November 8, 2008

Bl Elizabeth of the Trinity, virgin

1880-1906 – Memorial - November 8th

By Brother Craig
"You will either be a terror or a saint," said Mrs. Catez to her daughter Elizabeth. She realized her daughter had a will of iron. The stubborn little girl who demanded her way had inherited the military spirit of her ancestors. She was quite a problem until the time of her First Holy Communion when she decided with her iron will to overcome her fault of stubbornness and become a saint! On November 25th, the Feast of Christ the King, 1984, the Holy Father beatified Elizabeth Catez, better known and loved as Elizabeth of the Trinity, one of the greatest mystics and spiritual writers of this century.

On the day of her First Holy Communion Elizabeth visited the Carmelite Nuns in her hometown of Dijon, France. The nuns, of course, had heard of this iron-willed child, this child who, of late, had determined to become a saint. They had heard that she played the piano brilliantly although her feet could not reach the pedals! During the visit the Mother Prioress explained to Elizabeth that her name signified "house of God".

At the age of fourteen Elizabeth decided to become a Carmelite Nun, having heard the word "Carmel" uttered in her soul one day after Holy Communion. Her mother was determined that Elizabeth would not enter until she was twenty-two. Elizabeth calmly obeyed. The next few years were spent increasing her growth in virtue and being a cheerful companion to her mother.

Prayer was her very existence; starting each day praying before daybreak. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the Holy Rosary, and the Way of the Cross were her special prayers. She did penance, even wore a hairshirt, and constantly mortified her will. Having asked to suffer the Crown of Thorns, she began to have terrible headaches. She suffered these for two years. They disappeared at the command of her spiritual director. She lived the following: "In order to have peace one must forget about oneself."

Elizabeth had a cheerful personality. She attended family gatherings and played the piano for the guests. Yet, during these distractions and even in the midst of conversation, she tells us that she remained recollected in prayer, saying, "I cannot be distracted from God." With her mother, Elizabeth visited Lourdes and was thrilled to receive Holy Communion at the Grotto. She loved the Grotto and said she could not tear herself away.

One day, Father Valee, a Dominican, had a two-hour conversation with Elizabeth. He explained to her that the Blessed Trinity dwelt in her soul. She was immediately inspired to live a life of praise and homage to God dwelling in her. Already, she began to live "in Heaven" by remaining recollected in the "Heaven of her soul." Noise reached only the surface. She desired to lose herself in the Blessed Trinity dwelling within her soul.

At last this "mystical child" entered the Carmelite Convent. There she was completely home. As a Carmelite she received the name of Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity. She understood that a Carmelite lives a life of prayer and penance offered for souls. Elizabeth desired to suffer in order to save souls and offer reparation to God. During her novitiate she passed through the "dark night of the soul." She suffered from spiritual dryness and in this "night" her virtues were perfected like gold in a furnace. When se made her profession on the Feast of Epiphany, 1902, peace one again reigned in her soul.

From reading St. Paul, Sister Elizabeth discovered her vocation or mission. She would be a "Praise of Glory" or "Laudem Gloria" praising God dwelling within her offering a ceaseless "Sanctus". She simply could not understand how a person could carelessly leave God Who dwells within the soul in order to turn to the world and earthly things. "God dwells within you, do not leave Him so often", she advised. Even as she worked the sisters noticed her recollected attitude. She once wrote, "It is wonderful to recall that, except for the vision of seeing God, we possess God as all the Saints in Heaven do. We can surely be with Him always and no one can take us away from Him. He dwells in our souls!" Sister Elizabeth devoutly referred to the Blessed Trinity as "my Three."

Sister Elizabeth’s spirituality was not only Trinitarian. She was also very devoted to the Blessed Sacrament and to Our Lady, especially to the Mother of Sorrows. She was always pleased when she could send an entire day in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the convent chapel. She once wrote that "nothing so reveals the great love of the Sacred Heart as the Holy Eucharist". Sister Elizabeth often prayed before the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows and once said, " I surely love the precious tears shed by the Blessed Virgin Mary." She taught others to trust in Our Heavenly Mother. She advised a friend that "there is a Motherly Heart in which you can go hide, Our Lady’s. It has been through every kind of heartbreak, every kind of laceration, and through it all remained calm."

