Ordinary Time: July 29th
Memorial of St. Martha, virgin
Other Commemorations: Sts. Simplicius, Faustinus, Beatrice and Rufus, martyrs (RM)
Jesus liked to stay at the house of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, his friends at Bethany, when he was in Judea. One of these visits has ever remained dear to Christian memory. On that occasion Martha, busily serving the Master, asked Him to persuade Mary to help her. Without in any way reproaching Martha, Jesus explained to her that certain souls, called by God, should choose a better part still — the primary duty of listening to Him and contemplating Him.
St. Martha, Mary and LazarusSt. Martha
Martha was active, enterprising, careful, and given to exterior things. Our Lord, Who loved her, says Saint John, does not, in the Gospel blame her for what she did for Him; He teaches her to place those things which directly regard God and eternity above exterior works, and even in active labors, whether of obligation or of superogation, to avoid anxiety, precipitation and undertaking too much. These things would be detrimental both to interior piety and the good works themselves. Hence these words of Jesus which concern all souls, and will profit them until the end of time: “One thing only is necessary.” Martha, like a wise and prudent virgin, profited by the Divine lesson; peace grew in her soul without lessening her zeal. Exiled from Judea, thrust on board ship and miraculously guided to Provence, she was until the end, a model of the active life, as Mary was of the contemplative. Tarascon was especially privileged to behold and admire her virtues. Saint Maximin, Bishop of Aix, a disciple of Our Lord, came to see and console her at the hour of death, and received her last farewell for her beloved sister Mary. Numerous confraternities and different religious congregations have risen up under the patronage of Saint Martha, especially those following the mixed life (First Century).—Adapted from Saints and Saintly Dominicans, by Blessed Hyacinthe-Marie Cormier, O.P.
The account of Lazarus being raised from the dead by Jesus, led to his widespread veneration in Jerusalem, which was witnessed by the Spanish pilgrim Egeria in 390.
St. Mary of Bethany
The great and holy myrrh-bearer Mary of Bethany is one of the women disciples of Jesus. She and her sister Martha are celebrated as saints on their shared feast day of June 4. They are also commemerated on the Third Sunday of Pascha or Sunday of Myrrh-bearing Women. Martha and Mary were believers in Christ even before Jesus Christ raised their brother St. Lazarus (October 17) from the dead. After the Ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the murder of the holy Archdeacon Stephen a persecution against the Church of Jerusalem broke out, and Righteous Lazarus was cast out of Jerusalem. The holy sisters then assisted their brother in the proclaiming of the Gospel in various lands. They reposed in Cyprus, where their brother became the first Bishop of Kition after his resurrection from the dead. We do not know how they died.
Later on, Mary’s brother Lazarus became deathly ill. Mary and her sister sent word to Jesus to let him know of Lazarus’s condition, hoping for a visit. Jesus did go to Bethany; however, he delayed the visit by two days, and by the time he arrived, Mary’s brother had been dead for four days.When Mary saw Jesus, she sorrowfully spoke of her disappointment, claiming that if he had been there, Lazarus could have been saved. Jesus then stunned Mary and her sister by going to the dead body of Lazarus, praying fervently to God, and then commanding the deceased man to rise. Mary’s confidence in Jesus surely soared as she witnessed her brother return to the living — still wrapped in his burial cloths!According to the Gospel of John, not long after Lazarus was raised from the dead, Jesus was again in Bethany. This time, Mary anointed Jesus’s feet with oil and then dried them with her hair. The Gospels of Matthew and Mark present similar stories, which many sources consider to be based on the same incident. However, the sinful woman in Luke’s seventh chapter who bathed Jesus’ feet with tears is considered to be a different person.—Excerpted from Saints, Feast, FamilyWhile Scripture scholars are now closer to separating Mary Magdalen from Mary of Bethany, the true identity of Mary, the sister of Martha is still not solidly known. See the feast of St. Mary Magdalene and from the Catholic Culture Library Who Really Was Mary Magdalene? by Father William Saunders for further explanation.St. Martha Patronage: Butlers; cooks; dietitians; domestic servants; homemakers; hotel-keepers; housemaids; housewives; innkeepers; laundry workers; maids; manservants; servants; servers; single laywomen; travellers. St. Lazarus Patronage: GravediggersSt. Martha Symbols: Water pot and asperge; cooking utensils; ladle or skimmer; broom; bunk of keys at her girdle; two asperges; dragon bound with a girdle (symbolizing temptation resisted); torch (symbolizing enlightenment and zeal); censer (symbolizing prayer and worship); boat; covered table with cloth, cups, pitcher and bowl containing fruit.Things to Do:
- Take note of our special project Family and Friends of Jesus Scrapbook Album, which has materials directly related to the feast of St. Martha:
From St. Martha one basic lesson learned is that there is both active and contemplative work. Some vocations require more of one, but we all need to stop and experience quiet to pray, meditate, contemplate. Parents' time allotted for prayer is shorter than unmarried singles or religious, but time should be set aside. Children need to learn to start putting time aside for personal prayer and spiritual reading. This will help to develop good life-long prayer habits.
Another lesson to learn is that we serve Christ our Brother when we serve others through our work, whether it be the daily duty of household chores or other charitable work outside the home. In serving others we serve our Brother Christ.
- Since St. Martha is the patron of cooks, today would be a good day to honor and thank the person (usually Mom!) for all her meals she has prepared. Surprise her/him by cooking a special meal or take her/him out to dinner.
- An excellent book for meditation called Praying While You Work: Devotions for Use of Martha Rather Than Mary by Dom Hubert Van Zeller. The book has been reprinted by Sophia Institute Press under the name: Holiness for Housewives: And Other Working Women.
- Read St. Martha, Disciple of the Lord at the Vatican website.
- Also visit visit Catholic Ireland for St. Martha of Bethany.
- Read Mary of Bethany: A Model of Listening
- Visit My Catholic Life and Saints, Feast, Family for more information.
Sts. Simplicius, Faustinus, Beatrice and Rufus
The two brothers were cruelly tormented, and at length beheaded at Rome in the persecution of Diocletian, in the year 303. Their sister Beatrice took up their bodies out of the Tiber and gave them burial. She concealed herself for seven months in the house of a virtuous widow called Lucina, with whom she spent her time, night and day in fervent prayer, and in the exercise of other good works. She was discovered and impeached by a pagan kinsman, who designed to possess himself of her estate, which was contiguous to his own; she resolutely protested to the judge that she would never adore gods of wood and stone, and was strangled by his order in prison the following night. Lucina buried her body near her brothers on the side of the highway to Porto, in the cemetery called Ad Ursum Pileatum. Pope Leo translated their relics into a church which he built to their honor in the city, they now lie in that of St. Mary Major.