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Carmelites through the Centuries

The most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical.
It is the sower of all true science. He or (she) to whom this emotion is a stranger,
Who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead.
(Albert Einstein)


“The Little Arab” Mariam Baourdy  

Mariam Baourdy, “The Little Arab” was canonized in Rome by Pope Francis on Sunday, 17th May, 2015.  May she intercede for peace in the Holy Land and throughout the whole world.

"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. Mariam, Sr Mary of Jesus Crucified

How fitting it is that during this time between Ascension and Pentecost, Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified (Mariam Baourdy), a humble daughter of the Holy Land should be proclaimed a Saint by Pope Francis.  Mariam had such a great devotion to the Holy Spirit, with her let us pray:
Holy Spirit, inspire me.
Love of God, consume me.
Along the true road, lead me.
Mary my Mother, look upon me.
With Jesus, bless me.
From all evil, from all illusion,
from all danger, preserve me.

Source of peace, Light,
come and enlighten me.
I am hungry, come and nourish me.
I am thirsty, come and quench my thirst.
I am blind, come and give me light.
I am poor, come and enrich me.

"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. Mariam, Sr Mary of Jesus Crucified

Concerning devotion to the Holy Spirit 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."

“The humble heart is the chalice holding God.” – Bl. Mariam

Mariam, the Little Arab, was born to a poor Greek Melchite Catholic couple, Giries Baouardy and Mariam Shahine, Twelve of her thirteen brothers died in infancy, her parents went to Bethlehem to pray to Our Lady for a child, and Mariam's birth was an answer to their prayer. Her parents died when she was only two, and she was raised by a paternal uncle. She moved to Alexandria, Egypt when she was eight years old.

When she was 13, her uncle arranged a marriage for her.  She refused, insisting that she wanted religious life. Her uncle punished her by, hiring her out as a domestic servant, giving her the most menial work. A Muslim servant befriended her, hoping to convert her from Christianity. On 7 September 1858, when Mariam refused to abandon her faith, he slit her throat and left her for dead in an alley. Mariam survived. A lady dressed in blue came and stitched her wound, Mariam felt it was the Virgin Mary. The 10cm scar on her neck remained as a reminder of her ordeal. She left her uncle's house forever.

Mariam worked as a domestic for a Christian family. In 1860 she tried her vocation with the Sisters of Saint Joseph, but supernatural phenomena began to occur around her, and the Sisters would not let her join their community. In 1867 entered the Carmel at Pau, in the Pyrenees, France and became a lay sister. She took the name Mary of Jesus Crucified, and made her final profession on 21 November 1871.

She continued to experience supernatural phenomena. She fought off a demonic possession for 40 days, received the stigmata, and was seen to levitate. She had the gift of prophecy but above all a truly humble and obedient spirit. She went to India to help found the Carmel of Mangalore. She returned to France in 1872. She spent the last threeyears of her life back in the land of her birth, where together with six other sisters she founded the Carmelite monastery in Bethlehem in 1875. In 1878 plans were being madefor the foundation of the Carmel in Nazareth and Sr Mary of Jesus Crucified went to fix the place of the future Carmel.  It would however only be founded after her death.  She died on 26th August, 1878.  Pope St Pius X signed the decree for the introduction of her Cause and on 13 November 1983 Pope St John Paul II proclaimed her blessed.

From the Homily of Pope Francis during the canonization Mass of Mariam the Little Arab and three other 19th Century religious sisters.

An essential aspect of witness to the risen Lord is unity among ourselves, his disciples, in the image of his own unity with the Father. Today too, in the Gospel, we heard Jesus’ prayer on the eve of his passion: “that they may be one, even as we are one” (Jn 17:11). From this eternal love between the Father and the Son, poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 5:5), our mission and our fraternal communion draw strength; this love is the ever-flowing source of our joy in following the Lord along the path of his poverty, his virginity and his obedience; and this same love calls us to cultivate contemplative prayer. Sister Mariam Baouardy experienced this in an outstanding way. Poor and uneducated, she was able to counsel others and provide theological explanations with extreme clarity, the fruit of her constant converse with the Holy Spirit. Her docility to the Spirit also made her a means of encounter and fellowship with the Muslim world.