Loving Like Mary Magdalene

A reflection by Mother Maria-Michael Newe, OSB

The story of Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb is so delightful.  She is so intent on finding Jesus.  How long does it take her to notice the angels there?  But they address her with such honor, “Woman, why are you weeping?” (John 20:13).  Heaven is concerned when we are weeping.  They don’t pass it by.  They want to know why we are weeping.  They want to be a part of it.  They want to give us direction.  I wonder how many times we’ve encountered angels and didn’t know it.  It’s a beautiful thing when God breaks through our world and tries to show us the way.  And it’s always to Jesus that we are being pointed. 

Mary Magdalene’s great love for Jesus is so powerful.  She tells the guard that she’ll take His body away; do you know how much a corpse weighs?  Her love would have carried Him.  It is for us to love Him just as much.  It’s for us to care enough to keep searching for Him no matter what.  No matter what our emotions are, or whether we’re having a good day or a bad day, it is for us to continue seeking Him, and listening to what He has to say.

Jesus will call our name.  Be ready to answer.  What are you going to say?  “Teacher”?  “My Love”?  What are you going to answer when He calls your name?  And we also hear Jesus asking Mary Magdalene, “Whom are you looking for?” (John 20:15).  He’s going to be asking us that too.  What is your answer?

At the top of our Stations of the Cross

So I tell you,
her many sins have been forgiven;
hence, she has shown great love.

Luke 7:47

Annunciation Motet

On March 25, the Annunciation of the Lord, Sister Maria renewed her monastic vows for another year. Join us in praying for her, as her next step will be making her Solemn Profession next year!

During the celebration of the Eucharist on that day, some of our Sisters sang a motet called “Dixit Maria” by Hans Leo Hassler, in honor of Mary’s response to Gabriel’s message. The video features their singing, along with the tapestries hanging in our chapel woven by a nun from Abtei St. Walburg in Eichstätt, Germany:


Tearful Adam with his sorrowing family begs this of you, O loving Virgin, in their exile from Paradise. Abraham begs it, David begs it. All the other holy patriarchs, your ancestors, ask it of you, as they dwell in the country of the shadow of death. This is what the whole earth waits for, prostrate at your feet. It is right in doing so, for on your word depends comfort for the wretched, ransom for the captive, freedom for the condemned, indeed, salvation for all the sons of Adam, the whole of your race.

Answer quickly, O Virgin. Reply in haste to the angel, or rather through the angel to the Lord. Answer with a word, receive the Word of God. Speak your own word, conceive the divine Word. Breathe a passing word, embrace the eternal Word.

Why do you delay, why are you afraid? Believe, give praise, and receive. Let humility be bold, let modesty be confident. This is no time for virginal simplicity to forget prudence. In this matter alone, O prudent Virgin, do not fear to be presumptuous. Though modest silence is pleasing, dutiful speech is now more necessary. Open your heart to faith, O blessed Virgin, your lips to praise, your womb to the Creator. See, the desired of all nations is at your door, knocking to enter. If he should pass by because of your delay, in sorrow you would begin to seek him afresh, the One whom your soul loves. Arise, hasten, open. Arise in faith, hasten in devotion, open in praise and thanksgiving. Behold the handmaid of the Lord, she says, be it done to me according to your word.

In Praise of the Virgin Mother by St. Bernard (Hom. 4, 8-9: Opera omnia, Edit. Cisterc. 4 [1966], 53-54)

St. Walburga’s Oil

Every year on October 12 the holy oil from Saint Walburga’s tomb in Germany begins to flow, and it continues until her Feast Day on February 25. Due to the testimonies of many people who have experienced God’s healing power after anointing themselves with the oil and asking Saint Walburga to pray for them, it seems that this quote from Saint Thérèse of Lisieux may also be applied to our patroness:

“I wish to spend my heaven in doing good upon the earth.”

Photo of Saint Walburga’s crypt at the Abtei St. Walburg in Eichstätt, taken by one of our Sisters who travelled to Germany for the Abbatial Blessing of Mother Hildegard, OSB. The images on the walls are memorial plaques depicting miracles attributed to Saint Walburga, donated by patrons in gratitude for her intercession.

The Holy Rule Leads to Love

A reflection on the purpose of the Holy Rule of St. Benedict by Mother Maria-Michael Newe, OSB

The Rule of St. Benedict outlines for us how to live a righteous life, and most importantly, it leads us to love.  At the end of our lives, we will be judged by love.  Just as the law isn’t going to save us so the Rule isn’t going to save us.  But if we do what it says, it leads us to love.

In the Prologue, St. Benedicts says that his Rule is from “a father who loves you” (RB Prologue:1).  His bottom line is that he’s writing it out of love.  According to the dialogues of St. Gregory, at the end of Benedict’s life, his love needed to be perfected.  So St. Scholastica, who was more perfect in love, was there to show him this last mark of his life that was needed—that love triumphs.  The law was good and necessary, but it leads to love, and that’s its only purpose. (Click here for Gregory the Great’s account of this meeting).

Again, we hear in the Rule that “as we advance in the religious life and faith, we shall run the way of God’s commandments with expanded hearts and unspeakable sweetness of love” (RB Prologue:49).  That’s what we’re all supposed to become.  That’s what St. Benedict so desires for us.  It is nothing more than the gospel message to love God and love our neighbor, and he shows us clearly a way to do this in his Rule.  I challenge everyone to read Chapter 4 of the Holy Rule and pick one thing to work on for the good of the Body of Christ, for the better of another, for love.  Do this seriously, that Christ may look upon you and say, “What a light in this world, which is so needed.  I see clearly that my death meant something.”  And in this way we will comfort the heart of Christ.

One of our Sisters reading the Holy Rule of St. Benedict and enjoying the beautiful Spring weather.

Embracing the Cross

A reflection on the triumph of Love by Mother Maria Michael Newe, OSB

I was thinking about the incredible words we sing during the Divine Office on the Feast of St. Andrew: “Seeing the cross [of his own martyrdom], Andrew cried out with joy, ‘O precious cross! Truly I have always loved you, and I have desired to embrace you.’”

This is a disciple who ran away in the garden of Gethsemane—he didn’t stand by Jesus on the cross—so the greatest gift that could be given to him was another chance to stand by the cross. What did he do with it? He embraced it. He longed for that moment to tell Christ, “I love you, and I want to be with you, wherever that leads.” This is the power of the triumph of the cross. Love is the triumph of the cross. When we love enough that we no longer fear the crosses in our lives but we embrace them and we long for them because they unite us with him who has loved us beyond all love, that is the triumph of the cross. So today we celebrate that we no longer fear the cross; it is truly the exaltation. Of course we cannot do this of ourselves. St. Andrew, St. Peter, none of them, could have embraced the cross on their own, but with divine strength they could embrace and kiss it. And their suffering turned into gratitude. Yes, when we can thank God for the crosses in our life, God has triumphed. When we can see that it is Love that has given us once again the chance to prove our love, we will rejoice and say, “Amen!” and run toward it, because we have a chance to prove our love. Let us pray today that the cross may triumph in our own lives, because it will not happen on our own. It is completely divine strength.

May this Easter season bring you much joy in the resurrection of Our Lord, who suffered his cross for the love of us, that we might have a sense of the depths of his love and desire to return our love for his.

Artwork by Sr. Ancilla Armijo, OSB