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RE: The Women Apostles, the Women Disciples 2007/07/11 04:22:50 (permalink)
Thank you Sr. Saers for posting this great image of Mar Magdalene teaching the male disciples.
Thanks for showing us she is witness to Resurrection and Crucifixion. God bless you!
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RE: The Women Apostles, the Women Disciples 2007/07/11 04:48:12 (permalink)
Inspired Leadership
Mary of Magdala, Meditation Day Three
 

Three Holy Women: St Magdalen, St Odilia
and St Clare by an unknown Alsace Master.
Last third of the 15th century.
Picture Gallery, Lvov, Ukraine.
Click here or on the picture for an enlargement.

Studying the picture

Three women that have made it into the calendar of the Saints, Mary of Magdala, Odilia and Clare, are pictured together in this artist´s impression of the 15th century. Mary of Magdala leads the group, in accordance with the testimony of the gospels. Odilia, in the 7th and 8th Centuries was founder of a monastery, of which she remained the Abbess till the day of her death. Clare, the spiritual friend of Saint Francis of Assisi, is shown in the act of carrying the Host into safety in a time of trouble, when the Church was in danger. She was the example of all those women who chose to follow Christ with total abdication of worldly goods. It is clear that the artist wants to show there is a connection between the leadership role of Mary of Magdala in the Gospel and the inspiration women drew from her example through the ages. Actually we see Mary looking round as if to check whether the others are following.

Tradition has it that Odilia´s blindness was cured at the moment she received baptism and the eyes between the pages of the book she is holding are symbolic of that. The book itself points to spiritual vision. Other names come to mind, Hildegard von Bingen, Catherine of Siëna, Teresa of Avila. Great women who have been great witnesses of Christ and teachers of the faithful, who have made a lasting impression in the history of the Church. No doubt we can mention names in our own surroundings, maybe even our own mothers and sisters among them

Reflection

And where do we stand? Can we point to moments in our own life, when we took upon us a leadership role? Maybe even in the face of obstruction? Did our faith ever inspire anybody else?

Are we discouraged now, or do we continue our own mission . . . and inspire others?
 
Sr. Theresia Saers
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RE: The Women Apostles, the Women Disciples 2007/07/12 01:37:22 (permalink)
Active Even in Exile
Mary of Magdala, Meditation Day Four
 


Origin unknown
Click here or on the picture for an enlargement.
 
Studying the Picture
 
The picture shows us Mary of Magdala in the South of France, preaching the Gospel to the peasantry. Tradition has it that Mary, Martha and Lazarus, together with some more of the early followers of Christ were exiled and arrived at the Southern coast of France on a rudderless ship. The ship can still be seen in the background of this medieval painting.
 
People flock to hear Mary and the scene is reminiscent of all those other scenes in Gallilee where Jesus himself drew crowds, men, women and children. Mary, never daunted by her exile, is preaching the Good News.
 
You can see its impact in the happy look on the face of one of the younger women. On Mary´s other side we see a man who is not sure that the things Mary is telling them can be right, but somebody else, - Lazarus?-, holds up his hand in an eloquent gesture, “You had better listen, for what she says is sacred truth.”
 
Reflection
 
It is easy to understand that people tried to find explanations for the fact that Luke manages to completely leave out the figure of Mary of Magdala in his Acts of the Apostles. It is obvious to any reader of the four gospels that here is a great woman witness of Christ. Where has she gone? Some claim to Ephesus, others say to the South of France. The risen Christ sent all of them to Gallilee first of all in order to continue his ministry. It is there that they would see him.
 
Whatever the geographical places she eventually went to, Mary seems definitely ostracised by her male companions, the apostles. Too clever for her own good? She does not care. She preaches. However, the sensus fidei never let go of her. Throughout twenty centuries of christendom, generation after generation treasured the remembrance of her great personality.
 
Sr. Theresia Saers
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RE: The Women Apostles, the Women Disciples 2007/07/12 02:17:42 (permalink)
Dear friends,

One of the arguments Rome makes to prohibit women priests is that Christ chose only male apostles and there were only twelve. Rome asserts that because Jesus did not choose any women as apostles, women cannot be priests. Because of the historical neglect of teachings about Christian women and other players in the early Church, many Catholics accept this argument at face value: there were only 12 apostles and they were only male. It was therefore Jesus's intention that we have only male priests.

In her article The Other Apostles, Barbara Reid, op provides a more detailed, accurate and comprehensive look at apostleship. (See RE: The Women Apostles, the Women Disciples for a copy of this article.)  Yes there were the twelve...and yes there were other men and women apostles -- in addition to the twelve -- too!

Today July 13 is the feast day of Saint Silas also known as Silvanus.  Not a member of the Twelve Apostles, he is still regarded and remembered as an Apostle of the early Church. 

Silas or Silvanus (flourished  first century) was a leading member of the first Christian community in Jerusalem and later became a companion of Paul in his first missionary journey to Antioch, and also in Paul's second missionary journey to Galatia.
 
Silas is listed as a co-author or co-sender of Paul's First and Second Epistle to the Thessalonians. Later in his ministry, Silas teamed with Peter on missions in Pontus and Cappadocia. He also served as Peter’s scribe, as 1 Pet. 5:12, indicates that Silas wrote the First Epistle of Peter. 

The name Silas is a Greek nickname for the Latin Silvanus, which means "of the forest." Although a Roman in the Bible, the name "Silas" may be derived from pre-Roman Italian languages (see, e.g., the character "Asilas", an Etruscan leader and warrior-prophet who plays a prominent role in assisting Aeneas in Virgil's epic poem the Aeneid.)

From the Eastern wing of the Church:




Saint Silas was a companion and fellow labourer of the Apostle Paul: "And Paul chose Silas and departed...and he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches" (Acts 15:40-41). He later became Bishop of Corinth, and reposed in peace. Saint Silvan became Bishop of Thessalonica, and also reposed in peace. Saint Crescents, whom Saint Paul mentions in his Second Epistle to Timothy(4:10), became Bishop of Chalcedon, and brought many to the Faith. As for him whom the Apostle of the Nations praises as "my well-beloved Epenetus, the first-fruits of Achaia unto Christ" (Roman 16:5), he became Bishop of Carthage, and after enduring many afflictions from the idolators, and bringing many of them to Christ, he departed to the Lord.
post edited by Sophie - 2007/07/14 16:34:58
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RE: The Women Apostles, the Women Disciples 2007/07/12 04:24:05 (permalink)
from our friends at www.futurechurch.org

Saint Mary Magdala: Apostle to the Apostles




Not a Prostitute

Mary of Magdala is perhaps the most maligned and misunderstood figure in early Christianity. In Christian art and hagiography, Mary has been romanticized, allegorized, and mythologized beyond recognition. Since the fourth century, she has been portrayed as a prostitute and public sinner who, after encountering Jesus, repented and spent the rest of her life in private prayer and penitence. Paintings, some little more than pious pornography, reinforce the mistaken belief that sexuality, especially female sexuality, is shameful, sinful, and worthy of repentance. Yet the actual biblical account of Mary of Magdala paints a far different portrait than that of the bare-breasted reformed harlot of Renaissance art.

