“My God, Blessed Trinity! Draw from my poor being what most contributes to your glory, and do with me what you wish both now and in eternity.” ~ Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity
Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity, a woman I’d venture to say many of you have perhaps never heard of ~ a woman that I had never heard of until stumbling upon the quote that kicks off today’s Reflection ~ was born Elizabeth Catez in Avor, France in 1880. At the age of seven, she told a friend of the family that she would be a religious, wanting to “give her life so as to return a little of His great love” as she put it, the love of Jesus was of course that of which she spoke.
On her 21st birthday, Elizabeth entered the Carmel in Dijon, France in what would be the pursuit of her life’s dream, to become a Discalced Carmelite Nun. Her spiritual journey however would suddenly take an unexpected turn. Stricken shortly thereafter with a stomach ailment thought to have been Addison’s Disease, her pain was unceasing and intense, both from a spiritual and physical standpoint. But an interesting thing happened along the way. People close to her said that these sufferings she endured caused her love for Jesus to increase, as would her desire to offer up these sufferings to Jesus as an act of love and devotion.
In her many prolific writings, Elizabeth of the Trinity referred quite often to the words of Saint Paul, particularly as it related to her vocation, oftentimes likening herself to that of a bride, “a bride of Carmel” as she was prone to say. “To be Christ’s Bride, she once explained, “meant to have the flaming heart of Elijah and the transpierced heart of Teresa,” the latter due to Saint Teresa of Avila’s unending zeal and desire to walk in Christ’s footsteps. Coincidentally enough, in tomorrow’s 1st Reading (1 Kings 17:1-6) we will read of the prophet Elijah and his desire to serve God, relying on Him for his every need with resolve and unmitigated faith.
In today’s 2nd Reading (2 Corinthians 13:11-13), aptly chosen for the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, we hear from Saint Paul who, in typical fashion, is urging the people of Corinth to repent, to encourage one another and to forgo strife so as to live in harmony. His closing blessing is a nod to the Holy Trinity, as he seeks “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit” for those in his midst. If this verbiage sounds familiar, it is indeed recited every day at Mass.
On the topic of Mass, I can’t help but share an anecdote from this morning as told during the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity Mass by Father Brian Horgan, Pastor of Saint Lucy Church in Highland Beach, Florida. He shared with us his recurring fear; that he will sleep through the alarm clock on Sunday Morning and miss the celebration of Sunday 7:00AM Mass, a Mass that he as Pastor naturally presides over. By Father Brian’s own admission, it’s a silly and irrational fear. A former Army Chaplain who served in the seemingly unending war zone of Afghanistan, Father Brian wakes up at 4:30AM every morning with hardly a need for an alarm clock. Last night as he tossed and turned, he ultimately woke to a digital clock placed at his bedside that read “3:16AM”, John 3:16 of course serving as the headline quote in today’s Gospel (John 3:16-18).
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
These are perhaps the most powerful words in all of scripture, wherein God our Father reminds us of his unfathomable love for us, sending the one whom he loved the most to die a savage death for our sins and the sins of all mankind. The passage goes on to explain that Jesus was not sent to condemn the word, this despite the fact that condemnation is precisely what we deserve. Then and now. No, Jesus was sent by the Father so that the world could instead be saved. The Holy Mass itself is one big prayer offered to God so that his Son Jesus can be glorified and that the world can be saved. We know this for we offer this very prayer as the Priest, during the consecration, offers up the gifts the the Parish Community in hand responds in unison “May the Lord accept this sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and the glory of His name. For our good and the good of all his holy church.” It was as though the Holy Spirit was asking Father Brian by way of his digital clock of all things “What are you so worried about? You know that I am always with you.”
In many respects John 3:16 is the Trinity in all its glory, played our for all to see and understand. We see God the Father working with Jesus the Son, coupled with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit (the wisdom and understanding to accept this message, counsel to share it, fortitude and piety to live it, etc) bringing our entire faith story full circle in one potent, unforgettable scripture passage.
God called Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity home to His Heavenly Kingdom at the tender young age of 26 years old. “I am going to Light, to Love, to Life!” These were her final words, words rooted in the light of the Spirit, the love of her spouse Jesus and the very life that was breathed into her soul by God the Father, a life rooted in love and service to Him. She was a true Trinitarian until the very end.
May the prayer of Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity than began today’s reflection be our prayer today and every day, as we seek a greater understanding of this sacred mystery while diligently discerning and carrying out God’s loving will for us.
......and may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be to with you always.
Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity, pray for us.