Wednesday, July 22, 2020

A Prayer Service to honor St. Mary Magdalene on her Feast Day, July 22, 2020 - from Mercy By The Sea with a reflection by Sr. Ann M. McGovern, RSM

In this painting we see Mary Magdalene carrying out her mission, preaching with the authority conferred on her by the risen Christ, preparing the disciples, both female and male, for the work of the future. 

Opening Prayer: 
God of visions and dreams, join our hearts today as we celebrate the Feast of St. Mary of Magdalene and to proclaim again the story of Jesus’ resurrection, first proclaimed by St. Mary of Magdala. We thank you for the healing gift of Jesus’ resurrecting love proclaimed by women and men to this present day. We thank you for Mary Magdalene’s gift to Jesus of accompaniment in joy filled times, in suffering, death and resurrection. Open our hearts wider today because our country and world needs our prophetic witness to transform unjust social structures. Open our minds and hearts to see how deeply interrelated we all are. 

Song  “Shine Through Me” By: Danielle Rose 

You stand before the mirror in my soul 
let the whole world look up and see 
the reflection of your love, 
your love shining through me. 

ALL: Breath of the One Life, source of all wisdom and compassion, just as you called Mary Magdalene, you have also called each of us through our baptism to be disciples in your kindom.* Gift us with the courage to hear your call and the strength to follow your way. Teach us, each in our own way, to be disciples of the Gospels so that all who encounter us will know your warming, nurturing, and embracing love. In the name of Jesus, our brother, we pray. Amen. 

First Reading: Wisdom of Solomon 7:22-23 

What is Wisdom? 
She is intelligent, holy unique, subtle, flowing, transparent, and pure; 
She is distinct, invulnerable, good, keen, irresistible, and gracious; 
She is humane, faithful, sure, calm, 
all-powerful, all seeing, and 
available to all who are intelligent, pure, and altogether simple. 

Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 147 By: Nan Merrill 

Praise the Beloved, Life of all life! Invite Love into your heart! 
For Divine Love gives strength to the weak, with courage to face their fears. 
Response: Holy Wisdom, Wisdom Bearer, expand our minds and hearts. 

Divine Love brings peace to the heart, peace that is beyond our knowledge. 
Divine Love serves the veil that separates realms of the profane and sacred; 
Holiness radiates through all touched by Divine Love, a refining Fire! 
Response: Holy Wisdom, Wisdom Bearer, expand our minds and hearts. 

Second Reading: The Risen One
By: Rainer Maria Rilke 

Until his final hour he had never refused her anything or turned away, lest she should turn their love to public praise. Now she sank down beside the cross, disguised, heavy with the largest stones of love like jewels in the cover of her pain. 
But later, when she came back to his grave with tearful face, intending to anoint, she found him resurrected for her sake, saying with greater blessedness, “Do not –” 
She understood it in her hollow first: 
how with finality he now forbade her, strengthened by his death, the oils’ relief or any intimation of a touch: because he wished to make of her the lover who needs no more to lean on her beloved, as, swept away by joy in such enormous storms, she mounts even beyond his voice. 
(Rainer Maria Rilke, New Poems, Second Part, 1908; Translation, Ann Conrad Lammers, 1998, 12/10/98) 

Gospel Reading: John 20:1-2, 11-18 

For Your Reflection: By: Ann M. McGovern, RSM 

Will the real Mary of Magdalene please stand up? Mary of Magdala was given the title “Apostle to the Apostles” by St. Thomas Aquinas. Her name comes from her hometown of Magdala, a fishing village on the western shore of Lake Tiberias. But mention her name to some people and invariably someone will identify her as “prostitute,” “repentant sinner,” and the like. How did it happen that she became known as a prostitute, or the woman caught in adultery, rather than Apostle to the Apostles, or the woman at the heart of Christianity? 

Mary of Magdala or St. Mary Magdalene appears in all four canonical gospels which is indicative of her importance in early Christianity. In Luke’s Gospel, she is the first person mentioned in the listing of women who supported Jesus’ ministry out of their own financial resources. In the Gospel as remembered by Matthew and Mark, she is specifically named as one of the witnesses to Jesus’ crucifixion. And in the Gospel, you just prayed/proclaimed from the evangelist John, Mary of Magdala is the first person to have seen Jesus after he was raised from the dead. Jesus commissioned her to, “go to my brothers (and today let us add sisters) and tell them I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” 

Yet down through the years, labels have been wrongly attached to Mary of Magdala – scarring her reputation and distracting us from the significance of her relationship with Jesus and her leadership role in early Christianity. The conflated portrayal of Mary Magdalene is largely due to Pope Gregory the Great who served the Church from 540 to the year 604. 

