December 12, 2012

Blessed Elisabeth of the Trinity and Advent

Blessed Elisabeth of the Trinity invites us to take on an attitude that goes with these days of Advent.  So much happens during these days that can rob us of our peace.  We can quickly become irritated or anxious about the smallest things or about other things we cannot do anything about.   When this happens, prayer can sometimes become very difficult or very easy to forget.  It is with regard to the busy pace of daily life that Blessed Elisabeth encouraged her sister Marguerite, a married woman with two young children, to try to remain prayerful and recollected.  Elisabeth proposes the attitude of the Virgin Mary "during the months that elapsed between the Annunciation and the Nativity" as "the model for interior souls":

In what peace, in what recollection Mary lent herself to everythign she did!  How even the most trivial things were divinized by her!  For thorugh it all the Virgin remained the adorer of the gift of God!  This did not prevent her from spending herself outwardly when it was a matter of charity; the Gospel tells us that Mary went in haste to the mountains of Judea to visit her cousin Elizabeth.  Never did the ineffable vision that she contemplated within herself in any way diminish her outward charity  Heaven in Faith #40, translator Sr. Aletheia Kane, O.C.D., Washington, D.C.: ICS (1984), 110-111.  

To adore the gift of God and to serve those He entrusts to us with our whole strength and effort, these are not contradictory endeavors -- one feeds the other.  Prayer is not an escape from responsibility - it is a pathway to deeper faithfulness.  Mary's hidden witness hurrying through dangerous hill country to help her cousin with an unexpected pregnancy shows us that those who keep an awareness of the Lord alive in their hearts discover much deeper graces when tough circumsances challenge prayer.  If we think about the greetings exchanged between Elizabeth and Mary, these secret graces that transform the most trivial everyday moments into moments that give the world God.  This is what Advent is supposed to be for all of us.

Mary, the humble virgin of Nazareth is a model and a sign of this Advent attitude:  God has chosen ordinary people to live lives pregnant with a deep awareness of the depths of His Mercy to divinize the mundane, the earthy, the annoying, the irritating, the smallest things - all of this, so that the world might know, in this present moment, that ineffable love by which alone it might be saved.

For those who have been following the podcasts on Blessed Elisabeth's Heaven in Faith produced by Kris McGregor of Discerning Hearts, the final reflections on the last day of this retreat can be found here:

Day 10 First Prayer
Day 10 Final Prayer