Friday, July 22, 2011


Prayer to St Mary Magdalene
by Saint Anselm

St Mary Magdalene, you came with springing tears to the spring of mercy, Christ; from him your burning thirst was abundantly refreshed through him your sins were forgiven; by him your bitter sorrow was consoled.

My dearest lady, well you know by your own life how a sinful soul can be reconciled with its creator, what counsel a soul in misery needs, what medicine will restore the sick to health.

It is enough for us to understand, dear friend of God, to whom were many sins forgiven, because she loved much.

Most blessed lady, I who am the most evil and sinful of men do not recall your sins as a reproach, but call upon the boundless mercy by which they were blotted out.

This is my reassurance, so that I do not despair; this is my longing, so that I shall not perish.

I say this of myself, miserably cast down into the depths of vice, bowed down with the weight of crimes, thrust down by my own hand into a dark prison of sins, wrapped round with the shadows of darkness.

Therefore, since you are now with the chosen because you are beloved and are beloved because you are chosen of God, 1, in my misery, pray to you, in bliss; in my darkness, I ask for light; in my sins, redemption; impure, I ask for purity.

Recall in loving kindness what you used to be, how much you needed mercy, and seek for me that same forgiving love that you received when you were wanting it. Ask urgently that I may have the love that pierces the heart; tears that are humble; desire for the homeland of heaven; impatience with this earthly exile; searing repentance; and a dread of torments in eternity.

Turn to my good that ready access that you once had and still have to the spring of mercy.

Draw me to him where I may wash away my sins; bring me to him who can slake my thirst; pour over me those waters that will make my dry places fresh. You will not find it hard to gain all you desire from so loving and so kind a Lord, who is alive and reigns and is your friend.

For who can tell, beloved and blest of God, with what kind familiarity and familiar kindness he himself replied on your behalf to the calumnies of those who were against you? How he defended you, when the proud Pharisee was indignant, how he excused you, when your sister complained, how highly he praised your deed, when Judas begrudged it.

And, more than all this, what can I say, how can I find words to tell, about the burning love with which you sought him, weeping at the sepulchre, and wept for him in your seeking?

How he came, who can say how or with what kindness, to comfort you, and made you burn with love still more; how he hid from you when you wanted to see him, and showed himself when you did not think to see him; how he was there all the time you sought him, and how he sought you when, seeking him, you wept.

But you, most holy Lord, why do you ask her why she weeps?

Surely you can see; her heart, the dear life of her soul, is cruelly slain.

O love to be wondered at;

O evil to be shuddered at;

you hung on the wood, pierced by iron nails, stretched out like a thief for the mockery of wicked men; and yet, 'Woman,' you say, 'why are you weeping?' She had not been able to prevent them from killing you, but at least she longed to keep your body for a while with ointments lest it decay.

No longer able to speak with you living, at least she could mourn for you dead. So, near to death and hating her own life, she repeats in broken tones the words of life which she had heard from the living.

And now, besides all this, even the body which she was glad, in a way, to have kept, she believes to have gone.

And can you ask her, 'Woman, why are you weeping?'

Had she not reason to weep?

For she had seen with her own eyes--if she could bear to look--what cruel men cruelly did to you; and now all that was left of you from their hands she thinks she has lost.

All hope of you has fled, for now she has not even your lifeless body to remind her of you.

And someone asks, 'Who are you looking for? Why are you weeping?'

You, her sole joy, should be the last thus to increase her sorrow. But you know it all well, and thus you wish it to be, for only in such broken words and sighs can she convey a cause of grief as great as hers. The love you have inspired you do not ignore,

And indeed you know her well, the gardener, who planted her soul in his garden. What you plant, I think you also water.

Do you water, I wonder, or do you test her?

In fact, you are both watering and putting to the test.

But now, good Lord, gentle Master, look upon your faithful servant and disciple, so lately redeemed by your blood, and see how she burns with anxiety, desiring you, searching all round, questioning, and what she longs for is nowhere found.

Nothing she sees can satisfy her, since you whom alone she would behold, she sees not.

What then?

How long will my Lord leave his beloved to suffer thus?

Have you put off compassion now you have put on incorruption? Did you let go of goodness when you laid hold of immortality?

Let it not be so, Lord.

You will not despise us mortals now you have made yourself immortal, for you made yourself a mortal in order to give us immortality.

And so it is; for love's sake he cannot bear her grief for long or go on hiding himself. For the sweetness of love he shows himself who would not for the bitterness of tears.

