Sunday, January 23, 2011

Day 1 - Novena to Ste. Mary Magdalene


I found myself watching the time today. At 2:00pm, I knew that the "8:00am parish" at St. John Neumann was assembling for Mass. At 3:35pm, I knew that the 9:35am bus was just pulling in and that the "9:30am parish" was running in scrambling for seats. (I described this to the folks at the dinner table. They are still amazed at the numbers.) And as I write this, the "11:00am parish" is about to form the procession to receive Holy Communion. This was the first sabbath day of my sabbatical. It's been the best day yet!  It occured to me, as I went downstairs for Mass at 11:45, Provence time, "How often can I make Sunday a real day of rest?" I am taking advantage of it!

Sunday at the monastery is a special day. The schedule changes slightly to make it a more relaxed time. I concelebrated this morning at Mass with the Dominican Fathers and my two new Italian friends, Fathers Angelo and Luciano. There were about 40 people from the area who were at Mass - which means the chapel was almost full. Also, there were three tables full, about 24 people in la salle de pelerins for the dejeuner. Aparently the local people who come here for Mass on Sunday also stay for the noon meal. The pilgrims' dining room is open to the public by reservation. And why not! It's a great meal - 4 courses with wine - for €15.00 (or about $19.50) for those not staying in the hotelerie. For me and those staying overnight, it is even a better deal. It is €45/night (about $57.00) for a two room suite with bath, and 3 meals a day. Can't beat it.

As I was writing this, an e-mail from my brother Normand popped in. I was surprised because he is, as he claims, barely computer literate.  He said it was the first e-mail he had written in 6 months. (I'm honored, Norm.) He told me that he and his wife Colette are taking my mother to my sister Murielle's and her husband Joe for lunch. They hope to connect with me there. I'm not sure if they have Skype or exactly how this is going to happen. We'll see.

I did the 3rd day of the Novena to St. Marie Magdalene today. It is a wonderful prayer and reflection. I received permission from Frere Thomas Michelet, o.p., the author of the novena to translate and post a few lines. Let me fill you in. (Italicized text is my reflection and observations; Frere Thomas's text is in quotations.)

"Opening Prayer:" (recited daily)

"St. Mary Magdalene,
you who were pardoned by Jesus,
you who greatly loved;
Show us the way to true conversion
and purity of heart.

With love you followed Jesus to serve him;
Teach us to freely offer our lives
for our brothers and sisters.
You stood at the cross of Jesus
with Mary and John.
Obtain the grace of faith and hope
in our sufferings.
On Easter morning, you received from Jesus
the mission of announcing the resurrection
to His disciples.
Help us to believe that life is stronger than death,
that love triumphs over all.

Through your intercession, we trust in the Lord,

Day 1: Gospel of Luke 7:36-50.

"This 'woman of the perfume' does not have a proper name; she is 'the sinful woman", identified only by her sin."
(How often have we identified another person, or a group of persons, by their sin, or by their percieved sin?  How often, like the Pharisee in this story, have we held ourselves above another because of our self-righteousness. Mary recieves forgiveness because she throws herself at the feet of Jesus, and weeps out her sin. The beginning of conversion is penance and reconciliation; to allow Jesus to forgive us through the voice of the priest and the ministry of church. When we too cry out our sins at the feet of Jesus, will hear His words to Mary Magdelene, "Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you. Go in peace!")

"Closing Prayer:
O God, most powerful and gentle,
who brought life-giving water from the rock
for your thirsty people;
draw from our hearts the tears of repentance,
so that we, like St. Mary Magdelene,
may cry our sins at your feet;
and like her, through your great mercy,
we will merit your pardon.
Through Christ, our Lord.

Blessings everyone.