This month of July, let’s imagine our faith like a garden, lush with color and bursting with life. Then we can invoke St. Mary Magdalene, who encountered the Risen Lord in a garden, to guide us. We ask her to intercede for us that we may persevere in prayer and have the tenacity to tend the garden in all its challenges. Most of all, St. Mary can lead us to a beautiful devotion to the Master Gardener whose Cross she stood beneath as He shed His Precious Blood for us. She is perfect to lead us this July, the month in our tradition in which we are called to deepen our devotion to the Precious Blood.
More than her sinful past, Mary Magdalene is remembered as a paragon of great love of Christ and in that we should seek to emulate her example and pray for her intercession. St. Mary Magdalene is a wonderful saint to help us increase our devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus, since she remained at the foot of the cross, along with our Blessed Mother and St. John the Beloved. She would have seen and wept over the blood flowing from our Savior’s many wounds. She would have been there when Christ’s side was opened by Longinus’ spear and the blood and water of Divine Mercy opened upon the world.
St. Mary Magdalene is one of the only followers of Jesus whom we know stayed so faithful to Him even during His Passion. It is often said that praying at the foot of the cross, St. Mary Magdalene represents all penitent souls, all fallen sinners who were forgiven as she was because of their great love. In the words of St. Padre Pio, “If you have the courage to imitate Mary Magdalene in her sins, have the courage to imitate her penance!” Speaking of penance and the Precious Blood, the best way for us to draw near to both is the Sacrament of Confession.
Jesus told St. Faustina Kowalska,
“Daughter, when you go to Confession, to this fountain of My mercy, the Blood and Water which came forth from My Heart always flows down upon your soul and ennobles it. Every time you go to confession, immerse yourself entirely in My mercy, with great trust, so that I may pour the bounty of My grace upon your soul.” (Diary #1602)
To celebrate the Precious Blood of Jesus this July and follow the example of the Magdalene’s penitence, let us get to Confession, remembering that if we have committed a mortal sin, we must get to Confession as soon as possible: The eternal salvation of our soul depends upon it! If it’s a Sunday and we haven’t confessed the mortal sin we must still keep our obligation to attend Mass but not receive Holy Communion until we are once more in a state of grace: after a good Confession. If our sins are “only venial” let’s rush to Confession to remove those sins, too. So many graces are poured out upon us when we confess, and our tendency to keep committing habitual sins is lessened the more we confess them. Pope St. John Paul II went to Confession every week … and he’s a saint! Wonder which came first? Confession!
Let her teach us with her words
Here are three quotes by St. Mary Magdalene that serve as wisdom for us in our own lives. All three of these quotes take place at the Resurrection of Jesus.
1) “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” (Jn 20:15)
These words spring to Mary’s lips when “she thought he was the gardener.” These insightful words referring to He who prunes and tends us are a reminder of how the writings of St. Therese of Lisieux, the “Little Flower,” teach that each soul is made to be a flower in the garden of God. Mary Magdalene knew she was dependent upon the Gardener for everything, for light, strength, and for her very life.
Mary Magdalene’s words teach resilience in faith and in prayer, seeking God with holy stubbornness. She is zealous, never lukewarm. How can we do this? Say for example there is no Eucharistic Adoration at your church, or it was canceled for the evening. Find another church that is offering it … and drive there, even if it takes extra time. Or for example, if you got to church late just as Adoration was ending and the last chords of Tantum ergo sacramentum are fading … stay anyway and pray before the locked tabernacle. Confession only available on Saturday afternoons at your parish but a sin is troubling you? Find the nearest church offering it midweek and go encounter Jesus in the confessional. Let’s bring that Magdalene zeal to all we do in prayer!
2) “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”) (Jn 20:16)
Mary Magdalene turned toward Jesus and cried out “Teacher” in Aramaic, when she recognized Him. For this month of July as we follow the Magdalene’s example, let us address Christ as “Teacher” in prayer. Let’s bring ourselves into the role of student in our faith. Perhaps now is a good time to read one of the spiritual classics about Jesus we’ve never read such as Imitation of Christ or This Tremendous Lover.
3) “I have seen the Lord!” (Jn 20:18)
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news that she had seen Jesus, who had asked her to go to the apostles and tell them He had risen. How do we model that we have seen the Lord with the eyes of faith? We should ask ourselves what we can do this month to give greater witness to our Catholic faith, especially the way we literally do see the Lord: in the Eucharist. Try inviting a friend to Eucharistic Adoration, or wearing a noticeable crucifix in the public square. How can we bear greater witness to our faith with our example?
To celebrate the influence of St. Mary Magdalene this month, try having a Mary Magdalene-themed tea with your family or friends. Serve some Madeleine cookies! Since Mary Magdalene brought the spices to the tomb of Christ, serve hot or cold spiced tea: anything from chai spiced with ginger and cardamom or black tea with cloves and cinnamon. Visit the grave of a departed loved one and in the spirit of Mary Magdalene, bring beautifully scented flowers to the grave. You can sign up here to receive a guided hour of prayer invoking the intercession of St. Mary Magdalene. Finally, in the spirit of Mary Magdalene who loved so much that much was forgiven … let us choose to lovingly forgive when we are hurt by others this month, remembering those words of the Our Father: “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”