Saint Martha, whose feast we celebrate today, is mentioned by name only in Luke 10:38-42; and John 11, 12, sqq. The Aramaic form occurs in a Nabatæan inscription found at Puteoli, and now in the Naples Museum; it is dated A.D. 5 (Corpus Inscr. Semit., 158); also in a Palmyrene inscription, where the Greek translation has the form Marthein, A.D. 179.
The likeness between the pictures of Martha presented by St. Luke and St. John is very remarkable. The familiar intercourse between our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the humble family which St. Luke depicts is dwelt on by St. John when he tells us that “Jesus loved Martha, and her sister Mary, and Lazarus” (11:5). Again the picture of Martha’s anxiety (John 11:20-21, 39) accords with the picture of her who was “busy about much serving” (Luke 10:40); so also in John 12:2: “They made Him a supper there: and Martha served.” But St. John has given us a glimpse of the other and deeper side of her character when he depicts her growing faith in Christ’s Divinity (11:20-27), a faith which was the occasion of the words: “I am the resurrection and the life.” The Evangelist has beautifully indicated the change that came over Martha after that interview: “When she had said these things, she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying: The Master is come, and calleth for thee.”
Difficulties have been raised about the last supper at Bethania. St. John seems to put it six days before the Pasch, and, so some conclude, in the house of Martha; while the Synoptic account puts it two days before the Pasch, and in the house of Simon the Leper. We need not try to avoid this difficulty by asserting that there were two suppers; for St. John does not say that the supper took place six days before, but only that Christ arrived in Bethania six days before the Pasch; nor does he say that it was in the house of Martha. We are surely justified in arguing that, since St. Matthew and St. Mark place the scene in the house of Simon, St. John must be understood to say the same; it remains to be proved that Martha could not “serve” in Simon’s house.
While there is little information on St. Martha, it is believed she accompanied her sister St. Mary Magdalen and her brother St. Lazarus into Gaul, where she closed her holy life. Her sacred relics are venerated at Tarascon, in Provence. The ways by which God leads men’s souls are very varied; one way may be more perfect than another, but each soul must sanctify itself in its own fashion. Grace does not do violence to nature, but perfects it; thus, although St. John tells us that Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, each of the sisters always retains her own individual character in the Gospel narrative.
Mary feels more deeply, and, therefore, though she is habitually more recollected, yet she is also a woman of an eager and pleasing disposition, more courageous in her actions. While her sister mary is the contemplative, Martha is the active one much as religious orders are today. The virtues of Martha, the elder sister of Lazarus, on the other hand, are more commonplace and less exceptional. She is a good housekeeper, diligent, affectionate, and forbearing in undertaking the additional labor which Mary’s different nature puts upon her. In discharging her daily duties she looks at life chiefly from the practical side.
The Savior loves her much, because, though Mary is eager to receive spiritual food from Him, Martha, on the contrary, shows a mother’s tender care both for Him and for His disciples, who were always received as members of the family in her home at Bethany.
There is also a commemoration of Saints Felix II, Simplicius, Faustinus, and St. Beatrice, Martyrs. The martyr St. Felix II governed the Church during the exile of Pope St. Liberius, in the middle of the Fourth Century. The polemics with the Arians continued and these led to the election of the Felix as an antipope, but in total humility he repented afterwards and, for his martyrdom, was canonized.
Simplicius and Faustinus were drowned in the Tiber, probably in 303, when the great persecution under Diocletian was at its height. Beatrice, their sister, with the aid of the priest Priscus, recovered their bodies in order to give them burial; for which offence she was strangled in prison. In the Fourth Century a basilica was built at the side of the sepulchre of the two brothers and their sister.
INTROIT Psalm 118: 95-96
Thou hast loved justice, and hated iniquity: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. (Ps. 44: 2) My heart hath uttered a good word: I speak my works to the King. Glory be…etc
Graciously hear us, O God, our Saviour, that, as we rejoice in the festival of blessed Martha, Thy virgin, so we may be taught by the spirit of pious devotion. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever.
Commemoration of St. Felix and Companion Holy Martyrs
Let us pray. Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that as Thy Christian people joyfully unite ín celebrating the temporal solemnity of Thy holy martyrs Felix, Simplicius, Faustinus, and Beatrice, so they may enjoy it in eternity, and may effectually attain to what they celebrate in desire. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R.Amen.
EPISTLE 2 Corinthians 10,17-18 ; 11,1-2
Lesson from the Epistle of Bl. Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians. Brethren, he that glory, let him glory in the Lord. For not that he that commendeth himself is approved, but he whom God commendeth. Would to God you could bear with some little of my folly, but do bear with me. For I am jealous of you with the jealousy of God. For I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA Psalm 4:5
With thy comeliness and thy beauty set out, proceed prosperously, and reign. V. Because of truth, and meekness and justice: and thy right hand shall conduct thee wonderfully. Alleluia, alleluia. V. After her shall virgins be brought to the King: her neighbors shall be brought to thee with gladness. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Luke 10: 38-42
At that time, Jesus entered into a certain town; and a certain woman named Martha, received Him into her house: and she had a sister called Mary, who sitting also at the Lord’s feet, heard His word. But Martha was busy about much serving: who stood and said, Lord, hast Thou no care that my sister hath left me alone to serve? Speak to her therefore, that she help me. And the Lord answering, said to her: “Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about many things: but one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Psalm 44:10
The daughters of kings in thy glory: the queen stood on thy right hand in gilded clothing, surrounded with variety.
May the offering of Thy consecrated people be accepted by Thee, O Lord, in honor of Thy saints, by whose merits it knoweth that it hath received aid in time of trouble. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever.
Commemoration Secret of St. Felix and Companion Holy Martyrs
Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that as Thy Christian people joyfully unite ín celebrating the temporal solemnity of Thy holy martyrs Felix, Simplicius, Faustinus, and Beatrice, so they may enjoy it in eternity, and may effectually attain to what they celebrate in desire. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever.
PREFACE of the Common
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God: through Christ our Lord. Through Whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, the Dominations worship it, the Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the Heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with them we entreat Thee, that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted, while we say in lowly praise:
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Matthew 25: 4, 6
The five wise virgins took oil in their vessels with the lamps: and at midnight there was a cry made, Behold the bridegroom cometh: go ye forth to meet Christ our Lord.
Thou hast filled Thy household, O Lord, with sacred gifts; ever comfort us, we beseech Thee, through her intercession whose festival we celebrate. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, For ever and ever.
Commemoration Postcommunion of St. Felix and Companion Holy Martyrs
Let us pray. Grant, we beseech Thee, O almighty God, that the solemnity of Thy holy martyrs, Felix, Simplicius, Faustinus, and Beatrice, celebrated with the sacred mysteries, may acquire for us the grant of Thy forgiveness of our sins. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever.