of the Trinity:
THE SAINT OF SILENCE
Somewhat adapted by Pauly Fongemie
from the account of her life by Ann Ball in
MODERN SAINTS, BOOK TWO, Tan Books,
with Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur
"I believe that in Heaven, my mission will be to attract souls into interior recollection, by helping them leave themselves and cleave to God with a very simple, very loving movement; to keep them in that great silence, within, which allows God to imprint Himself in them and transform them into Himself."
--- Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity
The first thing I noticed about this precious Saint was her resemblance to Saint Therese of Lisieux, another Carmelite, in physical appearance and in her spirituality. The next was virtue of their parents, the era they lived in, and their brevity of live on earth. There are many web sites honoring this Saint, and a number of books at Amazon and elsewhere. Like St. Therese, we used a rose for her symbol. Blessed Elizabeth's Feast Day is November 8, in many climates a drab time of year, yet the story of Elizabeth Catez is breathtakingly rich:
Elizabeth Catez was born on July 18, 1880, near Bourges in central France, where her father was soldier, as was his father. She was Baptized on Sunday, July 22, the Feast of Saint Mary Magdalen.
Bl. Elizabeth inherited her fiery temperament from her father and grandfather. She was hot-tempered and strong-willed, so much so that a priest said of her as a little girl, "Either she will be a Saint or a devil."
Her outbursts of temper lasted until she was seven. The discipline that overcame her obstinacy was the privation of her mother's kiss in the evening. The Saint latter thanked her mother for teaching her how to master herself "out of love." It was this very resolution that led this ardent soul to the very summits of perfection. It was when she was seven that her father died, only a few months after his father.
The mother of the two little girls, Elizabeth and Marguerite. no longer had the means for them to stay in their home in the heart of Dijon; they relocated to a small apartment on the outskirts. She managed to enroll her daughters in the Music Conservatory, and had tutors instruct them in other subjects at home. Elizabeth became proficient at the piano. The year they moved was also the year of Elizabeth's First Confession, which she said was "my conversion. that prompted in me a real awakening to Divine things." From that day on she labored to combat her predominate faults, a temper and over sensitivity. She also realized that it was easy to fall in love with the world, something she determined to avoid. She said that the contest between herself and the world ended when she was 18; the world lost.
One incident is especially insightful of the internal life of this child of Mary and Jesus. While still young and play in music recitals, she asked Our Lady if she was doing the will of God, that she might be vain because of the applause---"I am afraid of receiving applause during the concert." She could not bear to offend God. She placed everything in Mary's hands. That night she came down with such a painful earache that she could not play in the recital. This left a lasting impression on the young girl. During this time she would awake in the night and each time unite herself to the Passion of Christ, which penetrated deeply into her soul, she said there was no love without sacrifice. Did this make her gloomy? On the contrary, she remained true to her nature, of good cheer, while always praying not to become attached to pleasure.
When she was 11, she made her First Communion. She said, "God took possession of my heart." He name means "House of God".
At 14 she knew she wanted to enter the Carmelite convent, but her mother would not hear of it, even with a priest coming to the side of Elizabeth.
Our Saint was obedient to her mother and waited upon the will of God. Rather than brood she took on a joy in life. All the while Carmel beckoned her on. At 18 she conferred with a priest who concluded that Elizabeth belonged in the cloister. Her mother could not bear to be separated from her daughter. Elizabeth went on with life as expected of her, but she made a chapel for the Sacred Heart in her own heart, to unite with Our Lord always. As she grew in sanctity and the interior life, it became apparent to her mother that her daughter was being called to the cloistered life. Thus Elizabeth joyfully entered the Dijon Carmel, August 2, 1902. She was just 22; her religious name was Elizabeth of the Trinity.
Her first evening she told Mother Germain, the superior, "I have passed into the soul of my Christ, I want to make Him loved by the whole world."
She wrote to her aunt that "I have found my heaven on earth in my dear solitude of Carmel where I am alone with God alone." During her year as a novice, she began a long period of purification, known only to the superior and prioress. She professed her perpetual vows on January 11, 1903: "My joy is profound and divine, such as cannot b expressed ... an entire life to be spent in silence, adoration, hearts-to-hearts with the Divine Bridegroom ... may I fully accomplish His will."
She would write to two friends:
"If anyone were to ask me the secret of happiness, I would say that it is to not take yourself into account, to deny yourself all the time. That is a good way of putting pride to death: starve it to death! The love of God must be so strong that it extinguishes any love of self."
"Reposing in us is the entire Trinity; that whole mystery which will constitute our vision in Heaven ... I want to be holy too, holy to make Him happy; In the morning let us awaken in Love. Beneath His gaze, with Him, in Him, for Him alone ... And when evening falls, after a dialogue of love that has never ceased in our heart, let us fall asleep again in Love. Perhaps we will see faults and infidelities: let us abandon them to Love, it is a consuming fire; in this way; let us make of His Love our Purgatory."
HER DEVOTION TO MARY
"It takes no effort for me to enter into this mystery of the Divine Indwelling in the Virgin: that is where I find my habitual movement of soul, which was Hers: adoring the hidden God within me."
"If you knew the gift of God! There is a creature who knew this gift of God, who did not lose one parcel of it, a creature so pure and so radiant that She seemed to be light itself, a creature whose life was so simple, so caught up in God that we can say practically nothing about Her. She is the Faithful Virgin, the One who kept all things in Her heart. In the secrecy of the temple, She remained so little, so recollected in the face of God, that She won the favor of the Blessed Trinity."
HER LAST YEAR AND DEATH
In March of 1906 her health declined, a bout of tuberculosis and then the painful trial of Addison's disease, which affects the adrenal glands. Moreover she suffered from severe headaches and ulcers. She spent the last 8 months of her life in the Carmel infirmary, which was for her a long retreat. She exclaimed:
"Before I die, I long to be transformed into Jesus Crucified and this gives me great strength in suffering ... Love your misery, for upon it God exercises His mercy."
She wrote a few weeks before her death:
"How empty is everything that has not been done for God and with God! I beg of you, mark everything with the seal of love! That is all that remains. Life is such a serious thing! Each minute is given us to root ourselves more deeply in God, according to the expression of Saint Paul. My dear Antoinette, I leave you my faith in the presence of God, the God all of Love abiding in our souls. I will confide to you that it is this intimacy with Him within which has been the beautiful sun brightening my life by making of it a Heaven in advance; that is what upholds me today in suffering. I am not afraid of my weakness; it increases my confidence, for the Strong One is within me, and as the Apostle says, His all-powerful virtue is able to work all things in a measure far beyond anything we can desire." The reference is to Ephesians 3:20.
She asked her mother for the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes before which she had prayed and received many favors. She embraced the statue of Our Lady, calling the statue, "Gate of Heaven".
When asked about her mission in Heaven, she answered:
"To draw souls to interior recollection."
Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity died on November 9 and was beatified on November 25, 1984.
VIEW BLESSED ELIZABETH'S HOLY COMMUNION PHOTOGRAPH
VIEW BLESSED ELIZABETH AT TWENTY
The forward jewel takes you to her prayer to the Holy Trinity.