Thursday, July 21, 2016
On July 22, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Mary Magdalene, the patron of penitent sinners and contemplatives. Her name is derived from her native town of Magdala in Galilee. She plays a vital role in the New Testament, as she was the first to announce Christ's resurrection from the dead.
Scriptures tell us that she was a follower of Christ, who was exorcised of seven demons, ministered to Christ and His disciples, stood at the foot of the Cross during Jesus’ Crucifixion, went to anoint the body of Jesus before daybreak on Easter morning, and witnessed the Risen Lord.
The Gospels all describe Mary Magdalene going to the tomb on Easter morning. When she saw that the tomb was empty, she stood outside, weeping. Jesus appeared to her and asked her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?” (Jn. 20:15)
She did not recognize him, however, and thought he was the gardener, until he said her name, “Mary!” (Jn. 20:16) Upon hearing this, Mary recognized him. She returned to the grieving disciples to announce to them the message of the Resurrection.
The Greek tradition holds that Mary Magdalen retired to Ephesus with the Blessed Virgin, and died there, her relics being transferred to Constantinople. The French tradition holds that she migrated to Marseilles with Lazarus and Martha, and retired to a hill, La Sainte-Baume, near the city, where she lived in seclusion for 30 years.
St. Mary Magdalene is called the "Apostle to the Apostles". "Just as a woman had announced the words of death to the first man, so also a woman was the first to announce to the Apostles the words of life (St. Thomas Aquinas).
On June 10, 2016, the liturgical celebration honoring St. Mary Magdalene was elevated from a memorial to a feast, putting her on par with the apostles.
“Saint Mary Magdalene is an example of true and authentic evangelization; she is an evangelist who announces the joyful central message of Easter.”
-- Archbishop Arthur Roche, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, on June 10, 2016
"The story of Mary of Magdala reminds us all of a fundamental truth. A disciple of Christ is one who, in the experience of human weakness, has had the humility to ask for his help, has been healed by him and has set out following closely after him, becoming a witness of the power of his merciful love that is stronger than sin and death.”
- Pope Benedict XVI, in his address before the Angelus on July 23, 2006.
Prayer to St. Mary Magdalene
Saint Mary Magdalene,
woman of many sins, who by conversion
became the beloved of Jesus,
thank you for your witness
that Jesus forgives
through the miracle of love
You, who already possess eternal happiness
in His glorious presence,
please intercede for me, so that someday
I may share in the same everlasting joy.
Magdalenas for the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene