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."