First Witness to the Resurrection

Nowhere in scripture is Mary of Magdala identified as a public sinner or a prostitute. Instead, scripture shows her as the primary witness to the most central events of Christian faith, named in exactly the same way (Maria e Magdalena) in each of four gospels written for diverse communities throughout the Mediterranean world. It was impossible to relate the story of the Resurrection without including "Mary, the one from Magdala."

Luke 8,1-3 tells us that Mary traveled with Jesus in the Galilean discipleship and, with Joanna and Susanna, supported his mission from her own financial resources. In the synoptic gospels, Mary leads the group of women who witness Jesus' death, burial, the empty tomb, and His Resurrection. The synoptics contrast Jesus' abandonment by the male disciples with the faithful strength of the women disciples who, led by Mary, accompany him to his death. John's gospel names Mary of Magdala as the first to discover the empty tomb and shows the Risen Christ sending her to announce the Good News of his resurrection to the other disciples. This prompted early church Fathers to name her "the Apostle to the Apostles."

That the message of the resurrection was first entrusted to women is regarded by scripture scholars as strong proof for the historicity of the resurrection accounts. Had accounts of Jesus' resurrection been fabricated, women would never have been chosen as witnesses, since Jewish law did not acknowledge the testimony of women.

Early non-canonical Christian writings show faith communities growing up around Mary's ministry, where she is portrayed as understanding Jesus' message better than did Peter and the male disciples. Scholars tell us that these writings are not about the historical persons Mary and Peter but instead reflect tensions over women's roles in the early church. Prominent leaders such as Mary and Peter were evoked to justify opposing points of view. What is not disputed is the recognition of Mary of Magdala as an important woman leader in earliest Christianity.

What Happened?

Why are contemporary Christians uninformed about Mary's faithful discipleship and prominent leadership role in the infant church? One explanation is a common misreading of Luke's gospel which tells us that "seven demons had gone out of her." (Luke 8,1-3) To first century ears, this meant only that Mary had been cured of serious illness, not that she was sinful. According to biblical scholars such as Sr. Mary Thompson, illness was commonly attributed to the work of evil spirits, although not necessarily associated with sinfulness. The number seven symbolized that her illness was either chronic or very severe.

Women Leaders Suppressed

In 312, when Constantine made Christianity the religion of the empire, the Christian community was caught in a cultural conflict as it moved from worship in house churches where women's leadership was accepted, to worship in public places where women's leadership violated Roman social codes of honor and shame. In the fourth century, male church leaders at the Council of Laodicea suppressed women leaders because of the belief that women were created subordinate to men. During this same time period, we see the memory of Mary of Magdala changing from that of a strong female disciple and proclaimer of the Resurrection to a repentant prostitute and public sinner. Scholars such as Dr. Jane Schaberg believe this was done deliberately to discourage female leadership in the church.

As knowledge of Jesus' many women disciples faded from historical memory, their stories merged and blurred. The tender anointing of Mary of Bethany prior to Jesus' passion was linked to the woman "known to be a sinner" whose tears washed and anointed Jesus' feet at Simon's house. The anointing texts combined all of these women into one generic public sinner, "Magdalen." Misidentification of Mary as reformed public sinner achieved official standing with a powerful homily by Pope Gregory the Great (540-604).

Henceforth, Mary of Magdala became known in the west, not as the strong woman leader who accompanied Jesus through a tortuous death, first witnessed his Resurrection, and proclaimed the Risen Savior to the early church, but as a wanton woman in need of repentance and a life of hidden (and hopefully silent) penitence. Interestingly, the eastern church never identified her as a prostitute, but honored her throughout history as "the Apostle to the Apostles".

Prominent Female Leader, Not Jesus' Wife

The 2002 publication of The Da Vinci Code ignited widespread controversy about the true role of Mary of Magdala. Unfortunately, Dan Brown's book, while an engaging fictional narrative, has done a disservice to the historical Mary of Magdala and other early women church leaders. Though The Da Vinci Code conveys a beautiful ideal of the essential unity of male and female, it is ultimately subversive to women's full and equal leadership in the church because it focuses on the fiction of Mary's marital status rather than the fact of her leadership in proclaiming Jesus' resurrection.

There is no historical or biblical data to support speculation that Mary of Magdala was married to Jesus. The contention that ancient writers didn't mention their marriage and offspring for fear of Jewish persecution doesn't really hold up because John's gospel and most of the apocryphal literature were written after the fall of Jerusalem, when there would have been nothing to fear from Jewish authorities. If Mary of Magdala were Jesus' wife and the mother of his child, it is highly unlikely that these texts would have omitted these important facts, especially since she is prominently portrayed in both as the primary witness to the resurrection and a female leader who, in many ways, understood Jesus' mission better than did the male disciples.

If Jesus were married, it wasn't to Mary of Magdala, because then she would have been known as "Mary the wife of Jesus," not Mary of Magdala. Literary and social conventions in antiquity dictated that if women were mentioned (a very rare occurrence) they were nearly always named by their relationship to the patriarchal household, for example: "Joanna the wife of Herod's steward Chusa" (Luke 8,1-3). Atypically, Mary of Magdala was named according to the town she was from (not by her relationship to a man). Biblical scholars believe this indicates that she was probably a wealthy independent woman not bound to the patriarchal household.

Contemporary scholarship has rightfully restored our understanding of Mary of Magdala as an important early Christian leader. Now she becomes the same inspiring role model for twenty-first century disciples that she was for first century Christians.

In 1997 FutureChurch in Cleveland began a special celebration of the July 22nd feast of Mary of Magdala. The event was designed to promote contemporary scholarship about Jesus' inclusive practice and to provide a place for women to serve in visible liturgical roles. The popularity of the celebrations grew rapidly from 23 in 1997 to several hundred each succeeding year. They are held in Catholic parishes, Protestant churches, retreat houses, schools, convent chapels, private homes, and include special celebrations during Lent and Holy Week.
Please join us in the annual celebration of Mary of Magdala’s feast day on July 22nd.
 
References:

Brock, Ann Graham. Mary of Magdala, the Struggle for Authority. Cambridge, Mass.:Harvard University Press, 2003.
Eisen, Ute E. Women Officeholders in Early Christianity: Epigraphical and Literary Studies. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2000.
Fiorenza, ES. "Feminist Theology as Critical Theology of Liberation." Theological Studies, 1975.
Haskins, Susan. Mary Magdalen, Myth and Metaphor, NY: Harcourt-Brace, 1993.
Housley, Kathleen. "Solid Citizen or Prostitute- Two Millennia of Misinformation." Dialog, Fall 1998.
King, Karen. The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle. Polebridge Press, 2003
Kitzberger, Ingrid Rose. "Mary of Bethany and Mary of Magdala." New Testament Studies, Oct. 1993.
Ricci, Carla. Mary Magdala en and Many Others. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1994.
Schaberg, Jane The Resurrection of Mary Magdalene New York: Continuum, 2002.
Thompson, Mary R. Mary of Magdala, Apostle and Leader. New York: Paulist Press, 1995.
Sophie
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RE: The Women Apostles, the Women Disciples 2007/07/12 04:26:07 (permalink)
 






Feast day of Mary Magdalene is July 22.

