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A Mid-Summer Refreshment

Dear Parishioners,

In the second reading, St. Paul mentions a “thorn in the flesh” that he had been given to live with. No one seems to know exactly what it was, but many scholars think it was a sort of physical ailment that he struggled with. In a couple of weeks, we celebrate the feast day of another saint who has had to endure a different sort of “thorn in the flesh” for centuries: Mary Magdalene. In her case, it’s been a thorn of mistaken identity. From medieval art to Lloyd Webber’s Superstar, she is painted as a reformed “painted lady,” yet absolutely nothing in Scripture supports this image of her. It’s only in recent years (thanks, in part, to a certain “beach novel” published many moons ago), that her reputation is being restored as a loyal and loving follower of Christ and an “Apostle to the Apostles”, the first preacher of the good news of the Resurrection.

Her feast day (July 22) falls on a Sunday this year and so Sunday’s liturgical celebration takes precedence— yet we wanted to find a way to honor this trailblazing saint. On Saturday, July 21, we have invited Dr. Marylin Kravitz-Toolan to lead an afternoon of reflection for the women in our parish. Marylin is a wonderful friend to St. Anthony’s and has offered similar reflections to our Eucharistic Ministers and Religious Education Catechists in the past. She is with Felician College, the Franciscan college in Lodi, New Jersey, where she is the Director of Online Religious Education. Marylin is an engaging speaker and well-worth the investment of a Saturday summer afternoon (and now that the Community Room is air-conditioned, we are able to make use of it in these warmer months!).

Marylin (who is a classmate of Eleanor’s) will center the reflection around the women at the foot of the cross who kept vigil at the crucifixion of Jesus. These important witnesses offer example of the many ways in which women light the path for others, indeed, for the whole Church. The positive image of women in the Gospels is a subject to be promoted and, from which, a great deal of insight might be gained.

Paul tells us that the thorn he endured led to grace. Let’s hope that afternoons such as these might go a long way in softening the “thorn” that Mary Magdalene’s reputation has had to endure for the last fifteen centuries or so! I hope many of you will be able to attend this offering in a few weeks and that it will serve as a mid-summer refreshment. Look for the details in next week’s bulletin and give us a call at the parish office if you can attend.

Father John