Sunday, July 22, 2007

St Mary Magdalen's feast & the breaking of the Alabaster Jar

Today is the feast of St Mary Magdalen, one of the Church’s most famous penitents. She sinned greatly but at her repentance she then loved even greater still.

She gave her all.

It is signified in the breaking of the alabaster jar of precious, perfumed ointment, here is the story from John’s gospel, Chapter 12:

1 Jesus therefore, six days before the pasch, came to Bethania, where Lazarus had been dead, whom Jesus raised to life.
2 And they made him a supper there: and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that were at table with him.
3 Mary therefore took a pound of ointment of right spikenard, of great price, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
4 Then one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, he that was about to betray him, said:
5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
6 Now he said this, not because he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and having the purse, carried the things that were put therein.
7 Jesus therefore said: Let her alone, that she may keep it against the day of my burial.
8 For the poor you have always with you; but me you have not always.

There is a beautiful connection to Mary’s actions and those of women who are totally consecrated to Jesus as nuns – they give their very all.

Read the words of this beautiful, moving lyrics of a song:

The Alabaster Jar

by Sr. Ashley, a Poor Clare Postulant

Break the alabaster jar
And pour it at his feet
Like Mary Magdalene who then began to weep
Don’t be afraid to give Him your all
You’ve been called to break the alabaster jar

He has asked you for an undivided heart
From the world and all its vanities
You must set yourself apart
Follow where He leads you with true docility
And He will bless you abundantly

In this life and vale of tears
So many separations, so many fears
Go to the Blessed Sacrament
Pour out your heart to Him
He will love you, always love Him

Learn to love suffering
Embrace the Cross
Thank Him for every trial and pain
Never count the loss
This grace He has given you
To share in His own
Accept it, and let him lead you home

Drop by drop you must pour
Even when you think you can’t bear anymore
If you surrender everything
Holding nothing back
He will make up for that which you lack

You must break the alabaster jar
And pour it at his feet
Like Mary Magdalene who then began to weep
Don’t be afraid to give Him your all
You’ve been called to break the alabaster jar

Break the alabaster jar
And pour it at it his feet
Like Mary Magdalene who then began to weep
Don’t be afraid to give Him your all
You’ve been called to break the alabaster jar

You’ve been called to break the alabaster jar...

I remember a beautiful episode on Life on the Rock at EWTN that I had watched and I was struck by this beautiful song called “The Alabaster Jar.” These lovely, young Poor Clare Nuns were singing it so sweetly, to the soft, strumming of a harp. St Alison was the young sister playing the harp and she had this to say about the song:

“The song is called the Alabaster Jar written by my sister Ashley (also a Poor Clare Nun.) Basically, when I was discerning my vocation, a Carmelite Nun said, “You’ve got to break the alabaster jar of your life.” And I thought about it, “That’s what I want to do, spend it all for God.” After I entered the Poor Clares, my sister wrote this song on the feast of St Therese, and Therese said, “Jesus for you my ointment jar I break the perfume of my life is Thine.” And this song, it talks about how Mary Magdalen, she broke the jar and gave it all to Jesus. She was criticized for it, when she could have spent it for the poor. A young girl can be criticized for giving her whole life to the cloister for Jesus because people say, “You could do so much more if you were out in the world.” But God deserves our all, so that’s our vocation, to spend it all."

You can hear this beautiful song by clicking here
Please scroll down to episode #336
Then click on “Listen Now” and then fast forward to 11mins into the show,
if you have any young daughters, sit them down to hear this, for this special feast day!

The song would also make beautiful copywork.

Here is a prayer to Mary Magdalen from The Precious Blood & Mother manual on pg 108:

(St. Mary Magdalen said to St. Mechtilde: “Whoever shall give God thanks for all the tears I shed upon the feet of Jesus, our most merciful God will grant him, through my intercession, remission of all his sins before his death, and a great increase of love of God.”)

O most merciful Jesus, I give Thee thanks for that work of piety which the blessed Mary Magdalen wrought on Thee, when she washed Thy feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed them and anointed them with fragrant ointment; whereby she obtained from Thee such signal grace that Thou didst pour into her heart and soul so great a love of Thee, that she could love nothing apart from Thee; beseeching Thee, that by her merits and intercessions Thou wouldst vouchsafe to give me tears of true repentance and pour into my heart Thy divine love. Amen.


Mary Vitamin (Helen) said...

Thanks for the suggestion Anne.
I plan to listen with my daughters!

Lynn said...

Thank you for sharing this, Anne! I enjoyed it so much.
God Bless

stackingmarbles said...

Thank you Anne that is so lovely!

James Vigil said...

I was trying to find the Alabaster Jar song and couldn't. I seen it when it originally aired, and it has stuck with me since. I think about it from time to time and it is very powerful.