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state, have undermined the edifice which secures the social dignity and security of women 2."
Open is the starry hall;
Hear ye! 'tis the Bridegroom's call!
Holy virgins, one and all,
For the heavenly festival
Come at last the nuptial day,
God for ever your sure stay,
In His presence is the store,
And the fountain flowing o'er;
No more night,
Safe upon the happy shore
Of the light.
Praise to Thee, Almighty One,
By Whose boundless grace alone,
Heaven's immortal union
Hymns from the Parisian Breviary, p. 322.
2 Mores Catholici, b. vi. 3.
S. Mary Magdalene.
It is an ancient question in the Church, regarding which no decision has ever been pronounced, whether S. Mary Magdalene is the same person as Mary the sister of Lazarus, and as the "sinner" who anointed the feet of the Lord, of whom S. Luke writes'. Each opinion claims the sanction of very great names. Thus S. Gregory the Great considers the three persons as one, and he is followed by Ven. Bede and S. Bernard. S. Augustin mentions the "sinner" as the sister of Lazarus, while Origen thinks that they are different persons, as do also S. Macarius, S. Chrysostom, and Theophylact. S. Ambrose places S. Mary Magdalene among the holy virgins, and expresses his doubt whether the "sinner is the sister of Lazarus. S. Modestus, Patriarch of Jerusalem, writing in the beginning of the seventh age, held the same opinion as S. Ambrose, regarding the virginity of S. Mary Magdalene. S. Jerome cannot be quoted on either side, as he has expressed different opinions.
Upon the whole, the greater part of the early fathers distinguish the three persons from each other; and two only of the Greek doctors, and these not eminent, consider S. Mary Magdalene as either the "sinner" or Mary of Bethany. The Eastern Church has always held the three to be distinct.
The Western Church, on the other hand, seems to
1 S. Luke vii. 37.
recognize them as one. day in the Roman Missal, S. Mary Magdalene is mentioned as the sister of Lazarus; and the holy Gospel contains the history of the washing of our Saviour's feet by the woman who was a sinner." The Office of Sarum connects S. Mary Magdalene with the "sinner," in these words of the collect; "Grant to us, O most merciful Father, that as the blessed Mary Magdalene, by loving Thine Onlybegotten Son above all things, obtained the pardon of her sins, so she may gain for us from Thy mercy eternal bliss." The lesson for the Epistle is that appointed for holy women not virgins, and is taken from Prov. xxxi. 10-31. The sequence, or hymn after the Epistle, commemorates the gracious meeting of the Saviour with S. Mary Magdalene at the sepulchre. The Gospel is the same as in the Roman Office. But the Churches of Paris, Orleans, and Vienne, and the order of Cluni, have carefully removed from their Offices for this Feast any allusion to either of the other women.
Thus, in the collect of this
It would lead us too far from contemplative studies, were we to examine the arguments upon which these conflicting opinions rest. On reviewing the whole circumstances, it seems less unlikely that S. Mary Magdalene and the "sinner" are the same person; or that the woman who anointed the Lord in the house of the Pharisee is the same as the sister of Lazarus; than that Mary of Magdala is one with Mary of Bethany. On every side there are difficulties, which some may hope to be able to solve. But let no one imagine that the uncertainty in which this question is left by the Catholic Church, bears any
resemblance the letter fulfilled in Mary Magdalene, points of fa. a type of the Church. For when the from her hop alive she had loved with her whole sider," says In from her sight by death and burial, Churches are an in His couch. And so constrained them would be great love to Him, that she could the Catholic Crest, nor could His memory escape since religion She sought Him during the night, leaves to her co nights in which He rested in the good reasons ann then did she find Him, for His probable '." Ais not yet come. She went early in as belonging to o spices, and still seeking anxiously, express our adminb, And Him whom she sought commemorates, in,diately find; but first the angels vaulx, “Blessed the watchmen of the Church. Jesus; more bless the Lord, and hearing that He head; but most blegth herself arrived at the sight of dew for His whole and would not let Him go, when
The holy EvangeHe had overcome death. She Magdalene the Lorg Him into the house of her doctors interpret thi,ssembly of disciples who had possessed; while otheist, she preached that He was understand it to sign up to piety by her example1." vices which filled her records nothing more of the version. This interpre. She is commonly believed the sinner and S. Mar sus, with the Blessed Virgin deliverance from the pye survived the Mother of form, she followed Cmains were preserved in a pious women who min. Gregory of Tours attests, stance. She herself be! ¿torian in the eighth centhe Greeks also mention
1 See Tillemont, tome ii.
Lord's Passion, p. 405.
Canticorum. Lib. III. 3.
her as having died and been buried at Ephesus. The Emperor Leo the Philosopher in the end of the ninth century removed her relics to Constantinople, and placed them in a church dedicated in honour of S. Lazarus. In the Office of Aberdeen, the 20th March is kept in honour of her translation. The Greeks call her the Equal of the Apostles, because she was honoured to be the first witness of the Resurrection. She is said to bear the same rank among the holy women as S. Peter does among the Apostles; the Mother of the Lord being set apart by herself. Her Feast is kept throughout the East and West on the 22nd of July. The council of Oxford, in 1222, enjoined that it should be observed in England as a holyday of obligation.
In the first Prayer-book of K. Edward VI. this feast was inserted in the Kalendar in red letters, and a collect, Epistle, and Gospel were appointed for it. These, except the collect, were taken from the Sarum Office. But at the revision under the influence of Bucer, Martyr, and the foreign innovators, the Feast was suppressed. And on its restoration to the Kalendar in the reign of K. James, no special office was appointed, as the ancient one was thought to prejudge the doubtful question of the identity of S. Mary Magdalene with the "sinner.”
Ah Mary little dost thou know
What good doth thee surround;
He Whom thou lovest thee shall claim,