Irina Kuzminsky presented a paper of some of her work on Mary Magdalene to the Spiritual Reading Group in the Carmelite Library on Tuesday the 18th of July. Here are the texts from that presentation, in order. They include works from Scripture and Tradition, and poems by Irina Kuzminsky
When God, who is transcendent in essence,
Came with flesh into the world, O Myrrhbearer,
He received you as a true disciple, for you turned all your love toward Him;
Henceforth you would yourself work many healings.
Now that you have passed into heaven, never cease to intercede for the world!
Standing before the Cross of the Saviour,
Suffering with the Mother of the Lord,
The most glorious Mary Magdalene offered praise with tears.
She cried out: What is this strange wonder?
He who holds the whole creation in His hand chooses to suffer:
Glory, O Lord to Your Power!
2. Pope Gregory I, Homily 33, 591 AD
She whom Luke calls the sinful woman, whom John calls Mary, we believe to be the Mary from whom seven devils were ejected according to Mark. And what did these seven devils signify, if not all the vices? ... It is clear, brothers, that the woman previously used the unguents to perfume her flesh in forbidden acts. What she therefore displayed more scandalously, she was now offering to God in a more praiseworthy manner... She had displayed her hair to set off her face, but now her hair dries her tears...
3. Philip 48
A pearl thrown into the mud does not lose its value.
4. The Magdalens
Upon her knees
Red hair cascading to reveal a curve of breasts
Should it not rather be the painters
For using her for their great sanctioned pleasure?
Yet even in such guise
Her image burned with brightness
And she lived on in furtive fantasies of pleasure
Thus unforgotten though maligned
She waited patiently
Until her time would come.
5. Micah 4:8-9, 11
And to you, o Migdal-eder,
Watchtower of the Flock,
stronghold of the daughter of Zion,
unto you shall the former dominion be restored,
the kingdom of daughter Jerusalem.
Now why do you cry? Have you no king?
Has your counsellor perished, that you are seized with pains like a woman in labour?
Now many nations are assembled against you, saying, 'Let her be profaned...'
6. Encountering the Mansions of my Soul
… after Teresa of Avila
Seven demons He cast out of you –
– They called you sinner –
Seven mansions form the crystal castle of my soul
Seven times the Law said that a man should be forgiven
Seven times seventy You told us to forgive them when they fall
Seven centres spin within us subject to defilement
Seven sins of avarice and gluttony and lust
Sloth, anger, jealousy, and pride
Seven centres which He chose in you to purify.
Seven demons He cast out when you first met Him –
– They had their pleasure in imagining how you sinned –
Seven centres glowed so bright within you
That you could learn the inner paths from Him
Dwelling within you He could lead you
Into the insubstantial realms
Drinking in wisdom no longer distorted
You did not fear to question Him.
Seven are the mansions of my soul’s palace
Yours were pure crystal and dazzlingly clean
And at the centre of those seven mansions
In you was pure space
And God dwelt within.
7. Mark 14:8-9
"... she has anointed my body beforehand for burying, and truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her."
8. In Memory of Her
Who will remember her
with precious nard anointing
the Bridegroom King
The broken alabaster jar
the sudden rush of perfume
the costly ointment
poured onto His head
She knew as He did
that His earthbound walk was almost at an end
so she anointed Israel’s King
prepared His head for the sharp crowning
foresaw the broken body laid out in a cave
and heard the crashing of His human hopes
dashed on the rocks of God’s command
Yet she could see beyond this agony
beyond the hurried burial of a man
into the hidden heart of God’s amazing dream
And she anointed Him
a Victor and a Heavenly King.
• • •
He saw her vision and was grateful for her strength
Accepted then and there where His life’s path had led
Bid His disciples: this you’ll tell in Memory of Her
When you remember Me remember also her.
• • •
But memory’s selective and has played its tricks
and so her priestly gesture of anointing
by Luke’s sweet sinner was subsumed
the one who grovelled at the Master’s feet
(John says that it was Mary, greatly loved,
sister of Martha and of Lazarus,
who’d chosen for herself the better part,
and thus no sinner
who did wipe His feet)
But men prefer to see the other
in her rightful place – close to the earth,
repentant, weeping, meek –
and loving many much –
and for this – by them judged
Yet was it not in memory of her
the long-haired sinner
and her many loves
that He did wash His own disciples’ feet?
They could not have a part in Him without this washing,
this He taught,
full conscious that her own part was in Him.
9. John 20:16, 17-18
Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’
She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ [My beloved master!]
‘… but go to my brethren and say to them,
I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’
Mary Magdalene went and said to the disciples,
‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
10. A Song from the Manichaean Psalms of Heracleides (extracts)
Mary, Mary, know me,
but do not touch me.
Dry the tears of your eyes,
and know that I am your master,
only do not touch me,
for I have not yet seen my father’s face.
Cast this sadness away
and perform this service.
Be my messenger to these lost orphans.
Hurry, with joy, go to the eleven …
Use all your skill and knowledge
until you bring the sheep to the shepherd.
Rabbi, my master, I shall carry out your instructions
with joy in my whole heart.
I shall not let my heart rest,
I shall not let my eyes sleep,
I shall not let my feet relax
until I bring the sheep to the fold.
Glory and triumph to the soul of blessed Mary.
11. Bearing Witness
My eyes have seen the risen Lord.
My heart knew then the Living One could have no fear of death.
For I have seen what I have seen
And I have heard what I have heard
And I have felt the joy I felt
And nothing nothing now can force me
to unsee unhear unfeel
His living presence.
12. Gospel of Thomas 2
Jesus said to them,
‘When you make the two into one,
and when you make the inner like the outer
and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower,
and when you make male and female into a single one,
so that the male will not be male, nor the female be female …
then you will enter the kingdom.’
All will be clothed in light when they enter into the mystery of the sacred embrace.
13. Gospel of Philip 32
There were three who always walked with the Lord.
Mary, his mother; Mary, her sister;
And Mary Magdalene, who is called his companion;
For Mary is his sister, his mother, and his companion.
The companion of the Saviour is Mary Magdalene. The Saviour loved her more than all the disciples, and he kissed her often on her mouth.
When the other disciples saw how he loved Miriam, they asked him: 'Why do you love her more than all of us?'
The Saviour answered and said to them, "How can it be that I do not love you as much as I love her?”
14. Philip 31
The realized human is fertilized by a kiss, and is born through a kiss.
15. Gospel of Mary 10
Mary stood up, greeted them all, and said to her brothers,
"Do not weep or grieve or be in doubt, for his grace will be with you all and will protect you. Rather, let us praise his greatness, for he has prepared us and made us truly human.”
When Mary said this, she turned their hearts to the good and they began to discuss the words of the Saviour.
Peter said to Mary, "Sister, we know that the Saviour loved you more than all other women. Tell us the words of the Saviour that you remember, the things which you know that we don't because we haven't heard them.”
Mary responded, "What is hidden from you I shall reveal to you.” And she began to speak these words to them.
16. Apostola – Bearing Testimony
They come to me with all their needs
To drink your Wisdom from my lips
Your Living Word flows through me
And I teach.
I testify to Truth
For I have seen its human Face
I testify to Love
For I have felt its divine Trace
Which traced my outline
Through your gaze
Which saw me, knew me,
Healed my depths,
Unlocked my heart
Unlocked my sight
Unlocked my hearing –
So now I testify to You
The revelation of Your life
The splendour of Your risen state
When they come with all their needs,
Your Living Word flows through me
And I teach.
17. Mary 17
Peter voiced similar concerns …
‘Did he really speak with a woman in private, without our knowledge? Should we all turn and listen to her? Did he really choose her over us?’ (or ”Did he prefer her to us?’)
Levi answered and said to Peter, “Peter, you always are angry. Now I see you arguing against this woman like the adversaries. If the Saviour made her worthy, who are you to reject her? Surely the Saviour knows her well. That is why he has loved her more than us.
Rather, we should be ashamed. We should clothe ourselves with the perfect human, acquire it for ourselves as he commanded us, and announce the good news, not laying down any other rule or law other than what the Saviour said.”
18. Pistis Sophia
Blessed Mary, you whom I shall complete with mysteries on high, speak openly, for you are one whose heart is set on heaven's kingdom more than all your brothers.
When Mary finished saying these things, Jesus said, "Well done, Mary. You are more blessed than all women on earth, because you will be the fullness of fullness and the completion of completions."
Peter stepped forward and said to Jesus, "My master, we cannot endure this woman who gets in our way and does not let any of us speak, though she talks all the time."
Jesus answered and said to his disciples, "Let anyone in whom the power of the spirit has arisen, so that the person understands what I say, come forward and speak."
Mary, “thou pure of the light”
19. Pistis Sophia
Mary came forward and said, “My master, I understand in my mind that I can come forward at any time to interpret what Pistis Sophia has said, but I am afraid of Peter, because he threatens me and hates our gender.”
“Any of those filled with the spirit of light will come forward to interpret what I say: no one will be able to oppose them.”
20. Dialogue of the Saviour
Mary said, 'I want to understand all things, just as they are.'
Mary said, 'Master, you are awesome and marvellous,
And like a devouring fire to those who do not know you.'
This word she spoke as a woman who knew the All.
I have told you, the one who can see reveals.
“Why do you pass judgement on me,
though I have not passed judgement?”
“Henceforth I travel toward Repose,
where time rests in the Eternity of Time;
I go now into Silence.”
“The Spirit and the Bride say: ‘Come!’
Let all who hear say: ‘Come!’
May all who thirst drink freely
of the Water of Life.”
Preaching the Word of Love (words after the Gospel of Mary)
Authority can be possessed by all
And blessed are the ones who do the inner work to hear
Humility can be a cause for pride
Humiliation’s power leads to a fall
Help those who need it or who’ve fallen on hard times
For what you do to one is done to all
And you yourself of all partake as one
Know that God’s joy
Is to see joy in all your eyes
And if you would be perfect in God’s sight
Then strive to be pure in your thoughts and heart
And thus perfected – serve
For God has need of hands and eyes
And God can use your ears and tongue
And God can send you words to speak
And grant you visions through your mind
God is our Father-Mother full of love
As close nay closer than your breath
God is your Lover and your Friend
Yet ‘neath these many faces
There is One
One Source, One Being and One Power,
One Presence and a burning Fire
Yet I did know and love a human face
Which faced the Faceless and was not burnt up
And through it we approached the Fire
And basked in God’s reflected Light.
Miriam the Magdalene
How shall I look beyond so many layers of faces
To glimpse your face
O Watchtower of the Flock
For we have made of you the sum of prejudice and aspiration
Reviled and honoured
Priestess, wife and whore
And any other image which could serve imagined needs
And justify opinions
Or fill up our lack
All this we saw in you –
All you have been
Your outline still a beautiful seduction to our minds
Which found the content that best suited their delusions and their dreams
Yet – even so –
Your image shines despite all slander, wish fulfilment and denials
For you were of the one we call the Saviour
Companion and Beloved
Witness and Priestess
And you’ve become the space
Which a real woman could inhabit
The Space of Love, of Passion,
Inner Knowing and courageous Faith.