Today, July 22nd, has been designated The Feast of Mary Magdalene by the Catholic Church. Please join us in celebrating this amazing woman who became the fulfillment of Jesus’ message of love. Please join us for the FREE online service which you may participate in anytime between now and July 20th. Click on the image below to join:
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Please also enjoy this beautiful reflection on Mary Magdalene and her feast day from my friend and fellow-Magdalene, Kathy Walczyk:
Last month the pope uplifted Mary Magdalene. He officially elevated the day of her memorial to a full Feast Day in the Catholic Church. In making this change, the pope calls her an apostle to the apostles.
In a letter announcing the change, a Vatican secretary wrote, this decision means one “should reflect more deeply on the dignity of women, the New Evangelization, and the greatness of the mystery of Divine Mercy.”
We get a glimpse of Mary Magdalene through the male writers of the gospel. What would women writers have said about her? About Jesus? What would Mary say to us, today, if she could speak?
Mary Magdalene: She walked upright, with dignity when she was with him. She carried her own light as she walked alongside of Jesus. When she was with him she was included and worthy of discipleship. Like others treated as second-class citizens, Jesus uplifted those deemed unworthy by society and by religion. Was she ridiculed and judged? Was she allowed to speak, and did she ask questions?
She followed him to the cross and stayed, when the others had left. She watched him suffer for she knew what it was like to suffer. She watched eyes look upon him in judgment, for she knew the look of judgment herself.
Did she sleep that night, the night after Jesus died? Was she afraid, alone, or in shock? What gave her the courage to risk the journey to the tomb?
At the tomb, was it tears that clouded her vision or was it the heartache of loosing her teacher, her friend, her savior? What was it that made it difficult to recognize his face? Jesus called her by her name, Mary. What if, it were one of us there with Jesus after he had risen? If he called our name, what would awaken inside of us? Would we recognize him?
She went on her way to deliver his message and her testimony. Did the others believe her? Did she run with excitement or walk with trepidation? Did the soldiers try to stop her?
We do not know what became of Mary Magdalene. Without Jesus’s earthly presence, did the others include her, uplift her, and give her responsibility worthy of her calling? Did she continue to walk in dignity and with purpose?
Today we read of Jesus’ choice in Mary. He elevated her not by curing illness but by asking her to serve his people. She is today’s example. She is an inspiration to people called to go the extra mile, to stay when others leave, to go against the grain, to seek out what we cannot yet see and to believe despite our disbelief.
Kathy Walczyk’s specialty is challenging you to see your beauty and potential. She facilitates this discovery by supporting your spiritual growth through one-on-one mentoring and group classes. The tools she utilizes include Authentic Freedom and creative expression, including photography. Kathy is also an advocate for spiritual responses to trauma – specifically clergy sexual abuse. Her undergraduate is in Art and Photography and she hold a Master’s Degree in Theological Studies and Pastoral Ministry. She has completed extensive study in the areas of spirituality, sexuality, trauma, and healing. She lives and work in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Kathy can be reached at email@example.com or (920) 609-2657. Her website is www.spiritualmiddleground.com
For centuries, the Eastern and Western churches have honored July 22ndas a day dedicated to Mary Magdalene. In the Catholic Church, this day was designated amemorial. On June 6, 2016,Pope Francis signed a decreethat elevated the memorial of the Magdalene to afeast, raising her status as equal to that of the other apostles. While this recognition is long overdue, and nowhere near enough in honoring the importance of the Magdalene, it is a cause for celebration!!!
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Mary Magdalene, Jesus’ closest disciple,is the only one identified to have completed the full course of Jesus’ teachings and was initiated as co-equal partner and Beloved with Christ. It was to Mary whom Jesus first revealed his resurrected/Christed Self and it was Mary he commissioned to share the good new with the other disciples and to continue his work in his stead.
