Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday, July 22, 2012 Litany Lane Blog: comtemplate, Mark 6:30-34 , Saint Mary Magdalen,, Psalm 23

Sunday, July 22, 2012
Contemplate, Mark 6:30-34 , Feast of Saint Mary Magdalen, Psalm 23

Good Day Bloggers! 
Wishing everyone a Blessed Sunday! 

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Something Happens). It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience and tranquility and of course resolution...God's always available 24/7..

We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift knowledge and free will as well, make the most of it. Life on earth is a stepping to our eternal home in Heaven. Its your choice whether to rise towards eternal light or lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to Heaven is our Soul, our's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012

Today's Word:  contemplate  con·tem·plate [kon-tuhm-pleyt]

Origin:  1585–95;  < Latin contemplātus  past participle of contemplāre, contemplārī  to survey, observe, equivalent to con- con-  + templ ( um ) space marked off for augural observation, temple  + -ātus -ate1

verb (used with object)
1. to look at or view with continued attention; observe or study thoughtfully: to contemplate the stars.
2. to consider thoroughly; think fully or deeply about: to contemplate a difficult problem.
3. to have as a purpose; intend.
4. to have in view as a future event: to contemplate buying a new car.

Today's Gospel Reading - Mark 6:30-34

Jesus feels compassion for the people
The Banquet of Life – Jesus invites to sharing
Mark 6, 30-34
2. Gospel: Mark 6:30-34

The Good Shepherd, 1660 Murillo
30 The apostles rejoined Jesus and told him all they had done and taught. 31 And he said to them, 'Come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while'; for there were so many coming and going that there was no time for them even to eat. 32 So they went off in the boat to a lonely place where they could be by themselves. 33 But people saw them going, and many recognized them; and from every town they all hurried to the place on foot and reached it before them. 34 So as he stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he set himself to teach them at some length.

a) A key to the reading:
The text on which we will meditate on this 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time is brief. Only five verses. At first sight a few lines seem to be only a brief introduction to the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves in the desert (Mk 6, 34-44). But if the Liturgy of this Sunday has separated from the rest and underlined these five verses, it means that they contain something very important that perhaps we would not notice if they were only used as an introduction to the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves.
In fact, these five verses reveal a characteristic of Jesus which has always struck and continues to strike us: his concern for health and the formation of the disciples, his accepting and welcoming humanity toward the poor people of Galilee, his tenderness towards persons. If the Church by means of the Sunday Liturgy, invites us to reflect on these aspects of the activity of Jesus it is on order to encourage us to prolong this same attitude of Jesus in the relationship that we have with others. During this reading we will be very attentive to the minute details of Jesus’ attitude toward others.

b) A division of the text to help in the reading:
Mark 6, 30: Revision of the apostolic work
Mark 6, 31-32: Concern of Jesus that the disciples get some rest
Mark 6, 33: People have other criteria and follow Jesus
Mark 6, 34: Moved to compassion, Jesus changes his plan and receives and welcomes the people.

For those who wish to deepen more into the theme
a)    The context which enlightens the text:
i) Chapter six of Mark shows an enormous contrast! On the one hand Mark speaks about the banquet of death, held by Herod with the great of Galilee, in the palace of the Capital City, during which John the Baptist was killed (Mk 6, 17-29). On the other hand, the banquet of life, held by Jesus for the people of Galilee, hungry in the desert, so that they would not perish along the way (Mk 6, 35-44). The five verses of this Sundays’ reading (Mk 6, 30-34) are placed exactly between these two banquets.
ii) These five verses underline two things:
- they offer a picture of Jesus, the Formator of the Disciples;
- they indicate that to announce the Good News of Jesus is not only a question of doctrine, but above all of acceptance, of goodness, of tenderness, of availability, of revelation of the love of God.

