In the late 18 and early 19 century Kerala, Mariam Thresia, fulfilled her charism as an apostle of the oppressed, of the underprivileged, and the destitute with a prophetic vision. She carried out this unique charism of ‘Compassionate Love’ for families from her teenage. It was a real challenge to her.
The late eighteen and nineteen century Kerala, like every nation and state, was racked by the repercussions of the World War, and was yielding to moods of loss of faith and unconcern for the underprivileged, the weak, the lonely, the sick, and the oppressed and so on. St. Mariam Thresia moved by compassion and hearkening to the inner call entered the broken and needy families in her village and neighborhood, helping them survive the ruthless time; she mended their relationships, ignited faith and trust in God, instilled mutual concern and care, led them to sacraments, fed the hungry with the help of others, nursed the elderly and sick at their home and praying for their needs.
She did not consider the caste or community, color or religion, but sought after persons in need and helped them as she could. The secret behind her passionate move was Christ the crucified whose face she beheld in the suffering humankind. she listened to the agonized cry of Jesus from the cross for souls and ardently desired to make atonement for sins of the world and save souls for Christ.
She was particular about nursing the sick and giving spiritual advice to those nearing death. Such initiation was quite strange in those days for a girl or a women.The unmarried girls were not permitted to enter other people’s house, they were not allowed to be seen in the streets, or sit with outsiders or elderly. St. Mariam Thresia went house to house, day and night to nurse the sick and the dying in their huts accompanied by her father or brother. She rendered them even the most humble services like cleaning and keeping the house. She used to remain at the side of the dying, praying, comforting, preparing them for a peaceful death, and consoling the families.
To record few instance. A certain low caste man named Chathan was a worker in the convent at Kuzhikkattussery. His mother fell ill. Mariam Thresia brought her to the convent, laid her in a convenient room on the north side of the boarding house. For about three months she nursed her. She was given a very grand funeral at her death. Another instance says that of a lady belonging to outcast community of ‘Pulayas’. She had been discarded by her family because she was thought to have leprosy. The fowl stench from her wounds kept people away. When Mother Mariam Thresia heard about it she went to her, washed her wounds every day and took care of her until her death.
Such challenging mission was possible only with heaven initiated effort. Bl. Virgin Mary guided her,and informed her about the families she need to visit.Once Bl. Virgin send Mariam Thresia to the dying bed of a women in great sin. But her father and brother stopped her and strictly warned her not to go. In the meantime the women died. The departed soul of the woman came to Thresia in the evening and said” if you had been at my side my soul would have not been perished. Bl. Mother also told Fr. Joseph Vithayathil to rebuke her for not attending the women in her death. On another instance Bl. Virgin spoke to Fr. Joseph Vithayahil saying, “Now do you see the benefit of sending her to the families?”
Thresia who heard the cry from the cross “I thirst” took to her heart to console the suffering Lord. Whenever she met the needy she beheld the face of Christ in them. She would carry them to the convent and nurse them, wait upon the dying praying until the person repent and turn to God. She sheltered many orphans and elderly at her convent. She hanged on God’s providence to meet all their basic needs. And her trust in God worked miracles every day. Dear friends, her Charism of Compassionate love, was encountering Christ in the poor; their cry was the cry of Jesus Christ from the cross for her. The deeper she dived into contemplating Christ, she beheld Christ everywhere and in anything. Christ in all and Christ in her. Nowadays there are lots of people taking up charitable works for the common good. But the big difference in the way that Mariam Thresia organized her works was association with Christ.
Sr. Udaya Kallukaran Chf