2009

St. Mary of Egypt



"Some pagans (Greeks) wanted to see Jesus..." (John 12:20) - Latin Rite Gospel for the Fifth Sunday in Lent
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The Orthodox celebrate the Fifth Sunday of Lent in honor of St. Mary of Egypt, the penitent. (Her actual feast day is kept elsewhere on April 2.) For those who have been addicted to sexual promiscuity - of any kind - St. Mary is a powerful intercessor and edifying example of penitence. Henry Karlson of Vox Nova has a magnificent exposition of the former harlot's life, conversion and penitence.
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For our modern, licentious society, there could be no better saint for the Church to point to than St Mary of Egypt. As Christians who live in an over-sexed culture, it is not surprising so many succumb to the temptations which completely surround them and sin. This feast day is especially important for them because it shows that there is hope. No matter what one might have done in the past, God’s love is still there for them. Even if one has become so addicted to sex that they find it nearly impossible to persevere against lust, St Mary of Egypt shows them that not only is it possible, one can turn one’s life around and become a great saint. - Read the rest here.
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I was especially impressed by the following footnote taken from Henry's essay, which resonated with my own meditations for today:
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"It is so easy to put on a pretense of holiness for the sake of praise; it is much more difficult to be holy. Those who act for praise can find ways to get it; those who act for the sake of holiness tend to find hostility. “There are some who pretend to be virtuous and appear in sheep’s clothing as something else; but in the inner man they are totally different, perhaps brimming over with every kind of unrighteousness or filled up with jealousy, intrigue and stinking pleasures. The masses honor such people as saints who have transcended the passions, but since the eye of their soul is not clear they cannot recognize such men by their fruits. And yet, when men keep their heart in piety, virtue, and simplicity, and really are saintly, then they misjudge them as being like the rest of men, and they are scorned and passed over,” St. Symeon the New Theologian

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Oh, for a portion of her spirit! Humility, humility, humility... "unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies."
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Icon: The Holy Mary of Egypt, taken from Henry Karlson's post.

5 comments:

  1. I've noticed you've changed your avatar..uh, expecting trouble? I know those constant invites for coffee from Ray make you nervous but, gosh, I did not realize it had gone this far!

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  2. Don't ya love it - I'm waitin' for Michael.

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  3. I am glad people read the footnotes -- I worked hard on this one to find what I thought were appropriate ones to bring out the themes of St Mary's life. Each one touched me in one way or another. Still, I have to say, my favorite is the one from St Moses the Black (Ethiopian). I really think a Society of St Moses the Black would be great for today's inner-city youth.

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  4. David9:35 AM

    Awesome Saint...been devoted to her for a LONG time. Thanks for this post and for the link to more on her. Don't forget...her feast is this Thursday!

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  5. There's something about this Mary (no joke there) that I find terribly romantic and fascinating.
    I wonder what she found in God (His love? in what way?) that made her leave all the other "loves".
    I want more details about her life, but suppose there aren't any.

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