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Reasons to Love Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

alec vanderboom

This is my new BFF! (Thankfully there are no jealously in heaven because I currently have those cheesy "best friends forever" necklaces traded with Teresa of Avila, Therese of Lisieux, Mary Magdalene and now Elizabeth of the Trinity. I only ADD new saint buddies to my entourage, I never delete them!)

When your close you can call her "Sabeth", as in "eli-Zabeth"-- her childhood nickname.

She's a new Blessed (the step before becoming a recognized Saint) recently recognized by our buddy Blessed John Paul the Great. (Did you know that JP II was a Third Order Carmelite like me!!! Seriously! He made us like a THOUSAND Carmelite Saints during his time as pope. I love it because our Carmelite Saints basically never "did anything." Most of them sat around, loved God, barely wrote a scribble, and died young. I sort of feel like "it takes a Carmelite to recognize a Carmelite" so I'm glad he fast tracked a bunch of new Carmelite Saints for us.)

She is a contemporary Carmelite of Therese of Lisieux. They are both French nuns from basically the same geographical area. Elizabeth received "the Story of a Soul" during her novitiate (when it was not yet widely available) and was very much impacted by St. Therese's "little way."

Here is the thing, Blessed Elizabeth is ACTUALLY cooler as a saint for those of us "in the world." My retreat master described her as "a post-modern saint, as compared to St. Therese who was a modern saint." Blessed Elizabeth's theology foreshadowed the Vatican Two Council which placed equal value on all the sacraments. In other words, while St. Therese is begging God to let her Sister come into the convent since "there is nothing good in the World." Blessed Elizabeth is thanking God for her Sister's marriage. She believed that Marriage and Religious Life (being a Nun) were both equally valued paths to reach God. One wasn't better than the other.

So when Elizabeth wrote to her friends who were "in the world" she wrote with friendliness and dignity. She assumed that the insights that she gained in Carmel were of equal validity to her friends lives outside the convent.

Elizabeth knew that her Sister's life as a married woman with many children was different from her life as a cloistered Carmelite nun--but she believed whole heartedly that they could have the same intimate experience of God in their every day life.

It's very inspiring to read Elizabeth. She wrote intimate letters to her Sister, her Mother and her friends. When you read her letters its easy to imagine her as your trusted Sister, your holy daughter or your dear friend. She frets about teething babies, and a niece's sore finger. In fact there is a super fun letter written basically on her deathbed where she writes for 3 pages about the wonderful delights of spiritual union with God, and then abruptly says "So happy your daughter's finger is healing nicely." Because that is typical of my bff Elizabeth. Completely in rapture with the highest part of heaven and also intimately grounded with the little joys in the midst of the "daily grind" of life on earth.

I find her inspiring.

Oh and it helps that she has my sensitive personality. She was a natural chatterbox who feel deeply in love with Silence. And she had terrible temper tantrums that she learned to control only through grace.

Of course, 'Sabeth made a complete transformation of her natural sins by her First Confession at age 11 and I'm still very much "the old Abby" at age 36. But I feel encouraged that there is a saint who "gets me" and that piety can come, even to those who are not naturally "peaceable, still or quiet."

If you'd like to read Elizabeth's letters (which I affectionately call "her 1905 blog") you can order it here.