Sister Elizabeth accepted suffering. She desired to suffer in order to save souls. She taught that suffering is so special that the Saints in Heaven must envy those still on earth who can suffer in order to save a great many souls. She offered her life as a "victim soul" and cheerfully endured her last illness that seems to have been Addison’s Disease. She taught others the value of suffering. She wrote, "there is nothing like the wood of the Cross for kindling in the soul the fire of love."

Early in 1906 it was noticed that Sister Elizabeth had become very weak. She made a retreat to prepare for the "Eternal Retreat." On August 31, 1906, Sister Elizabeth received an extraordinary grace. The Blessed Trinity was made manifest to her within her soul.

Sick as Sister Elizabeth was, she never omitted prayer. Sitting in a chair by her bed she recited prayers until one week before she died. One night she was "tempted" to go back to bed so she immediately knelt down and continued to pray! As Father Philipon, O.P. said, "She belonged to the school of saints who seek rest and strength in sacrifice and suffering."

During the last week of her life, Sister Elizabeth’s stomach was very ulcerated, and yet she made frequent and lengthy visits to the Blessed Sacrament. On October 31, she received the last rites. On November 1st, she made her confession and received Holy Communion for the last time. On November 9th, Sister Elizabeth died. She desired to lose her sufferings in those of Our Blessed Lord. Her last words were the same as those of St Therese of Lisieux: "Oh, I love Him!" Would she have a mission in Heaven like St. Therese? Before she died, Sister Elizabeth proclaimed: "I believe that in Heaven my mission will be to draw souls to interior recollection by helping them to pray by going out of self to God. I’ll teach souls the necessity of a profound inner silence that will allow God to imprint Himself upon souls and transform them into Himself."

Theologians have studied the writings of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity for many years. Her letters and retreat notes have been studied and commended by a number of theologians, including Father Philipon, O.P. and Father Hans Urs Von Balthasar. Blessed Elizabeth’s ability to express theology and her talent for writing has been so acclaimed that some have said she "rivals St. Paul."

Blessed Elizabeth’s Prayer to The Most Holy Trinity

"O my God, Trinity Whom I adore, help me to become utterly forgetful of self, that I may establish myself in You, as changeless and as calm as though my soul were already in eternity. May nothing disturb my peace nor draw me forth from You, O my immutable Lord, may I penetrate more deeply every moment into the depths of Your Mystery. Give peace to my soul: make it Your heaven, Your cherished dwelling place. Your home of rest. Let me never leave You there alone, but keep me there all absorbed in You in living faith, adoring You, wholly yielded up to Your creative action.

"O my Christ Whom I love, crucified by love, would that I might be the bride of Your Heart; would that I might cover You with glory, and love You- until I die of very love! Yet I realize my weakness, and beg You to help me. Immerse me in Yourself: possess me wholly: substitute Yourself for me, that my life may be but a radiance of Your life. Enter my soul as Restorer and as Savior. O Eternal Word, Utterance of my God, I long to pass my life listening to You, to become docile, that I may learn all from You. Through all darkness, all privations, all powerlessness, I yearn to keep my eyes ever fixed on You and to dwell beneath Your great light. O my beloved Star, so fascinate me that I can no longer withdraw from Your radiance.

"O Consuming Fire, Spirit of Love, come down upon me, and reproduce in me, as it were, an incarnation of the Word, that I may be to Him another humanity in which He renews all His Mystery. And You, O Father, bend toward Your poor little creature, cover her with Your shadow, behold in her none other than the ‘Well beloved in Whom You are well pleased."

"O my Three, my All, my Beatitude, infinite Solitude, Immensity in which I lose myself, I yield myself to You as Your child. Immerse Yourself in me, that I may be immersed in You until I depart to contemplate in Your light the abyss of Your greatness. Amen."

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