St. Mariam Thresia favoured and directed by Bl. Mother fro her early childhood was devoted in core to Jesus. Among the five siblings of the Mankidiyan family, Thresia was like a rare gem unstained by the worldly cares.
She was kind and warm, silent and submissive, obedient and gentle, prayerful and composed. Her knowledge of God surpassed her age. Everyone admired her good nature and manners. Her Mother Thanda, often wondered at the great endurance she showed in her sickness and ailments,but her dear Mother never knew the inner motive of Thresia; the secret behind the sacred silence of Thresia. It was the Crucified Christ whom she wanted to imitate in His passion.
At the age of five she devoted herself totally unto God. By instinct she followed certain unusual practices of penances to imitate Jesus, such as crawling on four legs, carrying a heavy stone on the back imitating Christ Cross, kneeling on the floor studded with gravel for prayer, using stone as a pillow, adding bitter herbs in the food to make it tasteless, stretching out hands while reciting a full rosary at midnights and vigils, disciplining herself with a whip, meditating on the passion of the Lord for long hourshands out-stretched, getting up several times at night to say prayers, fasting four days a week, and abstaining from meat. This was the self-style devotion of a five-year old, who always sought permission from the parish Priest at this age to love Jesus through her silent sufferings.
She was already a catechism teacher as a young girl. In her autobiography she says, “When small children could not learn prayers, the parish priest would ask me to teach them. Many used to find fault with him and ridicule me for this…I would offer all those humiliations for the glory of God”.
She endured countless deadly and unknown diseases all her life but she would never allow anyone to massage or use remedies to relive her pain. She reasoned saying “my body is the gift of God and also myself, therefore I have devoted entirely to Him”. One day her brother in fit of anger hit her on the back, Thresia could not raise herself or breathe easy for days long. Her parents were upset and inquired for the reason. She made them promise before she showed her swollen back that they would not punish her brother. They wanted to proceed with immediate medication but she refused saying “I have taken permission from the parish Priest to suffer the pain silently with no medication”. She loved these sufferings because they helped her identify with Crucified Jesus in His pain.
Extensive night vigils were part her routine before she reached the age of seven asserting her reason to it as “How could I sleep more than two hours when our Lord is still awake”. At the age of nine she committed herself to be a perpetual virgin and accepted Jesus as her spiritual spouse;for this the first thing she did was to offer her body as a living sacrifice. As a bride sharing the best portion of her beloved groom she sought a share of His suffering. She was just not satisfied with her prayer and meditations. She inflicted herself with mortifications, torments and penances secretly by herself and endured humiliations, misunderstandings, wrong judgments and reproaches with great love contemplating agoniesof Jesus at the garden of Gethsemane, judgements at the court of Pilate, crucifixion and death on Calvary also in keeping the anguishes of Bl. Mother.
It was true with Thresia that she could not be moved except for the love of God, no affections in the world but Christ alone. She says “I don’t want anything in the world but the Lord”.She led a rather silent and devoted life,and it had to do with the force of Christ’s love, as St. Paul says “Christ Love compels me”
For Thresia Gods love, was so real, so concrete that each time she suffered, she was willing to suffer it with love for Christ and by His grace. She did not attract anyone’s sympathy for her but she wanted to console Christ in His pain.
To share the sufferings of Christ was not just a wishful thinking for Mariam Thresia but in fact she became the first Stigmatic of Kerala, India. India has a great saint, a mystic as St. Thresia of Avila. It was so realistic in her life, she was a living excellence of virtues and graces. Let us know of her more of her devotion to Christ in the next episode, by then let us stay united.God bless you, prayerful wishes.
Sr. Udaya Kallukaran Chf