Monday, May 31, 2010

Bl. Elizabeth, mystic of the indwelling 天主臨居人靈

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Yesterday (May 30), we celebrated the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity. The Triune God dwells in the souls of the baptized. Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity (1880-1906) was a young Carmelite mystic who bore witness to the indwelling of God. She was called “the prophet of the presence of God” and “the saint of the divine indwelling.”

 

‘House of God’

Elizabeth was born into a military environment. Both her maternal grandfather and her father were soldiers. Elizabeth herself had a fiery temperament and a will of iron. Her outbursts of anger seemed to be out of control. She was described as a “pure devil,” and the priest who prepared her for her First Communion said, “With her temperament, Elizabeth Catez will be either a saint or a demon.”

In 1887 Elizabeth received the sacrament of penance for the first time. She determined to overcome her violent temper, and promised her mother that she would strive to be the very model of a “sweet, patient, and obedient” daughter. Overcoming temper would be a long struggle which would last for years.

In 1891, Elizabeth received her First Communion. On the afternoon of her First Communion Day, Elizabeth encountered the prioress of the Carmel of Dijon, who explained to her that the name Elizabeth means “house of God.”

Elizabeth was deeply aware of “the Beloved of the Eucharist” Who had made in her His dwelling place. She desired to return love for love by the continuous struggles against her fiery temperament. Her mother later testified, “From that day (of her First Communion) and afterwards, no more fits of anger.”

When she was 18, Elizabeth spoke to a priest about her interior life: her need for silence and recollection, and her sense of “being dwelt in.” The priest explained to her the indwelling of the Holy Trinity in the soul of the baptized.

This doctrine of “indwelling” left a deep impression on Elizabeth, and became the core of her spiritual life. The priest later wrote, “I saw her borne away as on a tidal wave.”

 

Ascent to Mount Carmel

At 14, Elizabeth had already decided to become a Carmelite nun, but her mother opposed the idea. Eventually her mother agreed to her entry into Carmel, but required her to wait until her 21st birthday.

As she was waiting to enter Carmel, Elizabeth led a life of a typical young lay woman. She sang at two choirs in her parish and prepared children for First Communion. She taught catechism to a group of difficult children who worked in factories. She took part joyously in social activities such as horseback riding, playing tennis, and dancing. She entertained others with her exceptional piano skill.

Amid all these activities, however, her heart was set on God and on Carmel.

Before her entry into Carmel, Elizabeth studied the writings of St. Teresa of Avila and St. Therese of Lisieux. She became an enthusiastic follower of the “Little Way” of St. Therese.

Finally, in 1901, Elizabeth entered Carmel, and received the religious name “Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity.” She was very happy in religious life, and she spent herself all day in saving souls by means of prayer and silent immolation.

Realized herself as a spouse of Christ, she longed to be immolated with Christ through suffering. God fulfilled her desire by allowing her to experience months of suffering from Addison’s disease. She suffered with great peace and patience. Her last wish was “to die not only as pure as an angel, but transformed into Jesus Crucified.”

Before her death Nov. 9, 1906, Sister Elizabeth said, “In heaven I believe that my mission will be to draw souls to interior recollection, by helping them to renounce self in order to adhere to God in all simplicity and love; to maintain them in that profound interior silence which allows God to imprint Himself upon them and to transform them into Himself.”

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昨天(五月三十日),我們慶祝了天主聖三的節日,而天主聖三臨居於受洗者的靈魂。真福聖三.依撒伯爾Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity (1880-1906) 是聖衣會的一位年青隱修女,見證天主臨居在人的靈魂;所以,她被稱為「天主臨在的使者」,又被譽為「天主臨居的聖人」。

 

天主的居所

依撒伯爾生於軍戎世家,外祖父和父親都屬軍界。她年幼時脾氣暴燥,一發不可收拾,兼且性格極其倔强,人們稱 她為「小魔鬼」。輔導她初領聖體的神父指出:「依撒伯爾.嘉娣Elizabeth Catez這般脾性,將來她做不成聖人就會是魔鬼。」

一八八七年,依撒伯爾初辦聖功(告解),立志改善自己的脾氣;她答應母親要做一個「溫柔、忍耐和聽命」的女 兒。依撒伯爾確實費了很大的努力,經過多年的爭扎, 始能兌現她的承諾。

一八九一年,依撒伯爾在初領聖體的一天,聖衣會女院長給她說:「依撒伯爾這個名字,是『天主居所』的意 思。」

依撒伯爾十分明白她要作「至愛聖體」的居所,故更堅決要克制自己的脾氣,以回報基督的愛---以愛還愛。她 的母親說:「自她初領聖體的那一天,再不見到依撒伯爾發脾氣了。」

十八歲那一年,依撒伯爾向神父表達她的內修: 比如她對靜默與靈修的渴望,和她內心那强烈的臨在感覺。當神父解釋天主聖三確實把受洗者的靈魂作為居所的道理時,她的感受更為深切,並以此作為自己神修生 活的中心。神父其後寫道:「她好像被(這端道理的)巨浪捲去了。」

 

登上嘉爾默羅山

福女早在十四歲時,表達要當聖衣會隱修女的意願,但遭母親反對; 後來母親見她意志堅定, 便答應讓她到二十一歲時自行決定。依撒伯爾朝着這意願去過熱心平信徒的生活:她參加了堂區兩組的聖詠團、幫助兒童初領聖體、向工厰頑劣的童工講授要理。另 外,在她活躍的社交,包括騎馬、打網球、跳舞、鋼琴表演等,依撒伯爾仍常心繫天主、心繫聖衣會。

依撒伯爾加入聖衣會前,細讀了聖女大德蘭和聖女小德蘭的箸作,而特別對小德蘭的「從小事中成聖」主張,甚感 興趣, 成為她的熱切追隨者。

一九零一年,依撒伯爾終得償願,加入嘉爾默羅聖衣會,取名為「聖三依撒伯爾」修女:隱修生活極其愉快,她整 天為人靈的得救作祈禱和犧牲。

作為基督的淨配,依撒伯爾嚮往與基督一起受苦犧牲。果然,艾迪生病疫Addison’s disease使她痛苦難堪,但她以平安及忍耐去承受。她的遺願是:「我不但要死時像個純潔的天使,也要轉化為被釘的耶穌。」

依撒伯爾修女於一九零六年十一月九日逝世。她說:「我相信我在天堂上的使命是要把世人的靈魂,誘導到內在的 收心,幫助他們棄絕自己,好能以純真和愛與天主相伴;在內心的靜默中,讓天主烙印在他們的心坎裏、轉化他們。」

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This article was published on The B.C. Catholic (May 31 issue, Pax Sinica column)