Elevating St. Mary Magdalene's Celebration
One of the headlines this week is the Congregation of Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments has raised the memorial of St. Mary Magdalene on July 22nd now to a feast.
At first glance this can be considered just a minor story; it can be considered simply an announcement on how to update our liturgical calendar.
But there is more than meets the eye.
The Church's liturgical year has celebrations that vary in rank, starting with Solemnities and Sundays, then Feast, (obligatory) Memorial and Optional Memorial. The Universal Norms of the Liturgical Year and Calendar has a table of the order of precedence.
As mentioned in the news item, Feasts are next under the rank of Solemnity, and
have their own proper readings at Mass. On feast days, the Gloria is recited at Mass, as is the Te Deum in the Office of Readings.
On some feast days there are three readings (Old Testament, New Testament and Gospel), but not all.
To put it into perspective, there are only 17 Solemnities throughout the Liturgical Year. With Mary Magdalene, there are now 27 Feasts throughout the year:
|1||After Epiphany||Baptism of the Lord||Life of Christ|
|2||Jan. 25||Conversion of St. Paul||Apostle|
|3||Feb. 2||Presentation of the Lord||Life of Christ|
|4||Feb. 22||Chair of St. Peter||Apostle|
|5||April 25||St. Mark||Evangelist|
|6||May 3||Sts. Philip and James the Less||Apostles|
|7||May 14||St. Matthias||Apostle|
|8||May 31||Visitation||Life of Christ|
|9||July 3||St. Thomas||Apostle|
|10||July 22||St. Mary Magdalene|
|11||July 25||St. James the Greater||Apostle|
|12||August 6||Transfiguration of the Lord||Life of Christ|
|13||August 10||St. Lawrence||Deacon|
|14||August 24||St. Bartholomew||Apostle|
|15||Sept. 8||Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary||Marian|
|16||Sept. 14||Exaltation of the Holy Cross||Historical Event|
|17||Sept. 21||St. Matthew||Apostle & Evangelist|
|18||Sept. 29||Michael, Gabriel, Raphael||Archangels|
|19||Oct. 18||St. Luke||Evangelist|
|20||Oct. 28||Sts. Simon and Jude||Apostles|
|21||Nov. 9||Dedication St. John Lateran||Birthday of church|
|22||Nov. 30||St. Andrew||Apostle|
|23||Dec. 12||Our Lady of Guadalupe USA||Marian|
|24||Dec. 26||St. Stephen||Deacon, Protomartyr|
|25||Dec. 27||St. John||Apostle & Evangelist|
|26||Dec. 28||Holy Innocents||Life of Christ|
|27||In Octave of Christmas||Holy Family||Idea Feast|
The majority of feasts are dedicated to the life of Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Apostles and the early life of the Church. Before this change, Mary was the only woman included in this list of feasts.
It's not that I'm suddenly revealing a feminist side, but I am happy at the recognition of the dignity of women, especially of one who played such an active role in the life of Christ. What a joyful day to see this saint's role as "Apostle to the Apostles" being elevated and more properly acknowledged. Mary Magdalene experienced the personal forgiveness and mercy of Christ. She was prominent among the women who supported Jesus and His Apostles. She, St. John and the Blessed Mother were the only three who stayed with Jesus through his Crucifixion and death. Above all, Mary Magdalene was the first (as recorded in the Gospels) to see the risen Christ, and she was the first to bear this "Good News" or Gospel to the Apostles.
We are all called to reflect more deeply “on the dignity of women, the new evangelization, and the abundance of the mystery of divine mercy" as the decree states. And these are clearly examples in the life of Mary Magdalene.
I'm excited about the new elevation in our summer liturgical calendar, and I have a month and a half to plan some extra ways to celebrate this new feast.
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