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MOUNT CARMEL MAGAZINE
VOL 64. NO.4 OCTOBER - DECEMBER 2016
It is with joy that we give notice of:
The Canonisation of Elizabeth of the
The Beatification of Fr Marie Eugene
We are pleased to commemorate, during 2016
The Year of Mercy
(December 8, 2015 - November 20, 2016)
The Canonisation of Sts Louis and
(October 18, 2015)
IN THIS ISSUE
Prayer to the Trinity
Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity: Model and Teacher of
Elizabeth of the Trinity: Mystic and Spiritual Teacher
What Elizabeth Means to Me: The Full Blossoming of Humanity
Spiritualité victimale and Elizabeth of the Trinity:
A Journey to Surrender and Love
Elizabeth of the Trinity: Listening to her Music
Voices of the Heart
'Silent music, sounding solitude': A Girl with Rhythm
in her Head
Let Yourself Be Loved!: Elizabeth of the Trinity and
Immersion in the Presence of God: Entering into a Contemplative
The Prayer to the Trinity: Drawn into the Abyss of God's
Food for the Journey - Books
PRAYER OF POPE FRANCIS
FOR THE YEAR OF MERCY
Lord Jesus Christ,
Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being
enslaved by money;
Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us,
You are the visible face of the invisible Father,
You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in
Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its
We ask you this through the intercession of Mary, Mother
This is the saint, described here by Pope John Paul II, himself a saint of the Church, at her beatification on November 25, 1984; and this is the same saint we are celebrating especially at this time: Elizabeth Catez of Dijon (1880-1906), who will be canonised in Rome in just a few days' time, on October 16, 2016.
October is a month marked by the feasts of two of Elizabeth's greatest inspirations in Carmel and even before: Sts Teresa of Avila and Thérèse of Lisieux. But from all the thousands of people whose lives have mirrored the message of Teresa, of Thérèse and of Elizabeth herself - which is nothing other than the teaching of the Gospel, nourished by an inner intimacy with God in prayer - there will be many, many saints down through the ages: most of them unknown to us, yet standing out to their family and friends in a quiet and dignified way, these ordinary lives transfigured by the flame of God's love burning within them.
These are the women and men whom we celebrate next month, on the feast of All Saints. We remember those who have died in God's love and have already gained love's high reward, with a love now fully cleansed and purified of every taint of sin. We celebrate the victory of Christ's love in all his saints. St Paul - a teacher whose influence on Elizabeth cannot be overstated - reminds us that we are already one with the saints as 'fellow citizens' and 'part of God's household'. 'What you have come to,' the author of Hebrews tells us, ' is God himself, the supreme Judge, and you have been placed with the spirits of the saints who have been made perfect.'
The saints, then, have been 'made perfect'! This is not a phrase that always lies easily with some of us. It can so readily conjure up for us an idea of holiness as perfect observance of rules and regulations, laws and prescriptions - instead of a fitting response to a God of unconditional love: 'a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness , forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin.' We can find ourselves burdened with the image of a stern God, a kind of glorified detective or policeman only too ready to scrutinise us and call us to account for every minute detail of our lives. It is true that Jesus invites us in the Gospel of Matthew to be perfect: 'Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect,' he says to us. But what does the word 'perfect' mean in the gospel sense of the word?
It is surely significant that when Luke wants to communicate the same lesson as Matthew, he does not say: 'Be perfect ', but: 'Be merciful as your Father is merciful.' Jesus speaks of reaching out to others in their pain, empathising with them, at one with them, in compassionate love. On the eve of the Passion and death, we are told that Jesus 'loved his own who were in the world' and that he 'loved them to the end' - that is, he loved them perfectly. He gave the supreme, complete, and fullest possible expression of his love. That's what it means to be 'perfect'. We have the same lesson from the lips of Jesus on the Cross. 'It is ended,' he cries - all is finished, consummated. His death is the supreme, complete and fullest possible expression of God's love: 'God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.'
I am reminded of St Teresa's teaching in the third mansions of her Interior Castle. In these mansions, she tells us, we are all like the rich young man in the Gospels. He wants to be 'perfect'. For him, a devout Jew, perfection was about observance of the law. 'What must I do,' he asks, 'to inherit eternal life?' And he says that he has observed all the commandments from his youth. Jesus then looks at him and loves him. So far, all is well. But Jesus now asks for something more: 'If you would be perfect, go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.' The young man went away sad, we are told, because he had great possessions. However, the problem was not that he had great possessions. Rather, he was possessed by them. They were an obstacle. His heart was enslaved by them, imprisoned, held captive. He was not free to give himself to Jesus completely and without reserve. That is what it means to be 'perfect'.
Teresa goes on to expand further the implications of this gospel story. She speaks of those who are 'upright well-ordered well-balanced discreet circumspect ' They are observant, but 'their reason is still very much in control,' she tells us, and she adds: 'Love has not yet reached the point of overwhelming reason.' To be 'perfect', for Teresa, is to surrender to love - that same love of God 'poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us'. It is to release the full potential of our love. To love is to give oneself, to give everything. It is to love God with an undivided heart as the saints did, without reserve. It is to do God's will, to obey the first commandment: 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.'
For the saints, love, not reason, is primary. That is the lesson of Jesus for all who wish to follow him, as we read in John's Gospel: 'Those who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.' So, the saints discovered Christ by loving Christ - that is, Jesus revealed himself to them in response to their love. They had pondered deeply the truth of God's word: 'Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God.' One of our Irish poets, Patrick Kavanagh, expressed so well this priority of love over reason when he wrote:
The saints are captive flames. And in them the prayer of St Paul for his first converts in Ephesus, and for all of us, is already fulfilled:
No saints are born saints. We do them no favours if we think that they were called by God to tread some easy, sheltered and primrose path. The law of love is more demanding than any written law. The poet William Blake once wrote: 'we are put on earth a little space / That we may learn to bear the beams of love.' The saints are no exception. They are called, like all of us, to take up the cross daily and to follow Christ. Like Jesus on the road to Calvary, they stumble, falter and fall. But for the grace of God, they would never be part of the heavenly chorus and be able to sing forever 'the mercies of the Lord'. They can now join the eternal chorus of the saints described in Paul's prayer:
MOUNT CARMEL VOL 64. NO.4
OCTOBER - DECEMBER 2016