Click here for American Sites of 2007 Mary of Magdala celebration
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RE: The Women Apostles, the Women Disciples 2007/07/12 04:37:22 (permalink)
Dear friends,

Today, July 12 is the feast day of Saint Veronica.  This from Christine Schenk, csj at www.futurechurch.org:

Lift Ban on Discussing Women's Ordination
By Christine Schenk, csj

It is June 29, the feast of St. Peter and Paul. As I write seven Roman Catholic women in Austria are being ordained to the priesthood.

The Spirit’s call to priesthood in the Roman Church is met with great rejoicing and eager anticipation when it occurs in male candidates. When it occurs in female candidates it is perceived as a disaster of only slightly less significance than a recurrence of the bubonic plague. The hierarchy says that such female priestly calls from the Spirit must be isolated, suppressed and stamped out. One can almost hear the pleas of desperate curial officials: “please just make them go away.”

But they won’t go away. Certainly Dr. Ida Raming’s call would not. Raming is a well known European theologian who, after a decades long struggle to reconcile her call to priesthood with the Church’s refusal to consider female ordination, published The Exclusion of Women from the Priesthood: Divine Law or Sex Discrimination ? in 1973. Neither would theologian Dr. Iris Muller’s call go away. It led her instead to found the Association of St. Mary Magdala so women who experience a priestly call could find support. There was precious little to be found anywhere else.

Unfortunately, discussion of this event will likely focus more on the qualifications of the ordaining Bishops than on the obvious gifts of the women presenting themselves to serve. Though the primary ordaining Bishop, Romulo Braschi, is identified as having “apostolic succession,” the women’s ordinations will not be recognized by Rome. Any competent spiritual director anywhere however, would easily and clearly affirm their priestly calls.

And this points to what should be a minimum next step on the part of Catholic leaders. At the very least, the Church must lift its ban on discussing women’s ordination. Catholic leaders should engage those women who experience a priestly call; in conversation about what meaning this may have for our church.

I wonder if deliberately avoiding and suppressing this long overdue dialogue does not come close to that “sin against the Holy Spirit” which scripture tells us cannot be forgiven. It can’t be forgiven of course, until we allow the Spirit’s leading to come to full voice. Refusal to acknowledge female spiritual experience in this regard seems at least a sin against charity if not against the Holy Spirit.

In July we celebrate the feast days of two female saints in the Catholic tradition. July 12 is the feast of St. Veronica and July 22nd the feast of St. Mary of Magdala. All four Gospels name Mary of Magdala as the first witness to the resurrection. If the male apostles had refused to listen to her experience, news of the resurrection would have been at best delayed, or at worst (if such a thing were possible) suppressed completely. Our earliest experience of Christ tells of God’s good news coming through the witness of women.

St. Veronica’s story is not as biblically well founded. Nonetheless, I think she could become a new patron for women priests. The Vatican bases its opposition to female ordination on lack of “iconic resemblance” to the male person of Jesus. (Of course this has never stopped us from baptizing women into the Body of Christ...a schizophrenic situation for Catholic women if ever there was one).

The story of Veronica comes from an early Christian legend in which a woman from Jerusalem wipes the face of Jesus with her veil while he struggles under the weight of the cross to Calvary. Her veil is miraculously imprinted with an image of Christ’s face. The intriguing part of the story lies in the derivation of the woman’s name. “Veronica” means literally: “true icon.”

One wonders if this much beloved story does not bear its own mute yet subversive testimony to women’s self understanding through the centuries that we are “true icons” of Christ despite the blindness and lack of spiritual vision of some of our brothers.

With Christ we now also bear the cross of persecution for witnessing to the deep and wide mystery of a God in whose image both women and men are made.

We stand under both the shadow and the power of that cross while awaiting a day of justice and the fullness of time when our tears have finally, fully watered the ground of that new creation and new church for which we yearn and labor, groaning in great travail.

St. Mary of Magdala, St. Veronica, pray for us. St. Peter, St. Paul, pray for us.

with love and blessings,
~Sophie~
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RE: The Women Apostles, the Women Disciples 2007/07/12 04:38:37 (permalink)
Today July 12 is the feast day of Saint Veronica.

1st century; feast day formerly on February 4. Veronica's story first appears fairly late in the history of the early Church, though it relates to the very heart of the Gospel--Jesus' way to Golgotha. Veronica is venerated as the woman who wiped Our Lord's face when he fell beneath the Cross on the road to Calvary. On the cloth was left an image of His divine face.


Saint Veronica with her Veil
sculpture by Francesco Mochi
(1629-1632) St. Peter's Basilica

Scholars have been quick to point out that Veronica's name may well derive from the story itself and not be historical. 'Vera' means 'true' and 'icon' means 'image.' Thus she obtained the true image, or vernicle, of Jesus. Legend tells us that Veronica later went to Rome and cured the Emperor Tiberius with the relic. When she died, she left the cloth to Pope Saint Clement. A 'veil of Veronica' is preserved at Saint Peter's in Rome, probably from the 8th century.

French folklore holds that Veronica was the wife of Zacchaeus, the tax collector (Luke 19:1-10), and accompanied him to France, where he is known as Amadour. When he became a hermit, Veronica went on to evangelize southern France. Other accounts make her the same person as Martha, the sister of Lazarus, or a princess of Edessa, or the wife of an unnamed Gallo-Roman officer.

If the story of Veronica is a legend, it is a beautiful, simple, and natural one, and one coming down from the first Good Friday itself. Jesus was passing in the street, bent under His Cross, on the way to His death; His head lowered, full of fever from His torments; His step advancing amid mockery, curiosity, groans of those who lined the way. A woman named Veronica or Bernice advanced, wearing the veil common among her people, a piece of white linen like Noah's cloak.

Perhaps she had seen the Lord before, and maybe even spoken with Him: The Eastern Church, based on the apocryphal Acts of Pilate, identifies Veronica with the woman whom Christ healed of the hemorrhage suffered for 12 years (Matthew 9:20-22). But even if she had not, her story is no more incredible, because she was moved by the simple desire that any human might have had: a wish to soothe this human face where dust and tears and sweat and blood commingled all at once, and which cried out to those who beheld it for relief. Then as the cloth touched Christ's face, everything became sculptured together until the miracle occurred which was within the Lord's power to command. Could he who at the moment of strangulation on the Cross cried aloud, not grant to this daughter the beauty of His face at the moment it was scorned by all but a handful of close friends?

Some reject the legend because there are so many false reproductions of the veil; because of the many legends and traditions woven into the story of Veronica throughout Christendom; because of the far-fetched claims made by preachers and writers in the course of time. None of these criticisms have touched the real point of the story of Veronica: whether there could have been a woman different from the other "daughters of Jerusalem" whom Jesus warned to weep for themselves and their children, and whether it was our Lord's wish to grant this woman the imprint of his face for her good work (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Encyclopedia, White).

