Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A New Saint in Carmel!

SAINT ELIZABETH OF THE TRINITY!  The much-awaited desire of many Carmelites has now come to pass on October 16, 2016 when Pope Francis enrolled Elizabeth in the list of canonized Saints of the Catholic Church.  This gives me much joy and somehow also brings me back to my initial journey in the land of Carmel.  In another blog article, I recalled how in August 1984, fresh from college, I stumbled into a Carmelite monastery.  The "accidental" discovery led me to a lifelong friendship with the nuns and consequently my frequent visits to them.  I still remember one day while cleaning the monastery chapel, I came across an information board for the public with a small newspaper clipping announcing the beatification of a 26-year old Carmelite who died in Dijon, France by Pope John Paul II on November 25.  On the board was a photo of a young woman seated in front of a piano as if she had just finished or about to begin a piano score.  She was looking straight at the camera and it felt like she was looking straight at me.  It was Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity or Elizabeth Marie Catez in the world.  That was the beginning of my fascination with Elizabeth.

Even though I love many of our Saints- St. John of the Cross, St. Therese of the Child Jesus, St. Teresa of Jesus, Saint Teresa of Jesus of Los Andes and many more, there is something about St. Elizabeth that is so attractive.  Maybe she speaks to my contemplative and introspective side, my love of silence and the hidden life of Carmel.  She embodies that mysterious workings of grace in the interior recesses of the soul and that unwavering gaze fixed on Jesus alone.  She holds up the contemplative ideal of the Carmelite life which calls us always to live in the presence of God after the example of our father St. Elijah.  St. Elizabeth exemplifies the purity of heart Carmelites are called to have, always seeing with the "single-eye" of faith, with no second-causes, all that we experience in life. She lived to show us that we can carry our "cells" wherever we are, all we have to do is find the Trinity dwelling within us.. to recollect ourselves and enter into the depths where the Three is waiting for us.  No matter- cloister or the world.  Much like the silence of Our Lady. What an anticipation of the Second Vatican Council's call to universal holiness!

This is a time where it is especially good to be a Carmelite.  We are reminded once again that the teachings and lives of our Carmelite saints are still  relevant.  Carmel is a life of prayer... and prayer never ever goes out of style.  In this crazy world, we can be consoled in the thought that God never sleeps. That He is always with us. That we don't have to look for Him in all the wrong places.  He is within us- "the kingdom of God is within you"- what is needed is silence and faith.

Elizabeth died of Addison’s disease on November 9, 1906. Her dying words were “I am going to Light, to Love, to Life.”  In her own words:

“Let us live with God as with a Friend. Let us make our faith a living thing, so as to remain in communion with Him through everything. That is how saints are made. We carry our heaven within us, since He who completely satisfies every longing of the glorified souls in the light of the Beatific Vision, is giving Himself to us in faith and mystery. It is the same thing. It seems to me I have found my heaven on earth, since heaven is God and God is in my soul. The day I understood that, everything became clear to me, and I wish I could whisper this secret to those I love in order that they also might cling closely to God through everything.

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