Monday, July 22, 2019

Sunday Sermon, July 21 -- St Mary Magdalene and Religious Life (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

The long tradition of the Roman Catholic Church is that St Mary Magdalene is the penitent woman of Luke 7 who weeps at Jesus' feet, dries them with her hair, and anoints them with perfumed oil. Further, St Mary Magdalene is St Mary of Bethany, the sister of Sts Lazarus and Martha.

That the penitent woman of Luke 7 is Mary Magdalene is seen from the fact that our Lord assures us that the penitent woman will never be forgotten, but does not give us her name at that moment. However, the very next paragraph (the beginning of Luke 8), he tells us that Mary Magdalene was journeying with Jesus and that our Lord has cast out seven demons from her -- the connection is meant to be obvious.  Pope Francis explicitly affirmed this when declaring the year of Mercy.

We then realize that Mary Magdalene is Mary of Bethany because St John (in chapter 11) tell us that Mary of Bethany is the Mary that had anointed Jesus -- but the only woman who had anointed the Lord at that time was Mary Magdalene (Luke 7).  Further, when Mary of Bethany anoints Jesus in the day directly before his Passion and Judas objects to this, the Lord says that Mary of Bethany has anointed him in preparation for his burial -- but then we are told explicitly that Mary Magdalene brought the perfumed oils for our Lord's burial. This again indicates that Mary Magdalene is none other than Mary of Bethany.

We point out that the Church's liturgy indicates this, since there is no proper feast of St Mary of Bethany, excepting that of St Mary Magdalene - and St Martha is celebrated on the octave day of the feast of St Mary Magdalene, indicating that the two are sisters.

Finally, we consider the words of Jesus, "Mary has chosen the better part." The Lord teaches us that the vocation to the contemplative life, the vocation to religious life is objectively the better calling. It is objectively an higher vocation to be a monk or nun, than to be a diocesan priest or to be married - and, further, it is an higher calling to be a celibate priest than to be married.  This was explicitly taught by the Council of Trent, and confirmed again by Pope Pius XII and Pope St John Paul II.

The vocation to religious life is higher because it points to heaven more explicitly -- indeed, to enter religious life is to begin even now to live the life of heaven, being married to God alone.

Listen online [here]!


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