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WHAT A MIGHTY FORCE OF LOVE KINDLED MARY MAGDALENE’S HEART!

WHAT A MIGHTY FORCE OF LOVE KINDLED MARY MAGDALENE’S HEART!

HOMILY OF ST GREGORY, POPE, ON JOHN 20:11-18

Mary Magdalene, who had been a sinner in the city, washed away with her tears the stains of her misdeeds, because she loved the truth; and the word of Truth was fulfilled which he spoke: “Many sins are forgiven her because she has loved much.”

For she who first had remained cold through sin, afterwards burned with the intensity of her love. For when she came to the sepulchre, and found that the Lord’s body was not there, she believed that it had been taken away, and told the disciples. They coming, saw and believed it to be as the woman had said. And concerning them it goes on to say: “The disciples, therefore, departed to their home”; and then is added: “But Mary was standing outside, weeping at the tomb.”

“BUT MARY WAS STANDING OUTSIDE, WEEPING AT THE TOMB” 

And here we should consider, what a mighty force of love it was that kindled this woman’s heart, so that even when the disciples had left the Lord’s sepulchre, she did not leave it. She kept on seeking him whom she had not found: seeking, she wept and, consumed with the fire of her love, she burned with the desire of him who, she believed, had been taken away.

And so it came to pass, that she, alone, who had remained to seek him, saw him, for indeed the virtue of a good work is perseverance; and the voice of Truth has said: “But he who shall persevere to the end shall be saved.”

Mary, therefore, when she wept, stooped down and looked into the sepulchre. Surely, she had already seen that the sepulchre was empty when she had announced that the Lord had already been taken away; why then does she again stoop down, and again desire to see? But, for one who loves, it is not enough to have looked once: because the strength of the love increases the will to seek. Therefore, she sought at first, and found not; she persevered in seeking, and at length succeeded in finding. And it happened that prolonged desires grew greater, and in growing, grasped what they had found.

– St Gregory, Pope, Homily 25 on the Gospels; An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2020 in Words of Wisdom

 

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SPIRITUAL AND INTELLECTUAL ARTILLERY TO DEFEND THE FAITH

“Five hundred years ago this month, our holy father St Philip Neri was born in the early hours of 22nd July, the feast of St Mary Magdalene. Just hours later the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity were infused into his soul in Baptism. In the wretched heat and humidity that afflict Florence in high summer it was prudent to administer the Sacrament without delay.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed

Our Lord tells us that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard which when it is sown is the tiniest seed in the field, but when grown it becomes a tree in the branches of which the birds of the air come and make their nests. The seed that was planted in St Philip’s heart in the famous Baptistery of St John, and which germinated and took root during his childhood in Florence, would eventually flourish into a mighty tree in Rome. His own room was the nest (he actually called it his ‘nido’) in which the fledgling first Oratory would become the base for an apostolic mission that would earn him the glorious title Apostle of Rome.

The purpose of an Oratory in the plan of salvation

As other Oratories began to be established, it was St Philip’s wish that each house remain autonomous, and this status is preserved to this day in the Church’s law. Nevertheless, every Oratory is to be like a branch that stems from and is animated by that supernatural life that was nurtured in St Philip’s ‘nido’ half a millennium ago. The purpose of an Oratory in the plan of salvation is to give encouragement and direction to anyone who seeks spiritual refreshment in the shade of its bough. An Oratory is supposed to provide a spiritual home, usually in an urban context, in which friendship with Our Saviour is nurtured under the gentle guidance of St Philip and the protection of Our Lady.

…where friendship with Our Saviour is nurtured

Mention of the Counter Reformation conjures up images of the Church rolling out all the engines of war. Established religious orders were to be reformed or suppressed; new congregations would be equipped with spiritual and intellectual artillery to defend the Faith and reclaim territories lost to schism. Jesuits were to be deployed around Europe to engage heretics in public dispute, or despatched to risk life and limb recruiting converts from the heathen New World. In contrast to this, St Philip’s mission within the Church Militant took place entirely on the home front. In the words of Bl. John Henry Newman, ‘He put away from him monastic rule and authoritative speech as David refused the armour of his king… His weapons should be but unaffected humility and unpretending love. All he did was to be done by the light and fervour and convincing eloquence of his personal character and his easy conversation. He came to the Eternal City and he sat himself down there, and his home and his family gradually grew up around him.” In other words, it was through personal contact and friendship that St Philip contributed to the success of the Catholic Reformation.

The Christian/spiritual meaning of friendship

Under the tyranny of sentimentalism that reigns supreme today, there is a danger that friendship can take on a shallow meaning and be understood mainly in terms of feelings and utility. To understand how friendship was so effective in St Philip’s apostolate, it is necessary to appreciate the classical and Christian traditions in which he had been formed by the Dominicans at San Marco, and through his later studies in Rome. In the Aristotelian understanding, friendship is a ‘settled disposition’ – a habit, based on virtue. It involves the recognition of an intrinsic good in the other, and a reciprocated commitment to serve that good and make it flourish. In a truly virtuous friendship, the parties will also work together for the common good. Whereas for Aristotele such friendship is only possible between equals (he said that the one good we must never desire for our friends is that they become gods because if our wish were fulfilled then we should immediately forfeit their friendship), St Thomas Aquinas’s teaching on Sanctifying Grace makes even friendship with God a reality, because God actually shares His Divine Life with us through Baptism.

The infectious spirit of generosity and charity

Saint Philip excelled in making men’s hearts receptive to this vocation to live as friends with God. His joyful influence fostered an ambience in which his spiritual children found pleasure in each other’s company and came to assist each other in living virtuously. A shy cobbler whom St Philip spotted sitting at the back of the Oratory was summoned to the front and hugged like a long-lost child returning to a family that included cardinals and princes. A watch-seller on the verge of bankruptcy found himself suddenly overwhelmed by eager customers at the Oratory, where St Philip’s friends had been primed to come to his assistance. This infectious spirit of generosity and charity was fostered by visits to attend to the poor in the Roman hospitals. Even those who came to the Oratory with unworthy motives were eventually captivated by the ‘Winning Saint’, and some found themselves taking Holy Orders or religious vows as a result.

This school of Christian friendship was the magnificent mustard tree which developed from that seed of the Kingdom planted in St Philip’s heart at his Baptism on 22nd July 1515. By his intercession, and under the protection of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin, may it continue to flourish in the Oratory today and in the years to come.”

– From: “The Oratory Parish Magazine – From the Provost”, London Oratory, Vol. 92, No. 1130 (subheadings in bold added afterwards)

 

 

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PRAYERS TO ST MARY MAGDALENE

“St Mary Magdalene, woman of many sins, who by conversion became the beloved of Jesus, thank you for your witness that Jesus forgives through the miracle of love. You, who already possess eternal happiness in His glorious presence, please intercede for me, so that some day I may share in the same everlasting joy. Amen.”

“Heavenly Father, when others were ready to condemn Mary Magdalene, Jesus accepted her with all her imperfections. She in turn accepted Your Son as her Saviour. It was to St Mary Magdalene, before all others, that Jesus committed the message of Easter joy. Through her intercession, may we proclaim Christ as our living Lord and one day contemplate Him reigning in glory. Amen.”

“O glorious St Mary Magdalene, model of those who truly desire to
follow Our Lord Jesus Christ, obtain for me the graces that will enable me to pour out my soul as sweet perfume upon the feet of my Saviour. You who mourned at the foot of the Cross and rejoiced at the Resurrection, intercede for me, for those who I now name (mention names) and for all who worship in churches dedicated in your name and to the Great Glory of God. Amen.”

(Those brothers and sisters who have neglected going to confession regularly should ask St Mary Magdalene for her unfailing intercession. Heaven rejoices when a repentant sinner comes for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. ♥ )

 

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FOR YOUR DIARY: SEMINARS FOR THE YEAR OF FAITH

SEMINARS FOR THE YEAR OF FAITH: “WOMEN OF FAITH”

• WHAT: A Series of Talks for the Year of Faith

• WHERE: Amigo Hall, St George’s Cathedral, London
(nearest stations: Lambeth North, Elephant & Castle, Waterloo)

• WHEN: On Thursdays after Easter, 7.30-9.00pm

Refreshments on arrival. No charge, but please register at the CCF, email office@ccftootingbec.org.uk or ring 020 8672 7684.

• THE FULL PROGRAMME IS:

11th April: Sr Dr Finbarr Coffey HC (Wonersh Seminary)
“Bernarda Heimgartner and the Fight for Female Apostolic
Religious Life”

18th April: Sr Sgeila Moloney, DMJ (Croydon University Hospital)
“Women in the New Testament”

25th April: Ms Marie Mann (Centre for Catholic Formation Advisor)
“Saint Teresa of Avila: Mapping the Journey of Faith”

2nd May: Mrs Molly Styant (Centre for Catholic Formation Advisor)
“Saint Mary Magdalene, Witness to the Resurrection”

9th May: Dr Anne Inman (Director EPS)
“Saint Hilda of Whitby”

16th May: Sr Dr Vitalis Chigbu, DMMM
“The Canaanite Woman”

 

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