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Waiting at the Tomb

Even as a child, I was drawn to Mary Magdalene. I have a very clear and distinct memory of being in the choir loft of my childhood church on Easter morning and being filled with profound joy as I heard the gospel account of Mary going to the tomb. This past Holy Saturday I found myself sitting in an empty church next to an empty tabernacle and even though Our Lord was not present at that time in the Eucharist, I felt Him. I had been having thoughts of Mary Magdalene all day; of what it must have been like for her at the foot of the cross, watching the horror of the crucifixion, and experiencing the loss of her Beloved. Those thoughts accompanied me as I had made my way to do my holy hour. When asked by a few friends why I would go to the church when the Blessed Sacrament wasn’t present, my first response was that I have a tradition of making three holy hours a week and needed to fulfill that promise on Saturday. The other response was that I was just waiting for Him.

What was Mary thinking of that Easter morning? Love of Christ and tradition compelled her and the other women to return to the tomb with the burial herbs. They didn’t know that the tomb would be empty and Mary was rewarded beyond her imagination when Christ appeared. In my recent spiritual reading I came across the following passage from The Mystical City of God by Venerable Mary of Agreda. It recounts the history of the Blessed Mother as told to the author in visions and inspirations by the Blessed Mother herself. This passage describes the immediate action of the apostles and disciples of Jesus after the burial of the Blessed Mother’s earthly body.

“The concourse of the people lessened and the holy Apostles and disciples, dissolved in tender tears, returned to the Cenacle. During a whole year the exquisite fragrance exhaled by the body of the Queen was noticeable throughout the Cenacle, and in her oratory, for many years. This sanctuary remained a place of refuge for all those that were burdened with labor and difficulties; all found miraculous assistance, as well in sickness as in hardships and necessities of other kind.”

Mary knew the fragrance of Christ. He was her place of refuge and she knew of His miraculous assistance for Christ had driven seven demons from her. Out of tradition, love, and longing to be near her Beloved, she returned to the tomb to take in His lasting fragrance, much like later apostles and disciples would be drawn to the places where the Blessed Mother had resided in person even after her death. Do we not return to the final resting places of our loved ones and experience peace in those places? His fragrance would be at the tomb, and His fragrance was at the empty tabernacle during my visit, for He is my refuge and I felt His peace even though the tabernacle was empty. Catholics are blessed beyond our wildest imaginations that our doctrine teaches us that before His death Christ made Himself physically present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Holy Eucharist. This was His last degree of love for us. Let us take in His fragrance often.

“The last degree of love is when He gave Himself to us to be our Food; because He gave Himself to be united with us in every way.” St. Bernadine of Siena

Karen Baglieri, Member of the Sisterhood of Mary, Mystical Rose of God

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