Today is the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene.
The Church considers her to be one of the greatest saints of all time and her feast has been celebrated since the earliest age of the Church. The Gospels tell us little about her, but we do know that she was a great sinner who experienced a profound conversion, in the presence of Our Lord, thus becoming one of His most devoted followers and part of His inner circle of disciples.
She was present throughout His ministry, after her profound conversion, and she was with His Blessed Mother and St. John at the foot of the cross, a personal witness to His Passion and Death. The Gospels tell us that she was the first witness, or among the group of myrrh-bearing women who were the first witnesses, to His Glorious Resurrection. She ran to tell the Apostles, “I have seen the Lord!” For this reason, the Early Church Fathers refer to her repeatedly by the special title “Apostle to the Apostles.” Perhaps there is no better sign to tell us how special she is than that of her being first witness to the Resurrection. There is a message there.
If we take some time to read and pray about her witness, we come to realize there is more to her story. It is our story, the story of a sinner repenting and falling in love with God. The story of a life transformed, of Darkness turning to Light. The triumph of the Cross in each of our lives and the incredible mercy of God.
The Church has named St. Mary Magdalene as the patron of penitents. She is therefore, in a real sense, the patron of all of us.
Her life and witness have profoundly impacted Christians for nearly 2,000 years. The greatest of saints have been deeply affected by her. St. Anselm, a Doctor of the Church, who lived in the 12th century, wrote one of the most beautiful prayers to her, probably the most beautiful prayer one saint has ever composed to another. To read the great prayer he composed to her, please go here.
We live in a unique time of confusion and dissent, a time when the West is becoming less Christian by the day. Modernism and Relativism are ascendant. Mass culture has turned on the Church and is distorting the Christian faith at seemingly every opportunity. St. Mary Magdalene has been, sadly, a prime target for this distortion, painted as anything but the great saint and witness to Our Lord that she truly is.
To get the Truth, seek it in the Gospels, but also consider reading Amy Welborn’s excellent book De-coding Mary Magdalene: Truth, Legend and Lies and for a real surprise, read Mary Magdalene In the Visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich which is a biography, of sorts, from the great German mystic.
Every Catholic can benefit from learning more about St. Mary Magdalene. Who of us has not sinned? Who of us has not struggled with sin and come repentent before Our Merciful Lord? St. Mary Magdalene is waiting to teach you something, something so important about Our Faith. That is her role, that was and is her true calling. Will you listen to what she has to tell you?