Saints, Feast, Family
- Traditions passed down with Cooking, Crafting, & Caring -
Saint of the day:
Saint Martha of Bethany
Patron Saint of Cooks, Housewives, Servants, Waiters and Waitresses
“Hostess with the Mostess”
Saint Martha's Story
"Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus." This unique statement in John's gospel tells us of the special relationship Jesus had with Martha, her sister, and her brother.
Apparently Jesus was a frequent guest at Martha's home in Bethany, a small village two miles from Jerusalem. We read of three visits in Luke 10:38-42, John 11:1-53, and John 12:1-9.
Many of us find it easy to identify with Martha in the story Luke tells. Martha welcomes Jesus and his disciples into her home and immediately goes to work to serve them.
Hospitality is paramount in the Middle East and Martha believed in its importance. Imagine her frustration when her sister Mary ignores the rule of hospitality and Martha's work in order to sit and listen to Jesus. Instead of speaking to her sister, she asks Jesus to intervene.
Jesus' response is not unkind, which gives us an idea of his affection for her. He observes that Martha is worried about many things that distract her from really being present to him. He reminds her that there is only one thing that is truly important -- listening to him. And that is what Mary has done.
In Martha we see ourselves -- worried and distracted by all we have to do in the world and forgetting to spend time with Jesus. It is, however, comforting to note that Jesus loved her just the same.
The next visit shows how well Martha learned this lesson. She is grieving the death of her brother with a house full of mourners when she hears that Jesus has just come to the area. She gets up immediately and leaves the guests, leaves her mourning, and goes to meet him.
Her conversation with Jesus shows her faith and courage. In this dialogue she states clearly without doubt that she believes in Jesus' power, in the resurrection, and most of all that Jesus is the Son of God.
Jesus tells her that he is the resurrection and the life and then goes on to raise her brother from the dead. Our final picture of Martha in Scripture is the one that sums up who she was.
Jesus has returned to Bethany some time later to share a meal with his good friends. In this home were three extraordinary people. We hear how brother Lazarus caused a stir when was brought back to life.
We hear how Mary causes a commotion at dinner by annointing Jesus with expensive perfume. But all we hear about Martha is the simple statement: "Martha served." She isn't in the spotlight, she doesn't do showy things, she doesn't receive spectacular miracles. She simply serves Jesus.
We know nothing more about Martha and what happened to her later. According to a totally untrustworthy legend Martha accompanied Mary to evangelize France after Pentecost.
But wouldn't it be wonderful if the most important thing that could be said about us is "They served"? Martha is the patron saint of servants and cooks.
In Her Footsteps
Dorothy Day said: "If everyone were holy and handsome, it would be easy to see Christ in everyone. But it was not Christ's way for himself. Ask honestly what you would do when a beggar asked at your house for food.
Would you give it on an old cracked plate, thinking that was good enough? Do you think that Martha and Mary thought that the old and chipped dish was good enough for their guest?
It is not a duty to help Christ -- it is a privilege." In what ways do you serve Christ others grudgingly or sparingly? How can you serve them the way Martha served Christ, putting her whole self into it?
In 1138, King Fulk and Queen Melisende of Jerusalem obtained the village of Bethany from the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem in exchange for land near Hebron. The queen built a large Benedictine convent dedicated to Mary and Martha to the south of the tomb and church. Melisende had extensive repairs made to the 6th-century Byzantine church, which remained the focal point of pilgrimages. For the use of the convent, the queen had a new church built over the tomb of St. Lazarus with a triapsidal east end supported by barrel vaults (the largest of which would be used for the currently existing mosque). This new church was dedicated to St. Lazarus and the older church was reconsecrated
to Sts. Mary & Martha. The Tomb of Lazarus is a traditional spot of pilgrimage located in the West Bank town of al-Eizariya, traditionally identified as the biblical village of Bethany, on the southeast slope of the Mount of Olives, some 2.4 km (1.5 miles) east of Jerusalem. The tomb is the purported site of a miracle recorded in the Gospel of John in which Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.
St. Martha is the patron saint of cooks! She tried her best to be the “hostess with the mostess” and hospitable to the holiest of house guests, Jesus, and was upset that her sister, Mary, didn’t offer much help with the preparations (Luke 10:38-42). St. Martha appears again in Scriptures serving dinner in the Lord’s honor just two days before His Last Supper (John 12:2).
We can relate to the ever-dutiful St. Martha wanting to make sure our family and guests are well fed. But we need to be reminded that we should be nourished not only physically but spiritually as well—as we do not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God (Deuternomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4 and Luke 4:4).
Now taste and see the goodness of the Lord (Psalm 34:8) and make a pumpkin pie for the Feast Day of St. Martha.
Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Tart
1 cup Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour
½ cup dark cocoa powder
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 (15 ounce) can pure pumpkin
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray a 9-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar and salt. Make a well in the center and add the melted butter. Stir into a crumbly dough.
Press dough into the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan. Place tart pan on a baking sheet and bake crust for 10 minutes. The crust will bubble just a bit as it bakes. Remove and let cool for 10 minutes while you make the filling.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, egg, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Pour into crust.
Bake for 10 minutes at 425°F. Reduce oven to 350°F and bake for another 25-30 minutes or until filling is set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cool at least 1 hour before serving. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.