What a joyous occasion this Sunday, as we celebrate, in the presence of her relics from Jerusalem, the blessed Feast Day of our Patroness St. Mary Magdalene! And what an example that we have in her, brothers and sisters in Christ! Here is a woman who spent the early part of her life struggling with demons, only to become one of Christ’s most loyal and fearless followers. Here is a woman who, while most of the men went into hiding during the Crucifixion, stood at the foot of the Cross of our Lord. After being the first person to see the Risen God a few short days later, here is a woman who went to Rome and had an audience with the Pagan Roman Emperor Tiberias, in order to proclaim the new life that God offers us through His son…without ANY fear of retribution.
This is our Patroness! It is Her Faith and Courage in God that is our Legacy!
During the time of St. Mary Magdalene, going into the earliest centuries of Christianity, we hear countless stories of un-wavering faith and courage in God, by people who willingly endured danger, tortures, and even death…to proclaim truth to others. I think sometimes, we as Christians living in the modern era “sit on our hands” in the spiritual life, waiting for that “big moment” when Christ is going to come down, and sit next to us, and tell us what we need to do to change our lives. We say to ourselves: “I will start saying my prayers and fasting when THAT BIG MOMENT happens…”
When they do occur, miracles and visitations (like miraculous streaming icons) can be a wonderful springboard for our spiritual lives! But we can’t continuously count on them to sustain us, or give us the type of perpetual faith that the Saints acquire in their lifetime. So, what is it that the Saints have that allowed them to sustain their spiritual lives in ways that seem so difficult for us? What is it that would allow all of us here this morning, to change the way that we see life…to transform the way that we look at the world….to give us the type of God centered life, full of Christian Courage, that causes us to fear nothing, just like that of St. Mary Magdalene?
The answer brothers and sisters in Christ, is found in the lives of so many saints, but in particular, that of our patroness…What we need is “A Daily Devotion to God”. It is the remembrance and diligence in the little things of our spiritual lives, that truly transform who we are as human beings.
Visiting a weeping icon, taking a retreat to a monastery, spending an entire day in solitude and prayer, all of these things can be incredibly helpful for the soul. They act as a shot in the arm for us…a way to turn from our fallen ways and make an “about face”! What is needed to sustain that path to righteousness, is what we ask for every time we say the Lord’s Prayer: “Give us this day our DAILY bread…”
Give us a daily life of prayer…a constant contemplation of God and His works in the life of all mankind. When we learn to do this (through the guidance of God’s Holy Church) everything changes for us. Living a life of prayer, is the difference between lashing out at someone in anger in the moment, or having the control to cross ourselves when we feel our blood beginning to boil and avoid the confrontation all together.
Receiving “Daily Bread” is what allows us to step away from the computer and phone screens, to stop and smell the roses of life for one moment. When we remember all of the things that God has given us in this life, we learn to spend more time enjoying our families, our spouses and our children. We begin to walk through life, paying attention to the tiny miracles that God provides for us every single day!
“Give us this day our Daily Bread”. By receiving this, we allow ourselves the opportunity to not spend our days succumbing to our weaknesses and fears as human beings, but rather learning how to converse and live with the living and eternal God.
St. Mary Magdalene spent her days working and following after the Lord as He preached throughout Israel. She saw small opportunities for serving Christ and His Disciples every day. It was her familiar routines and responsibilities that led to her tremendous faith which we remember today! Never underestimate the power of those little daily devotions!
It does not require a lot of energy to pour through a chapter of Holy Scripture every day! It will not completely destroy your social life, if you take 40 minutes to come to Great Vespers on Saturday to prepare for the Sunday Divine Liturgy. It will not ruin your entire schedule, if you spend 5 minutes in the morning to light a candle to thank God for waking up, and 5 minutes in the evening to light a candle and thank God you made it through the day.
Daily Bread! Constant remembrance of the Way, The Light, and The Life that is God! This is what transforms us from simple animals, into true Human Beings.
Through the prayers and intercessions of our Patroness St. Mary Magdalene…o Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us and save us, Amen!