Having a Mary heart in a Martha world

May 10, 2024 at 11:42 a.m.
Christ in the House of Martha and Mary by Jan Brueghel the Younger and Peter Paul Rubens. (1628) National Gallery of Ireland. Public domain image
Christ in the House of Martha and Mary by Jan Brueghel the Younger and Peter Paul Rubens. (1628) National Gallery of Ireland. Public domain image

By Cynthia Craft, Special Contributor

Have you ever tried to do it all? I certainly have. I always will. It is in my nature and who I am as a person. I love schedules, lists, (post it notes) and organization. I love the lines a vacuum makes on my living room rug. Being a deacon’s wife, a mother of three and a grandmother of 10 as well as working a full-time job as a parish catechetical leader requires more stamina, more creativity and more wisdom than I had ever dreamed. I am sure that many of you may be feeling the same way.

The question I most often hear from colleagues, parishioners and parents of my students is, “How do we live in a Martha world, yet make time to worship our Lord Jesus like Mary?” We want to worship like Mary, but the Martha inside of us keeps bossing us around. How do we balance what some often call the “Twisted Sister” syndrome?

As my family grew, I did all the things a Catholic mom would do. I taught religious education, ran the youth ministry program in my parish and made sure that my children went to Church and received their Sacraments. I was extremely busy. All good things, many for the Lord. I would say that I gravitated more toward Martha; however, I was also always striving for some “Mary moments.”

Everyone has probably heard of WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?)? But have you heard of WWSMD? (What Would Smart Martha Do?) As a wife, mother and grandmother, I needed to be a “smart Martha.” Wife business is serious work, mom business is serious work, and grandmother business is serious work. Important, yes, but they all need Mary too! All those people in our lives who we serve on a daily basis are Jesus: husbands, children, grandchildren, even people we encounter daily. We need to stop sometimes and listen to them, to really pay attention, so we can grow spiritually, emotionally and socially. We can limit the number of activities and sports that our children join. We do not need to be involved in every ministry in the parish; maybe pick one or two. We do not always have to be on the go, go, go. Purposefully slow down and take a breath or two. There is no substitute for “Mary time” spent with our families, spouses, parents, the Jesuses in our lives.

The truth is you are never going to get everything done. Trust me. And if you put Jesus last, you will never get to him either. As difficult as it seems at times, always strive to make Jesus first. Jesus was inviting Martha into a relationship with him. He was basically saying “Chill Martha, or relax, come sit with me, the dishes will be there when we are done.”

Martha was a great doer, but she was too busy to pay attention to Jesus. Mary was a great listener, a true disciple, but listening without doing is only halfway there, just as doing without listening is only halfway there. We always need to look for Christ first, as Mary did. Spend time with Jesus, then get stuff done. Martha and Mary, both showed us that work and worship are needed, that each have a place in our lives.

So how do we have a Mary heart in a Martha world? Other than the suggestions given previously, my number one suggestion would be…BALANCE. Finding the balance between the two is not always easy, but necessary.


PRACTICAL TIPS:

. Purposefully slow down

. Limit children’s activities and yours

. Bring Jesus to the forefront

. Stop and listen, (really listen) to the Jesuses in your life

. Work on finding the balance

 The Gospel story on Martha and Mary is found in Luke 10:38-42. Cynthia Craft is a parish catechetical leader in St. Pius X Parish, Forked River.

Faith at Home is a monthly column coordinated by the Diocese of Trenton’s Departments of Catechesis, Evangelization and Family Life, and Youth and Young Adult Ministry. For additional Faith at Home resources, visit dioceseoftrenton.org/faith-at-home.

The Church needs quality Catholic journalism now more than ever. Please consider supporting this work by signing up for a SUBSCRIPTION (click HERE) or making a DONATION to The Monitor (click HERE). Thank you for your support.


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Have you ever tried to do it all? I certainly have. I always will. It is in my nature and who I am as a person. I love schedules, lists, (post it notes) and organization. I love the lines a vacuum makes on my living room rug. Being a deacon’s wife, a mother of three and a grandmother of 10 as well as working a full-time job as a parish catechetical leader requires more stamina, more creativity and more wisdom than I had ever dreamed. I am sure that many of you may be feeling the same way.

The question I most often hear from colleagues, parishioners and parents of my students is, “How do we live in a Martha world, yet make time to worship our Lord Jesus like Mary?” We want to worship like Mary, but the Martha inside of us keeps bossing us around. How do we balance what some often call the “Twisted Sister” syndrome?

As my family grew, I did all the things a Catholic mom would do. I taught religious education, ran the youth ministry program in my parish and made sure that my children went to Church and received their Sacraments. I was extremely busy. All good things, many for the Lord. I would say that I gravitated more toward Martha; however, I was also always striving for some “Mary moments.”

Everyone has probably heard of WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?)? But have you heard of WWSMD? (What Would Smart Martha Do?) As a wife, mother and grandmother, I needed to be a “smart Martha.” Wife business is serious work, mom business is serious work, and grandmother business is serious work. Important, yes, but they all need Mary too! All those people in our lives who we serve on a daily basis are Jesus: husbands, children, grandchildren, even people we encounter daily. We need to stop sometimes and listen to them, to really pay attention, so we can grow spiritually, emotionally and socially. We can limit the number of activities and sports that our children join. We do not need to be involved in every ministry in the parish; maybe pick one or two. We do not always have to be on the go, go, go. Purposefully slow down and take a breath or two. There is no substitute for “Mary time” spent with our families, spouses, parents, the Jesuses in our lives.

The truth is you are never going to get everything done. Trust me. And if you put Jesus last, you will never get to him either. As difficult as it seems at times, always strive to make Jesus first. Jesus was inviting Martha into a relationship with him. He was basically saying “Chill Martha, or relax, come sit with me, the dishes will be there when we are done.”

Martha was a great doer, but she was too busy to pay attention to Jesus. Mary was a great listener, a true disciple, but listening without doing is only halfway there, just as doing without listening is only halfway there. We always need to look for Christ first, as Mary did. Spend time with Jesus, then get stuff done. Martha and Mary, both showed us that work and worship are needed, that each have a place in our lives.

So how do we have a Mary heart in a Martha world? Other than the suggestions given previously, my number one suggestion would be…BALANCE. Finding the balance between the two is not always easy, but necessary.


PRACTICAL TIPS:

. Purposefully slow down

. Limit children’s activities and yours

. Bring Jesus to the forefront

. Stop and listen, (really listen) to the Jesuses in your life

. Work on finding the balance

 The Gospel story on Martha and Mary is found in Luke 10:38-42. Cynthia Craft is a parish catechetical leader in St. Pius X Parish, Forked River.

Faith at Home is a monthly column coordinated by the Diocese of Trenton’s Departments of Catechesis, Evangelization and Family Life, and Youth and Young Adult Ministry. For additional Faith at Home resources, visit dioceseoftrenton.org/faith-at-home.

The Church needs quality Catholic journalism now more than ever. Please consider supporting this work by signing up for a SUBSCRIPTION (click HERE) or making a DONATION to The Monitor (click HERE). Thank you for your support.

Have a news tip? Email [email protected] or Call/Text 360-922-3092

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