St. Mary Magdalene

Today, we remember and celebrate the life of the first preacher of the Gospel – the Good News - St. Mary Magdalene.

What do we know about her?  Was she the public sinner referred to in the Gospels?  Perhaps.  We don’t really know, but we do know four important things about Mary:

  1. She was at the foot of the cross (John 19:25) – one of the few who did not abandon Jesus in His Passion and Death.  This is testimony of her great love of Jesus.
  2. After His death, she sought Him. (John 20:1-2). “… Mary Magdalene came to the tomb.”
  3. She saw the Risen Jesus and apparently threw her arms around Him for Jesus says, “Stop holding on to me …”.
  4. She is honored as the Apostle to the Apostles:  “… go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my father and your father, to my God and your God.’ Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord,’ and then reported what He had told her.” (John 20:11-18).

St. There of Lisieux wrote: “The Magdalene, most of all, is the model I like to follow.  That boldness of hers, which would be so amazing if it weren’t the boldness of a lover, won the heart of Jesus, and how it fascinates me.”

May you and I imitate St. Mary Magdalene today and love Jesus with boldness!

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Mary, Untier of Knots

Pope Francis has been highlighting a relatively unknown devotion to Our Blessed Mother:  Mary, Untier of Knots.  In recent addresses, Pope Francis has said,

“The first aspect of her faith is this:  Mary’s faith unties the knot of sin.  What does this mean?  The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council took up a phrase of Saint Irenaeus, who states that ‘the knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by the obedience of Mary; what the virgin Eve bound by her unbelief, the virgin Mary loosened by her faith.’ But we know one thing:  nothing is impossible for God’s mercy!  Even the most tangled knots are loosened by His grace.  And Mary, whose ‘Yes’ opened the door for God to undo the knot of the ancient disobedience, is the Mother who patiently and lovingly brings us to God, so that He can untangle the knots of our soul by His fatherly mercy.’ 

Pope Francis states:  “When we do not listen to Him, when we do not follow His will, we do concrete things that demonstrate our lack of trust in Him – for that is what sin is – and a kind of knot is created deep within us.  These knots take away our peace and serenity.  They are dangerous, since many knots can form a tangle which gets more and more painful and difficult to undo.”

Pope Francis asks:  “What are the knots in my life?” We all have knots in our lives – the results of bad choices that we have made.  We might think that our lives are tangled in knots that can never be undone.  Pope Francis says, “All the knots of our heart, every knot of our conscience, can be undone.  Do I ask Mary to help me trust in God’s mercy, to undo those knots, to change?  She, as a woman of faith, will tell you: ‘Get up, go to the Lord:  He understands you.”

Mary, Mother of Faith, Untier of Knots, help me to untie the tangled web of knots in my life.  Amen!


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Merciful – Kind – Faithful

What kind of God do you believe in?

Some of us may live with images of a punishing God.  Reading about some of the recent natural disasters, a woman recently said to me, “God is mad at us and is punishing us!” 

This is not the God revealed to us by Jesus.  Today’s Response Psalm (Psalm 86) more accurately tells us about our God.

“You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and fidelity.”

God is merciful.  God is kind. God is faithful. God is love.



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Self-esteem is a prize that nobody else can win for us.  Claiming it is an inside job. It doesn’t come without inner struggle.  It is by facing one issue at a time that we gradually develop our self-esteem.  We do not walk this journey of building self-esteem by ourselves.  We are blessed if there are supportive others walking with us.  No matter what our circumstances, there is One Other that we can always count on – Jesus.

Jesus comes not to push us into the ground but to help us tap our potential and become that person that God His Father knows that we can be …..

“I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.”   John 10:10

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Good St. Ann, pray for us!

I live at St. Ann’s Monastery, Scranton, Pa., USA.  Adjacent to the monastery is the Shrine Basilica of St. Ann. Each year, we have a Novena in preparation for the feast on July 26.  A Novena is nine days of prayers and devotions.  Today is the second day of the Novena.  We have five services a day consisting of Mass, special prayers to St. Ann, a twenty minute conference given by an invited Passionist preacher, opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession), and beautiful grounds (with a concession stand with home made foods).  The atmosphere is both serene and prayerful as well as festive.  The first day of the Novena, – yesterday – we welcomed some 2,500 people – about 500 at each of the five services.

Who was St. Ann?  There is nothing in the Bible to tell us about this remarkable woman.  We do know that she was the Grandmother of Jesus and the mother of the Blessed Virgin, Mary, but what else can we determine? Tradition tells us that …

St. Ann and her husband, St. Joachim, became the parents of Mary after many years of marriage.  When Mary was three years old, her parents presented her in the Temple in Jerusalem as a gift to the Lord.  Even from her first days, Mary seemed to know that her life was to serve God.  She loved to be in the Temple, near God.  Ann and Joachim knew their daughter would have a special place in God’s plan but they did not know what that would be.  At 14, as was the custom at that time, they began to arrange for Mary’s marriage.  The Jewish high priest called all unmarried men from the tribe of David to the Temple, having them bring a branch from the fields to lay it on the altar.  The one whose branch flowered would be Mary’s husband.  That would be Joseph.

While preparing for her wedding the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to announce that she would be the mother of Jesus.  She conceived the child by the power of the Holy Spirit.  After Jesus was born, Ann and Joachim helped care for their Grandson.  How and when they died, we do not know, but later tradition says that Jesus was with both of them when they passed away.

The story of Jesus’ grandparents was very popular among early Christians, and had a great influence on Christian worship, art and devotion.  Since the 7th century, Greek and Russian churches have celebrated the feasts of Ann and Joachim.  The Western churches have done so since the 16th century.

Good St. Ann pray for us!

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