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A Little More Mary, A Little Less Martha View Comments
by Susan Hines-Brigger

As I write this, I am surrounded by a basket of clothes that should be folded and put away, dishes that should be loaded into the dishwasher, floors that should be swept and a million and one other tasks to which I probably should be attending. Oh, and it’s almost dinnertime, too, so I should get busy preparing a meal. But instead, I’m sitting here typing out this column because I have a deadline looming. Not exactly the way I want to wrap up my weekend.

To add insult to injury, my five-year-old daughter, Riley, just came bounding into the room to ask me if I would like to play a game with her and her brother, Alex. I want to say yes, but I find myself saying no.

“I’m really busy,” I tell her, hoping she’ll understand. But the look on her face as she leaves the room tells me she doesn’t. I know the look. I’ve been seeing it a lot these days when I try to explain to my kids, my friends, my family that I’m too busy to spend time with them. Too often lately, I’ve found myself taking the role of Martha from the Bible (Luke 10:38-42).

A Biblical Case Study

The story of Martha and Mary is one that has always spoken to me as a woman, a wife, a mom and a sister. And it’s one with whose message I’ve struggled. The two women, as well as their brother, Lazarus, were friends of Jesus. In the passage, we hear how Mary and Martha invited Jesus into their home.

During his visit, Mary chose to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to him speak. Martha, however, took it upon herself to stay busy with all the household duties. Finally, totally exasperated and irritated, I imagine, she says to Jesus, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” (Oh, as a mom, how many times I have heard that line from my
children!)

Jesus’ answer? “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

Lessons to Learn

My friend Jenny often makes reference to that story. She does a good job of encouraging those around her to be a little more Mary and slightly less Martha in their lives. I’m not sure whether to be comforted or concerned that this many years after the Bible was written, we’re still trying to strike that balance. Martha apparently thought Mary had no business trying to be a disciple of Jesus. Eventually, St. Martha became exactly that.

Let’s be honest. It seems that these days we’re all busier than ever, working longer, running faster. And we’re all still struggling. How many moments have I missed simply by choosing to be busy with things that in the long run will turn out to be nothing more than busywork? Will my family remember the times they had matching socks in their drawer, or the times we played at the park?

Striking a Balance

Some of us are better at finding the balance than others. My husband, Mark, is one who seems to have mastered the challenge. I have not. Too many times household chores and work have taken precedence over things such as crafts, board games and snuggling up on the couch with my husband or one of my kids.

Am I suggesting that we dismiss the Martha roles in our lives? Of course not, just as I don’t think we should dismiss the importance of doing those things that we don’t always deem essential. So this month I challenge you to try to find your balance.

But don’t think I’m asking you to go it alone. Nope, I am giving my notice. For the foreseeable future, I will be devoting as much time to the Mary side of my life as to my Martha.

It may mean e-mails and phone calls will not be returned within five minutes—or the kids will have to find their own socks in the basket of laundry—or I will say no more often. But this mom is determined to find a way for work and play to coexist peacefully in my life and not cause me undue stress. I’m doing this not only because it’s good for me, but also for the sake of my family and friends.

To get started, tonight I’m going to choose the better part, ignore the mountains of laundry and spend time with my family. I hope you will join me in this new adventure. After all, that’s what Jesus would want us to do.

Take This and Eat

Just as Martha felt burdened by singlehandedly preparing the meal for Jesus, I also feel the pressures of meal preparation. Trying to find healthy, quick and tasty recipes to prepare for my family has left me looking for a better—and easier—way. Many times I have found myself lamenting to anyone who will listen that I am tired of making the same meals. Every time, friends and family have responded with their tried-and-true recipes. So now I’m reaching out to you, our readers. Send me your favorite recipes: Mail them, e-mail them or post them on our Facebook wall at www.Facebook.com/StAnthonyMessengerMagazine. Help this mom of four find a little more Mary time.

Do you have ideas or suggestions for topics you'd like to see addressed in this column? If so, send them to me at "A Catholic Mom Speaks," 28 W. Liberty Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202-6498, or e-mail them to CatholicMom@franciscanmedia.org.

Thank you for your comments. Editors will review all posts before they are visible on the website.

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Junipero Serra: In 1776, when the American Revolution was beginning in the east, another part of the future United States was being born in California. That year a gray-robed Franciscan founded Mission San Juan Capistrano, now famous for its annually returning swallows. San Juan was the seventh of nine missions established under the direction of this indomitable Spaniard. 
<p>Born on Spain’s island of Mallorca, Serra entered the Franciscan Order, taking the name of St. Francis’ childlike companion, Brother Juniper. Until he was 35, he spent most of his time in the classroom—first as a student of theology and then as a professor. He also became famous for his preaching. Suddenly he gave it all up and followed the yearning that had begun years before when he heard about the missionary work of St. Francis Solanus in South America. Junipero’s desire was to convert native peoples in the New World. </p><p>Arriving by ship at Vera Cruz, Mexico, he and a companion walked the 250 miles to Mexico City. On the way Junipero’s left leg became infected by an insect bite and would remain a cross—sometimes life-threatening—for the rest of his life. For 18 years he worked in central Mexico and in the Baja Peninsula. He became president of the missions there. </p><p>Enter politics: the threat of a Russian invasion south from Alaska. Charles III of Spain ordered an expedition to beat Russia to the territory. So the last two <i>conquistadors</i>—one military, one spiritual—began their quest. José de Galvez persuaded Junipero to set out with him for present-day Monterey, California. The first mission founded after the 900-mile journey north was San Diego (1769). That year a shortage of food almost canceled the expedition. Vowing to stay with the local people, Junipero and another friar began a novena in preparation for St. Joseph’s day, March 19, the scheduled day of departure. On that day, the relief ship arrived. </p><p>Other missions followed: Monterey/Carmel (1770); San Antonio and San Gabriel (1771); San Luís Obispo (1772); San Francisco and San Juan Capistrano (1776); Santa Clara (1777); San Buenaventura (1782). Twelve more were founded after Serra’s death. </p><p>Junipero made the long trip to Mexico City to settle great differences with the military commander. He arrived at the point of death. The outcome was substantially what Junipero sought: the famous “Regulation” protecting the Indians and the missions. It was the basis for the first significant legislation in California, a “Bill of Rights” for Native Americans. </p><p>Because the Native Americans were living a nonhuman life from the Spanish point of view, the friars were made their legal guardians. The Native Americans were kept at the mission after Baptism lest they be corrupted in their former haunts—a move that has brought cries of “injustice” from some moderns. </p><p>Junipero’s missionary life was a long battle with cold and hunger, with unsympathetic military commanders and even with danger of death from non-Christian native peoples. Through it all his unquenchable zeal was fed by prayer each night, often from midnight till dawn. He baptized over 6,000 people and confirmed 5,000. His travels would have circled the globe. He brought the Native Americans not only the gift of faith but also a decent standard of living. He won their love, as witnessed especially by their grief at his death. He is buried at Mission San Carlo Borromeo, Carmel, and was beatified in 1988.</p> American Catholic Blog God is great. God is good. And God, in his fatherly love, has a plan for our lives that will work out for our benefit and salvation. All we have to do is trust and obey.

Life's Great Questions

 
CATHOLIC GREETINGS
Blessed Junipero Serra
This Franciscan friar was instrumental in founding many of California’s mission churches.

Happy Birthday
May this birthday mark the beginning of new and exciting adventures!

Sts. Peter and Paul
Honored both separately and together, these apostles were probably martyred during the reign of the emperor Nero.

Wedding
Help the bride and groom see their love as a mirror of God’s love.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help
God gave Mary to us as a help in our quest for holiness.


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