St. Mary Magdalene is reminder of need for adoration, cardinal says

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“Appearance of Jesus Christ to Maria Magdalene” by Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov, 1835. (Public domain)
“Appearance of Jesus Christ to Maria Magdalene” by Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov, 1835. (Public domain)

By Junno Arocho Esteves
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christians are called to be like St. Mary Magdalene, who adored Christ upon finding him, an action that has somewhat lost its meaning in the church, said Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

St. Mary Magdalene is depicted in a stained glass window in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston. Pope Francis has raised the memorial of St. Mary Magdalene to a feast that is celebrated July 22 on the church's liturgical calendar. (CNS photo/ Gregory L. Tracy, The Pilot)
St. Mary Magdalene is depicted in a stained glass window in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston. Pope Francis has raised the memorial of St. Mary Magdalene to a feast that is celebrated July 22 on the church’s liturgical calendar. (CNS photo/ Gregory L. Tracy, The Pilot)

He said the July 22 feast of St. Mary Magdalene also serves as a reminder of the need to recuperate “the primacy of God and the primacy of adoration in the life of the church and in liturgical celebrations.”

“I believe — and I say so humbly — that we Christians perhaps have lost a bit of the meaning of adoration. And we think: We go to church, we gather together like brothers, and it is good and beautiful. But the center is there where God is. And we adore God,” he wrote in an article published July 21 in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.

Pope Francis raised the memorial of St. Mary Magdalene to a feast on the church’s liturgical calendar June 10 in a decree, Apostolorum Apostola (Apostle of the Apostles)which formalized the decision and was published by the Congregation for Divine Worship.

Christi Boujikian, marketing and events associate for Maggie’s Place, a pro-life ministry named for St. Mary Magdalene offers housing and ongoing support to pregnant and parenting women and has five homes in the diocese, said that they are excited at the elevation of their patroness’ day to a feast.

“We hope it will give more people a chance to become familiar with Mary Magdalene’s story and [with] the work of Maggie’s Place,” she said.

“It’s especially important in this Jubilee Year of Mercy,” Boujikian said, noting that the staff and volunteers hope to show the love of Christ to those who visit. “It’s an honor for us to share the name of the person who first proclaimed the Resurrection.”

On the Church’s liturgical calendar, saints are honored with either a “memorial” a “feast,” or a “solemnity.” Solemnities rank the highest, with feasts coming in second and memorials in third.

While there are 15 other memorials on Mary Magdalene’s July 22 feast, hers was the only obligatory one to celebrate. Now, after being elevated to the level of a feast, the celebration bears a more significant weight.

For example, when Mass is celebrated on her feast day, rather than using the normal formula for a daily Mass, as is done with memorials, the Gloria will be sung and special prayers dedicated specifically to Mary Magdalene will be offered, which only happens on feasts and solemnities.

As the first to announce Jesus’ resurrection to the apostles, Cardinal Sarah wrote, St. Mary Magdalene was “a witness of divine mercy,” and her feast day can help men and women deepen their roles as followers of Christ through adoration and mission.

Adoration, he continued, is what is most important and “not the songs or rites, as beautiful as they are.”

“What does it mean to adore God then? It means to learn to be with him, to stop in order to speak with him, to feel that his presence is the most true, the most good and the most important of all,” he wrote.

Citing St. John Paul II’s writings on the 25th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, Cardinal Sarah highlighted the need “to give God the first place” in order to encounter Christ, his mercy and his love.

“Mary Magdalene is the first witness of this dual behavior: to adore Christ and to make him known,” he wrote. By centering “our lives on Christ and on his Gospel,” Cardinal Sarah said Christians can model themselves after the “apostle of the apostles” who “comes out of herself to go toward Christ through adoration and mission.”

— Parts of this article were taken from Catholic News Agency and from reporting by The Catholic Sun.

St. Mary Magdalene in the Diocese of Phoenix

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