Noli Me Tangere by Maurice Denis
This may be a simple Sunday in Ordinary Time but for me it remains the Feast of Mary Magdalene. I entered this monastery only seven years ago on this date. It was a Saturday, an endless Saturday, it seemed because I was not to arrive here until 5pm by which time my family (three sons and one daughter-in-law joined by my mother, father and sister) would assemble for the brief ceremony of entrance, sung Vespers with the community and then my last dinner with family in the guest dining room.
After morning mass in my parish church I enjoyed breakfast with friends at a favorite place and then tried to make the rest of the day move along with last minute packing and a householder's last cleaning effort coming from nervous energy. (God knows that the house, inhabited by two bachelors and a variety of friends hasn't seen much cleaning since!)
The ceremonials were not without nervousness either. My parents did not approve of this move of mine and, without a doubt, I worried about my sons, especially the unmarried ones. Was I deserting them? Was I letting them down? It was a time when things were particularly unsettled in Israel and my father noted prayers for the peace of Jerusalem included in the Palms of that evening's Office. He may have been disappointed in my choice but he paid attention to every word and action.
The community provided a lovely dinner along with wine for our last toasts and good-byes. It wasn't forever. My parents are an hour's drive away and my youngest sons only 20 minutes from the monastery. But in another way, it was forever. Things would never be the same for any of us; new levels of relationship, independence and dependence, love and respect and cherishing.
When the date of July 22nd had been settled upon, I felt it a blessing that it was the Feast of the Magdalen. For a long while I had felt an attraction to her and with this turn in my life I called upon her to be the patroness of my incorporation into this community of women as one who knew the experience of being an outsider, of wanting to join with others in support of Jesus, of faithfully and loving him and following him and, in the end, being the one to receive the announcement of his Resurrection and the commission to become Apostle to the Apostles. She seemed to have mastered the art of being lovingly and attentively present to Jesus while integrated into a company of women.
About eight months later at the end of my ten day in-house retreat just before becoming a novice, I received a note from the Prioress. "Do you have any request regarding your name in religion." My note of response read, "As if the name Hildegard was not sufficiently daunting , and if the line on the necessary document is long enough, I would like the name Hildegard Magdalen of the Resurrection." With great joy, I received just that name the next day when I appeared at Morning Prayer in Redemptoristine red and wearing a white veil.
Leave for Icon Writing Retreat this evening with great anticipation.