The Lord calls his servant by the name she has often heard and the servant knows the voice of her own Lord.

I think, or rather I am sure, that she responded to the gentle tone with which he was accustomed to call, 'Mary'. What joy filled that voice, so gentle and full of love.

He could not have put it more simply and clearly:

'I know who you are and what you want; behold me; do not weep, behold me; I am he whom you seek.'

At once the tears are changed; I do not believe that they stopped at once, but where once they were wrung from a heart broken and self-tormenting they flow now from a heart exulting. How different is, 'Master!' from 'If you have taken him away, tell me'; and, 'They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him,' has a very different sound from,

'I have seen the Lord, and he has spoken to me.'

But how should I, in misery and without love, dare to describe the love of God and the blessed friend of God? Such a flavour of goodness will make my heart sick if it has in itself nothing of that same virtue.

But in truth, you who are very truth, you know me well and can testify that I write this for the love of your love, my Lord, my most dear Jesus.

I want your love to burn in me as you command so that I may desire to love you alone and sacrifice to you a troubled spirit, 'a broken and a contrite heart'.

Give me, 0 Lord, in this exile, the bread of tears and sorrow for which I hunger more than for any choice delights.

Hear me, for your love, and for the dear merits of your beloved Mary, and your blessed Mother, the greater Mary.

Redeemer, my good Jesus, do not despise the prayers of one who has sinned against you but strengthen the efforts of a weakling that loves you.

Shake my heart out of its indolence, Lord, and in the ardour of your love bring me to the everlasting sight of your glory where with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, God, for ever.



July 22, 2011

Memorial of Saint
Mary Magdalene

Reading 1
Ex 20:1-17

In those days:
God delivered all these commandments:

“I, the LORD, am your God,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery.
You shall not have other gods besides me.
You shall not carve idols for yourselves
in the shape of anything in the sky above
or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth;
you shall not bow down before them or worship them.
For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God,
inflicting punishment for their fathers’ wickedness
on the children of those who hate me,
down to the third and fourth generation;
but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation
on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.

“You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, in vain.
For the LORD will not leave unpunished
him who takes his name in vain.

“Remember to keep holy the sabbath day.
Six days you may labor and do all your work,
but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD, your God.
No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter,
or your male or female slave, or your beast,
or by the alien who lives with you.
In six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth,
the sea and all that is in them;
but on the seventh day he rested.
That is why the LORD has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

“Honor your father and your mother,
that you may have a long life in the land
which the LORD, your God, is giving you.

“You shall not kill.

“You shall not commit adultery.

“You shall not steal.

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife,
nor his male or female slave, nor his ox or ass,

nor anything else that belongs to him.”

Responsorial Psalm
19:8, 9, 10, 11

R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.

The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.

R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.

The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
The command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.

R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.

The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
The ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.

R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.

They are more precious than gold,
than a heap of purest gold;
Sweeter also than syrup
or honey from the comb.

R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.

Jn 20:1-2, 11-18

On the first day of the week,
Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put him.”

Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping.
And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb
and saw two angels in white sitting there,
one at the head and one at the feet
where the Body of Jesus had been.
And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “They have taken my Lord,
and I don’t know where they laid him.”
When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there,
but did not know it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her,

“Woman, why are you weeping?
Whom are you looking for?”

She thought it was the gardener and said to him,
“Sir, if you carried him away,
tell me where you laid him,
and I will take him.”
Jesus said to her,


She turned and said to him in Hebrew,
“Rabbouni,” which means Teacher.
Jesus said to her,

“Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.
But go to my brothers and tell them,
‘I am going to my Father and your Father,
to my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples,
“I have seen the Lord,”
and then reported what he told her.


July 22

St. Mary Magdalene

Except for the mother of Jesus, few women are more honored in the Bible than Mary Magdalene. Yet she could well be the patron of the slandered, since there has been a persistent legend in the Church that she is the unnamed sinful woman who anointed the feet of Jesus in Luke 7:36-50.
Most Scripture scholars today point out that there is no scriptural basis for confusing the two women. Mary Magdalene, that is, “of Magdala,” was the one from whom Christ cast out “seven demons” (Luke 8:2)—an indication, at the worst, of extreme demonic possession or, possibly, severe illness.