Mary, honored with the title “Magdalene” (meaning “Great Tower”), most fully understood, integrated and then embodied the highest and deepest levels of Jesus’ teachings, becoming fully self-actualized through Jesus’ guidance. In becoming self-actualized, Mary, in the fullness of her humanness, embodied her own Divinity – like Jesus, becoming fully human and fully divine. Through this level of knowledge, Mary experienced the alchemical, transformative and UNIVERSAL truth inherent in Jesus’ teachings – the truth of Oneness – oneness within one’s self, with the Divine, with others and with all of creation. It is the truth of this Oneness that Mary then went on to teach, along with the alchemical, initiatory process that Jesus facilitated for her and taught her to facilitate for others.
We celebrate this feast in honor of Mary Magdalene in the hopes that doing so will help awaken the world to the truth of Mary’s role in Jesus’ ministry and life, thereby restoring 2000 years of defamation at the hands of a patriarchal, hierarchical Church, further undoing the harm done to women specifically and the feminine in general. In restoring the Holy Feminine to the Jesus story, we also create the space in which the Holy Masculine can reclaim its place in our world, thereby supporting the world in the returning to its original nature in oneness, harmony, peace and love.
Lauri Ann Lumby shares her story of being raised Catholic, receiving her vocational calling and training in the Church, ministering in the Church and then being abandoned by the Church. Her story is an “everywoman” story and reflective of the same trauma that has archetypally befallen Mary Magdalene in the history of the Church.
The File with My Name On It
This morning, I received in innocent inquiry from an online acquaintance about “the file with my name on it” that I have factiously mentioned several times in my writing. The file, I have come to understand is very real. While I have not seen the file, I know that the effect of the file is that I have been blackballed by the local diocese and anything associated with me or my name has been banned. After I explained the file to this acquaintance and tried to go on with my day, I found I could not. Instead, I found myself fighting off a panic attack and if it weren’t for a combination of yoga and tears, I know that would have been the consequence of sharing my truth.
For years I have tried to explain, make sense of, get over, my painful experiences with the Church. I have tried and tried and tried to do what the Church says to do which is to “forgive” and no matter how many layers of this I have processed, I find I am still heartbroken, hurt, angry, feeling betrayed, disappointed, and I guess, traumatized by the past experiences – which explains why I am not able to simply “let this go.” When we experience something as trauma, it lodges in the limbic portion of the brain, ever-vigilant for the next sign of potential or perceived danger. Having to share the story of the local self-appointed inquisition and the ways they have hassled me over the years and the way in which the Church failed to support me was enough to trigger my nervous system into a state of panic.
I know I am not the only person who has been wounded by the Church and who now suffers from what I will refer to here as Ecclesial Trauma. Ecclesial trauma is not listed as a disorder in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual), but it should be. The challenge is that unraveling Ecclesial Trauma is like trying to untangle a slinky or unknot earbuds….and to those who have not experienced this kind of trauma….it makes no sense at all as there is nothing logical or rational about Ecclesial Trauma. Instead, the trauma occurs in a very deep, invisible place related to our Soul (as one friend recently observed) – the center of our being that defines who we are, our ground of being and the way in which we find our place in the world. To state it in mathematical terms:
The Church = God
The Church = Family
The Church is necessary for Survival
Your value is determined by the Church
The Church = Love
Rife with Inconsistencies
The problem is that more often than not, none of the above proves to be true. Instead, the Church is rife with inconsistencies:
Preaching a God who loves without condition, but then placing conditions on God’s love.
Proclaiming the equality of men and women and then depriving women of positions of equal status and pay as the men.
Claiming all people are God’s children, but saying it is only through the Church that one is able to enjoy salvation (also implying some/many will not be saved).
Saying they are doing the work of Jesus and are Jesus’ representatives on earth (serving the poor, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, etc.) while living a life of luxury, excess, vanity, abuse of power.
Condemning “sinners” while sinning themselves.
Stating that “God desires mercy not sacrifice,” then asking for sacrifice – or more pointedly, placing Jesus in the position of the one being sacrificed (what kind of God sacrifices “his” own son????? And why was a sacrifice needed if we are loved without condition?????)
The list goes on and on and on.
The mildest form of ecclesial trauma arises in the face of these simple inconsistencies. What exactly is one supposed to believe? The cognitive dissonance alone is enough to drive one batty.
What Happens When It Becomes Personal?
But what happens when these inconsistencies are used against someone in a very personal way?
Like my aunt. She was raised Catholic and was married in the Church. After several years of marriage, her husband left her for another woman. He filed for divorce. When she went to the Church for counsel and support, she was told she was no longer welcome – at the communion table or even at mass – simply because she was divorced. Here:
The Church + God ≠ Love ≠ Family ≠ Value ≠ Survival
It was not God who didn’t’ love my aunt, it was the Church. But, in the eyes of the faithful, if one is rejected by the Church that must mean one is rejected by God. Even if one believes otherwise in their minds (the rational part of the mind that says, “The Church is NOT God”) the heart receives it otherwise. Here then is the source of the trauma. The mind says, “I believe in a loving God. I’m still loved by God,” but something deep in our heart/soul can only believe the actions of the Church, even when we KNOW Church and God are not one!
This is what happened to me. In spite of the inconsistencies, I grew up loving my Church. The Church was “god” and the “God” of the Church was my God (even if he was the “old man in the sky God,” at least I had a mother in Mary). I found my value in the Church (in fact, I found my vocational calling through the Church). I found belonging in the Church. Church was part of my ancestry and being Catholic became part of my being, part of my soul. I found my identity in the Church and I was encouraged, supported, mentored and then empowered to pursue this identity.
What Gets One in Trouble
That was……until I started to see the truth, question the inconsistencies and suggest that perhaps the Church and God were not one:
Why does Fr. (now Bishop) Doyle get to go to heaven before me just because he is a priest? What if he did something bad? Would he still get to go first????
Why couldn’t I raise my hand with my male classmates when asked about my call to ordained ministry?
Why was the God I was coming to know in contemplative prayer sooooooo different than the God the Church preached?
Why is it wrong for me to practice meditation with my Zen friends, but ok for me to practice Centering Prayer which is basically the same exact practice???
Why is it wrong to wonder if Jesus were married?
If Jesus treated women as equal to men, why were there no women among “the twelve?”
What ever happened to Mary Magdalene and why did Peter get all the glory when SHE was the one Jesus revealed himself to on Easter morning?
If we believe that God is without gender, then why is God portrayed as only male and why do we only use the word “Father” in reference to God?
Why is it wrong of me to teach the Lord’s prayer in Aramaic – the language Jesus spoke?
Why does it matter what ingredients are used to make the communion bread? Are we really supposed to deny the sacrament to those with a wheat allergy and what harm is there in adding a little honey?
Why is it not ok for Catholics to have sex before marriage but it is ok for priests and bishops to have mistresses (and even have it lauded in the local diocesan newspaper or have the Bishop suggest it was a better choice for a priest discerning marriage)?
Why is it wrong of me to do what Jesus told us to do – heal the sick? Why is it the “work of the devil” when I am doing it, but when a priest does it it’s a sacrament?!!!!!
These questions are clearly valid and I had/have a right to ask these questions. But in the end, it was not the questions or the Church’s response to these questions (which was ultimately no response – because there is no way to defend these inconsistencies except to say, “Because we told you so.”), that broke my heart. Instead, it was the ongoing pattern of the Church NOT supporting me when the fearful minority came after me with condemnation, came to my classes to confront and challenge me in front of students who were there to learn, wrote harmful and hurtful letters to the bishop and harassed me with “I’m praying for you to be released from Satan’s grip” emails. NOT ONCE did the Church support or defend me, neither did they create space to get to know me or “my side of the story.” NOT ONCE!
Ok, that’s not entirely true, the Chancellor did once make time for me to meet and discuss Reiki, but that was only after I reached out, and then he kept me waiting 45 minutes after the scheduled time and then only had 10 minutes to talk because he had to catch a flight to Rome. What is worse is that he promised me we would continue the conversation after his return, knowing full well that the prohibition order against Reiki had already been signed and would be released to the public the VERY NEXT DAY. In other words…..he lied to me…..he led me on…..he offered false promises….. In the words of modern psychology….this is ABUSE, plain and simple.