Saint Veronica is depicted in art holding a cloth with Christ's face imprinted on it. She might also be shown wiping the sweat from His face as He carries the Cross or writing at the dictation of an angel, the sudarium near her (Roeder). She is the patron of linen-drapers and washerwomen (Roeder).

For more, see: Veronica's Veil
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RE: The Women Apostles, the Women Disciples 2007/07/12 18:04:09 (permalink)
Saint Veronica as seen in the Eastern Church:



According to Tradition, Saint Veronica was the woman with the issue of blood, who received healing by touching the hem of Christ's robe.  



A woman suffering hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the tassel on his cloak. She said to herself, "If only I can touch his cloak, I shall be cured." Jesus turned around and saw her, and said, "Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you." And from that hour the woman was cured.

Matthew 9: 20-22
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RE: The Women Apostles, the Women Disciples 2007/07/12 21:03:50 (permalink)
 

 



A refreshing perspective from an early Church Father:

Lest the female apostles doubt the angels, Christ himself came to them so that the women would be apostles of Christ and by their obedience rectify the sin of ancient Eve...Christ showed himself to the [male] apostles and said to them..."It is I who appear to these women and I who wanted to send them to you as Apostles."
  • Hippolytus, Early Christian Bishop and Martyr of Rome (c. 170-236)
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RE: The Women Apostles, The Women Disciples 2007/07/13 00:35:19 (permalink)

 
Jesus and the Samaritan Woman
Artist: He Qui
 
In Greek sermons from the fourth to the fourteenth centuries, she is called "apostle" and "evangelist." In these sermons, the Samaritan Woman is often compared to the male disciples and apostles and found to surpass them.
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RE: The Women Apostles, The Women Disciples 2007/07/13 00:37:05 (permalink)


The Samaritan Woman: a perspective from the Eastern Church

The New Testament describes the familiar account of the "woman at the well" (John 4:5-42), who was a Samaritan. Up to that point she had led a sinful life, one which resulted in a rebuke from Jesus Christ. However, she responded to Christ's stern admonition with genuine repentance, was forgiven her sinful ways, and became a convert to the Christian Faith - taking the name 'Photini' at Baptism, which literally means "the enlightened one".

A significant figure in the Johannine community, the Samaritan Woman, like many other women, contributed to the spread of Christianity. She therefore occupies a place of honour among the apostles. In Greek sermons from the fourth to the fourteenth centuries she is called "apostle" and "evangelist." In these sermons the Samaritan Woman is often compared to the male disciples and apostles and found to surpass them.

Later, Byzantine hagiographers developed the story of the Samaritan Woman, beginning where Saint John left off. At Pentecost Saint Photini received baptism, along with her five sisters, Anatole, Photo, Photis, Paraskeve, Kyriake, and her two sons, Photeinos and Joseph. She then began a missionary career, traveling far and wide, preaching the good news of the Messiah's coming, His death and resurrection. When Nero, the emperor of Rome, began to persecute Christians, Photini and her son Joseph were in Carthage, in Africa, where she was preaching the Christian gospel. After Jesus appeared to Photini in a dream, she sailed to Rome. Her son and many Christians from Africa accompanied her. Photini's arrival and activity aroused curiosity in the capital city. Everyone talked about her, "Who is this woman?" they asked. "She came here with a crowd of followers and she preaches Christ with great boldness."

Soldiers were ordered to bring her to the emperor, but Photini anticipated them. Before they could arrest her, Photini, with her son Joseph and her Christian friends, went to Nero. When the emperor saw them, he asked why they had come. Photini answered, "We have come to teach you to believe in Christ." The half-mad ruler of the Roman Empire did not frighten her. She wanted to convert him! Nero asked the saints their names. Again Photini answered. By name she introduced herself, her five sisters and younger son. The emperor then demanded to know whether they had all agreed to die for the Nazarene. Photini spoke for them. "Yes, for the love of Him we rejoice and in His name we'll gladly die."

Hearing their defiant words, Nero ordered their hands beaten with iron rods for three hours. At the end of each hour another persecutor took up the beating. The saints, however, felt no pain. Nothing happened to their hands. Photini joyfully quoted words of a psalm by David: "God is my help. No matter what anyone does to me, I shall not be afraid." Perplexed by the Christian's endurance and confidence, Nero ordered the men thrown into jail. Photini and her five sisters were brought to the golden reception hall in the imperial palace. There, the six women were seated on golden thrones, In front of them stood a large golden table covered with gold coins, jewels and dresses. Nero hoped to tempt the women by this display of wealth and luxury. Nero then ordered his daughter Domnina, with her slave girls, to go speak with the Christian women. Women, he thought, would succeed in persuading their Christian sisters to deny their God.

Domnina greeted Photini graciously, mentioning the name of Christ. On hearing the princess' greeting, the saint thanked God. She then embraced and kissed Domnina. The women talked. But the outcome of the women's talk was not what Nero wished.

Photini catechized Domnina and her hundred slave girls and baptized them all. She gave the name Anthousa to Nero's daughter. After her baptism, Anthousa immediately ordered all the gold and jewels on the golden table distributed to the poor of Rome.

When the emperor heard that his own daughter had been converted to Christianity, he condemned Photini and all her companions to death by fire. For seven days the furnace burned, But when the door of the furnace was opened, it was seen that the fire had not harmed the saints. Next the emperor tried to destroy the saints with poison, Photini offered to be the first to drink it. "O King," she said, "I will drink the poison first so that you might see the power of my Christ and God." All the saints then drank the poison after her. None suffered any ill effects from it. In vain Nero subjected Photini, her sisters, sons and friends to every known torture. The saints survived unscathed to taunt and ridicule their persecutor. For three years they were held in a Roman prison. Saint Photini transformed it into a "house of God." Many Romans came to the prison, were converted and baptized. Finally, the enraged tyrant had all the saints, except for Photini, beheaded. She was thrown first into a deep, dry well and then into prison again. Photini now grieved that she was alone, that she had not received the crown of martyrdom together with her five sisters, Anatole, Photo, Photis, Paraskeve and Kyriake and her two sons, Photeinos and Joseph. Night and day she prayed for release from this life. One night, God appeared to her, made the sign of the cross over her three times. The vision filled her with joy. Many days later, while she hymned and blessed God, Saint Photini gave her soul into God's hands. The Samaritan Woman conversed with Christ by the well of Jacob, near the city of Sychar. She drank of the "living water" and gained everlasting life and glory. For generation after generation, Orthodox Christians have addressed this prayer to the woman exalted by the Messiah when He sat by the well in Samaria and talked with her:



Illuminated by the Holy Spirit, All-Glorious One,
from Christ the Saviour you drank the water of salvation.
With open hand you give it to those who thirst.
Great-Martyr Photini, Equal-to-the-Apostles,
pray to Christ for the salvation of our souls.

Adapted from Saints and Sisterhood: The lives of forty-eight Holy Women
by Eva Catafygiotu Topping
Light and Life Publishing Company
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RE: The Women Apostles, The Women Disciples 2007/07/13 00:49:21 (permalink)
The Samaritan Woman
by John Traxler
The Johanine Literature Web

The story of The Samaritan Woman at the Well (4:4-42) tells of Jewish hatred of the Samaritans, for reasons of ethnic and religious impurity, and tells of common cultural oppression of women. That Jesus, a Jewish rabbi, would speak intimately with a Samaritan woman was shocking to the disciples. The conversation led to the woman's growth in belief in the Messiah and to her going forth on an evangelistic mission to her Samaritan townspeople. Jesus subsequently seals the townspeople's belief by dwelling with them and teaching them. The story suggests an apostolic/missionary role for the woman, which is certainly emancipating. (Karris, 65-72)

The woman, characteristically of women in scripture, is portrayed as wanton. The bible teaches using such caricatures, permanently casting women as inferiors. Sandra Schneiders (Ashton/Schneiders, 236) opines that the biblical text is not innocent, it has an attitude, and that the bible was written by men for men. She uses the Exodus story as an example of the failure of liberation theology when applied to women. Women (as Jews, certainly) were oppressed in Egypt before the Exodus, were marginalized afterward as this story highlights, and are still oppressed today.

The disciples are noted as being astonished at Jesus' conversation with a woman (no mention of her being a Samaritan) on their return from their trip to town. This was probably more surprising considering Jesus' status as a rabbi. They might also have been uncomfortable with the prospective harvest arrangement.they were not in control. (It is noted in several commentaries that the Fourth Gospel gives no evidence of a hierarchical structure in the Jn community.) The Jn community involvement with Samaritans and women at this time may have made apostolic Christians in Jerusalem very nervous.

Through conversation with Jesus the woman grows in belief, identifies Jesus as prophet, becomes the recipient of Jesus' first "I AM" identity in Jn, becomes the first catechist and promulgator of the Messiah, and becomes a disciple in the manner of John the Baptist, Andrew and Phillip. Embarking on her discipleship, she leaves her water jug at the well, no longer needing it, just as Peter and others left their fishing paraphernalia to follow Jesus.

The woman's five husbands and current live-in situation are judged by most commentators as being symbolic of the five foreign tribe cohabitation of Samaria (2Kings 17:13-34), and Samaritan then extant non-covenantal worship practices. The sequential five-husband situation for an individual person is judged to be practically impossible at the time.

Jesus' attitude could be considered ethnically supercessionist, e.g., salvation is from the Jews, and adapting superior presumptions vis-à-vis the woman. As the gospel is written, however, it is apparent Jesus didn't question the privileged position of men.

Jesus and the woman comprised the prototype missionary set. They went forth, overcoming prejudices, personalizing, knowing the territory, building bridges, building trust and building faith.
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RE: The Women Apostles, The Women Disciples 2007/07/13 01:10:35 (permalink)
Mary Magdalene
by John Traxler
The Johanine Literature Web

The main character in John's gospel to be examined regarding questions of social justice or injustice to women is Mary Magdalene. John 20 suggests considerable emancipation for women, or does it?

Jesus, risen from the dead, appears first to Mary Magdalene, a woman, one of the powerless (20:1-18). Jesus asks, "whom do you seek?" which approximates the question posed in calling the first disciples (1:38). Mary Magdalene is a disciple, she hears his voice and responds (10:3-4). She reports to the disciples "I have seen the Lord," the same words used by Paul to claim his apostleship (1Cor 9:1; 15:8-9). She is commissioned to preach (20:17) which she does faithfully (20:18).

Sandra Schneiders writes (Ashton/Schneiders, 250), "Jesus' first words in the Gospel, to his first disciples, are 'what do you seek?' (1:38) using word forms consistent with his question to Mary Magdalene on the morning of the resurrection 'whom do you seek?' (20:15). The Greek word for 'to seek' expresses 'deep desire that finalizes religiously significant attitudes and actions.'" Jesus clearly marks the ultimate motivations of discipleship in both cases.

Culpepper notes (144), "Mary Magdalene's understanding is limited. Jesus is her friend and teacher, she sees how he dies, discovers the tomb empty, sees the angels, sees the risen Lord, but is unenlightened, wondering only where they have taken the Lord's body."(!)

Raymond Brown comments (192), "In the Good Shepherd parable (10:11-18), the shepherd's own sheep recognize him by his voice when he calls them by name. In the resurrection appearance of Jesus to Mary Magdalene she recognizes him only when he calls her by her name 'Mary' (20:16). She is thus recognized as one of his own, as one he loved to the end (13:1)."

What constitutes true discipleship, or, dare we say, apostleship?

Brown (189f) writes that Paul cites two conditions for being an apostle: having seen the risen Jesus and having been sent to proclaim him. A key to Peter's importance was the tradition that he was the first to see the risen Jesus (1Cor 15:5; Lk 24:34). Brown: "John revises this tradition by having it be a woman, Mary Magdalene, to whom Jesus first appears (20:14), instructing her to go and tell his 'brothers' (the disciples: 20:17-18) of his ascension to the Father." In John Mary Magdalene is sent by the risen Lord himself, and she proclaims the standard apostolic announcement of the resurrection: "I have seen the Lord." It is she, not Peter, who is the first to see the risen Jesus.

Brown notes in footnote (190): "The tradition that Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene has a good chance of being historical." The secondary tradition from John and Matthew of first appearance to a woman or women "probably reflects the fact that women did not serve.as official preachers of the church," thus promulgation of the story was unlikely!

Mary Magdalene's role somewhat parallels that of the Samaritan Woman (John 4). Both were evangelizers. Mary Magdalene differs in being sent. Jesus instituted Mary as apostle to the apostles. She evangelized her co-apostles with the news of the resurrection of the Messiah.

Brown suggests (154-5) it was probably John's portrait of Mary Magdalene that sparked the gnostic Gospels to make her the chief recipient of post-resurrection revelation and a rival of Peter. He notes further that in the Gospel of Philip she has become the disciple whom Jesus loved most; in the Gospel of Mary Peter becomes jealous of Mary Magdalene even as he is jealous of the Beloved Disciple in Jn 21:20-23.

One can hear hosannas in Howard-Brook's commentary (453) regarding the role of Mary Magdalene in John 20: "For all time, the news of the resurrection is brought to the community by a word of a woman, the first apostle of the risen Christ... Both her experience and her apostleship remain privileged, unassailable, and apart from the experience of all later believers." What greater fulfillment is there? (20:31).

One wonders how this portrait of woman acting was created in scripture, especially in view of ecclesial practices at the time the gospels were written.

Sandra Schneiders comments (Ashton/Schneiders, 241-2): "What experience within the John community would have suggested to the evangelist to make a woman the central character of two such major missionary texts as the story of the evangelization of Samaria (4:1-42) and the commission to announce the resurrection (20:1-18)? Would such stories have been acceptable in a community that restricted apostolic identity and missionary activity to males? Would a male writer have been allowed by other males to (write) so?"  
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RE: The Women Apostles, the Women Disciples 2007/07/13 01:23:07 (permalink)
Nourished by Jesus's Word
Mary of Magdala, Meditation Day Five
 

Mary of Magdala by Piero di Cosimo (1501).
National Gallery of Rome.
Click here or on the picture for an enlargement.

Studying the picture

We recognise this woman as the Magdalene because of the jar and also because of her long hair. The picture strikes us as rather modern and lacks much of the symbolism of many other paintings and sculptures in earlier times. Here we see a serene Mary of Magdala, youthful and strong.
 
The book Mary is holding is undoubtely Sacred Scripture. As she once sat at Jesus’ feet, now she continues to listen to his Word. It is clear that she is more meditating than reading.
 
I find the note on the desk relevant. A text of Saint Paul comes to mind. “It is plain that you are a letter from Christ, drawn up by us, and written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on stone tablets but on the tablets of your living hearts” (2 Corinthians 3,3).
 
Reflection
 
Whatever Mary’s past had been, her present strength lies in her listen to Jesus’s words and allowing the Spirit to talk to her.
 
Mary needed to reflect and pray even though she was one of the earliest witnesses, earlier than Paul and the greatest contemporary witness to the people she ministered to. Only, -- in those days the witness of a woman was not legitimate! Mary does not care. She knows the truth.
 
What is important for you and me now? Are we reading and rereading the letter Christ wrote on the tablet of our own heart?
 
 
Visit the entire meditation series via this link: Picture Meditations on Mary Magdalen.
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RE: The Women Apostles, the Women Disciples 2007/07/13 01:27:49 (permalink)
 



Dear friends,

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RE: The Women Apostles, the Women Disciples 2007/07/14 02:54:52 (permalink)
Commissioned by the Risen Lord
Mary of Magdala, Meditation Day Six
 

Christ’s apparition to the Magdalene.
Carved capitol in the Cathedral
of Autun, France. Twelfth century.
Click here or on the picture for an enlargement.

Studying the picture

Mary of Magdala recognises the Lord. She is stretching out her hand as if she wants to touch Jesus. She is like the woman who touched Jesus' robe in order to be healed. Jesus' answering gesture suggests something like: “Sorry, I have to go now. So have you. I have already given you power to go and bear witness.”
 
On the other side of Christ we see the other women that have come to the grave with Mary. Their mind is still set on completing the funeral rites. They have their backs turned to him to show they are still at the graveside.
 
This scene in re-lived again and again in art from the second century onwards. We see it portrayed on sarcophagi, obviously in connection with the death of Christians. Later it appears on church doors and in the capitols of columns, in church windows, in the enormous stone carvings above the inner and outer doors of cathedrals, in short it is found all over the place.

Reflection
This scene is obviously part of those things the Church wants the faithful to remember. That part of the Good News which was later suppressed in the Acts of the Apostles that women met the Lord and were commissioned by him. It found its way into the buildings of the Church, arising spontaneously from the sensus fidei, the inner treasure of faith Christians carry in their souls.
 
Early liturgists too found a way to commemorate the ministry of Mary of Magdala during the years when Jesus was with us. Remember the Easter hymn Victimae paschali laudes? “Dic nobis, Maria, quid vidisti in via?” -- “Tell us Mary what you saw on the way?” Look it up in any missal that dates from before Vatican Two.
 
Is our own commission as Jesus’ disciples, whether we are women or men, carved in our deepest consciousness?
 
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RE: The Women Apostles, the Women Disciples 2007/07/14 17:46:52 (permalink)
The Bible’s Lost Stories: Fueling faith and igniting debate,
a new generation of scholars is altering our beliefs
about the role of women in the scriptures
By Barbara Kantrowitz and Anne Underwood
Newsweek


Ethan Hill for Newsweek
Author Karen King of the Harvard Divinity School
sees Mary Magdalene as the target of jealousy


Dec. 8 issue - The year’s surprise “it” girl is the star of a mega best seller, a hot topic on campuses and rumored to be the “special friend” of a famous and powerful man. Yet she’s still very much a woman of mystery. For close to 2,000 years, Christians have known her as Mary Magdalene, but she was probably named Miriam, and came from the fishing village of Magdala. Most people today grew up believing she was a harlot saved by Jesus. But the Bible never says that. Scholars working with ancient texts now believe she was one of Christ’s most devoted followers, perhaps even his trusted confidante and financial backer.

This revisionist view helped inspire the plot of The Da Vinci Code, which has been on The New York Times best-seller list for 36 weeks, with 4.3 million copies in print. Author Dan Brown draws on some credible discoveries about the first followers of Jesus as well as some rather fantastical theories about Mary Magdalene to suggest that she was far more than the first to witness the risen Jesus (her most important role, according to the New Testament). The blockbuster novel has enraged many theologians who consider it anti-Catholic, but it has also added new force to an already dynamic debate among women who see Magdalene’s story as a parable for their own struggles to find a place in the modern church. None of this would be possible without a new generation of women Biblical scholars who have brought a very modern passion to the ancient tradition of scriptural reinterpretation—to correct what these scholars regard as a male misreading of key texts. It has not been easy work. Despite the undeniably central role of Mary, the mother of Jesus, the Biblical focus has largely been on what God has accomplished through the agency of men—from Adam to the Apostles. Of some 3,000 characters named in the Bible, fewer than 10 percent are women. Female scholars are trying to redress the imbalance by unearthing narratives that have been overlooked for centuries and reinterpreting more-familiar stories, including Mary Magdalene’s and even the story of Eve (where, one could argue, the problems really began). And they are rigorously studying the Biblical period to glean what they can about the role of women in ancient times.

Across the country, fresh research is inspiring women of all faiths.

Evangelical Protestant women hold their own Bible-study groups where the distaff version of history is a major draw. Jewish worshipers now add to the litany of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob the names of their wives: Sarah, Rebekah and Rachel. In addition to Moses at Passover, some celebrate his sister, Miriam, who defied a powerful and tyrannical ruler to rescue her baby brother from a death decree and became a prophet and leader in her own right. For Roman Catholics in particular, Mary Magdalene has emerged as a role model for women who want a greater church presence after the wave of sexual-abuse scandals. “I want my daughter to feel that she is as equally valued as her brother in terms of her faith,” says Dr. Jo Kelly, 38, of Sinking Spring, Pa. Not long ago, Kelly’s daughter, Mary Shea, 7, told her mother she wanted to be a priest. Kelly, a pediatrician who belongs to a religious-discussion group, didn’t discourage her. “Keep believing that,” she replied, “and maybe we can change people’s minds.”

