July 22 marked the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene. Although her birth and death dates are unknown, through scripture we are able to know she was present throughout Jesus’ ministry. She is often referenced throughout the gospels, traveling with Christ and the apostles. Mary Magdalene was undoubtedly a great sinner when she met Jesus. Upon meeting her, Christ cast out her demons and from then on she was a faithful disciple of Jesus. She is sometimes referred to as “the Apostle to the Apostles.” Mary was present at the crucifixion and was the first person to encounter Jesus after His resurrection. One message that can be taken from the life of Mary Magdalene is that no one is too great of a sinner to be saved. We are capable of letting the Lord reshape our lives and center our present and future around Him.
Mary Magdalene is the patron saint of contemplative life, penitent sinners, perfume makers, hairstylists, sexual temptation, and converts.
Tomorrow the church celebrates the feast day of a young girl who was martyred for her faith and modeled God’s forgiveness, St. Maria Goretti. Maria was born to a poor farming family in Italy in 1890. When she was eleven years old, Maria’s neighbor Alessandro Serenelli attempted to sexually abuse her. When she tried to resist him and tell him it was a sin, Alessandro stabbed her 14 times. While on her death bead, Maria forgave Alessandro and expressed hopes of seeing him again in heaven. Alessandro Serenelli was sentenced to 30 years in prison and had no remorse for killing her until she appeared to him in a dream. When he awoke, he repented and began to turn his life to God. When he was released from prison, he went and begged Maria’s mother for forgiveness. She responded “If my daughter can forgive him, who am I to withhold forgiveness?” In 1950, Pope Pius XII canonized St. Maria Goretti with her mother and Alessandro in attendance. St. Maria Goretti’s devout love for God and mercy towards Alessandro reminds us how God calls us to love and forgive others as He has done for us.
Today we celebrate a man who had a heart for the Lord and the poor at a very young age, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. Giorgio was born in Turin, Italy in 1901. He was born in a rich family, but instead of letting this benefit him, Giorgio used his family's money to aid the poor and needy around him. For his graduation, Pier turned down a car from his parents and instead accepted a lump sum of money so that he might spend it on helping the poor. Pier Giorgio Frassati is known for his mountaineering ways, and the way he lived an active lifestyle. He is the patron saint of both young Catholics and mountaineers. In July 1925, Pier began noticing sharp back pains while on a trip with his friends. Upon returning home, his grandmother promptly passed away, and in his humility Frassati did not mention his own pain, as his family was already mourning. However, it turns out Pier Giorgio had polio, and his fatigue from travels had only made it worse. His condition quickly deteriorated, and on July 4, 1925, Pier Giorgio Frassati died. The poor of Turin who were affected by Frassatis kind deeds fought for his beautification, and in May 1990 St John Paul II beautified Pier Giorgio.
Yesterday, June 6th, we celebrated the feast day of Saint Norbert. Saint Norbert was born in 1080 in Germany. He spent his early life indulging in worldly pleasures. One day, as he was riding a horse during a thunderstorm, lightning struck and he was thrown to the ground and went unconscious for almost an hour. When he woke up, he asked, "Lord, what do you want me to do?", and he heard, "Turn from evil and do good. Seek peace and pursue it." At this moment, he knew he had to turn towards the Lord and converted. He was ordained a priest in 1115. After becoming a priest, he formed a community in the city of Loan and started an order called Premonstratensians, or Norbertines. He was later nominated to be the Archbishop of Madgeburg. He died in 1134 and was canonized by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582.