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The One Thing Needed: A Retreat Guide on Martha and Mary

August 7, 2013 by  
Filed under Fr. Bartunek, Retreat Guides

One of the most memorable scenes from the Gospel of Luke takes place in Bethany, when Jesus and his Twelve Apostles visit the home of Martha and Mary. In just a few verses, St. Luke paints a picture that we can all identify with. He shows The One Thing NeededMartha worried and working hard to entertain the guests and make sure the dinner (and everything) comes out just right. She wants everything to be perfect, and she gets flustered and feels overwhelmed. And then she realizes that her sister Mary is doing absolutely nothing to help! Instead, Mary is sitting calmly in the living room, at the feet of Jesus, drinking in his conversation. We can just picture Martha’s indignation and disbelief. She’s had enough! So she marches right into that living room, and without even deigning to acknowledge her sister, she tells Jesus – notice that: She doesn’t ask him nicely, she actually tells him to order her sister to get up and get to work, and in the process, she even chastises the Lord himself!

We can all relate to the situation. It’s so real. It’s so typical of us human beings. And in the midst of such a real, typical situation – a little family squabble – Jesus gives us one of his most unforgettable lessons. The mere fact that Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, shared such mundane experiences is a powerful lesson. But what he says in response to Martha’s petition, and what it means, can literally transform our lives.

Today’s world offers us so much! Wherever we go, products and possibilities battle raucously for our attention and our commitment. Visual noise, mind noise, noise noise… Amidst all the noise, how can we focus on what really matters?

In this Retreat Guide, The One Thing Needed: A Retreat Guide on Martha and Mary, that's what we will reflect on.
·        The first meditation looks at what Jesus calls “the one thing needed.”
·        The second meditation looks at the relationship between that one thing and all the other things that make up our daily life.
·        And the conference reviews God's own not-so-secret formula for helping us keep our priorities straight: the Third Commandment.

As always, this Retreat Guide can be watched, listened to, or read – whichever helps you pray better. Check it out now at www.RCSpirituality.org (Scroll down the page. It is number eight on the list of retreats). Like us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/RetreatGuide.

Yours in Christ,
Fr. John Bartunek, LC

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Art for this post on The One Thing Needed: A Retreat Guide on Martha and Mary: Christus bei Maria und Martha (Christ with Mary and Martha), Adolf Zimmermann, 1836, PD-US author's life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons. Retreat logo used with permission of rcspirituality.com.

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About Fr. John Bartunek, LC

Fr. John Bartunek, LC, S.Th.D, received his BA in History from Stanford University in 1990. He comes from an evangelical Christian background and became a member of the Catholic Church in 1991. After college, he worked as a high school history teacher, drama director, and baseball coach. He then spent a year as a professional actor in Chicago before entering the religious Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ in 1993. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 2003 and earned his doctorate in moral theology in 2010. He provided spiritual support on the set of Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ" while researching the 2005 Catholic best seller, "Inside the Passion"--the only authorized, behind-the-scene explanation of the film. Fr. John has contributed news commentary regarding religious issues on NBC, CNN, Fox, and the BBC. He also served as the English-language press liaison for the Vatican’s 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. His most widely known book is called: "The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer". His most recent books are "Spring Meditations", "Seeking First the Kingdom: 30 Meditations on How to Love God with All Your Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength", and "Answers: Catholic Advice for Your Spiritual Questions". Fr. John currently splits his time between Michigan (where he continues his writing apostolate and serves as a confessor and spiritual director at the Queen of the Family Retreat Center) and Rome, where he teaches theology at Regina Apostolorum. His online, do-it-yourself retreats are available at RCSpirituality.org, and he answers questions about the spiritual life at SpiritualDirection.com.

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  • LizEst

    Thank you for this retreat guide, Fr. John. I look forward to going through it!

  • patricia

    This retreat was so needed to get a more perspective on how to live Sunday according to God’s Holy will. Thank you Father. We all can be Mary’s living life’s of Martha by reconnecting with our Lord. This is very important to me to be able to be at the feet of our Lord and depend on him while carrying out the responsibilities he give to me. Thank you so much!!!

  • I just went through the Second Meditation and the culturally-current
    analogies really help me grasp the concept of putting Christ first. I also love
    the line, “The one thing needed will be the only thing left.” That hits the nail
    on the head. Although I still get a bit giddy when I open the door of my walk-in
    closet after years of working in fashion, it struck me today that my greatest
    fulfillment and peace come from love (given and received), beauty (observed) and
    quiet daily prayer. Thank you for opening my eyes, Fr. John.

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