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St. Elizabeth of the Trinity: Lessons on Living in the Heart of the Church

As her name indicates, St. Elizabeth of the Trinity was totally immersed in contemplation of the triune God Who lived in her through Baptism. She knew that the ultimate foundation of human love and friendship is always the unity of love reigning within the Trinity. As a reflection of God Himself, the friend­ship between human beings becomes a redemptive reality in the Church. The Church is the context, the atmosphere, where we live in a kind of Trinitarian friendship. God is always present among the members of the Church, binding them together just as the three Divine Persons are bound together.

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity in her Carmelite Habit.

Elizabeth described her friendship with another sister, “The mystery of the Three has been reproduced on earth since our two hearts have found their union in Yours.” The Church is the communion of saints in which the Most Holy Trinity is always present as the heart of the ecclesial mystery. The Church always reflects the Trinity, and inter-ecclesial solidarity has its foundation in intra-trinitarian communion. This majestic truth of our Faith becomes a day-to-day reality in the life of Carmel, where Elizabeth tried to live in constant union with the Trinity, and at the same time, with her sisters.

Although she lived totally hidden away from the outside world, it is quite evident through her many letters that she had friendly relationships with many people outside Carmel. These letters are often masterpieces of concrete spiritual direction for laypeople. Her spiritual doctrine is very much suited for people living in the midst of society. And in this way, her ecclesial mis­sion becomes evident. She was aware that all the members of the Church, whether in peaceful enclosures or busy in society, are united in adoration of the Trinity, helping each other in the fulfillment of this important task. Through adoration, they be­come brothers and sisters in the communion of saints. In the act of adoration, they enter into an invisible unity with each other, and this day-to-day reality brings forth many hidden fruits.

This vision of spiritual solidarity emphasized by Elizabeth can be very helpful for so many people feeling isolated and alone, suffering from this twofold disease that is, alas, so common today. If people came to the realization that they really belong to this communion of saints, things would change dramatically.

Elizabeth made a spiritual synthesis that reflects her vision of her own vocation. She uses the Latin words laudem gloria, from St. Paul, in order to characterize this vocation of hers. She is “called to give praise and glory to God whatever she is doing, however she is feeling.” Here on earth, Elizabeth had already begun doing what she was meant to do in eternity — glorify God. She knew that she was never on her own, but always united with all believ­ers, on earth, in Heaven, and in Purgatory.

This article is from a chapter in Carmelite Spirituality: The Way of Carmelite Prayer and Contemplation. Click image to learn more.

The Church is one and the same in its different stages. As Bride of the Lamb, She is always adoring and glorifying the Most Holy Trinity. With the simple eyes of faith, Elizabeth contemplates the entire mystery of the Church, which has its beginning in the bosom of the Trinity long before the creation of the world and which one day will find its fulfillment there, too.

In Elizabeth’s writings, the notion of predestination is quite common. We might even say that Elizabeth is the Catholic answer to Calvin. In contrast to his individualistic outlook, she looks upon predestination mainly as the predestination of the entire ecclesial body to take part in God’s eternal glory. Every person is called upon to enter into communion with the Church, being transformed by grace and finally receiving eternal glory through the merits of the redemp­tive love of Christ. Predestination is a mystery of immense love.

In a posthumous note, Elizabeth of the Trinity wrote, “I bequeath to you this vocation which was mine in the bosom of the Church Militant and which I shall fulfill henceforth unceasingly in the Church Triumphant: a praise of glory of the Blessed Trinity.” This spiritual heritage of hers is a very pedagogical, or rather mystagogical, approach to the entire reality of the Church. We can never separate the Church from the Trinity. In her bosom, we can live as friends adoring God, giving praise to Him and, thus, growing in mutual love and help. This intra-ecclesial friendship is also an important point of evangelization, as we know from the early Church. “Friendship with any man is ultimately friendship with Christ,” William Johnston said.

