'In heaven my mission will be to draw souls, helping them to go out of themselves to cling to God by a wholly simple and loving movement and to keep them in that great interior silence which enables God to transform them into Himself’
(Elizabeth of the Trinity)
Today marks 142 years since the birth of Elizabeth Catez in Avord, France. Throughout her short life there were many episodes of sadness and upheaval and yet her focus on 'the fruits' of Carmelite life became the source of great insight and intrigue in the course of her lifetime and beyond.
When we reflect on the young nun within the walls of the Discalced Carmelite Monastery in Dijon, on her writings, her spirituality and commitment to the Order, we are presented with a woman who has undergone a series of personal and emotional ordeals and trials, 'awakenings' perhaps, and one who in the course of a lifetime gleaned a sense of deep trust and direction from her various encounters and experiences and from her resolution in faith and her simple prayerful routine.
'Movement' is a feature of Elizabeth’s writings. And it is worthwhile exploring in a little more detail what she might be referring to when she writes in such a way.
We are constantly in a position of flux, adjusting to family and to social circumstances, learning new facts, storing figures and relevant information, keeping abreast of the demands at work, pursuing our own interests whilst seeking to account for any 'change in the air' along the way. Our bodies naturally can tire, our minds can hurt, our souls can come to long for a genuine break, for some rest or refreshment amidst it all. In Carmelite terms it is there and then that we seek out the 'living water' to help our interior life grow healthy, despite the constant motion and patterns of change that seemingly lock us in.
For Elizabeth, such turbulence and movement contrasts sharply with God’s unchanging and steadfast nature. And much of this flux and fluctuation we experience, she suggests, is in fact born from restlessness and attachment rather than of simplicity, love and understanding. ‘Trinity whom I adore/Help me to forget myself entirely/That I may abide in You', writes Elisabeth. It is in our silence, our humility and forgetfulness, that we are being informed by the Presence of God, and yet paradoxically in that very stillness we are drawn gradually, through such simple devotion, into a closeness to God. A listening heart before all else leads the way of travel.
This is the 'movement' that Elisabeth wants to encourage within all of our lives. The 'movement' that allows a real transformation to become possible , a holistic and radical shift in how we see ourselves, from old 'form' to new 'form', so that our daily life (...our very existence!) is a prayer or petition in itself, sharpened by the consistency of word, of understanding and of behaviour. The soul moves purposefully, embodying the human dimension, emanating a love of God.
Open to transformation, to sensing and to allowing good, restorative and eternal qualities to rise within us, means that we too become aware of this idea of ‘soul movement’ , a powerful journey of discovery, never alone, grasping the mission of Elisabeth and its reality for us as we travel through life valuing simplicity, living with mystery and in a spirit of lasting hope and true peace.
'...nothing is commonplace, we do not live in these things, we go beyond them'