JMJT! Praise be Jesus Christ! Now and Forever!
Today we continue to see the ravages of war and religious hatred exhibited most especially in the Middle East. Our hearts are torn in sorrow as we learn of the many Coptic faithful who have been killed in Egypt and their Churches that have been burned to the ground. We grieve the death of so many brother and sister Catholics and Christians in Syria and Iraq and the resulting exodus of so many from the very heartland of early Christianity. What to do, we lament? I propose that we pray to Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified "AKA "The Little Arab" and "THe Lily of Palestine", a great mystic of Carmel, who was born in Egypt and would eventually found the Carmelite Convent in Bethlehem.
Blessed Mary had a great love for our Lord and Our Lady who saved her from death when her throat was slit by a Muslim man incensed by her refusal to convert. She bore the wounds of Christ on her body, and had many spiritual gifts. Perhaps foremost was a great love for the Holy Spirit and a recognition of our dependence on His guidance and light at all times. She wrote, "The world and religious communities are seeking novelties in devotions, and they are neglecting true devotion to the Paraclete. That is why there is error and disunion, and why there is no peace or light. They do not invoke light as it should be invoked, and it is this light that gives knowledge of truth. It is neglected even in seminaries . . . .
Every person in the world that will invoke the Holy Spirit and have devotion to Him will not die in error.
Message to Priests
Personally, I have taken this message to heart. As a rule I offer a Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit on the first ferial day of each month.
Every priest that preaches this devotion will receive light while he is speaking of it to others. I was told that each priest in the world should be required to say one Mass of the Holy Spirit each month, and all who assist at it will receive very special grace and light. (See http://vultus.stblogs.org/index.php/2007/08/blessed-mariam-of-jesus-crucif/)
It is noted that "Mariam's devotion to the Holy Spirit was not common in her time. And yet her spiritual journey seemed to be guided by the Spirit in unprecedented ways. Inspired by having received a special prayer to the Holy Spirit during one of her ecstatic experiences, she was convinced that devotion to the Holy Spirit, who was then commonly known as the Paraclete, was needed by the whole Church. She even sent a petition to Pope Pius IX asking him to cultivate a greater devotion within the Church to the Holy Spirit. No one knows what the pope thought of this at the time, but 20 years later Pope Leo XIII published an encyclical about devotion to the Paraclete."
I am including a thumbnail sketch of her life below which was originally published in Mystics of the Church [See http://www.mysticsofthechurch.com/2010/07/blessed-mariam-baouardy-little-arab-and.html],for your edification and encouragement here. Let us be sure to invoke her intercession and strong aid especially for the Middle East in these painful and violent times, and ask her to help us draw closer to the Holy Spirit, that we may discern the Divine Will and always be obedient to Him.
Having both gained admittance into the Carmelites, the two religious presented themselves at the door of the Carmel of Pau, France on Saturday, June 15, 1867. Mariam knew nothing at all of Carmel or of St. Teresa. But that day she understood that the mysterious words of her miraculous nurse at Alexandria were realized, "You will be a child of St. Joseph before becoming a daughter of St. Teresa".
Before we explore the extraordinary mystical graces given to Myriam, below is a outline of dates pertaining to her religious life:
May 1865 - June 1867, Novitiate of the sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition at Marseille,
June 1867 - August 1870, Carmel of Pau, France
August 1870 - November 1872, Carmel of Mangalore, India
November 1872 - August 1875, Carmel of Pau, France
September 1875 - August 1878, Carmel of Bethlehem.
She helps found two Carmelite houses
In 1870 she went with the founding group to establish the Carmel of Mangalore in India. It was there in Mangalore that Sister Mary of Jesus Crucified made her profession. She returned to the Carmel of Pau, France in 1872. Three years later she went to the Holy Land where she built a monastery in Bethlehem and began the planning for another at Nazareth.
Those who read her life discover that Myriam had experienced ecstasies all her life: from her early childhood, in the garden, in her home, and in the church of Ibillin; during the bloody night at Alexandria, at her employers in Beirut and Marseille. In the church of St. Nicholas she was rapt in an ecstasy that lasted four days. But it was especially from the time she entered religious life that the phenomena began to be intensified. At the Capelette, when she was with the Sisters of St. Joseph, she was found in ecstasy in the chapel, at recreation, and especially at night in the dormitory.
After she entered Carmel, we note a crescendo, to the degree that at Mangalore the ecstasies occurred almost daily: she had as many as five a day. At Bethlehem, during her last years, they were still more frequent, but at the same time more serene and more painful.
