Friday, July 29, 2022

Memorial of Saints Martha, Mary and Lazarus

This has long been Saint Martha's feast day in the Roman rite, but Pope Francis made it a memorial for the whole family. I think that is simply wonderful because the traces of stories about Jesus with them shows a side of love, friendship, and familiarity with God that is priceless.

Jesus at the home of Martha and Mary by Tintoretto, 16th century
It is hard to find a painting of all three with Jesus
but I feel as if Lazarus is at the end of the table listening.


After Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, they gave a dinner in his honor at Bethany — and Martha served at table.

Mary took a pound of costly perfume and anointed the feet of Jesus.
cf. John 12:1-3

The Raising of Lazarus, c. 1517–1519, Sebastiano del Piombo
It is obvious who Lazarus is here, but I think maybe we see Mary and Martha
between him and Jesus, one kneeling, one standing.

There is a new liturgy written for this but it hasn't been translated into English yet. Here is the decree with which this memorial was created. It says it all quite well, of course!

on the Celebration of Saints Martha, Mary and Lazarus
in the General Roman Calendar

In the household of Bethany the Lord Jesus experienced the family spirit and friendship of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, and for this reason the Gospel of John states that he loved them. Martha generously offered him hospitality, Mary listened attentively to his words and Lazarus promptly emerged from the tomb at the command of the One who humiliated death.

The traditional uncertainty of the Latin Church about the identity of Mary - the Magdalene to whom Christ appeared after his resurrection, the sister of Martha, the sinner whose sins the Lord had forgiven - which resulted in the inclusion of Martha - alone on 29 July in the Roman Calendar, has been resolved in recent studies and times, as attested by the current Roman Martyrology, which also commemorates Mary and Lazarus on that day. Moreover, in some particular calendars the three siblings are already celebrated together.

Therefore, the Supreme Pontiff Pope FRANCIS, considering the important evangelical witness they offered in welcoming the Lord Jesus into their home, in listening to him attentively, in believing that he is the resurrection and the life, and accepting the proposal of this Dicastery, has decreed that 29 July be designated in the General Roman Calendar as the Memorial of Saints Martha, Mary and Lazarus.

The Memorial must therefore appear under this title in all Calendars and Liturgical Books for the celebration of Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours; the variations and additions to be adopted in the liturgical texts, attached to the present decree, must be translated, approved and, after confirmation by this Dicastery, published by the Episcopal Conferences.

Anything to the contrary notwithstanding.

From the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 26 January 2021, Memorial of Saints Timothy and Titus, Bishops.

Robert Card. Sarah

It never occurred to me to wonder why the whole family wasn't included with Saint Martha but the points about the uncertainty about Mary's identity having to be cleared up first are fascinating.

I have meditated upon my dear patron Martha's personal journey as shown through the gospels and you may read that here.

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