Prayer of Union
January 23, 1993
Brother John Raymond
I remember reading a few years ago about Blessed Miriam of Jesus
Crucified, a Carmelite Nun. Her life story is fascinating. She was
born in Palestine in a Greek Catholic family. In her early twenties
she came under the care of a non-Christian when her parents died.
This man was very determined to make Miriam renounce her Christian
Faith. Miriam resisted. Once in a fit of rage over this her Uncle
took a knife and slit her throat. Miriam's dead body was taken to an
obscure area and left there by her Uncle. This would seem to be the
end of the story. Well, God had other ideas. Miriam went before the
throne of God, already a martyr for the Faith: she heard a voice say
that her mission on earth was not yet finished. Her soul was sent
back to her body where a Lady in Blue, surely Our Lady, nursed her
back to health. Miriam was then alive and well. She joined the
Carmelite Nuns in France. As a Nun Miriam had many supernatural
phenomena associated with her including levitation. At times Sister
Miriam was persecuted and treated unkindly by people. She died in
1873 after founding the Carmelite monasteries of Bethlehem and
Nazareth. She was beatified in 1983.
One aspect of Miriam's prayer life that is of particular interest
is her practice of uniting her sufferings with those of Jesus.
Sister Miriam was attacked by the devil over a long time. But she
would always be victorious over him because whatever suffering he
caused her she would unite it to the Passion of Jesus. Also if she
experienced mental anguish Sister Miriam united this pain to that
pain caused to Our Lord by the crowning with thorns or agony in the
garden. By doing this she gained such strength and grace over the
devil such that he was totally frustrated in everything he did to
her. Finally he gave up on her.
In my own life I have experienced the strength and grace one
receives by this practice of uniting one's sufferings with Jesus. I
used to wax floors on midnights in a hospital. A particularly
challenging place to work because it was always crowded with people
was the emergency room. I had been given the assignment to wax the
floors of all the halls in the emergency room. I worked as hard as I
could but only managed to finish one of the long hallways. The next
night my boss, in front of all the other workers, ridiculed me for
my lack of finishing the assignment given to me. To make matters
worse the other workers thought it was funny and all laughed at me.
Well, I must admit that inside I became furiously angry. Here I had
worked so hard the night before at my job and in return I received
nothing but ridicule. Instead of exploding with angry words I walked
out of the room and into the hallway. Once there I did what Sister
Miriam did. I prayed, "Jesus I unite this ridicule I'm receiving
with the mockery You experienced during Your crowning with thorns."
Then I walked back into the office. Nothing had changed in the
office. They all continued to laugh and make fun of me. But from
that short prayer I found a new strength flow over me. I was totally
at peace inside and even found myself laughing along with them.
There is a lesson to be learned here. So often we find ourselves
in difficult or painful situations. We may even have physical or
mental afflictions from time to time. They don't have to be big. It
could be simply a nagging headache. So often we try to deal with
these things relying on our own strength. And so often our own
strength is not sufficient to endure or overcome these situations,
afflictions, etc. Yet, Jesus is waiting with open arms to give us
help if we would just turn to Him. He became like one of us to share
in our sufferings. He endured difficult people like the Pharisees.
He knows what it is like to be hungry and cold for He endured both
during His forty days fast in the desert. He experienced every
possible mental anguish and physical pain during His Passion. All
this He did not only to repair for our sins but to win for us the
graces and strength we need to carry our own crosses. Let us learn
from Sister Miriam to pray, "Jesus I unite this particular suffering
with Your agony in the garden, scourging at the pillar, forty days
in the desert, etc." Then like her we will receive the supernatural
strength and grace to endure and overcome all difficulties as we
pass through this "Valley of Tears."