Heaven on Earth

Holiness is not something that we will get to someday. We are called to holiness today by living life for the sake of Heaven day by day.

We have a tendency to be hobbits, elves, or dwarfs—and all in the worst ways. As hobbits, we love to forget about the greatness we are called to and just enjoy the simple delights of daily life. As elves, we live for some distant future, life in Heaven, without taking any action towards it, as ages of opportunity come and go. As dwarves, we think that once we get to that next point in life we will then be able to act as we ought (e.g., when I am married, when I have this job, when I am ordained, when I get my degree—then I will be happy and able to focus on being holy).

These are all lies. The worst lies of the devil are not always those that convince us to do evil; the worst lies can also be those that dissuade us from doing good.

What we really need is an understanding of how to be holy every day and to strive every day for greater holiness.

Yesterday, in the canonization of SAINT Elizabeth of the Trinity, the Church gave us a perfect example of how we are to live for holiness wherever (and whenever) we are.

Elizabeth Catez was born in France in 1880. From a young age, she was clearly a very vivacious girl with a strong will. With the help of her mother’s gentle instruction, Elizabeth gradually learned to overcome her own will and to live vivaciously for Christ. At an early age, she showed some skill at the piano and soon became an excellent pianist. She was a delight to her friends, always pleasant to be around and present to those around her. Though to all outward appearance Elizabeth was living a normal life, she devoted herself every day to living for God.  When she was only seven years old, she recognized in her heart a fledgling desire to be a nun long before she fully understood what that meant. 

In her early teenage years, she expressed to her mother a desire to enter the Carmel at Dijon. Her mother made it quite clear that she needed to wait in order to test that vocation and be sure of its veracity.

And so she did. She continued to play the piano and spend time with friends, among whom she was very popular. Her vivacity and passion for goodness, not to mention her impeccable taste in fashion, made her a delight to be around. Indeed, one of her biographers wrote that the summer before she entered, “her sweet and gracious manners led no one to suspect that she was about to enter the cloister” (Dijon Carmel, The Praise of Glory). And yet she was living her life entirely for God.

When she at long-last entered Carmel, the desire of her heart finally fulfilled, she received the name Sr. Elizabeth of the Trinity and sought to understand what this meant for her life. What she concluded was that she as Elizabeth was to live as a House of God the Trinity, in praise of His glory. She wrote many letters, in which she sketched out a beautiful theology of the indwelling of the Trinity in the hearts of believers. She wrote, “It seems to me that I have found my Heaven on earth, since Heaven is God and God is in my soul” (Letter 122).

St. Elizabeth came to understand the profound presence of the Holy Trinity in our baptized souls and realized that living with Him every day can extend to all the tasks of everyday life. God is not calling you to be holy only in the distant future, when you are married or ordained or engaged or whatever. God is calling you to dwell with Him and live for Him now. Not only that, but by His dwelling with you, He is giving the grace to live a holy life today, and you have only to cooperate with His grace to carry out His plan for your perfect happiness.

How will you respond?

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, image of the Indwelling of the Holy Trinity, pray for us!

Image: Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P., Eucharistic Adoration in the Bivouac (used with permission)

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Br. Joseph Bernard Marie Graziano, the eldest of three children, was born and raised in the state of New Hampshire. He received his BA in philosophy and theology from Providence College in 2014 and joined the Order immediately after graduating. On DominicanFriars.org