Tradition recounts that St. Mary Magdalene, after her conversion and the Ascension of Our Lord into Heaven, withdrew for thirty years to a grotto in a mountain, St. Baume that is close to Marsella, France where many of us have gone on pilgrimage. We brought as a souvenir a medium sized rock from there that is currently integrated in the altar of the chapel of St. Mary Magdalene of the Contemplative Monastery “St. Teresa of the Andes” of the Servants of the Lord and the Virgen of Matará in San Rafael. Blessed rock! Witness of the thirty years of Heaven on earth of Mary of Magdala!
I suppose that this sermon will make us know and love the saint more, imitate better her examples of virtues, and understand better what religious life is, especially religious contemplative life.
We freely follow the “Elevation” of Cardenal Pierre de Berulle11
- Why does Magdalene go there?
Because “Magdalene is on earth and Jesus is in heaven. Magdalene abandons Judea because her Savior is not there. Magdalene does not want to live on the earth because she does not see Jesus. Magdalene cannot go to heaven where He is because her body impedes it. This is her state; she lives, she dies suspended between heaven and earth, separated from the earth by her love, separated from heaven by her powerlessness. But if her body is on the earth, her spirit, her love, her life is in heaven and only in heaven. If the condition of her nature has her chained to her body and to the earth, the eminence of grace elevates her above the earth, above herself, and above the heavens to unite her with Jesus. And if her powerlessness detains her, she draws strength from her weakness and that powerlessness serves only so that her love becomes more powerful to love and to elevate her to the sublimity and the primacy of the love Jesus prepares and reserves for her in heaven.
Her spirit takes her life, strength, and love in Jesus; her body like a new phoenix is consumed day by day in flames of a powerful love divine and heavenly…For this love makes one live in death and die in life and instead of separating and not uniting as death does, or unite and not separate as life does, this love unites and separates at the same time which exceeds all admiration. It unites by separating and it does so for thirty years with Magdalene, uniting her to Jesus and separating her from Jesus for such a long time.
1 PIERRE DE BÉRULLE, Discursos y Elevaciones, BAC, Madrid 2003, 234-242.