Mother and Bride

The Church is more Mother than institution, more Bride than hierarchy, more mystery than sociology. The Carmelite vision of the Church concentrates on this innermost reality of the Church. This reality can help those who often feel utterly alone and empty, to find healing in the life-giving womb of the Church.

Jesus will always care for His bride, whether she be the Church or the soul. Human beings are always the same. They were cre­ated by God’s love and for His love. If they can discover the Church as the fruitful ambiance where they can inhale God’s love and be transformed by it, then they will feel at home in Her. The Carmelite saints have an extraordinary capacity to point to essentials. When they speak about the Church, they always do so in a tone of prayer and adoration of the triune God. The Church is a reflection of the intra-trinitarian love between the divine Persons.

Consequently, the Church will always bring us closer to God. The Carmelite mystics can help our brothers and sisters who are formed and shaped by the modern malaise of individualism to rediscover the true face of the Church.

The Carmelite doctrine stressing these theological virtues is a remedy against this disease of our times. The Church is the concrete brotherhood — and sisterhood — in which we help each other to live according to the theological virtues. The Carmelite saints are our helpful brothers and sisters on this mystical path. The contemplative ecclesiology of Carmel can also be a remedy against the malaise that so many of our contemporaries feel in regard to the Church and Her many weaknesses.

In her notes from 1932, Edith Stein wrote,

“The Church as the Kingdom of God in this world should reflect changes in human thought. Only by accepting each age as it is and treating it ac­cording to its singular nature can the Church bring eternal truth and life to temporality.”

With these words, Edith Stein indicates the responsibility of the Church. The Church must listen with a contemplative ear to every age and every movement in time. She is a part of the world and so must have solidarity with it. She must be able to see what is happening in human hearts in every single moment of human history. God also speaks to Her through the world. Carmelite mysticism helps us to be listeners to God in Himself but, also, to God speaking to us through the hidden signs in humanity and creation at large. “Creatures are like a trace of God’s passing. Through them, one can discover His grandeur, might, wisdom, and other divine attributes,” says St. John of the Cross.

The Church of today needs a kind of spiritual plastic surgery in order to rediscover Her true heart and regain the true beauty of Her face. Our Carmelite tradition can help her in this ongoing process of conversion, in order that She may realize that, through Her wounds, She is even closer to her Bridegroom and His redemp­tive love. “His heart is an open wound with love,” St. John of the Cross said. And so we, too, in our lives in the Church can receive Christ’s redemptive love. We can live in His presence. We can receive His grace. And we can become more and more the Church as it is meant to be, because as we see in the Carmelite mystical tradition, the Bride of Christ is the Church, it is Mary, and it’s each one of us. And within the Church we receive our true being. We can become saints in the heart of the Church, but we have to live in Her very heart, in constant prayer and adoration of the Blessed Trinity.

This article is adapted from a chapter in Cardinal Arborelius’s book, Carmelite Spirituality: The Way of Carmelite Prayer and Contemplation. It is available as an ebook or paperback from your favorite bookstore or online through Sophia Institute Press.

Photo by who?du!nelson on Unsplash

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St. Clare and the Power of Our Eucharistic Lord

In 1224, an army of soldiers on errand from Frederick II showed up to assault Assisi. St. Clare resided in Assisi with the siblings of her freshly formed spiritual order at the time. In action to the coming intrusion, St. Clare—– while really ill—– headed out to fulfill the soldiers with the Blessed Sacrament in her hands. She put the Blessed Sacrament on the wall where the intruders might see it. She then was up to her knees and asked God to conserve her sis. It is stated that she hoped:

” O Lord, safeguard these Sisters whom I can not safeguard now,” she hoped. A voice appeared to address: “I will keep them constantly in My care.””

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The enemies were then filled with worry and got away from the town as quick as they might without injuring anybody while doing so.

