Sr. Thomas Mary, O.P. writes:
The SECRET of MARY and ELIZABETH of the TRINITY
This third Commentary on The Secret of Mary offers us a glimpse of the soul of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity who recognized and assimilated the gifts both of predestination and the Secret of Mary. It will be followed by Commentary IV which will introduce the gift of grace Our Heavenly Mother is giving to us in this New Millennium so that we can enter into and live more deeply our Marian Consecration.
The doctrine of predestination was the leitmotif of the final years of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, a Carmelite nun who died, just one hundred years ago, November 9th, 1906, at the age of twenty-six in Dijon, France. Elizabeth contemplated and absorbed this sublime mystery in the last three years of her life. She welcomed it with faith and in 1904 began to call herself by a new name: "Laudem Gloriae" [Praise of His Glory].
Elizabeth discovered the revealed truth of predestination in the New Testament as her particular calling: the destiny for which she had been baptized and re created in the Mystical Body of Christ "chosen in Him before the foundation of the world" to be simply "a praise of His glory."
Elizabeth understood that the gift of predestination embraced all who had been baptized in Christ Jesus as adopted children of the Father and sealed with the most holy Trinity. Baptism incorporates the soul into this great mystery, as the apostle Paul tells us: "as partakers of the Divine Nature" (2 Pet 1:4), we have received "a beginning of His Being" (Heb 3:14). Therefore, St. Peter urges, "be the more zealous to confirm your call and election, for if you do this you will never fall" (2 Pet 1:10).
How can one hope to be faithful to such a magnificent vocation! St. Louis Marie de Montfort asks and answers this question in the opening chapter of The Secret of Mary:
St. Louis answers:
We cannot know for certain if Blessed Elizabeth had the opportunity to read The Secret of Mary by St. Louis Marie De Montfort but her life and writings reveal that she surely had found Mary and the spirit of True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary as taught by St. Louis. It was Mary to whom she turned for help in entering Carmel. In her Diary she writes, "O, Mary, I thank you!" Concerning her own mother's gradual acceptance of her vocation, she exclaims, "It is wonderful. It is a miracle obtained by Mary." She often prayed to Mary for miracles of grace in behalf of souls. When offering herself as a victim to her Lord, she prays, "Mary, my dear Mother, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, offer me to Jesus; give me to Him." And again, "Mary, my beloved Mother, help me to become a saint." Upon leaving the Carmelite parlor, she tells us, she went to chapel and "at the Lady Altar, I consecrated myself anew to my Blessed Mother. May she keep me pure and preserve from the slightest stain this heart that belongs only to her Son!"
During her short years in Carmel, Elizabeth strove to "confirm her call and election" by a total dependance on her heavenly Mother this is the key interior practice of The Secret of Mary. In a letter to her sister Guite, she writes:
The writings of Blessed Elizabeth are strewn with prayer, praise and thanks to the Mother of God. Just before her Last Retreat, August 14th, 1906, and three months before her death, she writes to her former Prioress at the time of her entrance into Carmel, "I leave with the Blessed Virgin on the eve of her Assumption to prepare myself for eternal life. . . . On the eighth of December, if the Blessed Virgin sees that I am ready, she will clothe me in her mantle of glory."
Although the mystery of the Trinity was her constant meditation, "during the silence of a sleepless night, Sister Elizabeth heard within her interior a sweet reproach of the Virgin that she was forgetting to think of her. Sr. Elizabeth recognized this correction saying humbly: 'Es cierto' [it is true]. From then on she never abandoned the image of the Virgin of Lourdes whom she called Janua coeli. She carried her with her even when she absented herself from the infirmary."
In her spiritual insights of those retreat days, she writes:
This is the unspeakable "secret" that she [Mary] kept in mind and "pondered in her heart" which no tongue can tell or pen describe! This Mother of Grace will form [mold] my soul so that her little child will be a living, "striking" image of her first born, the Son of the Eternal, He who was the perfect praise of His Father's glory.
