Quote of the day: 11 January

My Mother, here is the Bridegroom!

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity
Letter 153 (excerpt)

 

Profession day snow on ground
On Sunday, 11 January 1903 it was freezing in Dijon. The temperature was -5 (23 F) and a snowstorm would arrive the next day in eastern France. This photo, however, was taken by professional photographer Mazillier on 22 December 1902, the day of Elizabeth’s canonical exam. Her mother hired the photographer to capture portraits for the special occasion when she was permitted to see her daughter outside the cloister one last time. The turn sisters loaned Elizabeth one of their black veils, which they pinned on top of her white veil. | Credit: Discalced Carmelites

 

Sunday, 11 January 1903

Profession of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity

 

After the 8 o’clock Mass, the community, in their white mantles and a large candle in their hands, go up the grand staircase to the chapter room, singing the O gloriosa Virginum (“O glorious Virgin”) to Mary. As a small cell of the Church, the community experiences the profession as a great moment of universal significance, an offering for the universal Church. United in intimacy, it’s also the family that’s going to grow. At the end of the procession, the prioress leads the novice by the hand. 

 

O gloriosa virginum

 

The account of Sister Mary of the Trinity, plainly taken up again in the Memoirs (S 107), introduces us to this supreme act:

“Her profession was still made entirely in faith, but already in peace since her visit with the priest. She tells us that she was taken up by the idea of sacrifice and immolation alone. Especially as she climbed the steps, going up to the chapter room, she was strongly taken, seized by this thought and then told us that she had found her whole state of mind in the day’s reading: ‘Offer your bodies to God as pure, holy and pleasing hosts to God’” (cf. Rom 12:1).

Climbing the stairs reminds Elizabeth of the symbol of the mountain, whether it be Tabor or Calvarylike Abraham going up to the top of the mountain indicated by Yahweh to sacrifice his son Isaac (cf. Gen 22:1-19), like Jesus Christ on his way to the Cross. Each stair-step is a decisive movement towards total self-giving to God, prayer, and sacrifice for the Church.

 

Monumental Staircase BibleWalks dot com siah14s (2)
Detail of the grand, spiral staircase in the ruins of the first Carmelite monastery on Mount Carmel. As a tradition, many monasteries of Carmelite nuns are built to include a monumental, spiral staircase. See the complete photo here.

 

Upon arriving in the chapter room, the Prioress sits on the left side of the altar. Elizabeth kneels before her. Mother Germaine asks her the same questions as on the day she took the habit. The same answers resoundstandard, formulated answersbut with great density, essential expressions of what one is seeking. After Elisabeth has thus sought “the mercy of God, the poverty of the Order and the company of her sisters,” the Prioress reminds her of the demands of the narrow path she is following forever.

Then, with her hands joined in those of the Prioress, Mother Germaine of Jesus, Elizabeth Catez repeated the formula of her profession three times: “I, Sister Mary Elizabeth of the Trinity, make my profession, and I promise chastity, poverty and obedience to God, Our Lord, and to the Blessed Virgin Mary,” in obedience to the superiors “according to the primitive, unmitigated Rule of the Order of Mount Carmel until death.”

 


Translator’s Note—In English-speaking Discalced Carmelite monasteries, the formula was:  I, Sister N. of N., make my solemn profession and I promise obedience, chastity, and poverty to God, to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, and to you, Rev. Mother Prioress, and to your successors, according to the primitive Rule of the Discalced Carmelites and our Constitutions, until death.


 

In this very sparse setting, the words resonate…

After the prayers offered by the Prioress, as on the day she took the habit, the newly professed is clothed in her Marian scapular and white mantle to symbolize the new life received from the Risen One. Now she lies on the floor in the form of a cross on the wool carpet decorated with flowers while the community sings the Te Deum. After she has been sprinkled with holy water, a reminder of the water of Baptism, Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity rises, kneels before the Prioress, kisses her hand, embraces her, and goes to kiss all the sisters as they sing Psalm 133, Ecce quam bonum: See how good it will be to live together as true sisters.

 

profession_crucifix_16 (2)
Detailed view of Elizabeth’s profession crucifix. See the complete image here.

 

She receives her profession crucifix, on the back of which she has had St. Paul’s words engraved in Latin: “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). She also receives her copy of the Constitutions of the Order and the Prioress places a crown of flowers on her head, which she wears all day long, she who is Christ’s bride.

 

saint-therese-of-lisieux26 Celine prise de voile (2)
Detail of a photo taken on the day when Céline received the black veil; you can see the crown of flowers she wears and the profession crucifix that she is holding in her hand. See the complete photo here.

 

During the day’s prayers, she is the one who presides. At meals and evening recreation she sits between the Prioress and the Sub-Prioress, her place in the refectory being adorned with flowers. The community has “license” today to visit each other, but the newly professed remains in silence, in a prayer of gratitude and love, until the joyful and emotional gathering during the evening recreation.