b) Commentary on the text:
Mark 6, 30-32: The welcoming acceptance given to the disciples
These verses indicate that Jesus formed the new leaders. He involved the disciples in the mission and he used to take them immediately to a more peaceful place so as to be able to rest and make a revision of their mission (cfr. Lk 10, 17-20). He was concerned about their nourishment and of their rest, because the work of the mission was such that they did not even have the time to eat (cfr. Jn 21, 9-13).
Mark 6, 33-34: Moved to compassion, Jesus changes his plans and receives the people
The people perceive that Jesus had gone to the other shore of the lake, and they follow him. When Jesus, in getting out of the boat, saw that crowd, he renounced to rest and began to teach them. Here we can see the abandonment in which the people were. Jesus was moved to compassion, “because they were like sheep without a shepherd”. The one who reads this parable remembers the Psalm of the Good Shepherd (Ps 23). When Jesus becomes aware that the people have no shepherd, he began to be their shepherd. He began to teach. He guides the crowds in the desert of life, and the multitude could then sing: “The Lord is my shepherd. There is nothing I shall want!”

b)    Extending the information:

“To follow” was the term which formed part of the education system of the time. It was used to indicate the relationship between the Disciple and the Master. The relationship Master-Disciple is diverse from the relationship professor-pupil. The pupils attend the classes of the professor on a given subject. The disciples “follow” the Master and live with him. And it is precisely during this “living together” of three years with Jesus that the disciples received their formation.
Jesus, the Master is the axis, the centre and the model of formation. In his attitudes it is a proof of the Kingdom, he incarnates the love of God and reveals it (Mk 6, 31; Mt 10, 30-31; Lk 15,11-32). Many small gestures mirror this witness of life with which Jesus indicated his presence in the life of the disciples, preparing them for life and for the mission. This was his way of giving a human form to the experience which he himself had had with the Father:
- to involve them in the mission (Mk 6,7; Lk 9, 1-2; 10,1),
- once, he reviews this mission with them (Lk 10, 17-20),
- he corrects them when they make a mistake or when they want to be the first ones (Mk 10, 13-15; Lk 9, 46-48),
- he waits for the opportune moment to correct them (Mk 9, 33-35),
- he helps them to discern (Mk 9, 28-29),
- he challenges them when they are slow (Mk 4, 13; 8, 14-21),
- he prepares them for the time of conflict (Jn 16, 33; Mt 10, 17-25),
- he sends them out to observe and to analyse reality (Mk 8, 27-29; Jn 4, 35; Mt 16, 1-3),
- he reflects together with them on the questions of the present moment (Lk 13, 1-5),
- he places them before the needs of the multitude (Jn 6, 5),
- he corrects the mentality of revenge (Lk 9, 54-55),
- he teaches that the needs of the multitude are over and above the ritual prescriptions (Mt 12,7,12),
- he fights against the mentality which thinks that sickness is a punishment from ¨God (Jn 9, 2-3),
- he spends time alone with them in order to be able to instruct them (Mk 4, 34; 7, 17; 9, 30-31; 10, 10; 13, 3),
- he knows how to listen, even when dialogue is difficult (Jn 4, 7-42),
- he helps them to accept themselves (Lk 22, 32),
- he is demanding and asks them to leave everything for his sake (Mk 10, 17-31),
- he is severe with hypocrisy (Lk 11, 37-53),
- he asks more questions than gives responses (Mk 8, 17-21),
- he is firm and does not allow himself to be deviated from the road (Mk 8, 33; Lk 9, 54-55).
This is a picture of Jesus, the Formator. The formation in the “following of Jesus” was not in the first place the transmission of the truth to be learnt by heart, but rather a communication of the new experience of God and of life which radiated from Jesus for the Disciples. The community which formed itself around Jesus was the expression of this new experience. Formation led the person to see with other eyes, to have other attitudes. It arose in them a new awareness concerning the mission and themselves. Yes, it made them place their feet side by side to those who were excluded. In some, it produced, “conversion” because they accepted the Good News (Mk 1, 15).