Then there was the local priest. Again….NOT ONCE did he try to get to know me or understand the work I was doing, even when I was under his roof running an urban retreat center sponsored by the very parish he was appointed to serve. I wrote letters, sent emails, made phone calls. Not once did he even try. Apparently the fearful minority had already bent his ear and he had already formed his judgment. Then the hammer fell and again, there was no Church there to support me.
The Only Choice Was to Leave
So I left. That was in 2007. Nine years later, I am still suffering the effects of Ecclesial trauma. The Church, as an “agent of God” was supposed to love me, support me, encourage me, protect me, comfort me, inspire me, provide a family for me and a place of belonging. But what I learned is that this is true only if you follow their rules, believe what they tell you to believe and do what you are told. If you question, or God-forbid, try to grow in your relationship to the REAL God (not the one they made up), you will be rejected, condemned, scorned and abandoned. When all of those things the Church professes to provide are taken away, one is left feeling alone, abandoned, rejected, without love, comfort, encouragement and support. The worst part of this trauma is that because of the way in which the Church has manipulated God and recreated God in their own image, not only does one feel abandoned by the Church (thereby losing one’s “family,” “Sense of belonging” and in my case, “my vocation and personal identity”) one feels abandoned by God.
How could God (the Church) abandon me in this way?
How could God (the Church) condemn the work I’m doing on “his” behalf?
How could God (the Church) betray me in this way?
How could God take away all that had previously been my source of support, belonging, love, vocation, ministry, even my identity?
Intellectually, I know how messed up this is and how God has nothing to do with the actions of the Church. In my mind, I know there is no rational reason I should equate the actions of the Church with the actions of God. BUT…..after 40+ years of Catholic indoctrination it is impossible to separate the two.
The Path to Healing Ecclesial Trauma
Impossible for me perhaps, but not impossible for God. This is where healing comes in (and a fair bit of reprogramming). The short answer to this LONG and (perhaps boring as hell) blog is that the remedy to Ecclesial trauma is to FIND A NEW GOD. Not a God that has been made in the image of the Church to fulfill their political agenda. Instead….THE REAL GOD. The God that seeks to be known within us. The God that Jesus knew and tried to help others to know. A God who is without gender, who isn’t human at all – but is beyond image or form, but who in its infinite nature can reveal itself to us in whatever way is helpful. All this time, this is the God who has been trying to reveal itself to me…and the God I know has been guiding and leading me all this time – guiding me to Love, leading me to my calling, leading me into and through the questions, supporting me when the Church refused to, loving me when I grew angry, encouraging me when I struggled with doubt, and who ultimately led my new acquaintance to ask about “the file” so that another layer of Ecclesial trauma could be brought forth for healing, transformation and release.
Welcome to the “Month of the Magdalene!” For centuries, the Eastern and Western churches have honored July 22nd as a day dedicated to Mary Magdalene. In the Catholic Church, this day was designated a memorial. On Friday, June 3, 2016, Pope Francis signed a decree that elevated the memorial of the Magdalene to a feast, raising her status as equal to that of the other apostles. While this recognition is long overdue, and nowhere near enough in honoring the importance of the Magdalene, it is a cause for celebration. In celebration of this honor, I have designated July as the Month of the Magdalene and will be supporting you in honoring the Magdalene through writings, course specials, book discounts and on July 22nd, a FREE service dedicated to the Magdalene.
Click on the images below to learn more about the individual offerings:
NOTE: If you have already taken the Resurrecting the Magdalene course, you are eligible for an $80.00 discount on the full price of any of the individual courses that are part of the Magdalene Priestess Training. Please contact Lauri Ann Lumby directly to make arrangements. If you are interested in signing up for the full Priestess Training package, this discount has already been applied to the full price of the program.