In 2014, it ended up being nationwide news that Satanists prepared to host a ““ black mass ” at Harvard which was being hosted by the Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club. There was an excellent protest as Catholics rallied all over the world through prayer to fight the sacrilegious occasion. In reaction, Catholics in the Boston location took part in a Eucharistic procession through the streets near MIT.

In a fantastic program of spiritual power, the priests, spiritual, and devoted present shown to the world and to the Satanists that real power originates from the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. The ““ black mass ” was canceled by Harvard and transferred to a regional bar where it obviously was not carried out in its totality and without a consecrated host.

Nearly 800 years after St. Clare, Catholics still react to dangers of evil by holding high the Eucharistic Presence of Our Lord. In doing so, we are revealing the world Christ Himself body, blood, divinity, and soul who is the supreme response to all wicked, condition, sin, and death. He is the source of all power. In the end, it is the greater supernatural order that genuinely dominates what takes place in the material world as ordained by God. It is this supernatural understanding and vision that we need to recover to an even higher level now.

Many priests and some bishops reacted to the COVID-19 pandemic by heading out to mountain tops, city streets, communities, and parish actions raising high Our Eucharistic Lord through Eucharistic praises and processions. These bishops and priests comprehend that what is occurring in the material world today has a higher spiritual measurement to it that we should increasingly fight a lot more than any infection, violence, departments, war, scarcity, or other condition that besieges humanity at the product level. To win these fights we need to combat the spiritual war raving around us.

Unfortunately, this was not the normative reaction in lots of dioceses as numerous Catholics discovered themselves without access to the Sacraments and even personal prayer prior to the Tabernacle with the Real Presence throughout this time of excellent suffering and darkness. The saints down through the ages reveal us the power of Our Lord in His Eucharistic Presence in combating pandemics, wars, scarcity, and other sufferings. Our world is broken, injured, and passing away. It is just Christ who can recover souls. We can not lock Him up in our churches separated from His individuals and the many souls in requirement of conserving on the planet.

To raise the monstrance real estate the Blessed Sacrament is to raise high Christ on the Cross, which is the source of our redemption. It is to reveal Our Crucified and Glorified Lord to a passing away world that is still spoiled by sin and death. This is the power St. Clare asked Christ to let loose on the coming intruders. Not a violent retaliation or getting away from threat, however rather, His Real Presence securing them through His magnificent power. She relied on totally in Him. It is this trust and faith in Him that is vital for us today.

With most of Catholics rejecting the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, we reside in an age of terrific spiritual threat. If we are indifferent, and even desecrating the Blessed Sacrament through our unbelief and absence of love as Catholics, then we can not want to evangelize our own damaged culture or react as Christian disciples to the terrific conditions damaging the world.

St. Peter Julian Eymard stated, ““ Let us always remember that an age diminishes or flourishes in percentage to its commitment to the Holy Eucharist. This is the step of its spiritual life and its faith, of its charity and its virtue.” When almost 70% of Catholics reject the Real Presence, ” These are strong words to an age.

The risk for everyone is to forget the genuine power of the Holy Eucharist. When confronted with the danger of death in a pandemic it is simple to run away to our houses and leave the world behind. The bishops and priests who have actually held high the Blessed Sacrament throughout the world in reaction to this terrific trial and screening understand much better. They see with the supernatural vision of faith. We can not desert the world. We need to head out to the world with Our Eucharistic Lord. When so lots of are passing away spiritual deaths, he desires to be with His individuals and He desires to conserve souls in a time.

Do we have the faith of St. Clare who wanted to stake her life, the lives of all of her siblings, and Assisi on magnificent help from Christ in His Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist? He will let loose remarkable enhances through our priests raising high His Real Presence in our neighborhoods if we have faith in God and trust in Him. This is the Eucharistic reaction saints have actually revealed us down through the ages and we need to do the exact same in our own day.