● How Jesus announces the Good News to the multitude
The fact that John was in prison impels Jesus to return and to begin the announcement of the Good News. It was an explosive and creative beginning! Jesus goes around and through all of Galilee: the villages, the towns, the city (Mk 1, 39). He visits the communities. Finally he changes residence and goes to live in Capernaum (Mk 1, 21; 2, 1), a city on the cross roads to several roads, and this facilitated the message to be diffused. He practically does not ever stop, he is always on the road. The Disciples go with him everywhere. In the fields, along the streets, on the mountain, in the desert, in the ship, in the Synagogues, in the houses. And they go with great enthusiasm!
Jesus helps the people, serving them in many ways: he drives out the evil spirits (Mk 1, 39), he cures the sick and those who are possessed by the devil (Mk 1, 34), he purifies those who are excluded because of some impurity (Mk 1, 40-45), he accepts the marginalized and relates and eats with them (Mk 2, 15). He announces, calls and convokes. He attracts, consoles and helps. This is a passion which is revealed. Passion for the Father and for the poor and abandoned people of his land. There he finds people who listen to him, he speaks and transmits the Good News. Everywhere.
In Jesus, everything is revelation which fascinates or captivates him from within! He himself is the proof, the living witness of the Kingdom. In him appears that which happens when a person allows God to reign, allows God to guide or direct his life. In his way of living and acting together with the others, Jesus transformed the nostalgia into hope! All of a sudden people understood: “This was what God wanted for his people!”
And this was the beginning of the announcement of the Good News of the Kingdom which was rapidly diffused in the villages of Galilee. In a small way, like a seed, which then grows until it becomes a big tree, under which people could rest (Mk 4, 31-32). And people took care to diffuse the News.
The people of Galilee remained impressed with the way Jesus taught. “A new teaching! Given with authority! Different from that of the scribes!” (Mk 1, 22,27). What Jesus did most was to teach (Mk 2, 13; 4, 1-2; 6, 34). And this was what he used to do (Mk 10, 1). More than fifteen times the Gospel of Mark says that Jesus taught. But Mark hardly ever says what he taught. Perhaps, he is not interested in the content? It depends on what people understand by content! To teach does not mean to teach only new truths and thus people learn them by heart. The content which Jesus has to give does not only appear in the words, but also in his gestures and in the way in which he enters into relationship with the persons. The content is never separated from the person who communicates it. Jesus was a welcoming person (Mk 6, 34). He loved the people. Goodness and love which were visible in his words formed part of the content. They constitute his temperament. A good content without goodness is like spilt milk. Mark defines the content of the teaching of Jesus as “the Good News of God” (Mk 1, 14). The Good News which Jesus proclaimed comes from God and reveals something on God. In everything which God says and does, the traits of the face of God are visible. The experience which he himself has of God, the experience of the Father is visible. To reveal God as Father is the source, the content and the purpose or end of the Good News of Jesus.

4. Some questions
to help us in our personal reflection.
a) Which is the aspect of Jesus’ attitude which has pleased you the most and which arose greatest admiration among the people in Jesus’ time?
b) Jesus’ concern for the disciples and his concern to accept and welcome the people well: both of these are important. Which one of these prevails in Jesus’ attitude?
c) Compare Jesus’ attitude with the attitude of the Good Shepherd of Psalm 23. What strikes the most?
d) Is the attitude of our community the same as that of Jesus?

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites,

Featured Item of the Day from Litany Lane

Saint Mary Magdalene
Saint Mary Magdalene by LitanyLane

Saint of the Day:  Saint Mary Magdalene

Feast Day: July 22
Died: 1619
Patron Saint of : Apothecaries, Casamicciola, Italy, contemplatives, converts, druggists, glove makers, hairstylists, penitent sinners, penitent women, people ridiculed for their piety, perfumeries, perfumers, pharmacists, reformed prostitutes,tanners, women.

