Sign Up for our Free Daily Email Updates / Catholic Spiritual Direction

Serving God as Both Martha AND Mary

August 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Book Club, Sarah Reinhard

Book Club INTERNAL IMAGE (internal to post) 600x214 for post on both Martha and Mary

Serving God as Both Martha AND Mary

The Lord (Week 9 of 23)

Martha's work is balanced by Mary's reverence. Christianity has always placed the life struggling for inner truth and ultimate love above that intent on exterior action, even the most courageous and excellent. It has always valued silence more highly than words, purity of intent more than success, the magnanimity of love more than the effect of labor. Naturally, both must exist; where there is but one, the tension between inner and outer existence is destroyed, and life must deteriorate.

The Lord, Part 2: Chapter VII, Paragraph 21

This section hit me like a club.

I don't need to look much farther than my laundry piles to see why. There's plenty to do, and I'm nothing if not a woman of action.

Or so I'd like to think.

But what this reminds me is that what I consider action isn't always the best thing to do. We are, as a wise spiritual direction told me many years ago, human beings not human doings.

Martha and Mary are each part of a complete: even as Mary's contemplation is prized, you'll notice everyone was sitting there to enjoy dinner on the table.

We need action, but not at the expense of the time needed to sit and savor the silence, to be.

In the same manner, we need to be, but not if it means the laundry never gets done and dinner never gets made.

Don't be fooled by the myth of balance, either: the only balance in this life is in a bestselling business book, as it balances on your shelf. At the risk of splitting semantical hairs, what we need, instead, is integration.

There is a season: sometimes there's more doing, sometimes there's more being. I've watched a woman I love dearly transition, painfully, from a doing state to a more being state. She's gone from being able to care for herself to having to accept help with the most personal and intimate tasks.

Guardini makes the point at the end of this chapter:

All Jesus' acts are deeply embedded in silent contemplation. And the more violent our struggles, the louder the spoken word, the more conscientiously we work and organize, the more important it is to remind ourselves of this.

Which, I guess, is a way of saying I'm wrong.

Because, while we need both doing AND being, we cannot do without being. We first exist.

And in that existence, we must carve out silence. We must sit at His feet, listen to His voice, savor the gift He is.

We must embrace the being. We must be…and to be, we must turn to Him.

Reading Assignment:

Part 3: Ch. I-IV

Discussion Questions:

1. Find a time to sit in silence this week. How can you make this kind of time happen every week? (Or, if you already do, how can you make it happen twice a week?)

2. What's your biggest struggle between doing and being?

Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!

Read More:

For More Information on the Book Club:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About Sarah Reinhard

Sarah Reinhard continues to delight ”and be challenged by” her vocations of Catholic wife and mother. She's online at and is the author of a number of books for families.

please consider supporting our mission with a donation!