Mary Magdalene inspires, these women say, because she was not a weakling—the weeping Magdalene whose name begat the English word “maudlin” —but a person of strength and character. In an era when women were commonly identified in relation to a husband, father or brother, she was identified instead by her town of origin. Scholars believe she was one of a number of women who provided monetary support for Jesus’ ministry. And when the male disciples fled, she steadfastly witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection, providing the thread of continuity in the central story of Christian history—an extraordinary role in an age when women generally provided legal testimony only in the absence of male witnesses. Tradition, however, has consigned Mary to a lesser role. “Instead, we’ve been given the image of Mary as a forgiven sinner,” says Sister Christine Schenk, cofounder of FutureChurch, an organization calling for women’s equality in the Roman Catholic Church. “Well, Peter was a forgiven sinner, too, but that’s not what we remember him for.” Schenk helped institute nationwide observances of Mary Magdalene’s feast day, July 22.

To honor their heroine, Catholic women like Kathy Kidder and her friends in Gainesville, Fla., are forming reading groups to discuss the dozens of new scholarly and literary books about her and debating her role on religious Web sites like Magdalene.org and Beliefnet.com. The new insights they gain can shatter old beliefs, but often also help them deepen their faith. College student Frances Garcia, 26, of Orlando, Fla., was raised Catholic, but now attends a Baptist church. The Da Vinci Code raised troubling questions for her about how women’s contributions to early Christianity were suppressed by church leaders. “My faith was really shaken,” she says. “I started doing a lot of research on my own.” Learning more made her feel “closer to God,” she says.

What started out as scholarship with an openly feminist political agenda has evolved into serious and respected inquiry. To understand this change, consider what has happened to the field during the career of Bernadette Brooten. As a graduate theology student at Harvard in the late 1970s, Brooten was told that scholars already knew everything there was to know about women in the Bible. Yet Brooten, now a professor of Christian studies at Brandeis University, made the remarkable discovery by reading older versions of the Bible that Junius, one of the many Christian “Apostles” mentioned by Saint Paul, was in fact a woman, Junia, whose name was masculinized over the centuries by translators with their own agenda. Brooten’s discovery became “official” when Junia’s real name was incorporated into the New Standard Revised Version of the Bible, which came out in 1989.

Today, there are female Biblical scholars at dozens of institutions, and at least two universities—Harvard and the Claremont Graduate University in California—offer degree programs on women in religion. These scholars have produced a new dictionary called Women in Scripture, a woman’s study Bible, and feminist commentaries to various books of the New Testament and early Christian literature. “There are increasing numbers of resources concerning Biblical women that are making their way into libraries, classrooms and bookstores,” says Amy-Jill Levine, professor of New Testament studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School. “They’re no longer just cleaned up or romanticized stories, but rigorously historical, imaginative, cross-cultural collections.” These insights are also filtering out into popular culture with a slew of literary interpretations of women’s Bible stories in the wake of Anita Diamant’s 1997 best seller, The Red Tent, ncluding many about Mary Magdalene.


Florida reading group members discuss the dozens of
new books about Mary Magdalene

The fascination with Magdalene has a long and rich history of its own. Diane Apostolos-Cappadona, a cultural historian at Georgetown University, curated an exhibit last year of Magdalene portraits at the American Bible Society in New York. “She’s gone through conflations and misinterpretations and reinterpretations and retrievals,” she says. “I’ve seen her represented in every medium of art through every Christian period—as the witness to the Resurrection, the seductive temptress, the haggard desert mother signifying penitence, the beautiful woman reborn signifying new life.” But for most people, the image that sticks is the rehabilitated prostitute. Scholars blame Pope Gregory the Great for her bad rep; in A.D. 591, he gave a sermon in which he apparently combined several Biblical women into one, including Magdalene and an unnamed sinner who anoints Jesus’ feet. Although the Vatican officially overruled Gregory in 1969, the image stuck until quite recently. “It became a snowball that grew and grew until her name in legend and art history evoked the whore,” says Jane Schaberg, professor of religious studies at the University of Detroit Mercy and author of The Resurrection of Mary Magdalene.

Part of the problem may stem from what scholars have called “the muddle of the Marys.” There are a lot of women named Mary in the New Testament, and it’s not always clear which is which.

But some scholars also think Mry Magdalene was defamed because she was a threat to male control of the church. As the “Apostle to the Apostles”—the first to encounter the risen Christ and to take the news to Peter and the other male Apostles—she was clearly more than just an ordinary follower. In several Gnostic Gospels—written by Christians whose alternative views of Jesus were eventually suppressed as heresy—Mary Magdalene rivals Peter for the leadership of the early church because of her superior understanding of Jesus’ teaching. The Gospel of Philip, for example, describes her as Jesus’ close companion whom he often “used to kiss.” Karen King of Harvard Divinity School, author of The Gospel of Mary of Magdala and a leading authority on women’s roles in the early church, sees her as a target of jealousy because she threatened Peter’s status. By transforming her into a reformed whore, King believes, the church fathers “killed the argument for women’s leadership”—and for recognizing women as fit recipients of divine revelation. King says the transformation also created a powerful symbol of the prostitute as redeemed sinner, the female version of the Prodigal Son. If Jesus could accept her, he could accept anyone.

In The Da Vinci Code, Brown suggests that she still had one more hold on Jesus—as his wife. That theory has been circulating for centuries. Some historians think it is possible because Jewish men of that era were almost always married, but many others dismiss that reasoning. Some argue that Jesus wasn’t conventional in any other sense, so why would he feel the need to be married? Others say that relegating her to the role of wife is belittling. “Let’s not continue the relentless denigration of Mary Magdalene by reducing her only importance to a sexual connection with Jesus,” says John Dominic Crossan, professor emeritus of religious studies at DePaul University in Chicago. “She’s not important because she was Mrs. Jesus. That’s like saying Hillary Rodham Clinton is only important because she’s married to Bill Clinton. Both women are important in their own right.”

Perhaps the most striking protofeminist text in Scripture is the Book of Judith, wholly devoted to a heroine who saves Israel. “She’s like Wonder Woman, only Jewish,” says Vanderbilt’s Levine. Judith’s moment comes as Israel is being threatened by a neighboring power. The male Jewish leadership prepares to surrender, but Judith, a beautiful and pious widow, has another plan. Dressed in her alluring best, she enters the enemy’s camp. The general, Holofernes, becomes infatuated and plans to seduce her. But when she is alone in his chambers, Judith decapitates Holofernes and takes his head home in her food bag. The enemy flees. All of Israel, including Jerusalem and its temple, are saved, and Judith, whom scholars see as a personification of Israel, returns to her previous life.

The spotlight of new scholarship has even revealed the human side of the most revered female in Christianity—Mary, the mother of Christ. Next to her son, Mary is probably the best-known character in the Bible, but for many, she is an alabaster figure. Some theologians have been looking for a more multidimensional Madonna. “Let’s stop treating her as this virgin mother we have no relationship with, that we can’t touch and understand because she’s so different from us,” says Weems, author of Showing Mary: How Women Can Share Prayers, Wisdom and the Blessings of God. Weems starts her reinterpretation not with Mary the exalted and untouchable Queen of Heaven, but with Mary the simple teenage girl. On that fateful day when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to her and told her she would carry the Son of God, Mary was terrified—just as Moses, Isaiah and Jeremiah all protested that they were too young or not worthy of the task when presented with their own challenges from God. But Mary put her trust in God and was rewarded for it. God gives her the much-needed companionship of her older cousin Elizabeth, a long-barren woman who was also suddenly and miraculously pregnant and ultimately gives birth to John, a prophet who would be called “the Baptist.”



