St Thérèse of Lisieux’s ‘spiritual sister’ to be canonised

From the Catholic Herald:


Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, who died in 1906, is likely to be declared a saint this year

Pope Francis has authorised the canonisation of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, a writer and Carmelite nun described as the “sister in the Spirit” of St Thérèse of Lisieux.

The Vatican announced that a second miracle attributed to the prayers of Blessed Elizabeth had been approved by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

The miracle relates to a Belgian woman, Mary-Paul Stevens, who had been suffering from an untreatable disease, Sjögren syndrome.

Stevens was suddenly cured in 2002 after making a pilgrimage to the Carmel at Flaverignot-Dijon in order to give thanks to Blessed Elizabeth for help.

The cure was studied by the archdiocese, as is the norm, with the help of 40 witnesses, including a number of doctors, according to the British Province of Carmelite Friars. It was then submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Elizabeth was born in 1880 and died of Addison’s disease in 1906, five years after entering the Dijon Carmel. She was declared Blessed by Pope St John Paul II in 1984.

She said: “I find Him everywhere, while doing the washing as well as while praying.”

Her everyday spirituality led to frequent comparisons to her fellow Carmelite St Thérèse of Lisieux. The theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote a book-length comparison of the two, Two Sisters in the Spirit: Thérèse of Lisieux and Elizabeth of the Trinity.

Blessed Elizabeth is well-known for her writings on the Trinity and for her prayer “Holy Trinity, Whom I Adore”.

Her spirituality is profoundly contemplative. She wrote: “We shall not be purified by looking at our miseries, but by gazing on him who is all purity and holiness.”

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints also approved a second miracle attributed to Blessed Emmanuel González García, Bishop of Palencia (1877-1940).

The Congregation approved miracles linked to the intercession by two Venerables, Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus (1894-1967), also a Carmelite, and Antonia Maria of St Joseph (1730-99), paving the way to beatification.

Eight Servants of God were declared to have “heroic virtues”, meaning that they will gain the title Venerable.

Blessed Elizabeth is likely to be canonised later in the year. A date is expected to be announced on March 15.

By Mary O’Regan from the Catholic Herald:

Young people bullied for following God’s call could embrace Elizabeth of the Trinity as their patron

Despite the pleas of her mother – and quite a few marriage proposals – Elizabeth refused to abandon her vocation

“She flipped out,” is how one young man described his mother’s reaction after he told her he wanted to be a priest. “She said I could do so much better than be a priest and said her friends would think me abnormal on account of choosing voluntary celibacy.”

Ever conscious of public image, his mother never did give him her blessing, but she continued to go Mass, “so that the neighbours would not think she was lapsed”. Her son never entered seminary.

I heard of another young man who ran away from home to join a very strict religious order – against his parents’ wishes. When his father picked a fight with the head of the religious order, his son said to him that he had to leave their home in order to follow Christ and that Jesus said in the Gospels that a man who could not leave his parents was not worthy to be His disciple.

The two cases above concern men who are contemporary Catholics. Yet Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, whose canonisation has just been announced, would have shared their pain. Elizabeth was born in France in 1880; at the age of 14, she felt an aching hunger in her soul to be a Carmelite nun. But when she was old enough, Elizabeth’s mother strongly objected.

Feeling oppressed, Elizabeth wrote, “When shall I have the happiness of entering Carmel? But mama is not willing, I will wait ’til she is resigned.”  It wasn’t that the monastery was far away – they lived 200 metres from the Discalced Carmelite Community in Dijon. Rather, Elizabeth’s mother was determined that her young and attractive daughter would find a good husband.

Having found the “perfect” man for Elizabeth, she was taken aback when Elizabeth rejected the suitor.  Other men asked Elizabeth to marry them, attracted by her striking good looks. In her heart, however, Elizabeth started putting her religious calling first. “The attraction of Carmel is a force that nothing can hinder.”

It wasn’t as if Elizabeth did not have other options. She was a prize-winning pianist who was considered musically gifted. Finally, when she was 21, a full seven years after first feeling drawn to Carmel, Elizabeth made plans to enter the monastery. But on the very night before she entered, her mother tried to emotionally blackmail her into staying in the world, asking, “Why do you want to leave me?”

Elizabeth responded, “How can I resist the voice of God calling me? He is holding out His arms to me telling me He is despised, scorned, forsaken. Shall I abandon Him as well? He wants my sacrifice.”

For five years, Elizabeth was hidden in Carmel, before Addison’s disease ravaged her health and she went to her eternal reward in 1906. It is thought likely that she will be canonised later this year. In view of her health torments, she is considered a patron of sick people. She could just as well be a champion for young people undergoing a white martyrdom on account of the persecution they face when they even so much as look into religious life.

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