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St. Emily de Vialar: Revolutionary Survivor

Violent anti-Catholic belief, revealing observance of the Faith hazardous. Geopolitics muddying the waters of charity. Financial mismanagement leading to a public scandal and fall from grace. Anybody who believes either a) the Catholic Church is an organization that can be laid low by human actions or b) that it intentionally cultivates weak, subservient females requires to be presented to St. Emily de Vialar.

de Vialar was born in 1797 in southern France, a time and location that were as alarmingly antagonistic towards Catholicism as anything that exists today. For context: St. Emily was born just 3 years after the height of the Reign of Terror, throughout which churches were closed, priests were killed, and required marital relationships in between spiritual were enacted. She was born in the exact same year that French soldiers abducted the ruling Pope, who then passed away after 6 weeks of captivity. When we hear that she had actually to be baptized in trick, and clandestinely taught the faith at house by her mom, the details appears surreal to our contemporary ears.

But, showing that no effort to annihilate Catholicism will achieve success, not even one as violent and arranged as the French Revolution, de Vialar was thoroughly bied far the Faith, and in such a step that a desire to go into spiritual life was kindled in the lady. To counter all claims that Catholicism thrills in the growing of shy, reduced females, it sainted a lady who stood up to her daddy to make that dream of spiritual life take place.

Now, in the daddy’’ s defense, he had actually endured the Revolution. He had actually seen nuns transported into the streets and off to the guillotine, so the possibility of his child making such a harmful occupation option should have filled him with worry. He chose his child to wed, to smartly settle. Emily, nevertheless, had various concepts, and the 2 combated about often, making life difficult and together tense. The truth that, under the instructions of the parish priest, Emily established an out-patient center on the household balcony not did anything to relieve father/daughter relations.

For fifteen years, de Vialar devoted herself to charitable operate in her neighborhood. Called ““ the excellent angel of Gaillac””, she assisted the bad, especially kids overlooked by their moms and dads. The death of a relative left her with a large inheritance- substantial adequate that she was able to acquire a big home in town and moved into it with 3 other buddies. They devoted themselves to the care of the bad and education of kids. Their greats drew in other females, and within the year, the archbishop provided the females approval to begin a spiritual order- the Congregation of Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition.

In 1835, Emily and a number of other members Congregation took a trip to Algeria to assist the ill throughout the middle of a cholera epidemic. The Algeria of Emily’’ s time was a land that had actually been attacked by France, annexed, and the conquered individuals gotten rid of from their land, displaced by European inhabitants. In a land of refugees and regular uprisings, of colonial intruders and bad sanitation, Emily and her sis tended the battered individuals of Algeria.

St. Emily de Vialar started to look for papal approval of her order, however the interaction in between nonreligious politics of France and Algeria, and spiritual politics including the Bishop of Alger avoided the pope from offering his acknowledgment. When the Congregation of Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition lastly did acquire papal approval, it sought its creator’’ s death.

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In the middle of international turmoil and confusion, Emily withstood the very same on an individual level. Her estate, which had actually been bankrolling the Order, was so inadequately handled that by 1851, she was insolvent. The Sisters were destitute, often even getting their only meals from soup cooking areas run by other Orders. Popular opinion of Emily and the Sisters turned, and they fell out of favor—– at one point, they were excommunicated by the Bishop of Alger due to the fact that of their monetary destroy.

Refusing to squashed under the weight of hardship and scandal, Emily moved the Order to Marseilles, where the regional bishop assisted her gradually restore the Congregation. By the time Emily passed away, 40 homes in 3 continents were up and running, and to this day, the Congregation of Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition serve the bad.

Ninety-five years after her death, Emily ended up being St. Emily de Vialar, a survivor of a bloody chapter in France’’ s history, a female with a strong will and clear vision, and a saint to get in touch with when it appears the entire world is bought versus you.

image: Reliquary of Saint Emilie de Vialar on the Eglise Saint-Pierre Gaillac in the Tarn department, picture by Didier Descouens / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).

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