Sunday, April 12, 2015

St. Mary of Egypt

I discovered an awesome new saint: Mary of Egypt. She had quite the riotous early life in Alexandria in the fifth century. She left home at 12 because she didn't like her parents' restrictions, (which beats my story by 3 years!) She lived the kind of life that is now, frankly, considered more or less normal for young women. She slept around town, making a living not as a prostitute but by spinning flax and occasionally begging. So the sleeping around thing was mostly because she just wanted to and no one stopped her.

Then one day she decided to go with a group of others to Jerusalem, and it was mainly to find not God but more men to sleep with. At the moment that her group went into one of the churches, she found she could not follow. She sort of bounced off an invisible wall.

At that moment, she realised her wretched moral condition and fell to her knees on the church's porch and prayed to Our Lady, asking to be allowed to do penance for her sinful life, who said to her, "Go over the Jordan (river) and you will find endless rest."... Interesting eh? A life of penance described by the Queen of Heaven as "endless rest." Not what one usually thinks, right?

Well, it sounded pretty good to Mary, and off she went to live from that moment in a cave in the desert with no clothes on, no baths and no haircuts for 47 years.

I read this story and I think, how come I'm still keeping one foot in the world, eating bonbons and drinking wine? I got loads of sins to expiate. How come we don't do penance anymore? Ten Hail Marys? Srsly?

Where's my cave?

And could we find one that you can't get to without being lowered down in a basket?
That'd be good, thanks.



BillyHW said...

But don't caves have lots of creepy insects?

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

I have one advantage here that the desert hermits didn't: Raid.

Ingemar said...

St. Mary of Egypt is widely venerated in the Eastern Rite (as well as by the Orthodox). The fifth week of Lent is dedicated to her.