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Feast of St. Mary Magdalene

Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint Patrick,

This weekend (July 22) the Church celebrates the Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene, considered to be one of the most mystical of feasts and perhaps hers is one of the sweetest and strongest because her love was so great.  Her love was recognized by Christ Himself.  She is also the first recorded witness to the Risen Lord.  This saint would later become known as the Apostle to the Apostles because she brought the news of Christ’s resurrection to them.  And because she was devoutly indifferent as to what others thought, along with her own conversion story, Mary is patron saint for the contemplative life, those experiencing sexual temptations, converts, hairdressers, penitent sinners, perfumeries, pharmacists, and those ridiculed for demonstrating sincere piety. 

Debate among historians continues regarding her place and date of death.  Was it in France, as many believe, or in Ephesus as she traveled with St. John?   Perhaps these details of her death are not as important as her life: being a friend of Jesus and proclaiming her encounter with the Risen Christ. “I have seen Him!”

 As we live in the modern world, I believe Saint Mary Magdalene serves as a great role model for every one of us.  If we make the claim that we, too, have encountered the Risen Lord through word and sacraments today, how much more relevant is this powerful saint’s intercession.

Is our gaze upon the Lord so strong that we do not worry about what others think?  Like her, are we consumed with living as a faithful companion of Christ even when persecution or mockery occur?  Are we courageous in proclaiming to others that Christ is alive, even if this message is confronted with doubt or skepticism?  Are we willing to kneel before the Lord with an adoring heart and offer the lavish gift of total Self?   Are we bold enough to stand at the foot of the Cross as Jesus continues to be stripped, beaten, bruised, mocked, and crucified?  Do we remain at the Cross even when others hide in fear?

Our contemporary lives can be messy, indeed!  Things may even appear to be twisted and turned upside down.  Virtue is canceled while sinful vice is considered progress.  Weary disciples question the Good News.  Some continue to live as though the entire Gospel ended on Good Friday afternoon.

Yet, in the midst of modern confusion, rejection, or indifference, the Church elevated July 22 to the status of a feast day, insisting that we turn more intently to St. Mary Magdalene.  Why?  Because WE need to tell others what we have seen as we encounter the Risen Lord – regardless of risking rejection, ridicule, or persecution.  Because WE need to stand at Calvary when everyone else forsakes the Crucified.  Because WE need to keep pointing to the empty tomb! 

The Enemy of God will always try to scream over the Good News.  He may even attempt to trip us as we go and tell others about our encounter with Jesus.  The Enemy will attempt to confuse, deceive, ridicule, and cause doubt – even despair.  He will attempt to perverse truth and reason.  The Enemy will point to our weaknesses and falsely declare victory over a frail humanity. 

But the Magdalene continues to insist, “I have seen Him. He is risen!”  May we echo her unapologetic song of praise!

Saint Mary Magdalene, pray for us!

 Fr. Gurnick