Mary Magdalene (original Greek Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνή), or Mary of Magdala, was one of Jesus' most celebrated disciples, and the most important female disciple in the movement of Jesus. Jesus cleansed her of "seven demons", [Lu 8:2] [Mk 16:9] sometimes interpreted as referring to complex illnesses. She became Jesus' close friend and most prominent during his last days, being present at the cross after the male disciples (excepting John the Beloved) had fled, and at his burial. She was the first person to see Jesus after his Resurrection, according to both John 20 and Mark 16:9.

Mary Magdalene is considered by the Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran churches to be a saint, with a feast day of July 22. The Eastern Orthodox churches also commemorate her on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers.



Consistently in the four Gospels, Mary Magdalene seems to be distinguished from other women named Mary by adding "Magdalene" (η Μαγδαληνή) to her name. Traditionally, this has been interpreted to mean that she was from Magdala, a town thought to have been on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. Luke 8:2 says that she was actually "called Magdalene." In Hebrew מגדל Migdal means "tower", "fortress"; in Aramaic, "Magdala" means "tower" or "elevated, great, magnificent". In the Gospel of John, Mary Magdalene is also referred to simply as "Mary" at least twice.] Gnostic writings use Mary, Mary Magdalene, or Magdalene. Mary Magdalene's given name Μαρία (Maria) is usually regarded as a Latin form of Μαριὰμ (Mariam), which is the Greek variant used in Septuagint for Miriam, the Hebrew name for Moses' sister. The name had become very popular during Jesus' time due to its connections to the ruling Hasmonean and Herodian dynasties.
Primary sources about Mary Magdalene can be divided into canonical texts that are collected into the Christian New Testament and apocryphal texts that were left out from the Bible, being judged as heretical during the development of the New Testament canon. These apocryphal sources are usually dated from the end of the 1st to the early 4th century, all possibly written well after Mary's death. (The canonical gospels are often dated from the second half of the 1st century.)

In New Testament

Seven demons

The four Gospels included in the New Testament have little to say about Mary Magdalene. With a single exception in the Gospel of Luke, there is no mention of her in the Gospels before the crucifixion.
After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out—and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.
Luke 8:1-3
According to Luke 8:2 and Mark 16:9, Jesus cleansed her of "seven demons". Some contemporary scholars contend this concept means healing from illness. Some scholars regard the reference in Mark as a late addition, and the reference is possibly based on the Gospel of Luke.
According to the Gospel of Mary, they may refer to "the seven powers of wrath" spoken of in 8:18-19:
"When the soul had overcome the third power, it went upwards and saw the fourth power, which took seven forms. The first form is darkness, the second desire, the third ignorance, the fourth is the excitement of death, the fifth is the kingdom of the flesh, the sixth is the foolish wisdom of flesh, the seventh is the wrathful wisdom. These are the seven powers of wrath."

At the crucifixion

It is at the time of the crucifixion and resurrection that Mary Magdalene comes to the fore in the gospels. Uniquely among the followers of Jesus, she is specified by name (though not consistently by any one gospel) as a witness to three key events: Jesus' crucifixion, his burial, and the discovery of his tomb to be empty. Mark 15:40, Matthew 27:56 and John 19:25 mention Mary Magdalene as a witness to crucifixion, along with various other women. Luke does not name any witnesses, but mentions "women who had followed him from Galilee" standing at a distance.[Lk. 23:49] In listing witnesses who saw where Jesus was buried by Joseph of Aramathea, Mark 15:47 and Matthew 27:61 both name only two people: Mary Magdalene and "the other Mary", who in Mark is "the mother of James". Luke 23:55 describes the witnesses as "the women who had come with Jesus from Galilee". John 19:39-42 mentions no other witness to Joseph's burial of Jesus except for Joseph's assistant Nicodemus. John 20:1 names Mary Magdalene in describing who discovered the tomb to be empty. Mark 16:1 says she was accompanied by Salome and Mary the mother of James, while Matthew 28:1 omits Salome. Luke 24:10 says the group who reported to the disciples the finding of the empty tomb consisted of "Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them" (it is not said they all visited the tomb, nor exclude that some might have joined the group on the way back).

