Christians are called to be like St Mary Magdalene, who adored Christ upon finding him, an action that has somewhat lost its meaning in the church, said Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.
He said the feast of St Mary Magdalene, on 22nd July, also serves as a reminder of the need to recuperate “the primacy of God and the primacy of adoration in the life of the Church and in liturgical celebrations.”
“I believe — and I say so humbly — that we Christians perhaps have lost a bit the meaning of adoration. And we think: We go to church, we gather together like brothers, and it is good and beautiful. But the centre is there where God is. And we adore God,” he wrote in an article published on 21st July in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.
Pope Francis raised the memorial of St Mary Magdalene to a feast on the Church’s liturgical calendar on 10th June in a decree, “Apostolorum Apostola” (“Apostle of the Apostles”) which formalised the decision and was published by the Congregation for Divine Worship.
While most liturgical celebrations of individual saints during the year are known formally as memorials, those classified as feasts are reserved for important events in Christian history and for saints of particular significance, such as the Twelve Apostles.
As the first to announce Jesus’ resurrection to the apostles, Cardinal Sarah wrote, St Mary Magdalene was “a witness of divine mercy,” and her feast day can help men and women deepen their roles as followers of Christ through adoration and mission.
Adoration, he continued, is what is most important and “not the songs or rites, as beautiful as they are.”
“What does it mean to adore God then? It means to learn to be with him, to stop in order to speak with him, to feel that his presence is the most true, the most good and the most important of all,” he wrote.
Citing St John Paul II’s writings on the 25th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, “Sacrosanctum Concilium,” Cardinal Sarah highlighted the need “to give God the first place” in order to encounter Christ, his mercy and his love.
“Mary Magdalene is the first witness of this dual behaviour: to adore Christ and to make him known,” he wrote. By centring “our lives on Christ and on his Gospel,” Cardinal Sarah said Christians can model themselves after the “apostle of the apostles” who “comes out of herself to go toward Christ through adoration and mission.”
Picture: St Mary Magdalene is depicted in a stained glass window in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston. Pope Francis has raised the memorial of St Mary Magdalene to a feast that is celebrated on 22nd July on the Church’s liturgical calendar. (CNS photo/ Gregory L. Tracy, The Pilot).