Judith the Conqueror: The most striking
protofeminist heroine in Scripture.
When Israel was threatened, she killed
the enemy Holofernes and took his head
home in a bag.

Embedded in the story of Mary and Elizabeth is a theme, finally being openly explored, that speaks directly to the experience of contemporary women. Unlike other Biblical figures, Mary is not bowing to the demands of a patriarchal society by providing her future husband with a male heir. On the contrary, she has scandalized her betrothed, Joseph, by freely accepting God’s will that she bear a child by the power of the Holy Spirit. In the Mary and Elizabeth visitation scene in Luke’s Gospel, Mary has come to visit her cousin for three months. As Luke paints it, this is more than just a domestic interlude. Through Elizabeth, the history of the Old Testament will end with the last of the Hebrew prophets, John. Through Mary, a new history of salvation will begin with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. In a powerful closing hymn, Mary glories in a God who often uses the powerless—especially women—to accomplish His purposes. Acknowledging her “lowliness” as God’s “servant,” she goes on to predict—rightly—that henceforth “all generations will call me blessed.”

Mary and Elizabeth’s dependence on God and each other—a Biblical example of sisterhood in action—contrasts with the struggle of their spiritual ancestress, Tamar, who has to rely only on herself to outwit the patriarchal social structure. As her story is told in Genesis 38, her first husband dies, leaving her childless. According to the law of the time, she is then married to her husband’s younger brother in order to produce a son who would continue her husband’s lineage. It is not to be. God strikes her second husband dead for practicing coitus interruptus in order to avoid fathering a child who will take away his inheritance. By law, Tamar should then have been married to the third son, but her father-in-law, Judah, suspects that Tamar herself is behind his sons’ deaths. He declines to give her to his third son, who is underage, and, at the same time, won’t declare her a widow—which would leave her free to marry again. Instead, he sends her back to her father’s house, where she must remain chaste while she waits for Judah to give her to the third son. Eventually, Tamar tricks Judah into impregnating her himself. It ends well when he accepts her and Tamar gives birth to twins—two sons to replace the two he has lost.

Tamar has to deceive the most powerful man in her life in order to get what she deserves. Her Biblical sisters have had to wait thousands of years for their day in the sun, but their voices, too, are finally being heard. No one is trying to claim that the women of the Bible were anywhere near as powerful as the men in their world. But neither were they weak and passive. Perhaps they were just misunderstood. And ignored. Take the story every Sunday-school kid has heard about how Jesus fed a multitude of 5,000 with just five loaves of bread and two fish. What the Bible really says is that there were “five thousand, not counting women and children.” In other words, assuming there was a wife and at least two children for every man, Jesus actually fed 20,000 people. Why didn’t the man who recorded this tale capitalize on the opportunity to make Jesus’ miracle seem even more impressive? It seems that women and children were simply too unimportant. “The amazing thing is that there are any women at all in the ancient texts,” says Deirdre Good, professor of New Testament studies at General Theological Seminary. As the scholarly debate continues, one thing worshipers might keep in mind is how often these marginalized characters prevail and are entrusted to deliver the Word of God. From Eve to Miriam to Mary, they were all players—and are , in our unfolding spiritual drama.


With Pat Wingert and Karen Springen
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RE: The Women Apostles, the Women Disciples 2007/07/15 01:01:10 (permalink)
Today July 15 is the feast day of a saint from the Eastern Church,  Vladimir the Great, Equal to the  Apostles



Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone

Thou wast like a merchant who seeketh a goodly pearl, O glorious Sovereign Vladimir, sitting on the height of the throne of the mother of cities, God-protected Kiev. Searching and sending to the imperial city to know the Orthodox Faith, thou didst find Christ, the priceless Pearl, Who chose thee as a second Paul, and Who did shake off thy spiritual and bodily blindness in the holy font. Wherefore, we who are thy people celebrate thy falling asleep. Pray that thy land be saved, and that Christian people be granted peace and great mercy.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

Like the great Apostle Paul, O most glorious Vladimir, in thy maturity thou didst forsake all zeal for idols and a childish sophism, and as a full-grown man thou wast adorned with the royal purple of divine Baptism. And now as thou standest in joy in the presence of Christ our Saviour, pray that thy land be saved, and that Christian people be granted peace and great mercy.

Reading:

Grandson of Saint Olga, Saint Vladimir ascended the throne of Kiev in 980. Though a zealous idolater, he was illumined by the grace of God, accepted the Christian Faith, and completely changed his ways. He was baptized in Cherson in 988, receiving the name Basil; he came forth from the font not only healed of a blindness lately afflicting him, but also from being passionate and warlike, he became meek, peaceable, and exceedingly godly. Whereas his grandmother had refused marriage with the Emperor in Constantinople, he married Anna, sister of the Emperors Basil and Constantine, and was accompanied home by priests from Constantinople. Diligently seeking to spread Christianity throughout his realm like a new Constantine, he destroyed the idols (having the chief diety Perun scourged and then cast into the Dnieper River), and summoned all his subjects to Holy Baptism. He reposed in peace in 1015.
Sophie
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RE: The Women Apostles, the Women Disciples 2007/07/15 01:30:13 (permalink)
Witness of the Resurrection
Mary of Magdala
Meditation Day Seven
 

Jesus and Magdalene at the tomb. This is a fresco from the
end of the fifteenth century and can be found in the Silvester
Chapel in Our Lady’s Minster of Konstanz.
Copyright Beuroner Kunstverlag.
Click here or on the picture for an enlargement.

Studying the picture
 
An interesting side of Mary of Magdala is shown in this picture of the Resurrection. In the foreground we see Jesus and Mary. Jesus is dressed in red. A suggestion of the blood of the Passion and Crucifixion, of love, of kingship. The wounds in his hands, in one foot and in his side are still visible. He holds a spade, in accordance with the story in the Fourth Gospel that is depicted here. (John 20,15) There is a nimbus round his head with the sign of the Cross. His index finger is pointing in an age-old gesture, meaning “Go, be my witness!”
 
Reflection
 
Mary of Magdala is pictured in the act of kneeling. She holds the jar of precious oil with which she has come to the grave to perform unfinished funeral rites for the dead Rabbi. A moment ago she was thrilled to the core of her being by finding Jesus very much alive. Now she is extending her left hand in a gesture of eagerness, asking him to stay a little while longer. But Jesus answers, “Do not hold me back, because I have not yet gone to my Father”.
 
There is something that is more important than shared moments of tenderness. “Go tell my brothers to depart for Galilee. There they will see me.” Away from the city of Jerusalem, the city of the old dispensation, which is shown in the background with all the defences of a walled city. Towards the places where people are waiting to be healed and taught. The people in whom he will be reborn.
post edited by Sophie - 2007/07/18 15:11:42
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