In mental prayer, the soul is purified from its sins, nourished with charity, confirmed in faith, and strengthened in hope; the mind expands, the affectiond dilate, the heart is purified, truth becomes evident; temptation is conquered, sadness dispelled; the senses are renovated; the drooping powers revive; tepidity ceases; the rust of vices disappears. Out of mental prayer issue forth, like living sparks, thode desires of heaven which the soul conceives when inflamed with the fire of divine love. Sublime is the excellence of mental prayer, great are its privileges; to mental prayer heaven is opened; to mental prayer heavenly secrets are manifested and the ear of God is ever attentive.
Saint Peter of Alcantara
The soul, putting on what is divine, is, as it were, transformed and changed into God, as iron placed in the furnace receives the form of fire and is changed into fire… So the soul was cold before, but now it has become all inflamed; it was in darkness before, but now it shines; it was hard before, but now it has become soft. Its entire being takes on a celestial aspect, because its essence is all penetrated by the divine essence.
Louis de Blois OSB (1506–1566)
I wish everyone could understand the great grace that God, in his mercy, sends when he sends suffering, especially suffering devoid of consolation. Then, indeed, we’re purified like gold in the furnace. Without knowing, we become radiant and set free to fly to our Good, to a blessed transformation. We carry the cross with Jesus and don’t know it.
Saint Paul of the Cross
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.
A detached man must be unformed from the forms and images of creatures; he must be formed upon Christ and transformed into the Godhead.
Blessed Henry Suso (1300–1366)