For four weeks this past April and May, I led a book study for 30 or so of our parishioners on Tuesday morning focusing on the text, Saint Mary Magdalene: Prophetess of Eucharistic Love written by Fr. Dean Davidson and published by Ignatius Press. I remember thinking initially in March that I wanted to find a book study that would appeal to our human nature as well as focus on the Easter theme. I further remember that Fr. Will and some of the staff members read a book about our Patroness and I wanted to read it as well. Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted is to be credited for this book study in some sense, because it was he who told Fr. Will about the book in the first place.
When my copied arrived, I knew by only reading the first few chapters that this was the book that would appeal to our human nature – seeing in ourselves Mary, Martha, or the combination of both, give us the Easter theme, and furthermore, help us to grow closer to our Patroness, and most especially help us to grow closer to Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.
This book is one of the best books I have read in recent memory and provided me much needed information about St. Mary Magdalene, most notably the argument focusing on one woman or three (Chapter 1) and how many times did Mary Magdalene anoint our Lord with oil. It also helped me grow closer to Eucharist in a way I wasn’t quite expecting. The parishioners that participated in this book study were equally impressed with the content of the book but also grew in their relationship with both our Patroness and Our Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist. One participant said,
“Through the book and class, I further and more clearly learned how much of a Martha I am in Perpetual Adoration and in many other areas of my life: busy, busy, busy! I knew it before, but the class reinforced it and taught me a greater respect and admiration for Mary’s love and devotion to Christ…The class certainly reinforced what I have long thought about myself and has given me an additional source I can pray to for change. I’m grateful for that.”
I did something different with this book study than other book studies and bible studies we offered through the Porta Fidei program in the past – every week before we gathered in the hall to discuss the different chapters, the entire group met in the Eucharistic Adoration chapel and spent 30 minutes in prayer in the presence of Our Lord. It really set the tone for the entire 4-week book study. It was pretty awesome to see the parishioners sit in quiet prayer together before Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
If the words that I have written so far haven’t inspired you to read this book quite yet, here are 7 quotes directly from the book that will hopefully encourage you to purchase it soon and read it –
“Mary’s display of love is a clear indication that she has interiorly experienced the loving mercy of the Lord. The history of the Church is full of examples of great sinners who, like her, have become great saints. The story of Magdalene is a source of hope for the broken…”
“Whatever our state in life or whatever we are going through, this saint has something to say to us. Her personality is universal and contains the rare but admirable mixture of reserve and audacity – a capacity for deep intimacy with the Lord and intense activity in his service.”
“Other relationships can bring us happiness in their own way, but once the supernatural joy of an encounter with Jesus Christ has truly been experienced, any separation from him is a source of interior pain. To the soul of an adorer, the Real Presence of Christ is like a fountain of living water in a dry and arid land.”
“As Jesus once said to Saint Faustina, he comes in Holy Communion in order to fill us with graces, but often we do not understand his love and ignore his Real Presence…With every Holy Communion we must make loving contact with the Person we receive. One way to do so is to spend time in silent thanksgiving after Holy Mass. Many saints would spend half an hour or in some cases a full hour in thanksgiving after Holy Communion.” (Author’s note: this is one way to give thanks to Our Lord and avoid the frustration of sitting in your car trying to get of the parking lot after Mass).
Who are we – Mary or Martha? – “Martha worries about many useless things, but Mary has begun to think of almost nothing but Jesus and his teachings. Jesus says Martha is anxious and troubled, in that order…It would be good to ask ourselves the following question: Of the 1,440 minutes in a day, how many of them do I spend thinking about Jesus and how many do I spend thinking of material things that are destined to pass away?”
“Saints are characterized by the desire to please God in all of their actions. Some people never get far along the road to holiness because they are too attached to their reputations and afraid of what others will think if they do anything seemingly radical out of love for God. People can fail to do the will of God because through fear they are enslaved to doing what others expect from them” (Author’s note: do you (and your family) pray before meals when you are in public?).
She is known as the “Apostle to the Apostles” – “She is the first true messenger of the gospel, for the Good News was not complete until the moment of the Resurrection. Just as the Baptist prepared Israel for the visitation of the Messiah, Magdalene is now chosen to prepare the hearts of the apostles themselves for the visitation of the Risen Lord.”
As we celebrate her feast day this weekend, I would encourage you to dive deeper into the life of Saint Mary Magdalene. Diving into her life will bring you to the life of Jesus Christ, most importantly in the Holy Eucharist, and allow his grace to transform your hearts and minds to love him and focus on him as did our Patroness. As she brought the message of the Resurrection to the apostles, let us ask the Lord to give us the courage and strength to bring the message of the Resurrection to the world in which live here in Gilbert, Arizona. Saint Mary Magdalene…Pray for Us.
This article was originally written for – Vidi Dominum, the weekly bulletin of Saint Mary Magdalene Catholic Church in Gilbert, Arizona.