Father W.J. Harrington, O.P., writing in the New Catholic Commentary, says that “seven demons” “does not mean that Mary had lived an immoral life—a conclusion reached only by means of a mistaken identification with the anonymous woman of Luke 7:36.” Father Edward Mally, S.J., writing in the Jerome Biblical Commentary, agrees that she “is not...the same as the sinner of Luke 7:37, despite the later Western romantic tradition about her.”

Mary Magdalene was one of the many “who were assisting them [Jesus and the Twelve] out of their means.” She was one of those who stood by the cross of Jesus with his mother. And, of all the “official” witnesses that might have been chosen for the first awareness of the Resurrection, she was the one to whom that privilege was given. She is known as the "Apostle to the Apostles."


O Lord, open my lips.
And my mouth will proclaim your praise.

Invitatory Psalm
Psalm 99 (100)

The Lord is our delight: come, bless his name.

– The Lord is our delight: come, bless his name.

Rejoice in the Lord, all the earth,
and serve him with joy.
Exult as you enter his presence.

– The Lord is our delight: come, bless his name.

Know that the Lord is God.
He made us and we are his
– his people, the sheep of his flock.

– The Lord is our delight: come, bless his name.

Cry out his praises as you enter his gates,
fill his courtyards with songs.
Proclaim him and bless his name;
for the Lord is our delight.
His mercy lasts for ever,
his faithfulness through all the ages.

– The Lord is our delight: come, bless his name.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

– The Lord is our delight: come, bless his name.


O Three in One, and One in Three,
Who rulest all things mightily,
Bow down to hear the songs of praise
Which, freed from bonds of sleep, we raise.
While lingers yet the peace of night,
We rouse us from our slumbers light;
That might of instant prayer may win
The healing balm for wounds of sin.
If, by the wiles of Satan caught,
This night-time we have sinned in aught,
That sin thy glorious power today,
From heaven descending, cleanse away.
Let naught impure our bodies stain,
No laggard sloth our souls detain,
No taint of sin our spirits know,
To chill the fervour of their glow.
Wherefore, Redeemer, grant that we
Fulfilled with thine own light may be:
That, in our course, from day to day,
By no misdeed we fall away.
Grant this, O Father ever One
With Christ, thy sole-begotten Son,
And Holy Ghost, whom all adore,
Reigning and blest for evermore.

Against a faithless friend
Psalm 54 (55)

Do not reject my plea, O God, for wicked men assail me.

Open your ears, O God, to my prayer,
and do not hide when I call on you:
turn to me and answer me.
My thoughts are distracted and I am disturbed
by the voice of my enemy and the oppression of the wicked.
They let loose their wickedness on me,
they persecute me in their anger.
My heart is tied in a knot
and the terrors of death lie upon me;
fear and trembling cover me;
terror holds me tight.
I said, “Will no-one give me wings like a dove?
I shall fly away and rest.
I shall flee far away
and remain all alone.
I shall wait for him who will save me
from the stormy wind and the tempest.”

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

Do not reject my plea, O God, for wicked men assail me.
Psalm 54 (55)

The Lord will free us from the hand of the enemies and from those who wish us harm.

Scatter them, Lord, and separate their tongues,
for I see violence and conflict in the city.
By day and by night they circle it
high on its battlements.
Within it are oppression and trouble;
scheming and fraud fill its squares.
For if my enemy had slandered me,
I think I could have borne it.
And if the one who hated me had trampled me,
perhaps I could have hidden.
But you – a man just like me,
my companion and my friend!
We had happy times together,
we walked together in the house of God.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

The Lord will free us from the hand of the enemies and from those who wish us harm.
Psalm 54 (55)

Entrust your cares to the Lord and he will support you.

Let death break in upon them!
Let them go down alive to the underworld,
for wickedness shares their home.
As for me, I will call upon God,
and the Lord will rescue me.
Evening, morning, noon – I shall watch and groan,
and he will hear my voice.
He will redeem my soul
and give it peace from those who attack me –
for very many are my enemies.
God will hear and will bring them low,
God, the eternal.
They will never reform:
they do not fear God.
That man – he stretched out his hand against his allies:
he corrupted his own covenant.
His face was smoother than butter,
but his heart was at war;
his words were softer than oil,
but they were sharp as drawn swords.
Throw all your cares on the Lord
and he will give you sustenance.
He will not let the just be buffeted for ever.
No – but you, Lord, will lead the wicked
to the gaping mouth of destruction.
The men of blood and guile
will not live half their days.
But I, Lord, will put my trust in you.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

Entrust your cares to the Lord and he will support you.
My son, attend to my wisdom,
– and turn your ears to my words of prudence.

