Posted by: Catholic of Thule | July 22, 2010

Blessed feast day of St. Mary Magdalen.

Today is the feast day of St. Mary Magdalen in the old calendar and the new. The Collect of the Benedictine Monastic Diurnal recalls her powerful intercession, and thus reminds us not to neglect this channel of grace: ‘We beseech Thee, O Lord, that we may be aided by the prayers of blessed Mary Magdalen, moved by whose entreaties Thou didst raise to life her brother Lazarus when he had been dead for days.’ Surely a great reason to entreat with God through the intercession of Mary Magdalen for the graces required for the conversion and the spiritual and physical healing and well-being of ourselves and others.

The Benedictus antiphon recalls the prayer and oblation of Mary Magdalen herself, which, through the grace of inspiration and acceptance by God, constitutes the sanctity on which is founded our veneration of her and our confidence in her intercession: ‘Mary annointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped them with her hair, and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.’ Did she achieve her sanctity by means of expensive oil? Certainly not, but by means of humble love and self-oblation, sparing no effort and no expense, spiritual or material. Her weapons were not those of self-aggrandisement. Her greatness lay in the fact that she desired to serve and praise the glory of God rather than seek greatness for self.

The antiphon calls to mind a passage from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: ‘Be ye therefore followers of God, as most dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath delivered himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God for an odour of sweetness.’ The house was filled with the odour of the ointment, but it was a mere symbol and pale reflection of the odour of pure and holy love produced by the saint’s surrender to God through grace.

Somehow, in the speculation and esoteric rumour mongering of modern times, people may have lost sight of the fact that Mary Magdalen is indeed reckoned to be a great saint, and not somehow denigrated and merely tolerated by the Church. And as a saint, she would have no interest in attempts to make her increase and her Lord and God decrease. That is not what holiness, true greatness, is about. We do not achieve our true potential and greatness in the attempted usurpation of divinity. The very real and true union with God that He graciously and through no merits or claim of our own offers us lies in the way of surrender and sanctity, a path that requires much more courage and strength of character than self assertion and attempts at self-divinization. Through her sanctity, St. Mary Magdalen may indeed be regarded as of ‘royal blood’ together with all the other saints, in holiness and greatness all ranking after the saint of saints herself, the Queen of Heaven, Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, and all, including the Queen of Heaven, to be counted as nothing, and less than nothing, compared to, and apart from, God Himself, who called us all into being out of that nothingness and without whom we would return, not to dust, but to nothingness.

As an afterthought I may say that a friend of mine used to state that St. Mary Magdalen was the patron saint of hidden tabernacles, recalling her tears and persistence before the empty toomb: ‘…they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.’ Her desire was certainly for her Lord and not for an idol of nothingness.



  1. Oooooh a new blog!

    I assume that you are in Greenland rather than the Island of Thule near the Argentine…?

    I have added you to my blogroll…

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