n Mark, Matthew, and John, Mary Magdalene is first witness to the Resurrection. John 20:16 and Mark 16:9 both straightforwardly say that Jesus' first post-resurrection appearance was to Mary Magdalene alone. New Testament scholar Frank Stagg points out that Mary's role as a witness is unusual because women at that time were not considered credible witnesses in legal proceedings.[14] Because of this, and because of extra-biblical traditions about her subsequent missionary activity in spreading the Gospel, she is known by the title, "Equal of the Apostles". In Matthew 28:9, Mary Magdalene is with the other women returning from the empty tomb when they all see the first appearance of Jesus. In Luke 24 the resurrection is announced to the women at the tomb by "two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning" who suddenly appeared next to them. The first actual appearance by Jesus that Luke mentions is later that day, when Cleopas and an unnamed disciple walked with a fellow traveler they later realized was Jesus. Mark 16 describes the same appearance as happening after the private appearance to Mary Magdalene. The gospels of Mark and Luke record that the rest of the disciples did not believe Mary's report of what she saw, and neither Mary Magdalene nor any of the other women are mentioned by name in Paul's catalog of appearances at 1 Cor 15:1. Instead, Paul writes that Jesus "appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve". Indeed, after her disbelieved first report of a resurrection vision, Mary Magdalene disappears from the New Testament. She is not mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, and her fate remains undocumented.
The Gospel of John[11:1-45] [12:1-8] and the Gospel of Luke[10:38-42] also mention a "Mary of Bethany", who in some Christian traditions is regarded the same person as Mary Magdalene. Mary of Bethany was the sister of Lazarus and Martha. Mary and Martha are among the most familiar sets of sisters in the Bible. Both Luke and John describe them as friends of Jesus. Luke's story, though only four verses long, has been a complex source of inspiration, interpretation, and debate for centuries. John's account, which says the sisters had a brother named Lazarus, spans seventy verses. Though some earlier interpreters blended the person of Mary of Bethany with Mary Magdalene and the sinful woman of Luke 7:36-50, current scholars believe she was a different person.[15]
Among the women who are specifically named in the New Testament of the Bible, Mary Magdalene’s name is one of the most frequently found. In Matthew 27:56, the author names three women in sequence: “Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children.” In the Gospel of Mark, the author lists a group of women three times, and each time, Mary Magdalene’s name appears first. Finally, in the Gospel of Luke, as already remarked, the author enumerates the women who reported the tomb visit, writing that, “It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them,” which once again places Mary Magdalene at the head of the list. According to Carla Ricci, “The place she [Mary Magdalene] occupied in the list cannot be considered fortuitous,” because over and over Mary Magdalene’s name is placed at the head of specifically named women, indicating her importance. The significance of this is further strengthened when one examines the lists of the named apostles. In Luke, the author writes that Jesus “took Peter, John and James.” According to Ricci, because Peter occupies the first position in the list, that place can be considered the position of highest importance. As a result, it can be argued that Mary Magdalene must have held a very central position among the followers of Jesus, whether as disciple or in some other capacity.

As prostitute

Pope Gregory the Great's homily on Luke's gospel dated 14 September 591 first suggested that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute: "She whom Luke calls the sinful woman, whom John calls Mary, we believe to be the Mary from whom seven devils were ejected according to Mark. And what did these seven devils signify, if not all the vices? ... It is clear, brothers, that the woman previously used the unguent to perfume her flesh in forbidden acts."(homily XXXIII)
In 1969 the Vatican, during the papacy of Paul VI, without commenting on Pope Gregory's reasoning,[17] implicitly rejected it by separating Luke's sinful woman, Mary of Bethany, and Mary Magdala via the Roman Missal.
This identification of Mary Magdalene as a prostitute was followed by many writers and artists until the 20th century. Even today it is promulgated by some secular and even Christian groups. It is reflected in Martin Scorsese's film adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis's novel The Last Temptation of Christ, in José Saramago's The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Jesus Christ Superstar, Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, Jean-Claude La Marre's Color of the Cross and Hal Hartley's The Book of Life.
It was because of this association of Mary as a prostitute that she became the patroness of "wayward women", and "Magdalene houses" became established to help save women from prostitution.

