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Friday, June 10, 2016

Mary M gets a feast day

Pope elevates memorial of St. Mary Magdalene to feast day

Recognizing St. Mary Magdalene's role as the first to witness Christ's resurrection and as a "true and authentic evangelizer," Pope Francis raised the July 22 memorial of St. Mary Magdalene to a feast on the church's liturgical calendar, the Vatican announced.

A decree formalizing the decision was published by the Congregation for Divine Worship June 10 along with an article explaining its significance. Both the decree and the article were titled "Apostolorum Apostola" ("Apostle of the Apostles").

In the article for the Vatican newspaper, Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary of the congregation, wrote that in celebrating "an evangelist who proclaims the central joyous message of Easter," St. Mary Magdalene's feast day is a call for all Christians to "reflect more deeply on the dignity of women, the new evangelization and the greatness of the mystery of divine mercy." ....

Preaching about St. Mary Magdalene, Francis highlighted Christ's mercy toward a woman who was "exploited and despised by those who believed they were righteous," but she was loved and forgiven by him .... Francis also mentions her specifically in the prayer he composed for the Year of Mercy: "Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money; the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things; made Peter weep after his betrayal, and assured paradise to the repentant thief." ...

This is a nice gesture. But we need more than gestures. Women are leaving the church and I doubt Mary M getting a feast day will make any of them change their minds. Mary was the person chosen by the risen Jesus to be the first he encountered, the apostle to the apostles, but if she was alive today, she would not be able to be even a "deaconess" in the Catholic church, much less a deacon or priest or cardinal. And Pope Francis seems to be perpetrating here the erroneous idea that Mary M was a prostitute. So this news is kind of a mixed bag.

Learn more about Mary M in this past podcast by Duke NT professor, Mark Goodacre ... NT Pod 13: Mary Magdalene: the First Woman Apostle


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