Today in Rome Pope Francis has canonized Elizabeth Catez, also known as Elizabeth of the Trinity, a discalced Carmelite nun who lived in Dijon almost contemporaneously with Thérèse in Lisieux. Of course, Elizabeth, who is a favourite of myself and I’m sure many others on this blog, has been a saint for a long time now. The papal action only confirms to us that which God and all the blessed already know: this young girl from Côte-d’Or, so firm and steely in her resolutions and so gradually overcome by a gentle transfiguration of her determined eyes, sees “her Three” face to face and is a model of virtue and learning. But it is nice to have the confirmation. Today Elizabeth is a saint.
But perhaps more importantly, she wants us to be, or become, saints today also. This young woman was so determined in all that she did, she wishes to bind us, too, to the determination of love which Christ and her beloved Saint Paul taught us. So I want to make a post about this.
In her Last Retreat, the new saint comments on a great passage of the apostle (Eph 4:22–24):
You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Voilà the path traced out. All that is needed is to dispossess oneself to walk thereon as God intends.
That is it. Only one thing is necessary (cf. Lk 10:42). But what a thing it is! If we are detached and dispossessed (in the will, not just materially), God will take those chasms in our will and knowledge and fill them with himself – that is, fill them with faith, hope, and charity. That is the “new and living way” (Heb 10:20), “the way” (Jn 14:6), who is Christ Jesus, the Crucified One who nonetheless saw the Father face to face.
How little we have to put in practice – but yet, also how much. In just a few words, the new saint captures the heart of the Christian religion.
Today’s is the most significant canonization for me, personally, since I became Catholic. I am so pleased and so ready to celebrate it. But at the same time, the country that I live in has entered a deep and prolonged period of mourning (due to the recent passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, whom Thais regard perhaps more as a father than a king). So even when God gives, he also asks us to suffer (sometimes together, in compassion, with our neighbours). Suffering exists abundantly in this life, though it takes on new meaning in faith. It is a truth that, I think, Saint Elizabeth Catez would not mind us being reminded of.