Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church which even now is the kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ. -- Saint Augustine of Hippo from “The City of God

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

Elizabeth Catez was born on July 18th 1880, her family on both sides had military backgrounds, being that her father at her time of birth was serving in the French Military and her mother's family had also served in the military. So Elizabeth was raised in an atmosphere of service, duty, honour, courage and integrity, which suited her robust nature. For one could never describe the infant Elizabeth as a placid child, she was more of a holy terror than an angel.

Elizabeth would be quite the handful for her mother, Marie, who tried her best to instill all the virtues of meekness, humility and obedience. All these qualities did not come easy to the infant Elizabeth, much to her mothers embarrassment! For Elizabeth was born with an iron will and an exuberant nature, which could also be volatile. When she felt thwarted in anyway, she would often burst out in fits of rage. Elizabeth was indeed a handful for her mother to raise.

But Elizabeth was also raised in a devout Catholic family, and in a contradiction contrary to her nature, she came to embrace prayer, which helped to temper her more erratic emotional tantrums. This allowed her Mother a rest from having to deal with her very strong willed child.

The years 1883 to 1887 were to be marked with great joy and also great sorrow, for in 1883 Marie gave birth to her second daughter whom the parents named Marguerite. She was to become a beloved sister to the temperamental Elizabeth. But the family were also to be marked with tragedies when in January 1887 Elizabeth’s Maternal Grandfather died, which was soon followed by the death of her beloved Papa Joseph, in October of the same year, from a heart attack at the young age of only fifty five years.

Accordingly Marie Catez was distraught at having lost both her Father and husband, whilst being left to raise two daughters on her own. Marie, due to some financial difficulties, then moved from their loved home into an apartment in Dijon, not far from the Carmelite Convent which was close in proximity, and was to later play an important part in all their lives.

Due to the deaths of her beloved Grandfather and Papa, Elizabeth temper tantrums grew worse, leaving her Mother at her wits end as to how to cope with this most rumbustious child. So Marie turned to their Faith for help and it was during the preparation for Elizabeth’s first Communion, that a change was to occur within the inner life of this most exceptional child, which was Elizabeth.

It was upon experiencing the Sacrament of Penance which drove home to Elizabeth the importance of self control, and also a longing to please God. It was then that Elizabeth started to strive to do better, though it would take still more years before she fully conquered her volatile temper.

But it was in receiving her first Holy Communion that Elizabeth finally conquered her strong will and also that God touched this child with a deep and abiding love for the Triune Spirit, which was to change Elizabeth forever. Marie was at first delighted with the change that was occurring within her daughter, as the family of three were devoted to each other, and Elizabeth finally became the dutiful and loving daughter that Marie had prayed for, these many years.

But God was to touch Elizabeth’s heart in a way that her Mother did not welcome, for she loved both her daughters, Elizabeth and Marguerite with intensity due to having sole responsibility for raising them on her own. Marie was a devoted and also possessive Mother of her two devoted and loving daughters, therefore when Elizabeth first confided her longing to join Carmel at only 14 years of age her mother was very much opposed!

But the longing that was in Elizabeth’s heart could not be thwarted, and at the age of 19 Elizabeth once again approached her mother, and Marie with a very real sorrow agreed with her daughter that she could enter Carmel upon her 21st Birthday. During this intermediary time of waiting, Elizabeth read 'The Story of a Soul', the autobiography of Therese of Lisieux, which was to have a profound affect upon the young Elizabeth, who also wished to embrace this 'Little Way'.

During this time, God was also working within the soul of this extraordinary young girl with a profound love and desire for the Holy Trinity, and her awareness of the Presence of the Triune Spirit indwelling within Elizabeth. So though Elizabeth waited with great patience to enter her Beloved Carmel, she also took an active part in her local Catholic community alongside her beloved sister Marguerite, who helped instruct the poorer children their area.

But Elizabeth would not be thwarted again and so in the year 1901 she was to finally enter her beloved Convent of Carmel, upon which she was given the name Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity. During this time Sister Elizabeth was also to embrace the teachings of John of the Cross and she developed a love for the Letters of Paul, which echoed what she was feeling within the depth of her innermost being most especially this Scripture, when Paul expands on his love for Christ, "loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).

Sister Elizabeth’s love and also her crystal clear vision of the Holy Trinity would consume her soul and the touch of the Mystical entered her heart in a most profound and exceptional way, for she was to love the Holy Trinity with a passion reserved for the pure in heart. It was whilst she pondered the Letters of Paul that Sister Elizabeth developed the theme to her life, which was to live as a ' Praise of Glory' to her Beloved Spouse.

But even as Sister Elizabeth was growing in Holiness, the shadow of the 'dark night' would enter her soul, and cloud the vision of The Triune Spirit, from within her. But this did not deter Elizabeth who loved what she could not see nor glimpse, so while her soul was immersed in the abyss of complete darkness and aridity of soul, still Elizabeth chose love, not to seek consolation for herself but to console her Beloved and Divine Spouse.

But ill health was also to shadow Elizabeth’s joy and also her agony of finding herself in this impenetrable darkness, which engulfed her whole being and her very soul. Elizabeth loved God not for herself but because God is totally Lovable, she sought to give to God rather than to receive, for her heart was God's alone.

But the shadow of death did not elude Elizabeth for long and she as a loving spouse embraced her coming death as her dearest wish to be one united with her Beloved Triune Spirit for eternity. Elizabeth was diagnosed with Addison’s disease which ravaged this young girl’s body with a ferociousness that defies description; suffice to say her own 'passion' echoed that of her Divine Spouse. As her body withered under the onslaught of this dreaded illness, her suffering was immense.

Sister Elizabeth lived the meaning of her name 'house of God' as her body was ravaged and her spirit grew strong in Holiness, in the last hours of her life, her fellow sisters surrounded her bed, the last words Elizabeth uttered were..."I am going to Light, to Love, to Life." Elizabeth died on November 9, 1906.

Pope John Paul II beatified Elizabeth of the Trinity on November 25, 1984.

Quotes from Blessed Elizabeth

"The soul that wants to serve God day and night must be resolved to share fully in its Master's passion. It is one of the redeemed who in its turn must redeem other souls."

"All three persons dwell in the soul that loves them in truth."

"The contemplative is constantly covering the world with her co-redeeming prayer. This is what Our Lady did."

Peace of Christ to you ALL

Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.
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