On August 4, 2020 the feast day of St Mary Magdalene, Equal-to-the-Apostles and feast day of the “Royal Church” at Gethsemane Convent, Jerusalem, the festive divine services were performed by Archimandrite Roman (Krassovsky), Chief of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem. His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem and All Palestine honored the event with his attendance along with other hierarchs and clergymen of the Church of Jerusalem.
The patriarch led a prayer service to St. Mary with a procession around the church. Afterwards the patriarch greeted the sisterhood and faithful with a spiritual word (see below) concerning the feast of St. Mary and also presented the convent with an icon of the Holy Edicule of the Resurrection of Christ. Archimandrite Roman presented His Beatitude with an album of the Convents of the Mission.
Speech of His Beatitude Theophilos III, Patriarch of Jerusalem and all Palestine:
Today we rejoice with you here for this great feast of the Holy Myrrh-Bearer Saint Mary Magdalene, Equal-to-the-Apostles, and we remember the words of one of the hymns of this feast:
When God, the Mighty,
the Transcendent in essence,
came in the flesh into the world,
he received you, O Mary,
as his true disciple, as was meet.
For you had put your whole desire
and your love upon him;
wherefore, you brought to pass
many cures for the ailing;
and now translated to the Heavens’ heights,
you pray fervently for all the world.
We see in Saint Mary Magdalene the example of complete and utter commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ, as the hymn says: you had put your whole desire and your love upon him. Saint Mary Magdalene gave all of herself, she held nothing back, she was single-minded in her discipleship.
So she is a model for us. We in our own day are called to the same whole-hearted dedication to our Lord Jesus Christ and to his Gospel, and our unity in this resolve is of profound importance not simply for the well being of the Church, but of our mission here to the world. After the example of Saint Mary Magdalene, we to whom Divine Providence has entrusted the guardianship of the Holy Places have a special diakonia of devotion.
Just as we must always deepen our devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ, so we must be equally attentive to guarding our unity. The unity that is made manifest in the celebration of the Divine Eucharist and in the sharing of the common Chalice is the most precious gift of the Holy Spirit, and we must always be vigilant, as Saint Paul says in the Letter to the Romans, to pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding (Rom. 14, 19).
Yet we do this not for ourselves alone, but for a witness to the world. Our devotion and our unity are worth little if they do not inspire us to service after the commandments of our Lord. Our world is passing through a great trial in the present moment. The well-known pandemic is having terrible consequences not just for us here in the Holy Land, but for peoples everywhere. There is a profound sense of fear and helplessness, and illness and death are all around.
The Gospel is the message of life in the face of death. The example of Saint Mary Magdalene is an eloquent witness to this truth, for even in the face of death, Saint Mary Magdalene never lost her faith and trust in the One who is the resurrection and the life (John 11, 25): she stood by the cross until the very end, and was the first to go to the tomb, where her faith was rewarded with the news of the resurrection.
May Saint Mary Magdalene strengthen us in our mission by her fervent prayers, and may God bless us all.