Bl. Mother Mariam Thresia is beatified not only a matter of great pride to the entire Syro-Malabar Church, but is also a matter of great help for all Christians to get the heavenly blessing through her intercession. May Bl. Mother Mariam Thresia remind every one, the family values for which she stood and worked and gave her life so that they may be inspired to take their right in this difficult circumstances of modern materialistic influences.
Bishop of Thamarassery
MARIAM THRESIA : THE REAL MOTHER – Bp. Bosco Puthur(From the Homily on June 8, 2003 at Mariam Thresia Shrine, Kuzhikattussery)
At the outset let me extend to everyone greetings and best wishes on the occasion of the feast of the Blessed Mother Mariam Thresia. This being also the Commemoration of the 39th death anniversary of Rev. Fr. Joseph Vithayathil, who was the guiding light in the Mother’s life, I pray that all those who seek the intercession of these two extraordinary persons may be abundantly blessed by our Lord God!
Who was the Blessed Mother Mariam Thresia? One who experienced the love of the Divine Father in a special way; a pious soul who received on her physical self the stigmata of the Lord; One who struggled hard to bring to the families around her God’s saving grace. She was a consolation to the families, a heaven for the poor and comfort for the dying. On this occasion of festal celebration, we become her disciples and devotees when we take on and carry out in our lives the Blessed Mother’s divine mission.
Mother Mariam Thresia begins the narration of her life history thus: “From childhood my soul agonised with an intense desire to love God”. This acute experience of the love of God was the centre point of her life. Mother was a person who invested herart and soul in the Lord, surrendered herself to His Fatherly Divine care, enjoyed His Fatherly Love and shared it with others. Her life shows that this was not always a pleasant experience. She walked along the painful path of misunderstanding and rejection. The story of her life illustrates how a God fearing person’s life is beset by temptations and struggles. A soul that desires and strives for the love of God is sure to be subjected to an unexpected volley of trials and tribulations. In the words of the apostle, St. Peter, “Your enemy, the satan, is running around on the look out for someone, anyone, to consume” (I Pt 5:8).
If this is what had happened in the life of Mother Mariam Thresia, then how will we be exempted from such experience? At such trying times, let us remember that we are called to experience the power of the Divine which transcends the power of the evil spirit. Mariam Thresia’s was a life scarred by wounds. I imply not just the five stigmata – the wound – mark imperceptible to the senses that she received on herself. Though born in an aristocratic family, she had to live in utter poverty. Acute financial stringencies and the alcoholic tendencies of her father and brother, death of her dearly beloved mother when she was only 12, taking up on her slender shoulders the staggering burden of a large household at this tender age – all these bitter experiences marred her childhood and adolescence. And beyond these psychological scars, she imbibed in her heart and on her body the stigmata of the Crucified Christ. In order to channel the love of God to all those who lived around, she came to our midst like a missionary, like a mother.
One of the Jewish parables runs as follows: A Rabbi named Joshua Ben Levi was living an intensely prayerful life, expectant of the saviour to come. He remained in the synagogue in ardent prayer, hoping to see the saviour face to face. One day as he was walking, he saw prophet Eliah. He was sure that the saviour has come. Running to Eliah, he asked, ” Has the saviour come?” “It has been quite some time since his arrival ” Eliah replied. “Where?” the Rabbi enquired, and Eliah answered, ” on the outskirts of the city, there live a group of sick people. They are covered with sores and in pain. Saviour is one of them”. “How can I recognize him?” And Eliah answered the Rabbi’s anxious query, “One among these wounded men is tending the sore of the others. He is the saviour”.
This story conveys a moral. All of us are wounded, covered with sores and in pain. We represent the saviour. We are His missionaries. But our problem is that we are so obsessed with our wounds and miseries that we tend to ignore the pain of our brethren; we forget our mission. The hurtful wounds that were inflicted on Mother Mariam Thresia by her family, relations and fellow-villagers were many! But she viewed them all as the manifestation of the scars on the Divine body of her Lord. This is where the difference lies between the Mother and ourselves. We have our own scars-of poverty at home, father’s alcoholism, our lack of education, conflicts with our neighbours, our own inadequacies, lack of love of our partner, inconsiderate behaviour of our children and so on. These scars tell us to transcend the human hurts and identify with the scars of the crucified Christ and take up the challenge of becoming healing missionaries among the sinners and the destitute.
This is the Silver Jubilee year of Sir Edmund Hillary’s conquest of Mount Everest. The victory on the top of Everest has been hailed as the most dramatic historical event of the past century. At the time of the Silver Jubilee celebrations, a scribe asked the 83- year old legend, ” What was the most significant event in your life?” He replied thus, “Through the acquaintance of the Sherpa whom I met while climbing the mountain, I came to know about the poverty-stricken Nepalis. Making use of my influence and fame, I could build hospitals, dispensaries and schools for the poor people of Nepal. This is my greatest achievement.”
Today if we were to ask the Blessed Mother what was the most significant event in her life, she would perhaps say, “what is significant is that I was called upon to share in the love of God the Father; that I could take on the wounds of the crucified Christ; that I was inspired by the Divine spirit to provide solace and succor to the poor and the suffering, and to be a refuge to the dying.” To share the extraorddinary love of God in this ordinary life of ours is the zealous mission that we are to undertake. Without the basic concept of Family apostolate, there is no meaning to the existence of the Congregation of the Holy Family. This is incidentally, the fundamental mission of not only the Holy Family Sisters, but that of any dedicated person, priest or layman. The secure foundation of the society rests on Christian families filled with faith, love and optimism. When the family falters, the society disintegrates. The responsibility of women and dedicated sisters to visit and help sustain families is much more than that of men and the priests.
The former president of the U. S. S. R., Mikhail Gorbachev was asked once what was the reason for the downfall of the republic. He said, “Perhaps scholars and intellectuals would cite the loss of military might, lack of economic security, weakening of communism etc. as reasons for this. But I would say that Russia has disintegrated because the Russian women found no time to be mothers and to be the hearts of their families. More than any other country, Russia was the land of equal opportunities for women along with men and that was why women abandoned their families and concentrated on their careers which resulted in the crumbling down of the family relations, the weakening of the society and the decline of the Soviet Republic.
Dear Parents, especially mothers, you take care of your families. You are the heart and the light of your family. When the heart is no more, when darkness displaces light, the family cannot go on. The strong message that Mother Mariam Thresia imparts is that we should share the experience of divine love in our families. Through house visits, let us console the poor and the dying, let us channel the grace of God to our brethren. This is our exalted mission – a most exacting mission.
In the face of all adversities, Mother Mariam Thresia sought the will of God ,relying on His grace, and embarking on a prayerful, penitent life. The story of the Mother exhorts us to fulfil our life’s mission inspite of all obstacles-unfaltered, optimistic, and ever relying on the grace of God. On this occasion, I remember with gratitude our beloved Father Joseph VithayathiI. The embassy of a priest is to recognize and encourage the inspirations of the divine spirit in the human, and to lead him along the path of holiness. For a long period of 24 years, Father Vithayathil led the way for Mother Mariam Thresia, recognizing the divine spirit in her human soul, emboldening and guiding her. May there be many more such priests in the Catholic Church, who are moulded in the model of this holy priest, Rev. Joseph Vithayathil.