In the wake of All Saints’ Day I’d like to introduce you to 2 canonised women who fought impurity. We can learn so much wisdom from these women and turn to them for their intercession to become stronger in our own purity.
St Mary of Egypt
I only learnt about St Mary of Egypt from a Google search sometime this year, but her story has touched my heart and reminded me of the Mercy that God has for all of us. St Mary of Egypt was a woman born in the year 334 A.D. who lived as a prostitute for 17 years. Since the tender age of 12, she led a life of sin, luring men towards sexual sin.
One day she followed a large group of pilgrims who were on their way to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Her intention was to tempt any pilgrims within the group to commit sin. However, as they approached the door of the church in Jerusalem, she couldn’t get in. There was strong force that was preventing her from coming into the Church. She tried to enter 3 or 4 times, to no avail.
Realising that the life of sin she was leading was the reason she couldn’t get through the church doors, she cried with guilt and remorse. Distraught, she prayed to the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose statue was at the churchyard, for permission to be able to enter the church to venerate the relic of the Holy Cross, promising the Virgin Mary that she would reject her life of sin.
Our Mother Mary allowed her to enter the Church, and Saint Mary of Egypt was able to venerate the relic of the Holy Cross.
Since that day, she turned away from her days as a prostitute. By the guidance of the Virgin Mary, she made her way to the Jordan River, where a church dedicated to St John the Baptist resided. There she received her baptism and her first communion. From then onwards she went into the desert to live as a hermit for the next 47 years.
ST MARY OF EGYPT’S PRAYER
St Margaret of Cortona
St Margaret of Cortona was born in Tuscany in the year 1247. She was a beautiful only child, whom her parents could not help but spoil her. As she grew up, in age and in beauty, men started to take notice of her and she enjoyed it. When she was old enough to go away from home, she eloped, becoming the mistress of a nobleman, with whom she had a child.
But her life full of rainbows and butterflies came to a halt when one day, upon a time her lord had gone away for a trip and did not return, she discovered far off in a forest his dead corpse. A question came across her mind: What if she died the next day having lived a life of impurity and sin?
And, so, St Margaret made a great decision to practice penance and reparation for her sins. She took her child to go back to her father’s home. But he rejected her, once he learnt about her misdeeds. And so, St Margaret turned for help from two women who were associated with the Franciscan order. After several years, she took vows to become a nun of the Franciscan Third Order. Her son also became a Franciscan once he was of age.
NOVENA TO SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA
O glorious St. Margaret,
you embarked on a life of penance and poverty
after you repented of your sins.
Jesus touched your heart, and after imposing on yourself a rigorous life of fasting,
Jesus talked and conversed with you,
revealing to you his merciful heart
that rejoices whenever a sinner returns to him.
On controlling your appetite for food,
you managed to free yourself from all temptations,
including those of the flesh
of which you were a victim for many years.
Listen then to our petitions
(here mention your petitions…).
May you bring our petitions to Jesus. Amen.
We can learn so many lessons from these two beautiful saints. But the greatest lesson I personally received from them was this:
It is never too late to start anew
It is never too late to start anew. We had the vocation to sainthood from the moment of our conception, even through our times of weakness and sin. We were created for this vocation of love, and no sin can erase that fact.
So, do not be afraid to ask for help, whether it is turning towards relatives, friends or religious guides (e.g. nuns, priest, or learned people) and especially for the intercession of the Saints. We are all on the same path towards Heaven and we were created by God to help each other with Love and Mercy to grow together in union with God. Once we open our hearts to God, He will mend and restore our wrecked souls. We can always heal from our sexual brokenness and turn back to Love, especially with the help of the Virgin Mary.
St Mary of Egypt, pray and intercede for us.
St Margaret of Cortona, pray and intercede for us.