The ecstasies would sometimes occur suddenly, and at other times progressively. "There are times," she said, "when I can do absolutely nothing: no matter what I do to prevent it; and at other times I can distract myself a little in order not to go off." In fact she did struggle against the raptures. In her ignorance of mystical things she did not even suspect the privilege she enjoyed for she spoke of her ecstasies as “sleep” And how she fought against going to “sleep”! She begged Father Manaudas, her spiritual director, to forbid her to this sleep."My child," the priest replied, "do not worry; you can go to sleep in all security." She began to cry. She made the same request to Bishop Lacroix, who ordered her to abandon herself to God instead of struggling against such a sleep. It was in fact a real struggle. In order to resist the rapture she moved around, she shook herself, she dashed to the fountain to wash herself, she worked more diligently. She even tried pricking her skin with pins, and in refectory she put burning hot food into her mouth. Nothing helped.
To the mistress of novices, who asked her how she could easily go to sleep, she replied innocently: "I feel as though my heart is open; as though there was a wound in it; and when I have certain ideas and impressions of God which move me, it feels like someone touched the wound in my heart, and I fall in weakness, I lose myself."
During her professions ceremony at Mangalore, November 21, 1871, it required an order of the prioress to awaken her so that she could pronounce the vow formula. On June 28, 1873, at Pau, the prioress went into the little one´s cell after the recitations of matins. The latter was seated before the open window: she was in ecstasy. She said to the mother prioress: "The whole world is asleep, and God so full of goodness, so great, so worthy of all praise, and hardly no one is thinking of Him! See, nature praises Him, the sky, the stars, the trees, the grass, everything praises Him, and man, who knowledge of His benefits, who ought to praise Him, sleeps! Let us go, let us go and wake up the universe!" She skipped out of her cell: "Let us go and praise God, and sing His praises. Everyone is sleeping, the whole world is asleep, let us go and wake them up. Jesus is not known, Jesus is not loved. He, so full of goodness, He who has done so much for man!"
During her ecstasies, her body sometimes remained supple, but often it became rigid, remaining in the same position that it was at the beginning of the ecstasy. During this time, nothing and no one could make her move. It was impossible to have her sit or lay down, or to take her from her any object she was holding, or to lower her raised arm. Only obedience could overcome this immobility. She was also completely insensible to any external stimulus. Once, she injured her knee with a nail, which caused her much pain and she could not help but to limp when walking.due to the pain. Suddenly she was rapt in ecstasy, and remained for two hours on her knees.
On another occasion, on November 30, 1874, she began to sing "in a clear and strong voice", although since her martyrdom her voice had been hoarse because of the fact that her neck was cut so severely. On January 7, 1875, a violent blow on the head resulted in one eye being injured. Mariam, "later being rapt in ecstasy", wrote the faithful secretary, "we brought a light near her injured eye, which we had not yet been able to examine due to her humility and also the pain caused when opening it. It was open, and although quite inflamed, it remained steady when we put the light in line with its gaze."
Another notable detail was that when she came to herself she had no remembrance of what had transpired. With one exception however: the memory of it returned to her when authority asked her to give an account of what she had seen and heard. "I remember these things," she acknowledged , "to tell them to whom I should.”
A few sayings of Blessed Sister Mariam while in ecstasy:
"I am in God, and God is in me. I feel that all creatures, the trees, the flowers belong to God and also to me. I no longer have a will, it belongs to God. And all that is God´s is mine.
"Only love can fill the heart of man. The just man is satisfied with love and a pinch of earth, but the wicked man, with all the pleasures, honors, riches (he can acquire), is always hungry, always thirsty. He is never satisfied.
"Pay attention to little things. Everything is great before the Lord. The Lord does not want robbery in the sacrifice. Offer and give Him everything.
"In heaven, the most beautiful souls are those that have sinned the most and repented. But they made use of their miseries like manure around the base of the tree."
"Be very charitable; when one of your eyes sees what is not right, shut it and then open the other one! Change everything into good."
"If you love your neighbor, it is by this that you will know if you love Jesus. Each time you look at your neighbor without seeing Jesus, you fall very low."
We see in the lives of many mystic saints that an ecstatic, while in ecstasy, can be drawn a little above the ground through a supernatural and mysterious grace. However, Sister Mary of Jesus Crucified was one of the only ones, along with Saint Joseph of Cupertino, to make real flights. The phenomena was verified for the first time on June 22, 1873 in the garden of the Carmel of Pau. Noticing her absence at supper, the mistress of novices looked for her in vain in the cloister and the orchard, then another nun heard a song: "Love! Love!" She looked up and discovered Mariam balancing herself without support at the top of an enormous lime tree.
Advised of this, the prioress arrived and confronted with this phenomena she initially did not know what to do. After a prayer she addressed the little one: "Sister Mary of Jesus Crucified, if Jesus wishes it, come down through obedience without falling or hurting yourself."