After Compline, the Prioress removes the crown from Elizabeth who will place it in front of the statue of Our Lady of Grace in the cloister, the Queen of Heaven, of whom she wants to remain more than ever the daughter, the mystical Spouse of Jesus.

Conrad de Meester, O.C.D.

Rien Moins Que Dieu: Sainte Elisabeth de la Trinité
Chap. 22: Chaque jour ma vie dépouse (excerpt)

 

 

 

In this scene from the classic Spanish television mini-series Teresa de JesúsConcha Velasco as St. Teresa arrives at the Carmel of Alba de Tormes where she is greeted by the nuns, singing Psalm 133, Ecce quam bonum.

 

We invite our readers to explore the official website of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity. Not all of the website is in English, but important information has been translated for the English visitor.

 

 

de Meester, C 2017, Rien moins que Dieu : sainte Elisabeth de la Trinité, Presses de la Renaissance, Paris. Translation from the French text is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission.

 

Elizabeth of the Trinity, S 2003, The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 2: Letters from Carmel, translated from the French by Nash, A, ICS Publications, Washington DC

Quote of the day: 2 April

The appointed time has come … for the renewal of His spouse, the Church

But let us go on, let us go on, let us go on! For, the gentle Jesus does not want me to keep on writing more words to you for the satisfaction of my own lowliness and to make you understand the truth, but He wants me to begin to make His work known to you. I say that what God wants me to make known to you and me understand– I insist, make me understand– is this: That the appointed time has come, the time predestined from eternity in the mind of God, and long since desired by His servants, past and present, for the renewal of His spouse, the Church.

Saint Mary Magdalen de’ Pazzi, born 2 April 1566

Letter 6 to the Reverend Father Peter of the Company of the Holy Name of Jesus
1 August 1586

Mary-Magdalene-de-Pazzi_St Augustine writing on the heart of MMdP_LIEVO MEHUS
Lieven (Livio) Mehus (Belgian/Italian, 1630 – 1691)
Saint Augustine writing on the heart of Saint Mary Magdalen de’ Pazzi
Oil on canvas, date unknown
Private collection
Livio Mehus represents the mystical experience that took place in 1585: while St. Mary Magdalen de’ Pazzi was reading the prologue of the Gospel of John, Saint Augustine appeared and inscribed, “The Word became flesh” (Verbum caro factum est) on her heart in letters of gold and blood, representing the Incarnation. He wrote Verbum in gold to signify the divinity of Christ and caro factum est in blood to signify the humanity of Christ. Learn more about this painting.

Read more of the letters of St. Mary Magdalen de’ Pazzi here

Read the Carmelites’ biographical profile of St. Mary Magdalen de’ Pazzi here

 

Quote of the Day: 21 March

God made the light of his Son, Jesus Christ, to shine admirably in her

Light of Christ for the whole Chilean Church, Sister Teresa of the Andes, Teresa of Jesus, is the Discalced Carmelite nun and the firstfruit of holiness of the Teresian Carmel of Latin America, who today is incorporated into the number of the Saints of the universal Church.

As we heard in the first reading from the book of Samuel, the figure of Teresa stands out not because of “his appearance or his great stature”. “The Lord sees not as man sees,” the scripture tells us; “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart”. For this reason, in her young life of just over 19 years, in her 11 months as a Carmelite, God made the light of his Son, Jesus Christ, to shine admirably in her, so that she serves as a beacon and guide with the radiance of the divine to a world that seems to have become blinded.

The life of Blessed Teresa cries quietly from the cloister:

“Sólo Dios basta — God alone is enough!

To a secularized society that lives with its back turned on God, this Chilean Carmelite, who with lively joy is presented as a model of the perennial youth of the Gospel, offers the limpid testimony of an existence that proclaims to the men and women of today that loving, adoring, and serving God are the greatness and joy, the freedom and the full realization of the human creature. The life of Blessed Teresa cries quietly from the cloister: “Sólo Dios basta — God alone is enough!”

And she especially cries out to young people, hungry for truth and in search of a light that gives meaning to their lives. To young people who are hounded by continuous messages and stimuli of an eroticized culture, and a society that confuses genuine love, which is giving, with the hedonistic use of the other person, this young virgin of the Andes today proclaims the beauty and bliss that emanate from pure hearts.

A Carmelite never forgets

In her tender love for Christ, Teresa finds the essence of the Christian message: to love, to suffer, to pray, and to serve. In her family, she learned to love God above all things. And in feeling herself to be the exclusive possession of her Creator, her love for her neighbor becomes even more intense and definitive. This is stated in one of her letters: “When I love, it is forever. A Carmelite never forgets. From her small cell, she accompanies the souls that she loved in the world.”

Her enkindled love leads Teresa to desire to suffer with Jesus and like Jesus: “To suffer and love, like the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” she tells us. She wants to be an immaculate host offered in continuous and silent sacrifice for sinners. “We are co-redeemers of the world,” she will say later, “and the redemption of souls is not accomplished without a cross.”

