When Our Lord was
crucified, Mary Magdalene—the
notorious public sinner—was at the foot of His cross
comforting the Mother of God.
After Jesus' body had been placed in the tomb, Mary—the
penitent—went to anoint it with spices that first Easter
morning. Not finding the Body she began to weep, and
seeing someone whom she thought was the gardener, she
asked him if he knew where the Body of her beloved
Master had been taken: “Sir, if thou has removed him,
tell me where thou hast laid him and I will take him
Jesus said to her, “Mary!” Turning, she said to him, “Rabboni.”
Imagine that moment!
Jesus then said to her, “Do not touch me, for I have not
yet ascended to my Father, but go to my brethren and say
to them, ‘I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my
God and your God.’”
Mary Magdalene had thus been chosen by Our Lord himself
to be apostle to the apostles. She went forth and announced to the
disciples, “I have seen the Lord and these things he
said to me.” John, 20: 15-18. Hers was an honor so
great that in the early centuries of the Church, Mary
Magdalene's feast was celebrated with the Mass of an
Magdalene had walked with Our Lord, witnessed His
passion and death, and yet kept the faith even after
witnessing the horrors of the Crucifixion. “God is
dead,” the Romans told her, but she paid no mind then
even as we should pay no mind now.
In times of great despair and loss of faith, Magdalene
emerges as the powerful patroness of hope and
perseverance. She is not a doctor of the Church, but she
shows what love of Christ can attain even for poor,
ignorant sinners, and how God crowns such love with His
She wept for Christ because she could not find Him. "The
Angels said to her 'Woman, why are you weeping?' She
said to them ‘Because they have taken away my Lord and I
do not know where they have laid Him'.’ ”
Today, as the doors of our churches close, our families
divide, and the Mystical Body of Christ suffers
unspeakable persecution from within and without, we too
do not always know where to find Him. And hope becomes
the virtue that is the assailed the most.
Some say ours is the worst time in history, and yet what
must it have been like for Magdalene at that cataclysmic
moment when the Messiah breathed His last and gave up
She watched the physical Body of Our Lord expire on the
Cross. And, yet, far from despairing on that first Good
Friday she wept and prayed and never ceased to seek His
If His death on the Cross did not crush her faith, what
cause have we to despair even as the Mystical Body of
Christ seems to be expiring (in its human element) in
our own day? Easter Sunday will come…Mary knew it and so
It is sometimes suggested today that tradition-minded
Catholics, in their arrogance, see themselves as being
“more Catholic than the Church”. If there be any truth
to this it is to be sadly lamented. But one wonders if
Magdalene wasn’t accused of something similar, standing
beneath the cross after all but one of the apostles had
fled. Who does she think she is? Peter isn’t even
It was love, not arrogance that inspired Mary to stand
at the foot of the Cross when even Peter was absent.
So, too, it is love—love for Our Lord and His
Church—that inspires Catholics today to cling to the
Church and Traditions of the ages, even, alas, when many
of the apostles seem to be hiding for fear of the Jews.
And it should also be readily admitted that fear is also
a powerful motivator. We’re all afraid to depart from
Tradition for fear that our faith will fail us. After
all, Christ prayed even for Peter himself that his faith
would not fail. “And the Lord said: Simon, Simon, behold
Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as
wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail
not.” (Luke 22)
Who among us is fool enough to presume that salvation is
easily within our grasp, especially now when the
bulwarks of the old Faith that stood strong against the
gates of hell for a thousand years have been either
crushed or severely compromised. We remain paralyzed
with fear, our arms wrapped around Tradition like Mary’s
around the Cross.
We look at the crisis within our Church and we see
therein the passion of the Mystical Body of Christ. And
in the darkness that is falling again, we plead as Mary
might have: Dear Jesus, we are not strong enough to
be without You; we are so afraid of the Romans. Permit
us to remain here with You where it is safe.
Like Magdalene, we are sinners whose only hope for
salvation lies in clinging to the wood of the Cross, the
rock of the traditional Mass and the maternal voice of
the old teachings of Mother Church that ushered a
million saints and more souls than we can count through
this vale of tears.
Thomas Aquinas may have reasoned his way to the Cross;
St. Teresa prayed her way there; St. Joan of Arc obeyed
even unto the Cross; the Cure of Ars and St. John of the
Cross rode there on the backs of their great virtue.
But sinners like we can only hope to find our way as
Mary did—through Divine mercy and forgiveness. Our
prayer is that He will see our pitiful weakness, pick us
up and ask His mother to take our hands and lead us to
the Cross. After all, that’s exactly what He did for
St. Luke records that Magdalene, the notorious sinner,
had seven devils removed from her. And yet she was
present at Our Lord’s Crucifixion, and with Joanna and
Mary, the mother of James and Salome, she was first at
the empty tomb of Jesus Christ.
She loved Him, and that was enough.
The Pharisees were shocked that Jesus had let such a
sinner touch Him, but Our Lord said:
"Her sins, many as they are, shall be forgiven her,
because she has loved much. But he to whom little if
forgiven, loves little." Then to Mary He said kindly,
"Thy faith has saved thee; go in peace."
Mary, we are sinners too. Please, take us with you!