Various Religious Views


Eastern Orthodox tradition 

The Eastern Orthodox Church maintains that Mary Magdalene, distinguished from Mary of Bethany and the "sinful woman", had been a virtuous woman all her life, even before her conversion. They have never celebrated her as a penitent. This view finds expression both in her written life (βίος or vita) and in the liturgical service in her honor that is included in the Menaion and performed on her annual feast-day. There is a tradition that Mary Magdalene led so chaste a life that the devil thought she might be the one who was to bear Christ into the world, and for that reason he sent the seven demons to trouble her. Mary Magdalene is honored as one of the first witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus, and received a special commission from him to tell the Apostles of his resurrection.[Jn 20:11–18] She is often depicted on icons bearing a vessel of ointment, not because of the anointing by the "sinful woman", but because she was among those women who brought ointments to the tomb of Jesus. For this reason, she is called a Myrrhbearer.
According to Eastern traditions, she retired to Ephesus with the Theotokos (Mary, the Mother of God) and there she died. Her relics were transferred to Constantinople in 886 and are preserved there.

Apostle of the Apostles

Mary Magdalene is referred to as "the apostle to the apostles" from the 10th century. From the 12th century Abbot Hugh of Semur (died 1109), Peter Abelard (died 1142), and Geoffrey of Vendome (died 1132) all referred to Mary Magdalene as the sinner who merited the title apostolarum apostola, with the title becoming commonplace during the 12th and 13th centuries.
Bart D. Ehrman referred to a work by an early anonymous Christian writer (perhaps Hippolytus, a Christian leader in Rome around 200 AD) who in a commentary on the Old Testament book Song of Songs, wrote that Jesus first appeared to the women at the tomb. He instructed them to go and tell his disciples that he was risen from the dead. Then he appeared to his disciples and "upbraided them for not believing the women's report," referring to the women as apostles.[34] Ehrman quotes the writer: "Christ showed himself to the (male) apostles and said to them, 'It is I who appeared to these women and I who wanted to send them to you as apostles.'" Ehrman concludes from this that Mary and the others could therefore be thought of as "apostles sent to the apostles," a title that Mary Magdalene herself came to bear in the Middle Ages (Latin: apostola apostolorum). Erhman further cites Mark 16:8 and Matthew 28:11 as evidence for his proposition.
Darrell Bock also takes the view that Mary Magdalene was not singled out, but was part of a group of women who shared the honour, that for Hippolytus "she was one of a few apostles", stating the term did not originate with Hippolytus.
According to Harvard theologian Karen King, Mary Magdalene was a prominent disciple and leader of one wing of the early Christian movement that promoted women's leadership. King cites references in the Gospel of John that the risen Jesus gives Mary special teaching and commissions her as an "Apostle to the Apostles." Mary is the first to announce the resurrection and to fulfill the role of an Apostle─someone sent by Jesus with a special message or commission, to spread the gospel ("good news") and to lead the early church. The first message she was given was to announce to Peter and the others that "He is risen!"(Mt. 28:7 Mk. 16:9-11 Lk. 24:10 Jn. 20:2) Although the term is not specifically used of her in the New Testament, Eastern Christianity refers to her as "Equal to the Apostles"), and later traditions name her as "the apostle to the apostles." King writes that the strength of this literary tradition makes it possible to suggest that historically Mary was a prophetic visionary and leader within one sector of the early Christian movement after the death of Jesus.
Asbury Theological Seminary Bible scholar Ben Witherington III confirms the New Testament account of Mary Magdalene as historical: "Mary was an important early disciple and witness for Jesus." He continues, "There is absolutely no early historical evidence that Mary's relationship with Jesus was anything other than that of a disciple to her Master teacher."
In his apostolic letter Mulieris Dignitatem ("On the dignity and vocation of women", part 67-69) dated 15 August 1988, Pope John Paul II dealt with the Easter events in relation to the women being present at the tomb after the Resurrection, in a section entitled 'First Witness of the Resurrection': "The women are the first at the tomb. They are the first to find it empty. They are the first to hear "He is not here. He has risen, as he said." (Mt 28:6). They are the first to embrace his feet (cf. Mt 28:9), They are also the first to be called to announce this truth to the Apostles (cf. Mt 28:1-10, Lk 24:8-11). The Gospel of John (cf. also Mk 16:9) emphasizes the special role of Mary Magdalene. She is the first to meet the Risen Christ. [...] Hence she came to be called "the apostle of the Apostles". Mary Magdalene was the first eyewitness of the Risen Christ, and for this reason she was also the first to bear witness to him before the Apostles. This event, in a sense, crowns all that has been said previously about Christ entrusting divine truths to women as well as men."
On 23 July 2006 Pope Benedict XVI spoke about Mary Magdalene in his address before the Angelus, referring to her as "a disciple of the Lord who plays a lead role in the Gospels." "The story of Mary of Magdala reminds us all of a fundamental truth," Pope Benedict said. "A disciple of Christ is one who, in the experience of human weakness, has had the humility to ask for his help, has been healed by him and has set out following closely after him, becoming a witness of the power of his merciful love that is stronger than sin and death."

