Hold the applause, please.
Today is the day I have been accustomed to commemorate St. Mary of Egypt, yet depending on where you are in the Catholic world, her feast is observed on the 5th Sunday of Easter, or April 1, 2, or 3. It doesn't matter to me - I think of her today.
Mary of Egypt is a good patron for many modern day sinners like myself who have been given over to hedonistic excess at one time or another - looking for love in all the wrong places, and so on. A prostitute, she went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem and made her services available on the way - sort of like adding an advertising app to her blog on which she promotes her conversion. The lady just wanted to be loved, don't we all. (Actually, she would often 'do it' for free, as she liked the sex.)
At the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Mary the Egyptian experienced a stunning conversion and fled into the desert to do penance. She lived in solitude and silence, and chose not to keep a conversion diary, so we have little to go on as far as her life of penance goes. Giving up her means of making a living and not cashing in on her conversion story proved costly - thus she went about the desert precincts naked, for decades, barely recognizable as woman or man, accepting the abundance of what little the desert had to offer...
Approximately one year before her death, she recounted her life to St. Zosimas of Palestine who encountered her in the desert. When he unexpectedly met her in the desert, she was completely naked and almost unrecognizable as human. She asked Zosimas to toss her his mantle to cover herself with, and then she narrated her life's story to him, manifesting marvellous clairvoyance. She asked him to meet her at the banks of the Jordan on Holy Thursday of the following year, and bring her Holy Communion. When he fulfilled her wish, she crossed the river to get to him by walking on the surface of the water and received Holy Communion, telling him to meet her again in the desert the following Lent. The next year, Zosimas travelled to the same spot where he first met her, some twenty day's journey from his monastery, and found her lying there dead. According to an inscription written in the sand next to her head, she had died on the very night he had given her Communion and had been somehow miraculously transported to the place he found her, and her body preserved incorrupt. He buried her body with the assistance of a passing lion. On returning to the monastery he related her life story to the brethren, and it was preserved among them as oral tradition until it was written down by St. Sophronius. - Sorry, I took this from WIKI, although it is fairly accurate.
Conversions can be instantaneous, but they are ordinarily, only the beginning of a long process of purification. Interestingly, when Our Lady instructed the penitent to go yonder across the Jordan into the desert, she said, "There you will find peace." She never said happiness. Today everyone seems to look for happiness and witnesses to their 'courage'. Yet only true happiness can be had in heaven... at least that was what the Catholic Church taught when I was little. As we once memorized from the Baltimore Catechism:
Today however, the prosperity gospel seems to have influenced American Catholics, who freely promote and sell their conversion stories. Some, like Fr. Corapi, fail to understand that conversion is only the beginning of a long process... 'as long and as hard as life itself'. (Angela of Foligno)Question: Why did God make you?Answer: God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.