Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity (1880-1906)

July 18, 1880–Born

Elizabeth was born on a Sunday into a military family and baptized Marie Rolland Josephine  Elizabeth Catez  on July 22, the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene.

“A very beautiful, very lively child,” her mother wrote.

Later in Carmel Elizabeth would write, to a priest friend,

“Tomorrow is the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene of whom  the Truth declared, ‘She loved much’. It  is the feast day of my soul also, for I shall keep the anniversary of my baptism …  I beg you to consecrate me to Him at Holy Mass. Baptize me in the Blood of the Lamb, so that…I may love Him alone with a passion ever deepening until it attains that blessed union destined for us by God…”  –The Praise of Glory 


1882–Little "Sabeth”

elizabeth_7_months_ copyHer mother relates.

“A (Christmas) mission was being preached…and a Sister came and asked me if the little one had a doll that could be used as the little Jesus in the crib; it was to be dressed in a robe covered with golden stars and would be unrecognizable to the child’s eyes. I brought the little one to the ceremony. The child was distracted at first by the people who were arriving, but when the priest announced the blessing from the pulpit, Elizabeth glanced at the creche, recognized her doll, and, in a fit of rage, her eyes furious, cried out: “Jeanette! Give me back my Jeanette!…her nurse was obliged to carry her out…” —Light, Love, Life 

 


1887–Guite’s Childhood Rememberances of Her Sister "Sabeth"

Boston Carmel_036“She was very lively, and even quick tempered! She went into rages that were terrible!…sometimes so violent that they threatened to send her as a boarder to the Good Shepherd, (a house of correction nearby).” –Elizabeth Still Speaks 


1887–Early Vocation

Canon Isidore Angles, the family friend and Pastor of Saint-Hilaire:

“One evening the two little girls, tired of playing, had begun a childish conversation. By a clever and smart move Elizabeth managed to climb up on my knees. Quickly she leaned over and whispered into my ear; ‘Monsieur Angles, I will be a nun; I want to be a nun! She was, I believe seven…I will always recall her mother’s somewhat irritated exclamation: “What‘s the silly little thing saying?”  Mme. Catez well knew where to find me the next day. Anxiously she asked me if I seriously believed in her vocation. And I answered, the words piercing her soul like a sword; ‘I believe in it!”.  –Light Love, Life      


October 2, 1887

Her father, a retired Captain, died unexpectedly of a heart attack after which the family moved into the town, very close to the Carmel of Dijon. Elizabeth could see the monastery from her window.


April 19, 1891–First Holy Communion and First Visit to Carmel of Dijon

Upon leaving the church, she said to a close friend, “I’m no longer hungry. Jesus has fed me.”

Her mother later testified, “From that day (of her First Communion) and afterwards, no more fits of anger.”

Later that day, in her communion dress, she met with the  Prioress, Mother Marie of Jesus  who explained to her that “Elizabeth”-means “house of God.”  She later gave her a prayer card of the sayings of St. Teresa of Avila with a poem she wrote around the edges of the card:

Your Blessed name  holds a mystery
Fulfilled this great day
Child, your heart, here on earth
Is the House of God of Love

He is My Heaven


1893–Musically Gifted

Boston Carmel_038She studied at the Conservatory in Dijon and won many prizes for her playing.

Sabeth wrote to a little girl nervous at playing in public.

“I shall pray for Madeleine that God may be even in her little fingertips…my secret.  …to forget her audience and imagine she is alone with the Divine Master; then play for Him with all her heart and bring out of her instrument full, yet strong and sweet,  sound. How I used to love doing this!” –Souvenirs


1893–Her Memorare to Saint Elizabeth

Remember, O Saint Elizabeth, my patroness and my heavenly guardian, that I am your little charge; help me in this desert land, and uphold me in my weakness. Give me your virtues, your humility, your sublime charity. Ask God to change my faults into virtues, as He changed the bread you held into roses. Grant me the wings of hope that I may mount to heaven, and receive me yourself at the gate of paradise when God call me to Him. Amen. –Elizabeth Catez, The Praise of Glory


1894–Vocation to Carmel

Elizabeth-13-yeaarsb“When I was about fourteen, one day after receiving Communion, the word `Carmel’ was pronounced in the depth of my soul. From then on I thought only of hiding myself behind its grates.”

A school teacher, Irma Forey, relates her anxiety to obtain her mother’s consent:

“She often said to me weeping: ‘When shall I have the happiness of being in Carmel? But Mama is not willing; I will wait until my mother is resigned.’ ” –Elizabeth Still Speaks


December 8, 1897–Elizabeth‘s Poem #43

For my heart is always with Him
Day and Night it thinks unceasingly
Of its heavenly and divine Friend,
To whom it wants to prove its affection.

Also within it arises this desire:
Not to die, but to suffer long,
To suffer for God, to give Him its life
While praying for poor sinners.

–Light, Love, Life


February 1899–Reads ‘The Way of Perfection’ after a Jesuit Retreat

Boston Carmel_042In her diary she writes,

“When she (Saint Teresa) speaks of contemplation, that stage of prayer when God does everything and we do nothing , when He unites us so intimately to Himself that it is no longer we who live, but God who lives in us, etc. Yes, I recognize in this description those moments of sublime rapture the Master often raised me to during that Retreat and even since then.” –He is My Heaven


March 26, 1899–Her Mother says she may enter Carmel at age 21

Her diary passage that day

“Truly, it must be Mary who has gained this grace for me, for I have never seen her like that before. When I saw the two of the (Mother and Guite) crying for me, I was in a flood of tears, too! Jesus, it must be you calling me, supporting me, it must have been you holding out your arms to those I love so much, otherwise my heart would break…In my tears I feel a calm and immense sweetness. Yes, soon I’ll be able to answer your call. During the next two years I’m going to redouble my efforts to be a bride less worthy of you.” –He is My Heaven


November 1899–Saint Therese’s Influence

St.-Therese-of-the-Child-Jesus-and-the-Holy-FaceAfter reading “The Story of a Soul,” Elizabeth composed her own offering.

“Make me a martyr of your love… Take from me the freedom to displease you…I want to always do your will,  to respond always to your grace. My Master, I want to be a saint for your sake, be you my sanctity, for I know my weakness… May my every heartbeat be a cry of gratitude and love. “ He is My Heaven


August 2, 1901–Elizabeth Enters Carmel

Elizabeth-as-a--Postulantb


A Portion of her Postulant Questionnaire

What is your Ideal for sanctity?
To lIve from love.

What is the quickest way to attain it?
To make oneself as small as possible, to surrender oneself without reserve.

What saint do you love most?
The disciple Jesus loved, who rested his head on Jesus’ breast.

Which part of the Rule speaks most directly to you?
Silence

What is the dominant trait of your character?
Sensitiveness

Your Favorite Virtue?
Purity.  “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

The fault you most abhor?
Egoism in general.

Give a basic definition of prayer.
The union of one who is not with the One who Is.

What is your favorite book?
The soul of Christ—it reveals to me all the secrets of the heavenly Father.

–Two Sisters in the Spirit, Ignatius Press


December 8th, 1901–Receives the Habit ; is Given the Name "Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity"

Boston Carmel_033


June 19, 1902–Letter to Her Friend Francoise de Sourdon

“You must build a little cell in your soul as I do. Remember that God is there and enter it from time to time…when you feel nervous or unhappy,  quickly seek refuge there and tell the Master all about it. Ah, if you got to know Him a little, prayer wouldn’t bore you anymore; to me it seems to be rest, relaxation. We come simply to the One we love, stay close to Him like a little child in the arms of its mother…It is the secret of the life in Carmel: the life of a Carmelite is a communion with God from morning to evening, and from evening to morning. If He did not fill our cells and our cloisters, ah, how empty they would be…”–Letters from Carmel, The Complete Works- Vol 2, Elizabeth of the Trinity      


January 11, 1903–Her Profession on the Feast of the Epiphany

Elizabeth-Profession-(2)bDuring the novitiate Elizabeth went through a long period of profound interior suffering.

She will write the night before her profession:

“I have just seen Our Mother who revealed to me her uneasiness in seeing me make my vows in such a state of soul. Pray for your little one who is full of anguish.“ –Elizabeth Still Speaks


July 1, 1903–First symptoms of Addisons’ Disease: a Rare Adrenal Gland Illness

“In the morning, after the recitation of the Little Hours, I already felt at the end of my strength and wondered how I would last until evening; after Compline my cowardice was extreme…after Matins I was  as powerless as before and without being perceived, thanks to the darkness, I got back to our cell somehow or other, often leaning on the wall.” –Elizabeth Still Speaks


January 25, 1904–The Influence of Saint Paul...Her calling to be Laudem Gloriae...‘A Praise of Glory’

A Praise of glory is a soul of silence that remains like a lyre under the mysterious touch of the Holy Spirit so that He may draw from it divine harmonies…

In a letter to Abbe Chevignard  she writes the following:

“Let us sanctify ourselves for souls, and since we are all members of one body, inasmuch as we have an abundance of divine life, we can communicate it in the great body of the Church. There are two words that sum up for me all apostolate: “Union and Love”.  Ask that I may live that fully, and for that purpose, dwell completely hidden away in the Holy Trinity; you could not wish anything more beautiful for me! …I am praying for very much for you …Let us be , as St. Paul says, “ the praise of His glory”. –Letters from Carmel, The Complete Works- Vol 2, Elizabeth of the Trinity


November 21, 1904–Her Prayer to the Trinity

O my God, Trinity Whom I adore, help me to forget myself entirely that I may be established in You…Give peace to my soul; make it Your Heaven, Your Beloved dwelling, and Your resting place…

The Catechism cites Blessed Elizabeth’s prayer to illustrate the truth that “Even now we are called to be a dwelling for the Most Holy Trinity”: ‘If a anyone loves me,”says the Lord, “they will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them, and make our home with them.” (Jn 14,23)”

This prayer “is not really a prayer of adoration but a petition for the ability to adore…  – Hans Urs von Balthasar Two Sisters in the Spirit

Prayer to The Holy Trinity


March, 1906–Moved to the Infirmary

ELIZ-Last-ShotbThe community found her disposed to offer everything for the church.

“O love! Love! You know how much I love You, how much I desire to contemplate You’ You know too how much I am suffering, nevertheless, thirty or forty years more if You wish it, I am ready. Spend all my substance for Your glory, let it distil drop by drop  for Your Church.” –Poem Circular Letter of Mother Germaine Prioress


September, 1906–The Greatness of Our Vocation

A Spiritual Treatise sent to Francoise de Sourdon

“ I seem to feel myself being destroyed…faith tells me that it is love who is slowly consuming me; then I feel tremendous joy…” –The Complete Works- Vol. 1 Elizabeth of the Trinity


October 28, 1906–Her Mission

”In heaven it will be my task to attract souls by helping them to depart from themselves so they can cling to God in a completely simple and loving movement, to keep them in a great inner silence that permits God to impress Himself on them and to change them into Himself.” –Light, Love, Life   


November 90, 1906–Death

She “longed to die as pure as angel but also transformed into Christ Crucified.”

Her last words:
“I am going to Light, to Love, to Life!”

–Circular Letter of Mother Germaine Prioress


1984–Her Beatification by John Paul ll, On the Feast of Christ the King

In his homily at the beatification, the Pope presented Elizabeth of the Trinity to the Church as one “who led a life ‘hidden with Christ in God’ (Col 3,3),” and as “a brilliant witness to the joy of being ‘rooted and grounded in love’ (Eph 3,17).”


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