Author: Myriam England
Lord we thank you for all of the seasons in our lives. I want to share with you a particular season involving my friend Linda Schubert, known to many as the author of Miracle Hour, as well as an international public speaker for the Catholic charismatic renewal.
I was born on the island of Malta in the Mediterranean, where St. Paul was shipwrecked, as told in the New Testament, Acts 28. I am married to Richard England, an architect of international repute and I am also a mother and a grandmother. I was born in a Catholic family and raised in the Catholic faith.
And yet our journey to a deeper knowledge of Him, or a deeper level of loving, takes various paths. There was a valuable season in my journey that brought out my artistic abilities. It was through the study of the Japanese art of Ikebana at the Sogetsu School in Japan, under the founder and Ikebana Master Sofu Teshigahara, that I was opened to a freedom of expression that is referred to as ‘friendship through flowers’. Its origin is Zen Buddhist. After these studies, with the attainment of the first degree teacher Komon, I brought the art home to the Island of Malta.
I am an artist, I thrive working with flowers and natural material, and I love the Lord Jesus Christ. And so I integrated my training with the Altar of God’s love. My flower arrangements became a song to my Christian faith. And I shared this beauty manifested in faith and form in the various classes of Ikebana which I taught to the women of Malta. The transformation of this oriental art into Christian form is illustrated in my publication Ikebana, the liturgy of love. For my transforming this Oriental Art into a Christian Liturgy of Love, the Government of Malta honoured me with the Medal of the Republic.
In the early 1990′s while attending a prayer group in London, I was given Linda’s book Miracle Hour. This publication opened a personal encounter with the Lord that took me to a new level of loving Him. It soon became a daily companion. Through my reading of it I developed a deeper walk in my Christian faith. I was so enthusiastic about Miracle Hour that I photocopied it and eagerly shared it with many friends. (I later confessed this to Linda, who laughed and said ‘You aren’t the first to do this’. She forgave me instantly.)
Back again in London on another visit, I learned that Linda was to speak at the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the Friend’s Meeting Hall in the city. I rescheduled my flight so that I could attend the gathering. During the lunch break, I introduced myself to her and invited her to Malta. She accepted.
After speaking to the Maltese charismatic community, she told me how the Christians of Malta would be a perfect match for the women’s ministry of Magnificat. Maltese women are very charismatic, with a deep special devotion to the Blessed Mother. I was interested in meeting with them. This was the beginning of an extraordinary season of grace for me.
As we grew in friendship, and with the blessing of my husband, many international journeys followed. I met with her in Orlando, Florida, to attend a national gathering of Charismatic leaders. It was at this event that I was introduced to the Magnificat Ministry to Catholic women. Later in New Orleans we met with Marilyn Quirk, the founder of the Magnificat Ministry. We soon became friends and I was invited to initiate the process of establishing Magnificat in Malta. Magnificat is recounted in the Gospel of Luke. It was Mary’s praise prayer when she encountered Elizabeth. It is a ministry to women led by the Holy Spirit. Where Mary goes, the Holy Spirit goes. Richard encouraged my travels with Linda to some amazing places, including South Africa, India, the Philippines and many European countries. He saw that it was good for me on many levels, giving me a new meaning, purpose and direction. Linda always encouraged me with the words ‘spread your wings’, as she always told me that I have a teachable heart which obviously was for me a word of great encouragement which I still to this day hold close to my heart. Travelling with Linda was in itself always a teaching, a process of a learning curve while discovering God’s special love for me. It was during very special moments of silence during my travels that I was able to discover what holiness was really all about. I am eternally grateful to Linda, a profound and great woman of God with a total commitment to him and his people. I firmly believe that the Lord gave me this special opportunity of a deep walk with him through Linda. It was she who planted the seed and the Lord watered it through a deep conversion.
My Magnificat chapter in Malta was blessed by the home team as the Mother Chapter for Europe. This also meant that I was not only to lead the Malta Chapter, but was also appointed Magnificat European Representative and elected to the Advisory Board. This appointment involved many invitations abroad. From then on, establishing chapters in Europe became my goal. As things progressed, Anja Saj, a leader in the Renewal, invited Linda to speak in Poland and I was invited to join her. I was asked to share with them about Magnificat. Anja met with Marilyn Quirk in New Orleans, and a new chapter began to take form. The first chapter was in Lublin, and then Chestahova and Czyowice. The last two are near the miraculous Sanctuary of the Black Madonna. These were the first European Magnificat chapters to open under the auspices of the Mother Chapter in Malta.
Another thing I would add is that Magnificat in Malta for Europe has given birth to yet another ministry in Lublin, Poland. It is the ‘Army of Kids’. This was launched when Father Martin, a priest of the Missionary Society of St Paul in Malta, and I were there four years ago; the Society in which I have been a community lay member for 14 years. The Society was founded by Giuseppe De Piro, a relation of mine through my maternal family. Starting with about thirty, the Army of Kids is a family group of husbands, wives, children and babies. It is awesome. On a recent visit I spoke to about 150 families. The music ministry is composed of all of Anja’s children, with her daughter-in-law leading the group. Young and alive and very healthy, it is much like the ministry style of Maria Vadia from Florida, a dynamic international speaker in the Catholic Renewal who has ministered to me and to this community. The youth music ministry has already been invited to Lithuania and have plans to come to Malta in September 2015 to celebrate the fifty year anniversary of ICPE, the International Catholic Program of Evangelization.
I have been stretched in many ways, on this amazing journey of faith. Grace after grace. Linda’s courageous life and spirituality opened a rich and grace filled season in my life. Many other Christian speakers have since come to Magnificat Malta and Poland and other groups I have started, adding their own expression of God’s love and the work of the Holy Spirit. The founder, Marilyn Quirk, had a prophetic word that Magnificat would spread like roses throughout Europe. It is happening. Oh my goodness what the Lord is doing! I stand amazed, and so grateful.
Growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ comes in the high points of our lives, where we are stretched beyond our natural gifts and are aware of total dependency on Him. Growth also comes in simple friendship walking-beside times with strong like-minded Christians. And importantly in our committed prayer time and intimacy with the Lord through the sacraments of the Church.
I am grateful to Linda for all we have accomplished together since the moment we met in London. She believed in me and encouraged me to spread my wings. I am thankful for the Magnificat Central Service Team who welcomed me with open arms on their team. I am grateful to the Lord for sending many anointed speakers to help spread the roses of Magnificat throughout Europe. I am blessed by my husband and children, and wonderful friends who stood with me through the challenges. And as I close now with gratitude to the Lord and His people, I hear the Lord in my heart saying, “Myriam, there is more to come.”
I thank you Lord for the three most influential mentors in my life: SofuTeshigahara; my dear husband Richard for his support and life’s teaching and constant encouragement for me to attain my own identity; and Linda Schubert, God’s gift to me who led me to discover a deeper personal relationship with God. This is a seed which will continue to grow. Thank you Linda for these ten years of travel and opening my heart to recognise that Love is the source of all and that GOD IS LOVE.
Closing prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for the grace of this wonderful season. I lift to you those who read my story. Help them to recognize their own gifts. Provide opportunities for them to develop personal freedom of expression in a way that honours you. You have a plan for each of them. Open them to the possibilities you have for their future. Use their gifts and pour in new gifts and graces through your Holy Spirit. Come Holy Spirit, and move in love and great power in their lives. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen