This Sunday of the breathtaking life of Saint Mary of Egypt is commemorated and presented to us sinners as an example of heroic hope in the mercy of the Lord and the heights it can raise us to.
The boundlessly sinful woman who took all in lust now boundlessly gives herself to Love. Our unity with Christ is a wedding that gives life, rather than take away. She exemplifies the beauty of Catholic sexuality, and in that light sheds even greater light on the “no-no’s” of the Church that everyone in their worldly thinking sees as discrimination. We don’t look at the No’s as if they were the meaning of our life. We don’t look at what we must not do but what we should be doing and always in better ways! Fear of death is an imperfect way of avoiding sin (just as in Confession’s contrition). It is LOVE that must draw us to God, and naturally this means away from any disfigurement (sin) of His Image in us and the beauty of His works.
Saint Mary reflects the harrowing difference between a sterile taking away of someone else’s treasure for our pleasure (her previous life) vs. the fertile and life-giving love that draws us out of ourselves to give this self to another as the height of our Matrimonial unity. The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks of Matrimony’s purpose as being two things: to get yourself and the other to Heaven, and participating in God’s creating act by making souls for Heaven. It doesn’t talk about “he’s handsome and I get butterflies” or “she’s pretty and I like her”. These are natural feelings and beautiful in the right place. However, to follow them as the primary source and goal of our sexual love is a blasphemy against the Sacrament of Matrimony and our Crowning as mutual martyrs for the sake of Love. It is like saying “I am not a Christian, I see the Eucharist, I don’t think about God but I receive Him because the Host tastes good.” What a blasphemy and a sorrowful misunderstanding of the treasure unfolding in the Sacrament!
Saint Mary of Egypt who had known the entirety of worldly pleasures and a sexuality given to lust, finally in one moment of Grace understood that the true Love everyone is called to have and experience is the One hanging on the Cross. She represents a soul that crucifies itself and all the worldliness within it to be raised in Christ from the tomb of sin. And the means for this is always the Cross. A soul that crucifies its plans and picture-perfect future to raise that “unplanned” life growing in her womb. A soul that crucifies its pride and false expectations of what it “deserves” in order to refrain from insulting but rather raising the other. A soul that crucifies its pleasure and rest to stick with its family and maintain a tiresome job to raise the kids. So on…