I met someone recently who reminded me of St. Mary Magdalen. She was speaking to a large group of women of the church and sharing the story of the abortion she had and her conversion to the Catholic Church that followed. Lets call her Emily.
Emily dressed the part. Her clothes were drapey in a style that was modern enough, yet reminiscent of the earliest Bible heros. She had an amazing black scarf that she wore somehow stylishly like a mantilla. Her mood was somber and penitent.
Emily had grown up in a loving, happy family with a summer cabin and the expectation that she would offer her virginity to her husband as her parents had done for each other. Regarding Mary Magdalen's family, we know that they were "well off" because her brother Lazarus bankrolled much of Jesus' ministry. Lazarus and Martha's seemingly easy acceptance of Jesus and scandal-free romp through the Bible leads you to expect that the home was full of generally well-behaved and loving people.
We don't know what happened to set Mary Magdalen on a sinful path. Emily got a boyfriend.
The most amazing part of Emily's story was that she not only knew that she was carrying a baby, but she had bonded with it and looked forward to being its mother and had begun loving it, already. As encouragement and support seemed to dissolve away from her family and the baby's father (who denied that it was his), the pressures and fear overtook her. Even while having the actual abortion she was horribly tormented by what she was doing.
So, long story short, after the abortion she became profoundly depressed and fell into every kind of immorality. She became pregnant out of wedlock a second time, with a different partner -- this time determined to bear and care for the child. She got help from a local pregnancy center, found Jesus and later found the Catholic Church. And I mean found the Catholic Church with the heart of a convert and one who knows they have been forgiven MUCH!
I was hoping this room full of mostly elderly women would offer her welcome and acceptance after she shared her story with such humility and regret. They don't always, you know. Another friend of mine who had two abortions and then found the Church, much like Emily, was treated to disapproving, judgmental looks and rejection after she shared her story with groups from her Catholic Church. Thankfully, this group of women did embrace Emily, and well they should. The power of her ministry of deep public penitence and passion for the Catholic Church is a TREASURE she offers us now.
So did Mary Magdalen live happily ever after? I talked to Emily afterwards and learned that her story doesn't have an easy THE END attached. Life goes on. She is now a single mom trying desperately, for the sake of her son, to build some sort of a life with his father. With her own view of the world changed so dramatically since the father was chosen as a mate, making that a healthy, long term relationship can be a big challenge.
Wherever there is sin there are consequences, even after God forgives you . . . even after everyone in the neighborhood forgives you and the PCCW church women bring you an extra plate of finger sandwiches.
Jesus came and went from this earth. I wonder what messes from her earlier life Mary Magdalen struggled with after he left. It is none of my business. St. Mary Magdalen, pray for us.