Today is the Feast of St. Martha. I doubt there are few women in the world who, at one time or another have not felt Martha’s pain, when dealing with the demands most of us have in caring for our families or demanding careers (often both) – sometimes seemingly without much appreciation. No doubt there is also a part of Mary, her sister, too in all of us. Do we not long for a time of quiet in a busy day? When we too long for that time with Our Blessed Lord.
I recall the story of a lady who lived in one of the South African townships. Her accomodation was extremely basic and overcrowded. Contemplation or just a quiet time to pray was a luxury rarely undertaken. This dear soul though found time to sit in a corner, and cover her head with a cloth. In the gentle solitude the cloth provided she found time, each day, to pray.
|Christ in the House of Mary and Martha, by Vermeer, c. 1654
Saint John tells us that Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus (John 11:5), but only a few glimpses are vouchsafed us of them in the Gospels. First, the sisters are set before us: Martha received Jesus into her house, and was busy in outward, loving, lavish service, while Mary sat in silence at the feet she had bathed with her tears. Then we learn that their brother is ill when they send word to Jesus concerning their brother Lazarus, “Lord, he whom Thou lovest is sick.” (John 11:3) In His own time the Lord came, and they went out to meet Him; then follows that scene of unutterable tenderness and of sublimity unsurpassed: the silent mourning of Mary; Martha strong in faith, but realizing so vividly, with her practical turn of mind, the fact of death, and hesitating: “Lord, by this time he is already decayed! He has been dead four days.”And then once again, on the eve of His Passion, we see Jesus at Bethany, with His resurrected disciple. Martha, true to her character, is serving; Mary, as at first, pours the precious ointment, in adoration and love, on His divine head, as a preliminary to His burial. (John 12:1-4) We do not hear of the beloved family again in the Scriptures, but tradition tells us that when the storm of persecution came, the family of Bethany, with a few companions, were put into a boat without oars or sail, and borne miraculously to the coast of France. Martha assembled a holy company of women, with whom she lived in great austerity of life and admirable sanctity at Tarascon where her tomb is venerated. Saint Mary’s tomb is at La Sainte-Baume; Saint Lazarus is venerated as the founder of the Church of Marseilles.
Novena to St. Martha
The prayer that follows must be recited for nine consecutive Tuesdays, lighting a candle on each Tuesday.This miraculous Saint has been known to grant anything, no matter how difficult it is, before the ninth Tuesday.
Saint Martha, I resort to thy aid and protection. As proof of my affection and faith, I offer thee this light, which I shall burn every Tuesday. Comfort me in all my difficulties and through the great favors thou didst enjoy when the Savior was lodged in thy house, intercede for my family, that we be provided for in our neccessities. I ask of thee, Saint Martha, to overcome all difficulties as thou didst overcome the dragon which thou hadst at thy feet. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen Recite the following prayers... Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be...