If there’s one thing I’ve learned at Maggie’s Place, it’s that love is beautiful, even when it’s messy. Our Patron Saint, Mary Magdalene, is a beautiful example of what it means to love, even when love is messy. Before arriving here in the Arizona desert, I already looked up to the example of Mary Magdalene as my personal Patron Saint. Throughout my time of service, God has unveiled to me further the beauty of the blessing that He gave to her, “Her many sins are forgiven, because she has loved much.”
I have also learned that love is an action, made up of many parts:
Acceptance– It’s easy to remember that loving requires accepting the other person for who they are. What is a little bit harder to remember, though, is that it also requires accepting ourselves where we are- our own sinfulness and limitations. None of us can love perfectly, in the way that we should. But that should never keep us from loving! It takes humility to see our own imperfections, as well as to accept the imperfections of others. At Maggie’s Place, we all come from different backgrounds, and are constantly learning from one another. I am continually reminded of all that I do not know and how my own imperfections can keep me from loving as I should. Mary Magdalene, our beloved Patron Saint, was the queen of come-as-you-are. She came to the feet of Jesus and wept, a crying, sinful mess, but she was not afraid of the encounter. Because of her faith in showing up, even when things were messy, she left with the grace of an encounter with Christ.
Vulnerability– When we open ourselves up to love, we open ourselves up to the potential to be hurt. We open ourselves up to sacrifice. We open ourselves up to grieve alongside others and share in their pain. In the wise words of Mother Teresa, “Love, to be real, it must hurt; it must cost; it must empty us of self.” Loving is not always easy. We can see this in Mary Magdalene’s faithful accompaniment of Christ, even to the cross! Sometimes, it’s almost more than I think I can bear to open myself up to the pain that our moms have experienced- miscarriage, legal troubles, difficult relationships, poverty…but it is such a blessing to be able to walk alongside these strong, beautiful women. It is moments like these that are the truest school of love, where you learn to love even when the good, happy feelings aren’t there. This is the most beautiful part of loving…when it challenges you to grow and shows you the strength of the human spirit and the faithful providence of God, who is with us always!
Joy– Yes, love requires sacrifice, but it also comes with great joy! The great gift of loving is that you also open yourself up to sharing in someone’s joys! Celebrating with our moms is my favorite part of living at Maggie’s Place! Whether it is a birthday, an anniversary of sobriety, a new job, a birth, or any other important milestone, there is always great rejoicing in our home when someone accomplishes something amazing and meaningful. Joy is meant to be shared! Imagine the joy that Mary Magdalene must have had in carrying the news of Jesus’ resurrection to the other disciples so that they could rejoice together!
Love is transformative. I have watched so many of our moms, motivated by the desire to provide a better life for their children, make hard decisions and sacrifices. I have seen them give things up in order to better love their babies. When we encounter love, it has the power to change us for the better. This is especially true when we encounter the love of Christ. Mary Magdalene approached Christ as a sinful and sorrowful woman, and left with His peace and forgiveness, joyful and faithful. Love abounds here, and my hope and prayer is that every person who enters our homes will leave having encountered that authentic love, and that we may all be transformed by this love for the better.
By Genevieve Aucoin, a MissionCorps