November 2, 2010

Elisabeth of the Trinity and the Apocalypse

Blessed Elisabeth of the Trinity understood the importance of making contemplation a priority in one's life.  Spending time in silence before the Lord leads to a discovery of one's true identity, an interior rectitude, and a sense of one's ultimate purpose in life.   The Book of Revelation (4:8, 10-11) relates St. John's vision of great heavenly creatures falling down in praise and adoration before the throne of God.  Blessed Elisabeth asks, "How can I imitate in the heaven of my soul this unceasing occupation of the blessed in the Heaven of Glory?" (Last Retreat, #20)  

Before providing her answer, it is worth considering the relationship between what she calls the heaven of her soul and the Heaven of Glory.   In her own theological contemplation, our souls are meant to be a kind of  heaven in the sense that it is where God dwells and is praised by faith.  She believed that by letting go of everything in life which was not for love of the Lord and for His glory, a person disposed himself to a very special encounter with the Lord.  She describes how those who dedicate themselves to the Lord in this way experience Jesus rushing into the interior chamber of their inmost being like a Bridegroom coming for his Bride. It is in this kind of relationship with Jesus, a union of real friendship, that we are able to praise God - in fact, we become the praise of his Glory (Last Retreat, #19).  She knows that this experience of the Lord is only analogous to what awaits us in glofy - in this life, we do not see face to face and the glimpses the Lord allows us are transitory.  But the fruit of heaven, the joy of praising God, of knowing and loving Him, of being known and being loved - this we can have by faith even now.   How?

Blessed Elisabeth claimed that St. Paul sheds light on her inquiry.  When he speaks of being rooted and grounded in love - he is inviting us to a deeper experience of the Lord in prayer (Eph. 3:17).  Love is the depths of God in which the soul must root itself she explains.  To be rooted in love requires that we take time to turn our attention to the Lord - she says, gaze on the Lord.  She is speaking about a simple effort to attend to the Lord, and allow ourselves the time we need to become aware of his presence.  It is a growing awareness that is worth making time for in one's life.  This awareness can pierce our hearts, give real power to change our lives, and help us discover in ever new ways the joy of really knowing the Lord.  Elisabeth herself witnessed to her own experience and she was convinced as we silently attend to the Lord in our prayer, as we take time to adore Him, all our interior movements, acts, and aspirations, even the most ordinary ones, are rooted more deeply in the One who is Love, who gave himself up for us.