The final part of This Present Paradise a series of Thinkings on St. Elizabeth of the Trinity
( Start with side 1 now .)
“Mommy, ” my eight-year-old daughter queried, “Guess which I am most stimulated 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 sweet, I wanted to say, Jesus will be in you in a new and profoundly beautiful way–to accomplished your baptism in a puzzle of league we are unable begin to understand. But He is in you now, has always been in you with the Father and the Spirit, and happies in your innocent charm, the charm that sheds out of your large-scale dark-brown attentions, windows into your interior sky. But the moment slipped apart just like the girl who disappeared 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 worker desires me, he will retain my text, and my Father will enjoy him, and we will come to become our dwelling 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 being of a time soldier is nothing else but a paradise, wherein the Lord makes His recreation. What a beautiful room then ought that to be, believed to be, in which a King so potent, so wise, so unadulterated, so full of every perfection, raptures Himself? I know of nothing to which I can compare the great beautiful of a soul, and its wonderful capacity.”( Interior Castle, I)
St. Elizabeth of the Trinity made this theology of the interior sanctuary where God inhabits in the someone eloquently and transparently her own. She, true to her word and her mission, arranged 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 solidarity with God is our end, then heaven is not a destination but rather a finish, a perfection of a state of being. This consecrated actuality can and should begin in the here-and-now, seeing, in her oaths, “the eternal present.”( Long Retreat, 44) “Time, ” she would note, is simply “eternity begun and still in progress.”( HF 1) The soul which welcomes God, sacred Him, and keeps busines with Him in the interior temple knows in pale morning light what will be known last-minute in full sun–the splendor of deduce endowment, 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 paradise 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 deter God’s commands–and we looked forward to receiving in its fullness even while it begins in this very moment.
The purpose of our lives is not a remote future, but anticipated already now by faith. We begin to live our eventual 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 life, Elizabeth corresponded with six priests or seminarians, thirteen religious, and forty position beings. This means that it was her special mission to reveal that our district in life is only the external framework for the fundamental call to the statures of holiness that was knit together in our middle long ago. In other terms, we can all have heaven in our person and live in the spirit of the cloister in our residences, our high-rises, and roads. “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 conflicts of sit life, she accepts a young mother’s tiredness and the distraction of her daily responsibilities, but knows that what St. Catherine of Siena called the’ internal 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 someones event the interior Carmel she had discovered. This is remarkable because, in her time, there was less clarity around the call to sanctity: clergymen and nuns were thought to dwell in a higher plane of holiness; laity had a lesser vocation.
In this respect, St. Elizabeth anticipated the Second Vatican Council decades before its documents accentuated and articulated 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, offering 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 were familiar with the Little Flower’s declaration that she would expend her heaven doing good on earth. As she neared her own extinction, 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 obscured operation, but she confessed to Mother Germaine that “I think in heaven my assignment will be to draw feelings by helping them go out of themselves to cling to God by a wholly simple and enjoying change, 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 fixing herself known( how many grows has she tossed at us ?) Elizabeth would work wonders while hidden in the heart of God and in so doing, gather us deeper into the adoration 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 goodnes, ” she said. The mansion that Elizabeth leaves are demonstrating that she with us is a totally interior one: that we find ourselves in a denomination of adore that we never thought we’d find.
I believe that God reputation Elizabeth’s desire to be hidden for a long time as the cause for her canonization creep slowly forward. Eventually, 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 floored in love, ” manifested the Pope on that day. He said that her teaching on the esoteric living for the soul was spreading “with a prophetic force.” Her feast day was declared to be on November 8( the day of her fatality, 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 declared a saint, canonized by Pope Francis on October 16, 2016.
It was, at last, time to lift the bushel and cause her special lighter gleam in our internal obscurities, to uncover the God who waits within our soul, and to usher in a new age of the Spirit–a hidden movement of someones throwing late 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 translation. Let’s caused her lead us back to the temple of our people, dedicated at our baptism, and stand up a lamp in that consecrated situate to show the off riches 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 here with genu permission.
Image courtesy of Pixabay.
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