This October, 2016 is a month when our Carmelite Order will have the great joy of celebrating the canonization of one more of our Carmelite Nuns. Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity was a contemporary of Saint Therese of Lisieux. Elizabeth Catez spent her religious life in the Carmel of Dijon France and like Therese, died very young and in great holiness. Her special devotion and message is the indwelling of the Holy Trinity in each soul. She will be proclaimed a saint on October 17 two days after the feast of Our Holy Mother, St. Teresa of Jesus.
This year we will not be having a public Mass with blessing of the roses on Saint Therese’s feast, but we hope to resume the custom next year. We will, however, have the spiritual novena in preparation, and we invite you to send us any special intentions you may wish to entrust to Saint Therese’s powerful intercession.
Therese was proclaimed “the greatest saint of modern times”. One might be tempted to ask why she should be given such high praise. She died very young after only a few years in Carmel and appeared to be quite ordinary. Her own sisters in Carmel said when she was dying, “what will we find to say about her?” Since her death, hundreds of thousands of pages have been written about this obscure young woman.
The secret of her importance to the universal Church lies in her understanding and living out of the absolute necessity of “spiritual childhood” in the work of salvation. Jesus said, “unless you turn and become like little children, you shall not enter the Kingdom of God”. Many find this to be a puzzling and much misunderstood pronouncement, but understanding it rightly is essential for every Christian who wants to be a citizen of heaven. Paradoxically, the living of spiritual childhood is the very height of Christian maturity.
In our time in history, the age of secular humanism, the human race has made a declaration of independence from God. The original sin and the mistake which we have all inherited is that we want to set ourselves up independently and be our own god. Every problem facing the world springs from this basic refusal to accept the fact that we are created beings, dependent upon a Creator Who, having made us, knows what will fulfill our nature and bring us the happiness we all desire. Spiritual childhood, simply stated is the acceptance with joy of the truth that everything we are and have is gifted to us by our loving God. The greatest gift which each human being has been given is his or her unique, eternal personhood which is a share in the very life of the Most Blessed Trinity.
May our two young Carmelite saints, Therese and Elizabeth, obtain for each of you, not only the special blessings you ask for in this novena, but above all, whatever graces you may need to become ever more deeply the faith-filled, trusting child of God which you were created to be.