At the simple word obedience, the ecstatic descended in fact "with the radiant face" and perfect modesty, stopping on some of the branches to sing Love."Hardly was she on the ground," noted a witness, "and as if to make amends to our mother and sisters for our anxiety in looking for her and in seeing her perched up so high, she embraced us with a sort of enthusiasm and affection impossible to express."
Eight ecstatic levitations were documented: Beginning in 1873 on June 22, July 9, 19,25, 27, 31, August 3, 1873 and finally on July 5, 1874. "How did you manage to climb like that?" the mother prioress asked her. And she replied: "The Lamb held out His hands to me:" Some of the nuns wanted to make sure of this so they spied on her. One day a lay sister who was working in the garden was witness to the flight: "She had taken hold of the tip of a little branch that a bird would have bent; and from there, in an instant, she had been lifted on high." On July 5, perched on the lime tree, she addressed the mother prioress: "I was on that one there and I came up here. Look, see, my alpargates (a kind of soft slipper) are still there."
On July 19, 1873, when the order was given for her to descend, she hesitated a moment. She begged to be allowed more time with the Lamb. "No," insisted the prioress, "through obedience, come down." She obeyed, but the shadow of hesitation had been fatal: the vision had disappeared. "The Lamb went away." Sighed the sister, "He left me alone to come down." In fact, because of her hesitance in obedience it was with effort that she got down to the ground and for four days of grief she expiated that unhappy moment. On July 25, the levitation lasted from four to seven o'clock in the evening; on July 31, it lasted from the end of recreation, which follows supper in the evening, until nine o'clock. This phenomenon occurred only at the Carmel of Pau.
In a letter dated February 14, 1927, Father Buzy, the Carmelite´s biographer, wrote the following statement to bishop Oliver Leroy:"Sister Mary used to raise herself to the top of the trees by the tips of the branches: she would take her scapular in one hand, and with the other the end of a small branch next to the leaves, and after a few moments she would glide along the outside edge of the tree to its top. Once up there, she would remain holding on to branches normally too weak to bear a person of her weight. "
The following are some depositions given by witnesses at process: "Sister E., now deceased, told me that one day when she happened to be in the garden with the servant of God, the latter said to her: "Turn around." She had hardly turn her head when looking back again, she saw the little one already seated on the top of the lime tree, on a little branch, balancing herself like a bird and singing divine love. Another person declared: "Once I saw her in ecstasy at the top of the lime tree, seated at the tip of the highest branch, which, normally would never have been able to support her. Her face was resplendent! I saw her come down from the tree like a bird, from branch to branch, with great nimbleness and modesty."
First let us read, in the memoirs of Mother Veronica at the Capelette, the description of the first stigmata of the little Arab:
"On the first Thursday, May 2, 1867, when I went to see Mary, I found her sitting near her bed in great pain. She showed me her side, her feet and her hands. On these latter, in the place where they had been imprinted, that is to say on the upper part, there was a sort of blister, which formed the head of the nails, and in the palms the spot was black and swollen. At the place on her side, a little above the heart, there was the form of a cross all red and inflamed; and in the middle three small blisters with a little hole…I spent the night near her, and at five o'clock in the morning blood flowed from the wounds in her hands which I bathed, and the pain seemed to be alleviated. The blood flowed from the palm. The fingers were contracted and curved around, as if the nail had really gone into the palm, she could not extend them, nor take hold of the glass when I gave her a drink from time to time…
At about nine o'clock blood flowed from the crown of thorns all around her head. I can solemnly attest that I saw blood coming from the holes of the thorns, one of which, in the center of her forehead, opened before me, and blood gushed from it. While I was washing it, it closed again, leaving her forehead without any mark, except the traces of blood. Her feet were white; one would have said the feet of a corpse, and the toes were stretched like those of one crucified. The wounds on the upper part bled, as did the wound on her side. After three hours she was completely herself again, experiencing only a little weakness. I told her to get up, which she did by herself, and that evening she came to supper with the community."
In the notes of the Carmel of Pau, we read that on Thursday, February 27, 1868: "She could not get up, she was suffering so much in her hands and feet. We took her to the infirmary. All that evening when passing near there, we would smell a strong sweet fragrance, but we could not detect its source. The novice´s veils and mantle also had a pleasant odor. The night was a bad one for her and the next morning blood began to flow from her feet and hands. The crown of thorns bled profusely at two different times, then the wound in her side, all with unspeakable pain. At noon all the bleeding stopped but the wounds remained open and became deeper each day, which prevented her from walking or putting her feet on the floor, for forty days. She could hardly bear any contact with the linens used to wrap her wounds, especially on Friday and Saturday. From that day until the following Friday, the wounds only oozed, but on Thursday of each week, a large pimple formed, black likea nail, which grew in size until Friday, then at the hour she designated in advance, this sort of blister fell off and the blood flowed; afterward the wound closed until the following week."
