Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity's Heaven in Faith

Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity was another Carmelite, a rough contemporary of St Therese. We read her "Heaven in Faith", a retreat she wrote for her sister. It is a ten-day retreat, which I would really like to make someday. It is about being a contemplative in the world, useful for the vast majority of us who will never be monks or cloistered nuns.

Bl Elizabeth impresses on the reader the mystical nature of the Mass: just as priests consecrated bread into Jesus, they ought to consecrate their people into Christ. The consecration at Mass makes the Church realize who she is; it builds up the Church, and is the power to help the Church become what she's supposed to be. The Mass participates in the inner life of the Holy Trinity: God is offered to God. Bl Elizabeth asks priests to offer her with Jesus at the altar. God lets men be priests so that grace can go out into the world from the consecration; the priestly vocation is for the sake of everyone's sanctification. The more you are identified with Christ, the more you give glory to the Father, and the more you participate in Jesus' salvific work in the world--he can save the world through you.

Bl Elizabeth teaches that you need self-knowledge so as to get more closely united to Jesus. You need to accept your limitations, the resistance in you to God, that Christ is not in parts of your heart as he should be. You need to encounter these suffering and privations. This isn't excusing your sins, but accepting that it's really part of you. Doing this will help you to realize how much Jesus loves you--he's been suffering it with you, longer than you have. He became incarnate and suffered your hurts, it isn't beneath him. Thus self-knowledge leads you to know the mercy of God. Have confidence in his mercy, so that you'll face your imperfections. Face the truth of what's in you, and know that Jesus suffers with you every time you hurt. The abyss of God's mercy is always, always deeper than the abyss of your misery.

Bl Elizabeth has a gift to build up priests and seminarians, sustaining them in their vocation: in friendship with her, she will teach you to pray; she'll teach contemplative prayer; she helps you get out of yourself so God can fill you. She shows the fruitfulness of suffering, and keeps us rooted in prayer. She reminds us that priestly vocations don't come about because the people called are better than everyone else. God chooses shipwrecks, so that at the end of the day they'll know the work was not theirs.

Heaven in Faith starts off with Scripture: "Father, I will that where I am they also whom You have given Me may be..." Her retreat starts with the movement of Jesus' heart. Jesus' prayers are always heard. The Father doesn't say no to the Son. My hope lies in Jesus' prayer for me--right now we need confidence in God's mercy. I need confidence in his mercy to me, not just other people. Remember, I live right now in the bosom of the Father. Jesus' deepest desire, that we might be where he is, begins right now; it is not a future state, not starting at death. Already in time, we can have a real being in God's presence that is not just psychological. Make a movement of faith; choose to live as if in the Father's bosom right now. How will that affect your identity, decision making, trust, confidence? Already we are in the bosom of the Father; we can't comprehend this except by faith.

The end of the first prayer of the first day of the retreat quotes St John's Gospel: "The slave does not remain with the household forever, but the son remains there forever." I need to choose which I want to be--slave or son.

The second prayer of the first day opens with "Remain in me". Be attentive to Christ, spend time with him. This remaining with him makes us able to hear his voice, speaking to us. Do try not to get distracted in Adoration, it keeps you from hearing him. In this prayer she exhorts us to her theme of confidence,trust in God's mercy.

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