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2016 WORLD YOUTH DAY: Experience of faith may lead others to Christ – Bishop Don Sproxton celebrates Mass with WYD pilgrims


Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe and Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton recently celebrated the Feast of St Mary Magdalene with youth from Perth and Melbourne during the WYD pilgrimage to Poland. Photo: Supplied

By Marco Ceccarelli

A mere six weeks after Pope Francis raised the 22 July memorial of St Mary Magdalene to a feast on the Church's liturgical calendar, Perth pilgrims on their way to World Youth Day had the privilege of celebrating the feast with a Mass celebrated by Perth Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton.

Held at Our Lady of Mercy Parafia Rzymskokatolicka NMP Matki Miłosierdzia in Warsaw, the Mass focused on the important role Mary Magdalene plays in the history of Christianity and how her life-changing story led others, namely the Apostles, to the risen Jesus Christ.

Bishop Sproxton emphasised this importance, referring to Mary as the person tasked by the Risen Christ to announce to the Apostles that He lived – He who was the source of her healing and new life.

“This is the story of Mary Magdalene,” Bishop Sproxton told pilgrims.

“We need to remember that we all have our own stories. They are the stories of encounter we have had with Jesus. They may not seem to be as important or dramatic, they may be just be plain and ordinary.

“But that does not matter, they are our stories, our histories with God. These events are precious, to be remembered from time to time,” he added.

Bishop Sproxton briefly dwelled on the significance of having an encounter with Christ, of having “one’s own story” and its relevance for the pilgrims who were preparing to see the Pope.

He explained how these stories are about our experiences of God and how these, in turn, stir us to deeper faith – a movement of consolidation, a time to be courageous and to be kind and respectful.

“Such experiences are precious, for we can draw on them in the future as we grow in the Christian life. They are our own stories that we can tell to others. No one can argue against your experience. It will be your story. They will listen, as Mary was listened to by the Apostles: she was the Apostle to the Apostles. Her experience led them to the faith in the Resurrection.

“Our stories can have the same power to lead our friends to faith and trust in Jesus Christ,” Bishop Sproxton concluded.

Mary Magdalene included in prayer for Year of Mercy
Preaching about St Mary Magdalene in April 2013, Pope Francis highlighted Christ's mercy toward a woman who was "exploited and despised by those who believed they were righteous" but she was loved and forgiven by Him.

Her tears at Christ's empty tomb are a reminder that "sometimes in our lives, tears are the lenses we need to see Jesus", the Pope said during Mass in his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

Pope Francis also mentions her specifically in the prayer he composed for the Year of Mercy: "Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money; the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things; made Peter weep after his betrayal, and assured paradise to the repentant thief".

With the kind assistance of CNS.