Elizabeth gazed continually at the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Heart of the most holy Virgin who "responded fully to the divine election." She continues:
John Paul II opened his encyclical, Redemptoris Mater [Mother of the redeemer], with the same passage from Ephesians that so enlarged the mind and heart of Elizabeth. He teaches us that these words of the Letter of St. Paul reveal the eternal design of the Father. In speaking of the election of Mary, John Paul II introduces the message the Angel brought to her in the Annunciation: "Hail Full of Grace, the Lord is with you" (Lk 1:28). The angel greets Mary as "full of grace" indicating all the "supernatural munificence" poured out upon her (RM #7,8,9).
He writes that "in the soul of this 'daughter of Sion' there is manifested, in a sense, all the 'glory of grace,' that grace which 'the Father . . . has given us in His beloved Son'." In Scripture "'grace' means a special gift," a sharing in the Divine Love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the fruit of which is “the election," or predestination, "of which the Letter to the Ephesians speaks. . . . The effect of this eternal gift, of man's election by God, is like a seed of holiness, or a spring which rises in the soul as a gift from God himself, who through grace gives life and holiness to those who are chosen" (RM #8,9).
Our Heavenly Father wishes to extend to all His sons and daughters this "spiritual blessing" and sharing in supernatural life. John Paul II continues:
Because Mary has been elected and uniquely predestined from the foundation of the world to be the Mother of Christ, her place in the mystery of Christ is also singular and unique (RM) #9). She is the Mother of Grace and the Mediatrix of All Grace poured out upon the souls of her children. Therefore to reach the heights of holiness to which we are called: "IL FAUT TROUVER MARIE" [we must find Mary] (SM #6).
To be continued
1. For a study of the doctrine of predestination in the life of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity see Hans Urs Von Balthasar, Elizabeth of Dijon, trans. & adapted A. V. Littledale (New York: Pantheon Books, 1956) pp. 21 51. For another translation of the same study see Hans Urs Von Balthasar, Two Sisters in the Spirit, trans. Dennis Martin (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1970) pp. 385 412.
2. See Commentary I, "The Secret of Mary," n. 2 for abbreviations in references.
3. These few excepts from Elizabeth's writings can be found in: Reminiscences of Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity, trans. a Benedictine of Stanbrook Abbey (Md.: Westminster, 1952).
4. Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity, I Have Found God, Complete Works, vol. II, trans. Anne Englund Nash (Washington, DC: ICS Publications, 1995), pp. 304 05.
5. Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity, I Have Found God, Complete Works, vol. I, trans. Aletheia Kane, OCD (Washington, DC: ICS Publications, 1982), p. 131.
6. Sor Isabel De La Trinidad, Obras Completas 6, trans. privately, Burgos (Editorial "Monte Carmelo"), p. 739.
7. Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity, Complete Works, vol. I, p. 141. See also The Secret of Mary nos. 16, 17, 18 in which St Louis, following St. Augustine, presents Mary as "the great 'mold' of God, made by the Holy Spirit, . . . Whoever is cast in it and allows himself to be molded, receives all the features of Jesus Christ, true God. The work is done gently, . . . in a sure manner, free from all illusion, for where Mary is the devil has never had, and never will have, access; . . ." See also Our Lady's Message of Mercy to the World, wherein Mary invites her children to pray to her so that she can "mold" them, and keep them safe from the clutches of her Adversary who thinks only on how to destroy them. (Whitstable: England, Oyster Press, 2001), p. 87.
8. Ibid., pp. 160 161.
9. Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, [Mother of the Redeemer]. Encyclical Letter on the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Life of the Pilgrim Church, Vatican trans. (Boston: Daughters of St Paul, March 25, 1987). Abbreviation in references: RM.
10. John Paul II may have had this "spiritual blessing" in mind when he spoke of a "new and divine holiness with which the Holy Spirit wishes to enrich Christians at the dawn of the third millennium." so as to "make Christ the heart of the world" (John Paul II, "Letter on the Centenary of the Rogationist Fathers," L'Osservatore Romano, July 9th, 1997, p. 3.
The John Paul II Institute of Christian Spirituality has presented Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity
as one of the heralds of "the '"new and divine" holiness"' of which St. Louis De Montfort has
written in his True Devotion to Mary." See True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, nos. 47 50. See Hugh Owen, "New and Divine": The Holiness of the Third Christian Millennium,
John Paul II Institute of Christian Spirituality (P.O. Box 798, Woodstock, Va. 22664), p. 94.