22 July: Mary Magdalene – one tough cookie

At NLM there is a really good post by Greg DiPippo about the roller coaster history of the liturgical observance of the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene.

You might recall that in 2016 Pope Francis made her day – in the Novus Ordo – a Feast with its own Preface (with a glaring error in Latin). I have some photos from older missals. HERE

About the Proper: HERE

Before 1960 Mary Magdalene scored a Creed in her Mass!  It was taken away.  Last year you voted that it should be restored in the Traditional Mass (or that we should do it anyway).

Some time ago, in my weekly column for the Catholic Herald:

The Holy See recently announced that, in the Ordinary Form calendar of the Roman Rite, St Mary Magdalene’s annual liturgical observance on 22 July would be elevated to a Feast.  Her new Feast was even given a new proper Preface.  There is no way to arrive definitively at the identity of this fascinating figure.  Nevertheless, it is good to see her day restored to greater dignity.

Speaking of Mary Magdalene’s identity, we know from Scripture that she came to Jesus’ tomb in the garden to anoint His Body. Mary, the first witness of the empty tomb, then went to tell Apostles. Hence, she is called “the apostle to the apostles”.  Initially, Mary mistook the Risen Lord for the gardener.  St Augustine (d 430) says that “this gardener was sowing in her heart, as in His own garden, the grain of mustard seed.” When He said her name, she recognized and tried to cling to Him. Christ mysteriously forbade her to touch Him (“Noli me tangere” – John 20:17) saying, “I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’” Augustine proposes that Christ wanted to be touched spiritually, believed in, before being touched in any other way.  Reflect on that before receiving Communion.

The 3rd century writer Hippolytus identified Mary Magdalene with both Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, and also the woman who anointed Jesus’s feet. Mary Magdalene and/or Mary of Bethany are often identified as sinners. Pope Gregory I “the Great” (d 604) called her a peccatrix, “sinner”. Eventually she came to be called also meretrix, “prostitute”.  Another tradition supposes that Mary Magdalene was the woman the Lord saved from stoning. This is the tradition referenced in Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ. Scholars today believe that Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany, the woman Jesus rescued, and the woman who anointed His feet are all different women.

Rightly or wrongly, Mary Magdelene has long been associated in art and literature with ongoing penitence for past sins.  Hallow her feast with an examination of conscience, which can be bitter.  You could then celebrate her Feast with the little scallop-shaped cookies called “madeleines”.  They aren’t really named after our saint, but, who cares?  They might sweeten your remembrance of things past.

Speaking of tough cookies, I made madeleines last year on this date.  They were a little “doner” on one side, and some readers here made good suggestions about that.  They were NOT, however, at all tough!  I shall attempt the same again today, though putting on the oven may be a penance.  More later on that.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    About the “noli me tangere”: since I began praying Matins regularly, I’ve been struck by that text in Ps. 104: “noli tangere christos meos”. Could this be Christ’s way of leaving (excuse the trite expression) a calling card, just as he had done so many times before: Eli, Eli, lama sabbacthani; Sitivit [anima mea]…. and others?

  2. Catechism says:

    An interesting side note…”Noli Me Tangere” was on the Alabama Secession Convention Flag. One side of the flag displayed the Goddess of Liberty holding a sword in her right hand and a small flag with one star in her left hand. In an arch above this figure were the words “Independent Now and Forever.”

    On the other side of the flag was a cotton plant with a coiled rattlesnake. Beneath the cotton plant are the Latin words: “Noli Me Tangere” (Touch Me Not). The flag was only flown for a short time before Alabama joined the CSA. During the Union occupation, the original flag was taken home by a member of the 8th Iowa Infantry who was on stationed in Montgomery. In 1939, the flag was returned back to the State of Alabama.

  3. PostCatholic says:

    Have fun with the madeleines. I remember your post last year and you had excellent results. It being over 100 in heat index where I am, I won’t join you in baking. Some suggestions for you: Instead of lemon, hazelnut, lavender, orange or anise all are lovely. You can flavor royal icing with these, or cointreau or brandy or overbrewed tea, and glaze with that instead of chocolate. Don’t dunk them in t. I like to have mine with cream sherry or madeira.

    I have a good friend who is a curé at La Madeleine in Paris, so thanks to you, I’ll be “In Search of Lost Time” with him today… I think I’ll go buy some madeleines at the bakery up the street to enjoy tonight.

  4. teomatteo says:

    After about 8 min of baking at 375°F I take ’em out and flip’m over and bake for a couple more minutes to ‘doner’ the other side.

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