The Carmelite is the priest’s sister

The young Chilean saint was eminently a contemplative soul. For long hours at the tabernacle and before the cross that had a prominent place in her cell, she prays and worships, pleads and atones for the redemption of the world, animating the apostolate of missionaries with the power of the Spirit and, especially, that of priests. “The Carmelite,” she will tell us, “is the priest’s sister.”

However, being contemplative like Mary of Bethany does not exempt Teresa from serving like Martha. In a world where one shamelessly struggles to excel, to possess, and to dominate, she teaches us that happiness is in being the last and the servant of all, following the example of Jesus, who came not to be served but to serve and to give his life for the redemption of many.

We are co-redeemers of the world

Now, from eternity, Saint Teresa of the Andes continues interceding as an advocate for an endless number of brothers and sisters. She who found her heaven on earth espoused to Jesus, now contemplates him without veils or shadows, and from her immediate closeness, she intercedes for those who seek the light of Christ.

Saint John Paul II

Excerpts from his homily for the Mass of Canonization of Teresa of Jesus of the Andes and Claudine Thévenet
21 March 1993

TERESA ANDES - Santuario Auco Church IGsize
Perdóname | Santuario Santa Teresa de los Andes | Claudio Quezada Ibáñez / Flickr

See more photos from Claudio Quezada’s Flickr album from the Santuario here

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity Novena – Day 9

When I am up above, will you let me help you, scold you even, if I see you are not giving everything to the Master? because I love you!

Intention

For the grace to give everything to the Master: It was the end of October when St. Elizabeth wrote the letter that has served as the prayerful foundation for our novena meditations. She was certain that she would die soon, and this letter to a dear friend served as her “spiritual testament.” At the head of the letter, she wrote this inscription: “Deus charitas est (God is love),” [I Jn 4:16] and she continued: “the hour is drawing near when I am going to pass from this world to my Father…” Totally surrendered to God, in an attitude of complete abandonment and self-giving to the Lord, she was prepared to meet her Spouse, the Bridegroom of her soul. Emptied of self, she was overflowing with divine love. She describes this as she writes: “Never was the heart of the Master so overflowing with love as at the supreme moment when he was going to leave his own! It seems to me as if something similar is happening in His little bride at the evening of her life, and I feel as if a wave were rising from my heart to yours! Dear Antoinette, in the light of eternity, the soul sees things as they really are.” And so, our novena comes full circle. Like St. Paul at his farewell to the elders of Ephesus, [cf. Ac 20:17-37] St. Elizabeth knows that what is essential counts. And, the example of self-giving and abandonment to Christ that she offers to us is the same example that we are called to offer to others. This is our vocation: to become great saints like Elizabeth of the Trinity. And to ensure that we are on the path to sainthood, she wants to help us in her own Totus Tuus way. Why not say yes? Say yes to holiness, yes to Elizabeth, say yes to Christ!

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity Speaks

“When I am up above, will you let me help you, scold you even, if I see you are not giving everything to the Master? because I love you! … May He keep you wholly His, wholly faithful; in Him I will always be WHOLLY YOURS.”

Meditation 

In silent prayer, turn to Saint Elizabeth in your need. She is up above, ready to help you because she loves you. Ask her to show you how to give everything to the Master, Jesus Christ, in trust and love. Entrust yourself entirely to him as she did – he will keep you entirely his own!

NOVENA PRAYER 

O my God, Trinity whom I adore, let me entirely forget myself that I may abide in you, still and peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity; let nothing disturb my peace nor separate me from you, O my unchanging God, but that each moment may take me further into the depths of your mystery! Pacify my soul! Make it your heaven, your beloved home, and the place of your repose; let me never leave you there alone, but may I be ever attentive, ever alert in my faith, ever adoring and all given up to your creative action.

O my beloved Christ, crucified for love, would that I might be for you a spouse of your heart! I would anoint you with glory, I would love you even unto death! Yet I sense my frailty and ask you to adorn me with yourself; identify my soul with all the movements of your soul, submerge me, overwhelm me, substitute yourself in me that my life may become but a reflection of your life. Come into me as Adorer, Redeemer, and Saviour.

O Eternal Word, Word of my God, would that I might spend my life listening to you, would that I might be fully receptive to learn all from you; in all darkness, all loneliness, all weakness, may I ever keep my eyes fixed on you and abide under your great light; O my Beloved Star, fascinate me so that I may never be able to leave your radiance.

O Consuming Fire, Spirit of Love, descend into my soul and make all in me as an incarnation of the Word, that I may be to him a super-added humanity wherein he renews his mystery; and you, O Father, bestow yourself and bend down to your little creature, seeing in her only your beloved Son in whom you are well pleased.

O my ‘Three’, my All, my Beatitude, infinite Solitude, Immensity in whom I lose myself, I give myself to you as a prey to be consumed; enclose yourself in me that I may be absorbed in you so as to contemplate in your light the abyss of your Splendour!

Trinity Flower
trinity flower | Marilylle Soveran
Excerpt from Letter 333, The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 2: Letters from Carmel 
Copyright © 2003 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.
Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC
Closing Prayer from the official St. Elizabeth of the Trinity website

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