2 Corinthians 5:1-21

We know that when the tent that we live in on earth is folded up, there is a house built by God for us, an everlasting home not made by human hands, in the heavens. In this present state, it is true, we groan as we wait with longing to put on our heavenly home over the other; we should like to be found wearing clothes and not without them. Yes, we groan and find it a burden being still in this tent, not that we want to strip it off, but to put the second garment over it and to have what must die taken up into life. This is the purpose for which God made us, and he has given us the pledge of the Spirit.

We are always full of confidence, then, when we remember that to live in the body means to be exiled from the Lord, going as we do by faith and not by sight – we are full of confidence, I say, and actually want to be exiled from the body and make our home with the Lord. Whether we are living in the body or exiled from it, we are intent on pleasing him. For all the truth about us will be brought out in the law court of Christ, and each of us will get what he deserves for the things he did in the body, good or bad.

And so it is with the fear of the Lord in mind that we try to win people over. God knows us for what we really are, and I hope that in your consciences you know us too. This is not another attempt to commend ourselves to you: we are simply giving you reasons to be proud of us, so that you will have an answer ready for the people who can boast more about what they seem than what they are. If we seemed out of our senses, it was for God; but if we are being reasonable now, it is for your sake. And this is because the love of Christ overwhelms us when we reflect that if one man has died for all, then all men should be dead; and the reason he died for all was so that living men should live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised to life for them.

From now onwards, therefore, we do not judge anyone by the standards of the flesh. Even if we did once know Christ in the flesh, that is not how we know him now. And for anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation; the old creation has gone, and now the new one is here. It is all God’s work. It was God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the work of handing on this reconciliation. In other words, God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself, not holding men’s faults against them, and he has entrusted to us the news that they are reconciled. So we are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were appealing through us, and the appeal that we make in Christ’s name is: be reconciled to God. For our sake God made the sinless one into sin, so that in him we might become the goodness of God.


God, through Christ, changed us from enemies into his friends, and he gave us the task of making others his friends also.

God did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, and he gave us the task of making others his friends also.


From a homily on the Gospels by Gregory the Great, pope

She longed for Christ, though she thought he had been taken away

When Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and did not find the Lord’s body, she thought it had been taken away and so informed the disciples. After they came and saw the tomb, they too believed what Mary had told them. The text then says: The disciples went back home, and it adds: but Mary wept and remained standing outside the tomb.

We should reflect on Mary’s attitude and the great love she felt for Christ; for though the disciples had left the tomb, she remained. She was still seeking the one she had not found, and while she sought she wept; burning with the fire of love, she longed for him who she thought had been taken away. And so it happened that the woman who stayed behind to seek Christ was the only one to see him. For perseverance is essential to any good deed, as the voice of truth tells us: Whoever perseveres to the end will be saved.

At first she sought but did not find, but when she persevered it happened that she found what she was looking for. When our desires are not satisfied, they grow stronger, and becoming stronger they take hold of their object. Holy desires likewise grow with anticipation, and if they do not grow they are not really desires. Anyone who succeeds in attaining the truth has burned with such a great love. As David says: My soul has thirsted for the living God; when shall I come and appear before the face of God? And so also in the Song of Songs the Church says: I was wounded by love; and again: My soul is melted with love.

Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek? She is asked why she is sorrowing so that her desire might be strengthened; for when she mentions whom she is seeking, her love is kindled all the more ardently.

Jesus says to her: Mary. Jesus is not recognised when he calls her “woman”; so he calls her by name, as though he were saying: Recognise me as I recognise you; for I do not know you as I know others; I know you as yourself. And so Mary, once addressed by name, recognises who is speaking. She immediately calls him rabboni, that is to say, teacher, because the one whom she sought outwardly was the one who inwardly taught her to keep on searching.


On her return from the Lord’s tomb, Mary Magdalen told the disciples that she had seen the Lord. Blessed is she who deserved to be first with the news that Life had risen from death.

While she was there, weeping, she saw her beloved, and then told the good news to the others. Blessed is she who deserved to be first with the news that Life had risen from death.

Let us pray.

Almighty, ever-living God, your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ made Mary Magdalen the first herald of Easter joy.

Grant that, following her example and her prayers, we may, in this life, proclaim the living Christ, and come to see him reigning in your glory.

We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.