Sunday, 6 March 2016

Bl Elizabeth of the Trinity

I rejoice at the news that Bl Elizabeth of the Trinity is to "receive her sainthood".  She is a dear dear friend to me and one I have great difficulty in getting others to appreciate.  There are even people very receptive to the Carmelite spirituality who find her dry and even boring, and in her writings nearly devoid of human characteristics.  So this is my post to try to enthuse my dear readers with a greater understanding of this amazing woman and all that God made manifest in her. I will not do this by giving you a biography of her life and inspiring you.  I will not do this by trying to explain her understanding of the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity and her own very special take on Carmelite Spirituality. I will do this by trying to show you what she means to me. I will try to show you how I have engaged in her friendship and how the misgivings of others are actually completely valid and actually the correct way to approach her and understand the amazing richness of what she has to give.

When she was asked what she thought her mission in heaven would be she said:

It seems to me that my mission will be to draw souls, by helping them to go out of themselves in order to adhere to God by a simple, wholly loving movement and to maintain them in that great inner silence which allows God to imprint Himself on them and transform them into Himself.

From her "mission" it ought to be obvious that we will not find her if we seek her, she is totally absorbed in the Blessed Trinity, she has forgotten herself. But that doesn't mean she isn't present to intercede for us and to guide us if we too wish to go where she has gone.  And guide she does, gently, but carefully, meeting the soul where they are and indicating the signposts along the way.

But that place she loves is scary.  She calls it the abyss.  God for her is the Infinite Solitude.  Loneliness is fullness of being.

To me it is all about how we love God, and her way of loving God may seem outrageous to you, but that doesn't make it wrong.  We are all different and naturally there are different genuine ways of loving God.  So taking some advice from Fr Faber's The Creator and the Creature, here are the some of the manifestations of our love of God, as listed by Faber, but with particular reference to how Bl Elizabeth's love shows itself.

Firstly there is the love of benevolence: a loving kindness towards God, a wanting things to be better for God, wishing Him impossible perfections through the actions of His humble little creature who so loves Him.  This is a childish love and one that is expressed by many of the saints. Such a soul wants God to be happy and through their love, they do help impart His grace on others. They desire impossible things, like an empty hell and an empty purgatory, but their desire is always motivated by a desire for God's happiness and mercifully this prevents it becoming too cloyingly sentimental.

Next there is the love of complacence: a soul that loves in this way simply loves God as He is.  The soul has tranquillity.  As Faber says "it rejoices with Him in His unity, one of His own deepest and most secret joys". And Faber almost predicts Bl Elizabeth's "new song", her "praise of His Glory" when he writes "a new strain of music steels out from its inmost soul.  It rejoices that none else is like to God". Such love may appear a bit dull to others, but such complacent love is ecstatic.

I would argue that whilst St Therese's personality makes the love of benevolence more manifest, with Bl Elizabeth it is the love of complacence that shines through.  Bl Elizabeth forgets herself, she is disinterested in her own sufferings and consolations, but she has found the pearl of great price and she wants you to "come and see".

I advise you to read her two short retreats, "Heaven on Earth" and "Laudem Gloriae".  Forget about her as a person but, let her explain the depth of St Paul's writings to you, let her love of God lead you on, let her lead you like any good teacher, at your pace and with your own personal curriculum.... and she will not disappoint.

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