Grace guards that moment when the spirit halts
to watch the Magdalen
in the mad turbulence that was her love.
Light hallows those who think about her when
she broke through crowds to the Master’s feet
or ran on Easter morning,
her hair wind-tumbled and her cloak awry.
What to her need were the restrictions of
earth’s vain formalities?
She sought, as love so often seeks and finds,
a Radiance that died or seemed to die.
One can surmise she went to Calvary
distraught and weeping, and with loud lament
clung to the cross and beat upon its wood
till Christ’s torn veins spread a soft covering
over her hair and face and colored gown.
She took her First Communion in His Blood.
O the tumultuous Magdalen! But those
who come upon her in the hush of love
claim the last graces. A wild parakeet
ceded its being to a mourning dove,
as Bethany had prophesied. We give
to Old Provence that solitude’s location
where her love brooded, too contemplative
to lift the brief distraction of a wing.
There she became a living consecration
to one remembering.
Magdalen, first to drink the fountained Christ
Whose crimson-signing stills our creature stir,
is the Blood’s mystic. Was it not the weight
of the warm Blood that slowed and silenced her?
Sr. Miriam of the Holy Spirit, O.C.D. (Jessica Powers, 1950)
Powers, J 1999, The Selected Poetry of Jessica Powers, ICS Publications, Washington DC.
Before I go into holy silence, I feel compelled to send you heartfelt thanks for the charming Easter package. Our dear Mother <M. Josefa>, Mother Subprioress <Teresa Renata> and I happily unpacked it together, and on Holy Saturday night, an Easter rabbit and an Easter candle were stationed in every cell of the novices. I received the beautiful wooden candlestick with the large Easter candle, although I surmise this large light was intended for the Novice Mistress <Teresa Renata>. It will burn for me now during my retreat, when I make my meditation in the solitude of my cell, away from the community. Our holy Father John of the Cross will be my guide: the Ascent of Mount Carmel.
Probably I will be allowed to begin early on Friday. I would like most of all to remain in solitude until the morning of the Clothing, but there is a possibility that I will be called out the day before at the request of guests from out of town. I look forward with so much joy to the silence. As much as I love the Divine Office and as loath as I am to be away from the choir even for the shortest of the Hours—the basis of our life, after all, is the two hours of meditation provided by our schedule. Only since I’ve been enjoying this privilege do I know how much I missed by not having it outside. Our Reverend Mother will surely be glad to send along [with this letter] the ritual for the Clothing ceremony. It will be so much better if you can read it before it takes place—even though you cannot be present yourself.
May I beg you, together with your community, to help us with a very important intention? On the 11th, the General Chapter of the Congregation of Beuron will begin in Gerleve. We know there are very important questions to solve. Will you join us in prayers to the Holy Spirit for a successful outcome? I am also a bit interested in it personally. If Father Archabbot <Raphael Walzer> can close the Chapter on the 14th, he will be on time here to conduct the Clothing. But that, of course, is a small matter compared to all that is at stake there. I hardly need to say that I tell you this in confidence. I believe you will be happy to help because of your love for the Benedictine way of life.
Particular thanks for the Easter Prefaces: they are helping me celebrate the beautiful octave. And above all, thank you again for your love that I have in no way earned.
Always faithfully mindful of you, your grateful
Letter 168 to Mother Petra Brüning, OSU, Dorsten Original in Convent Archive of Ursuline Sisters, Dorsten