During the Mangalore period, we have above all the testimony of Father Lazare, a Carmelite and her director. On November 24 and 25, 1871, he attentively examined the stigmata. From his report we selected some precise statements:
"The hands were swollen on the palm and the wounds were open;but all around the edge of the wounds there was a little coagulated blood, no doubt because this wound had begun to open several days before. On the inside of the hand there was a sort of button, forming the head of the nail. The flesh of the palm seemed to have been separated violently; it was torn, if I may thus express it, on the inside there were no tears, only the head of the nail was visible. The feet were similarly pierced through and through. The wounds were fresh, the flesh torn perhaps more than on the hands. One of the perforations was exactly in the middle of the sole of the foot, and there it ended with a quite newly formed small round hole, just as if the point of a sharp nail had been driven through it and then pulled out. It was the same with the other foot."
Lastly, for the Bethlehem period (1875-1878), we have chiefly the testimony of the mistress of novices, mother Mary of the Child Jesus. The stigmata appeared during the Lent of 1876. On March 3, the first Thursday of Lent, the little one called the mother into her cell and said to her: "See my humiliation; I don't anyone to come here, look at my hands." And the witness stated precisely: "We were able to ascertain that the blackish swelling, that looked like a large nail in the palm of her hands and also on the top of the hand, was formed much more quickly than during the Lent of 1868. Towards nine o'clock, the marks were still darker and more extended; her contracted fingers prevented her from using her hands. At noon, we saw the same thing on the upper part of her feet, but she absolutely refused to let us cover them with linen, which would greatly increased her suffering."The following day the stigmatist was covered with a sweat of blood. Friday, March 10, the mistress of novices and the sister infirmarian saw the crown of thorns take form on her bloody forehead. The same phenomenon on Friday, March 24: Here is their testimony:
The next year at Pau, France, on Good Friday April 10, 1868, the stigmatist was truly on the cross; all her wounds reopened and the blood flowed from her head as well. We cannot conceive the intensity of the suffering she experienced. First she felt her legs pulled one after the other; and the same with her arms; then she felt her nails being driven in…Later, the heart bled as usual, and immediately after that, the wounds began to heal. She remained very weak all week and continued to suffer from her knees which were injured, swollen and full of bumps, perhaps resembling those our Lord must have had after all His Falls.
At certain moments, even her cheek became red as if someone were slapping her in the face. The most terrible scene took place on Friday, April 14, 1876 in temporary Carmel of Bethlehem. Let us once again allow the mistress of novices to speak:
Don Belloni, confessor of the stigmatist at Bethlehem, asserted that when holding one of her hands against the light, the flesh appeared transparent at the place of the stigmata.
Besides being deeply grounded in humility, in her ignorance she did not realize that the stigmata was a privileged grace from God; she looked upon it as an illness and begged God and Blessed Virgin to take from her what she called "the wretched marks." According to her prediction, the wounds reopened the following Lent, at the Carmel of Pau. They caused atrocious suffering and flowing of the blood. That was renewed every Friday during the Lent of 1868.The Carmelite nuns were admitted to see the prodigy; and the superior of the Carmel, Father Guilly entered the enclosure. He verified the phenomena, he put his finger on one of the wounds: at this contact the novice´s entire body shuddered. On Holy Saturday the Stigmata disappeared.
The wounds appeared again at Mangalore. On November 20, 1871, the eve of her profession, the little one confided to the mistress of novices: "If I tell you something will you keep my secret?" - "Yes." - "Look, this illness that I fear so much has returned." And she showed her her swollen hands and feet. The day after her profession the stigmata bled profusely. Frightened, the sister earnestly begged God to cure her. This time again she was heard. For more than four years she experienced nothing.
The last period of stigmatization took place at Bethlehem in April 1876. It was the longest and most painful. It made witnesses think they were on Calvary before the spectacle of Crucifixion! Sister Mariam said: "Do you know? Five rosebushes are blooming, quick, quick. They have given the roses to others, and the thorns to me." And she added with a smile: "We do not like that; here we give at least a few roses! And not to let me smell the perfume at all, nothing but thorns! Oh, well - I deserve it! That Jesus may be content, that is all I desire. I accept all the thorns on my body, but tell the Master of the rosebushes to close the roses." After these red flowerings at Marseille, Pau, Mangalore, and Bethlehem, the "five roses" of her Stigmata were closed for the last time on April 26, 1876.
Sources: Sources: "Mariam the little Arab; Sister Mary of Jesus Crucified; 1846-1678", by Amédée Brunot S.C.J.; Published by The Carmel of Maria Regina, 87609 Green Hill Road, Eugene, Oregon 97402. Availible for $8.00. More information here:http://aquerofoundation.com/id19.html
"Louis Massignon and Mariam Baouardy (Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified)
A Palestinian Saint for Our Time" by Dorothy C. Buck -Full article located here: