praying with women

In Oxford, I’ve been attending service at St. Mary Magdalen.

It is high church Anglo-Catholic (the way church should be, in my opinion) – incense, bells, chanting.

Deep reverence.

Both St. Mary Magdalene and Mother Mary are honored every Sunday. 

Every Sunday, we chant the Angelus after Mass.

But yesterday, we celebrated the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Every hymn was sung from the section of the hymn book that honors Mary, the statue of Our Lady became a station during the singing of the first hymn. She was honored with incense and prayers.

We prayed for her and for her intercession in our own lives.

It was heart-opening, beautiful, majestic, gentle, powerful.

Transformative.

I was reminded of how someone once said to me about my Marian devotion, “I don’t need an intercessor. I pray straight to God.”

She said it with pride, and a bit of superstition, as if God would somehow be offended if she spoke to anyone but he.

How interesting, I thought, because I definitely do need an intercessor.

I need to speak to a woman.

I need to see the reflection of the Divine in the feminine, the female face of God.

What’s more, my heart craves to honor her, the vessel through which God was born into the world.

An ordinary human woman. A girl. Who said yes to this most dangerous and difficult thing in the name of perfect love.

How different would the world be, I wondered, as I watched men and women going forward to light candles at the feet of Mary, our Mother, and Mary Magdalene. How different would the world be if we all prayed these prayers. If we all said these words together. If we honored women?

If we honored these women?

How different would my own life be, I wondered, if I set it in my heart to be more like her?

Prayer for the Assumption of Mary

Father in heaven,
all creation rightly gives you praise,
for all life and all holiness come from you.
In the plan of your wisdom
she who bore the Christ in her womb
was raised body and soul in glory to be with him in heaven.
May we follow her example in reflecting your holiness
and join in her hymn of endless love and praise.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.