March 6, 2016

Some Notes about Elisabeth of the Trinity

Pope Francis has approved a miracle performed by Blessed Elisabeth of the Trinity. This means that she will be canonized during this Year of Mercy. In order to help us receive the gift of her canonization, it might be good to know a little about her and the spiritual mission that she carries out in the Body of Christ.

As a child, after the loss of her father and grandfather, Elisabeth Catez struggled with a very strong temper. Near her home in Dijon was her parish church of Saint Michael's, a reform school for troubled children, and a Carmelite Monastery. She went to Mass frequently in the first, was often threatened to be placed in the second and felt mysteriously drawn to the last. Through the help of a good confessor and her love for the Mass, she not only learned self-control but also developed a profound love for contemplative prayer. 

She was very popular and influential with her friends. She was a natural leader and the source of a lot of fun for everyone around her.  She also loved to play piano and was familiar with the work of the great composers of her time.  Yet in all of this, it was her love for the Lord that most impressed those who knew her.

Her mother was not pleased when Blessed Elisabeth wanted to become a Carmelite. As a widow who deeply loved her two daughters, the idea of being separated from her was too painful.  Her little "Sabeth" however did not get discouraged but believed that God was using this to prepare her for a deeper life of prayer.  She patiently waited for her mother to change her mind and when she did, Elisabeth Catez entered the Carmelite Monastery to become Sister Elisabeth of the Trinity. 

As a religious, Blessed Elisabeth wrote to her friends and family to encourage them to a deeper devotion to God and openness to His love. She loved the Scriptures and quoted the Bible to help her friends receive the Word of God in a deeper way.  To go deep into God's Word, she spoke of becoming free of ourselves and vulnerable to the immensity of love that the Lord is waiting to impart to us.

The encouragement and prayers she was offering others in this life she believed would continue in the life to come.  She called this the mission that she would have in heaven. She came to this conviction several months into a difficult struggle with Addison's Disease. At the time incurable, she endured a crucible of both physical and spiritual suffering.

Instead of causing her to be self-occupied, she viewed these sufferings as something that she could offer the Lord in love "by a wholly loving movement."  She used this difficult experience to pray for those she loved and to intercede for the Church. In the last letter she was able to write, she told a friend that it would actually increase her joy if she was called on from heaven to help. She died at the age of 26 in 1906 but her writings have become a major influence in the life of the Church today. 

Although her intercession has cured a bishop of cancer and healed a school teacher from Sjogren's Syndrome. this friend in heaven is passionate about more interior miracles of the heart.  She wants us to allow the Holy Trinity to establish us in the sacred stillness of love and she wants to help us focus less on our own inadequacies and more on the radiance of Christ's presence in our lives.  If someone desires a deeper life of prayer, Elisabeth of the Trinity is always ready to intercede. Anyone who takes the time to read her writings will soon discover spiritual food that strengthens the effort to pray. She in fact believes in a contemplation that opens the soul "to unexpected horizons." In the narrow confines of our work-a-day world, we need these horizons, and in the spiritual mission of Blessed Elisabeth of the Trinity, we have a heavenly friend who wants to help us find them.