Friday, April 06, 2012

Put Women Back Into Holy Week

Cynthia Bourgeault has a piece in the Washington Post: "Put Women Back Into Holy Week" in which describes her Holy Week this year. She certainly give us something to ponder.


I have spent the entire Holy Week leading a meditation retreat in a small retreat center tucked away in central Minnesota, and as part of our Holy Week commemoration we have added a new liturgy- which rightfully should have been there all along. It re-enacts the loving anointing of Jesus, shortly before the crucifixion, by a woman whom tradition remembers as Mary Magdalene. I first witnessed a version of this ritual in France many years ago and brought it home with me (in a slightly revised format) to the states. This is the second Holy Week now that I have experienced through the launch pad of anointing, and I am more convinced than ever that without it, our understanding of what Jesus was up to in his Holy Week self-offering is incomplete--in fact, it is badly distorted.
This anointing ceremony, based on an episode recounted in all four Gospels, focuses on Mary Magdalene and rightfully restores her central place in the Holy Week mystery- a place explicitly accorded to her in the Gospels themselves but deliberately down-played (or eliminated altogether!) in traditional Holy Week liturgies.
With the anointing ceremony repositioned as the opening act in the Holy Week drama, the entire shape of Holy Week shifts subtly but decisively. In this reconfiguration the meaning of anointing is itself transformed. It emerges as the sacramental seal upon all our human passages through those things which would appear to destroy or separate us, but in fact draws us more deeply toward the heart of divine love.

2 comments:

Barbara said...
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Barbara said...

See Trinity Wall Street's Palm Sunday service this year, which includes a (sung) passion that does begin with the anointing.

It's a great idea, I agree....