Contemporary scholarship has rightfully restored our understanding of Mary Magdalene as an important early-Christian leader, enabling her to become an inspiring role model for Twenty-first century disciples. “Her friendship with Jesus helped to heal her painful memories. Her encounter with His risen presence contained a commission to gather all the broken-hearted of history and to proclaim to them her story of unbelievable good news.” (Patricia Clemens Repikoff). 

In 2016 Pope Francis recognized St. Mary Magdalene’s role as the first to witness Christ’s resurrection and as a “true and authentic evangelizer,” by raising July 22 to a feast on the church’s liturgical calendar. Mary is the first woman other than Our Blessed Mother to have her liturgical celebration raised to the rank of a feast. 

Today Mary Magdalene, invites women and men to continuously enlarge our hearts and minds; to evolve into living spirits capable of sharing and being Jesus’ embodied spirit and to engage in dialogue in an effort to heal and overcome the on-going struggle women face for equality in Church and society. 

(Gathered from resources provided by Future Church, 

Questions for Your Pondering: 
• What sensations or feelings arise in your heart today as you reflect on Mary Magdalene? 
• Imagine yourself sitting with Mary Magdalene. What questions would you ask her? 
• What do you hope Mary Magdalene brings to birth in us today? 

For Your Further Reflection: Here is a link to Richard Rohr’s reflection on Mary Magdalene, Knowing and Becoming One. 

Prayers of the Faithful 

Mary Magdalene remained at Jesus’ side through his suffering, a brutal death and his burial. O God, who accompanies us when we suffer, give us strength to accompany our loved ones who are sick and dying especially during these days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Enable us to know that love is stronger than death. 

Response: O Sophia, present amongst us, hear our prayer. 
When Jesus called Mary by name, she recognized him. Jesus give us ears to hear, hearts to feel, and eyes to see our discipleship being called forth from our deepest being. Strengthen our inner knowing. 

Response: Holy Wisdom, enable us to trust and believe in our inner voice and give us the strength to realize our calling to incarnate Love for individuals marginalized due to unjust systems. 
Because of her witness and fidelity, Mary of Magdala is known as Apostle to the Apostles. Help us, O God of Righteousness, to accept your apostolic call “to go and tell our brothers and sisters” of Jesus’ power to heal and love the broken hearted. Enable us to be advocates for racial justice and equality in our country. 

Response: Beloved of our Hearts, embolden us to recognize justice as a sacred endeavor and to join efforts to change and heal systems of dominance and oppression. Women were faithful disciples of Jesus and significant leaders in the early Christian communities. Cleanse the Church of its sin of repressing the Divine Feminine enabling all persons to breath and be free from this societal oppression. 

Response: Help us, Most Inclusive One, to discern our baptismal call to leadership and to pray daily for the recognition of women’s gifts and equality in Church and society. 
God of love and compassion, just as you called Mary Magdalene, you also call us. Strengthen us in our baptismal vocations. Build us into the kindom* of God and seal us with the Spirit of your love for all people. Give us the strength to persevere, the courage to speak out, the faith to believe that “The Risen Lord is indeed risen. Present, intimate, creative, closer that our own heartbeat, accessed through our vulnerability, our capacity for intimacy….for love is the ground in which you live and move and have your being. This is the message that Mary Magdalene has perennially to bring. This is the message we most need to hear.” 
(The Meaning of Mary Magdalene by: Cynthia Bourgeault) 

Ritual of Anointing: 
Let us honor Mary Magdalene who, most scholars believe, anointed Jesus in preparation for his burial. His response, “Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached in all the world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.” 
Bless your head, heart and hands with this blessing from the Song of Songs 
“Set me as a seal upon your heart.” 

Song  “I Will Surrender” 
By: Karen Drucker 

May we be renewed with God’s inclusive spirit and light that shines forth through us. May Christ continue to be our Way, our Truth, and our Life. May the Spirit will be our guide and inspiration. May Saint Mary Magdalene be our model of courage and faithful service in the Church and in the world. 

Closing Song: “The New Consciousness” 
By: Jan Novotka

* “kindom” denotes a world in which we recognize that we are related, that we are “kin” in God, and work to build relationships of love, peace and justice with all creation. 

Recommended resources for your further pondering on Mary Magdalene: 
The Meaning of Mary Magdalene, Discovering The Woman At The Heart of Christianity by Cynthia Bourgeault 
Future Church 
“The Mary Paintings: Expressions of the Divine Feminine” by Catherine Steinberg on loan to Mercy by the 

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