I shall try and type, but it hurts.
Moving on to Elizabeth of the Trinity, I am asked again and again, why is it that one must go to the single, celibate saints for examples.
Three simple reasons. One, lay saints rarely wrote down their thoughts--if and when Raissa and Jacques Maritain are canonized, we can finally say we have lay saints who wrote copiously on the spiritual life. And, of course, they are unusual, as they had a Josephite marriage almost from the beginning, as a young couple deciding on this path.
Two, most lay saints lack the framework of rules, such as the Dominican, Ignatian or Benedictine rules of the orders with which to form a vocabulary for writing about prayer.
Three, many lay saints never wrote about anything. We have some letters from a few, but for the most part, the active life does not lend itself to putting pen on paper for most people in the lay life.
Also, many lay saints became oblates or tertiaries, and, therefore, used the spirituality of those orders to which they joined themselves for frameworks of prayer.
Therefore, I think that looking at these great saints of prayer who have written about the levels of prayer can help us pick and choose spiritualities which give us a daily framework of prayer.
Elizabeth of the Trinity, under the spotlight already this year on this blog, died at 26. Thankfully, her prioress recognize early on that this young nun was a saint and the Carmelite was allowed, and encouraged to write. Of course, we have the writings of St. Therese of Lisieux, and the great Teresa, revealing a tendency in the Carmelites for knowing the value of sharing biographies, essays, poems and so forth. We have many writings of Edith Stein.
Elizabeth wrote quite a bit for an extremely ill young person. In this short post, I want to outline a few points of her prayer life which can be applied to the lay person attempting to love God in prayer times.
- Elizabeth's hidden life, one she stressed as vitally important for a relationship with the -Bridegroom Christ, applies to many lay lives. Stay-at-home mums live mostly hidden lives. Even dads who work have hidden spiritual lives. Students, who spend, hopefully, much time in study and reflection, should develop, as the growth in prayer is connected with study, time and manners of praying. The hidden life is a humble life, and Elizabeth reminds us over and over that humility draws Christ to the simple, lowly soul.
- Order and silence, a repeated theme here, are absolutely necessary for developing a prayer life. Too many lay people cloud their minds with trivia, nonsense, gossip. God waits for us all to slow down, simplify and wait on him. Elizabeth as a contemplative reminds us over and over to spend time in simple silence waiting for God.
- Poverty is a gift, Period. STS once told me that he was grateful that he grew up poor as it was easier for him to concentrate on the good stuff of God as he had learned, out of necessity, a high level of detachment from things. The young Carmelite told her mother, who had a hard time detaching herself from her daughter, that such partings, as going into the convent, and then dying young, both God's will, were elements of the process of detachment. Just before she died, Elizabeth realized that is was much harder for her mother to let go, than herself, as Elizabeth was looking forward to being with Jesus, the Bridegroom. She welcomed her suffering and death. Lay people can embrace the suffering brought about by family traumas of all sorts, and come to the same detachment from persons, places, and things.
- Nothing matters but love, the love of Christ, the love for Christ, the love for the Church, the love for one's neighbor. Elizabeth sang of love her entire short life, showing us the intimacy possible for everyone with Christ.
Sadly, I am nursing now two wounds from two separate accidental domestic happenings, and must stop typing. Please pray for me.
More on Elizabeth later....