The final part of This Present Paradise a series of Reflections on St. Elizabeth of the Trinity
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“Mommy, ” my eight-year-old daughter queried, “Guess which I am most agitated for: First Confession, First Holy Communion, or Confirmation? ” She waited expectantly for my reply. I look back my little girl, who was about to receive all three sacraments that spring, with so much joy. “First Communion? ” I had a hunch. “YES! ” She danced around the room. “Because Jesus will be in me! ”
Oh, my sweetened, I wanted to tell you, Jesus will be in you in a brand-new and greatly beautiful way–to accomplish your baptism in a riddle of consolidation we can only beginning to understand. But He is in you now, has always been in you with the Father and the Spirit, and delights in your innocent delight, the exhilaration that spills out of your big brown eyes, windows into your interior heaven. But the moment slipped away just like the girl who travelled hop-skip out of the area to continue cutting out paper dolls.
This is the core of Elizabeth’s message. It certainly wasn’t original to her–it is solidly scriptural, straight from the mouth of Christ: “If a male enjoys me, he will obstruct my word, and my Father will enjoy him, and we will come to become our residence with him.”( Jn 14:23)
It is part of the cohesive continuum of Church teaching, as in the words of the great St. Teresa of Avila:
“If we consider the subject properly, sisters, we shall see that the person of a precisely follower is nothing else but a paradise, wherein the Lord makes His recreation. What a beautiful office then ought that to be, believed to be, in which a King so potent, so wise, so pure, so full of every purity, charms Himself? I know of nothing to which I can compare the great charm of a soul, and its wonderful capacity.”( Interior Castle, I)
St. Elizabeth of the Trinity made this theology of the interior sanctuary where God stays in the someone eloquently and transparently her own. She, genuine to her specify and her operation, placed a particular emphasis on the Trinity: “At every moment of the day and night the three Divine Persons are living within you…You are never alone again! ”( L 273)
She wanted us to understand that if uniting with God is our end, then heaven is not a destination but very a finish, a purity of a state of being. This ordained world can and should begin in the here-and-now, forecasting, in her utterances, “the eternal present.”( Long Retreat, 44) “Time, ” she notes from the report, is simply “eternity begun and still in progress.”( HF 1) The soul which welcomes God, loves Him, and impedes companionship with Him in the interior tabernacle knows in pale morning light what will be known later in full sun–the splendor of discern patrimony, the face of the Father. Thus we can live in an “anticipated heaven”( LR 21) which the Holy Spirit creates in us. We can live the life of heaven even now because “we possess our sky within us.”( L 122)
This is nothing less than the Christian understanding of hope. Union with God isn’t something we hope’ might’ happen in some distant future, but something we have been promised–should we continue God’s commands–and we look forward to in its fullness even while it begins in this very moment.
The purpose of our lives is not a remote future, but apprehended already now by sect. We begin to live our ultimate end–the union with the Trinity, even now in the secret center of our feelings where the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit begin to dwell at the moment of our baptism.( CCC 260)
In her short-lived life, Elizabeth corresponded with six clergymen or seminarians, thirteen religious, and forty organize beings. This means that it was her special mission to reveal that our territory in life is only the external framework for the fundamental call to the heights of holiness that was knit together in our hub long ago. In other oaths, we can all have heaven in our feeling and live in the spirit of the cloister in our homes, our high-rises, and highways. “Whatever may be our way of life or the clothing we wear, each of us must be the holy one of God.”( HF 24)
Not unaware of the constraints and struggles of lay life, she accepts a young mother’s tiredness and the distraction of her daily tariffs, but knows that what St. Catherine of Siena called the’ inner cell’ of her interior life was accessible to the busiest, weariest, and most distracted of all of us. This she knew not only in theory; she knew from experience in the years before she had been allowed to enter the convent. Her concern was that all minds know-how the interior Carmel she had detected. This is remarkable because, in her hour, there was less clarity around the call to sanctity: pastors and nuns were thought to dwell in a higher plane of holiness; laity had a lesser vocation.
In this respect, St. Elizabeth envisioned the Second Vatican Council decades before its documents stressed and expressed the universal call to holiness. She is something of a oracle of this great swelling of our understanding of the sanctity of the laity which continues to shape the Church today. She was fully a daughter of the Church, gifted by the Spirit with a distinct charism to help bring about within the family of God a renewal of the interior living and the sanctification of its members–all of them.
Elizabeth began her mission here on earth, but it continues even more amply from heaven.
The Carmelites in Dijon were among the first to have a devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux, so they only very well known the Little Flower’s declaration that she would deplete her heaven doing good on earth. As she neared her own fatality, Elizabeth was asked if she would do the same. Elizabeth said that she would, instead, shoot “like a rocket” deeper into the abyss of the Trinity! But still…she had a feeling that there was more for her to do. Maybe it is even more of a concealed assignment, but she admitted to Mother Germaine that “I think in heaven my assignment will be to draw people by helping them go out of themselves to cling to God by a wholly simple and desiring advance, and to keep them in this great silence within that will allow God to communicate Himself to them and transform them into Himself.”
So while St. Therese has a knack for becoming herself known( how many arises has she pitched at us ?) Elizabeth would work wonders while hidden in the heart of God and in so doing, extort us deeper into the affection of the Trinity. When a friend left the convent and queried Elizabeth to pray for an outward sign that she would return, Elizabeth paused. “That is not my kindnes, ” she said. The mansion that Elizabeth leaves to show that she with us is a wholly interior one: that we find ourselves in a intercourse of adore that we never thought we’d find.
I believe that God honored Elizabeth’s desire to be hidden for a very long time as the cause for her canonization crawl gradually forward. Lastly, she was beatified by Pope John Paul II on November 25, 1984. The saint who preferred to be buried in the Trinity was brought out and presented to the Church as “a brilliant witness to the joy of being and sanded in love, ” wondered the Pope on that day. He said that her teaching on the mystical living for the soul was spreading “with a prophetic force.” Her feast day was declared to be on November 8( the working day of her death, November 9, was already celebrated as the feast of the dedication of St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome ). It took three more decades for Elizabeth to officially be testified a saint, canonized by Pope Francis on October 16, 2016.
It was, at long last, time to lift the bushel and tell her particular brightnes glitter in our inner darkness, to uncover the God who waits within our soul, and to usher in a new age of the Spirit–a hidden movement of spirits throwing depth into their own interiority and transforming the Church and the world from the inside out. Of that, I am convinced, and I am convinced that you are reading this now because you are a part of that change. Let’s made her result us back to the temple of our spirits, dedicated at our baptism, and stand up a lamp in that consecrated home to show the off wealths within.
Show us, St. Elizabeth, that we do have everything.
We have our heaven within us, let’s live it.
( St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, Letter 120)
Editor’s note: such articles primarily appeared on SpiritualDirection.com and is reprinted now with species permission.
Image courtesy of Pixabay.
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