Roman Catholic tradition

Gregory of Tours, writing in Tours in the 6th century, supports the tradition that she retired to Ephesus, with no mention of any connection to Gaul.
How a cult of Mary Magdalene first arose in Provence has been summed up by Victor Saxer in the collection of essays in La Magdaleine, VIIIe – XIIIe siècle[43] and by Katherine Ludwig Jansen, drawing on popular devotions, sermon literature and iconology.[44] In Provence, Mary is said to have spent her last days alone in the wilderness, fasting and engaging in acts of penitential self-discipline, behavior that was rewarded with experiences of ecstatic union with the divine. Depictions of her last days became enormously popular in preaching and art.
Mary Magdalene's relics were first venerated at the abbey of Vézelay in Burgundy. Jacobus de Voragine gives the common account of the transfer of the relics of Mary Magdalene from her sepulchre in the oratory of Saint Maximin at Aix-en-Provence to the newly founded abbey of Vézelay; the transportation of the relics is entered as undertaken in 771 by the founder of the abbey, identified as Gerard, duke of Burgundy. The earliest mention of this episode is the notice of the chronicler Sigebert of Gembloux (died 1112), who asserts that the relics were removed to Vézelay through fear of the Saracens. There is no record of their further removal to the other St-Maximin; a casket of relics associated with Magdalene remains at Vézelay.
Afterwards, since September 9, 1279, the purported body of Mary Magdalene was also venerated at Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume, Provence. This cult attracted such throngs of pilgrims that the earlier shrine was rebuilt as the great Basilica from the mid-13th century, one of the finest Gothic churches in the south of France.
The competition between the Cluniac Benedictines of Vézelay and the Dominicans of Saint-Maxime occasioned a rash of miraculous literature supporting the one or the other site. Jacobus de Voragine, compiling his Legenda Aurea (Golden Legend) before the competition arose, characterized Mary Magdalene as the emblem of penitence, washing the feet of Jesus with her copious tears (although it is now believed that Mary of Bethany was the woman known for washing or anointing the feet of Jesus) protectress of pilgrims to Jerusalem, daily lifting by angels at the meal hour in her fasting retreat and many other miraculous happenings in the genre of Romance, ending with her death in the oratory of Saint Maximin, all disingenuously claimed to have been drawn from the histories of Hegesippus and of Josephus.
The French tradition of Saint Lazare of Bethany is that Mary, her brother Lazarus, and Maximinus, one of the Seventy Disciples and some companions, expelled by persecutions from the Holy Land, traversed the Mediterranean in a frail boat with neither rudder nor mast and landed at the place called Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer near Arles. Mary Magdalene came to Marseille and converted the whole of Provence. Magdalene is said to have retired to a cave on a hill by Marseille, La Sainte-Baume ("holy cave." baumo in Provençal), where she gave herself up to a life of penance for thirty years. When the time of her death arrived she was carried by angels to Aix and into the oratory of Saint Maximinus, where she received the viaticum; her body was then laid in an oratory constructed by St. Maximinus at Villa Lata, afterwards called St. Maximin.
In 1279, when Charles II, King of Naples, erected a Dominican convent at La Sainte-Baume, the shrine was found intact, with an explanatory inscription stating why the relics had been hidden.
During the Counter Reformation and Baroque periods (late 16th and 17th centuries), the cult of Mary Magdalene saw a great, new popularity as the Catholic Church publicized her as an attractive, persusasive model of repentance and reform, in keeping with the goals of the reform Council of Trent (1545–63). Numerous works of art and theater featuring the tearful penitent Magdalene appeared in the 17th century. As part of this new attention to the cult of the Magdalene, in 1600, her relics were placed in a sarcophagus commissioned by Pope Clement VIII, the head being placed in a separate reliquary. The relics and free-standing images were scattered and destroyed at the Revolution. In 1814, the church of La Sainte-Baume, also wrecked during the Revolution, was restored. In 1822, the grotto was consecrated afresh. The head of the saint now lies there and has been the centre of many pilgrimages.
The traditional Roman Catholic feast day dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene celebrated her position as a penitent. The Magdalene became a symbol of repentance for the vanities of the world to various sects. In 1969, the Catholic Church allegedly admitted what critics had been saying for centuries: Magdalene's standard image as a reformed prostitute is not supported by the text of the Bible. They reportedly have revised the Roman Missal and the Roman Calendar, and now neither of those documents mention Mary Magdalene as a repentant sinner of ill repute. St. Mary Magdalene was the patron of Magdalen College, Oxford, and Magdalene College, Cambridge (both colleges pronounce her name as "maudlin"). In contrast, her name was also used for the Magdalen Asylum, institutions for "fallen women".

References: Courtesy of the Catholic Online, and Courtesy of Wikipedia,
    • Bart D. Ehrman, Peter, Paul and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus In History and Legend (Oxford University Press, 2006). ISBN 0-19-530013-0
    • Pope, H. (1910). St. Mary Magdalen, in The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

      Featured Items from Litany Lane



      Today's Snippet:  Psalm 23 (22)

      Yahweh is my shepherd
      Yahweh is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
      In grassy meadows he lets me lie.
      By tranquil streams he leads me
      to restore my spirit.
      He guides me in paths of saving justice
      as befits his name.
      Even were I to walk in a ravine as dark as death
      I should fear no danger,
      for you are at my side.
      Your staff and your crook are there to soothe me.
      You prepare a table for me under the eyes of my enemies;
      you anoint my head with oil;
      my cup brims over.
      Kindness and faithful love pursue me every day of my life.
      I make my home in the house of Yahweh
      for all time to come.

      Recommended reading:

        • Brock, Ann Graham. Mary Magdalene, The First Apostle: The Struggle for Authority. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-674-00966-5. Discusses issues of apostolic authority in the gospels and the Gospel of Peter the competition between Peter and Mary, especially in chapter 7, "The Replacement of Mary Magdalene: A Strategy for Eliminating the Competition."
        • Jansen, Katherine Ludwig. The Making of the Magdalen: Preaching and Popular Devotion in the Later Middle Ages. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-691-05850-4.