St Mary Magdalen, Penitent
Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, was of Magdala in Galilee, whence her name of Magdalen. She was a sinner.
Touched by grace, she threw herself at the feet of the Saviour. Simon the Pharisee, scandalized, would have repelled her like the haughty men mentioned by the prophet Isaias who says: Away from me, approach me not for I am pure." Jesus, on the contrary "defends her against the calumnies of the proud" (Communion). Admiring the work of divine grace in this soul "henceforth attentive to His commandments, whilst sinful men would still have her fall into sin" (Introit), He mercifully "accepts the offer of her service" (Secret), and secures to her for ever a place of honour in His royal court (Offertory). Repentance has transformed her love. "Because she had loved much, many sins are forgiven her" (Gospel). Indeed, it was at her prayer that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (Collect). And when after the crucifixion of Jesus, at which she was present in greatest sorrow and weariness, she seeks, like the spouse in the Canticle (Epistle) where they have laid her divine Lord ; Christ calls her by her name and commands her to announce His resurrection to the disciples. Wherefore the Creed is recited on this day as in the Masses of the apostles.
Following the example of Magdalen, which according to the Fathers represents the service of the Church towards Jesus, let us in a spirit of love and repentance pour out the treasure of our praises to Jesus present in the holy Eucharist (Secret); let us surround Him on the altar, in a spirit of faith which does not fear the pharisaic scandal, with all the splendour which becomes the house of God.
Me exspectaverunt peccatores, ut perderent me: testimonia tua, Domine, intellexi: omnis consummationis vidi finem: latum mandatum tuum nimis.* Beati immaculati in via: qui ambulant in lege Domini.
The wicked have waited for me to destroy me; I have understood Thy testimonies, O Lord: I have seen an end of all perfection: Thy commandment is exceedingly broad. * Blessed are the undefiled in the way: who walk in the law ot the Lord.
(Psalm 118:95-96,1 from the introit of Mass)
Beatae Mariae Magdalenae, quaesumus, Domine, suffragiis adjuvemur: cujus precibus exoratus, quatriduanum fratrem Lazarum vivum ab Inferis resuscitasti.
May the prayers of blessed Mary Magdalen help us, O Lord: for it was in answer to them that Thou didst call her brother Lazarus, four days after death, back from the grave to life.
Continuation of the holy Gospel according to St. Luke.
At that time : one of the pharisees desired Jesus to eat with him ; and He went into the house of the pharisee, and sat down to meat. And behold, a woman that was in the city, a sinner, when she knew that He sat at meat in the pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment; and standing behind at His feet, she began to wash His feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head, and kissed His feet, and anointed them with the ointment. And the pharisee who had invited Him, seeing it, spoke within himself, saying: This man, if He were a prophet would know surely who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth Him, that she is a sinner. And Jesus answering, said to him: Simon, I have somewhat to say to thee: but he said: Master, say it. A certain creditor had two debtors, the one owed five hundred pence and the other fifty. And whereas they had not wherewith to pay, he forgave them both. Which therefore of the two loveth him most? Simon answering said : I suppose that he to whom he forgave most. And He said to him: Thou hast judged rightly. And turning to the woman, He said unto Simon: Dost thou see this woman? I entered into thy house; thou gavest Me no water for My feet; but she with tears hath washed My feet, and with her hairs hath wiped them. Thou gavest Me no kiss ; but she, since she came in, hath not ceased to kiss My feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint; but she with ointment hath anointed My feet. Wherefore I say to thee: Many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much : but to whom less is forgiven he loveth less. And He said to her : Thy sins are forgiven thee. And they that sat at meat with Him began to say within themselves : Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And He said to the woman: Thy faith hath made thee safe; go in peace.
(St Luke 7:36-50)
From the Catholic Encyclopaedia: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09761a.htm