When Elizabeth of the Trinity had only three months of life to live, she was ordered to write on her retreat towards death. Part of this treatise created in the throes of pain and suffering, was a section for her sister, Guite, who was married and had two children at the time.
Elizabeth wrote that the life of the contemplative formed the call of all Catholics, as I have noted in the long perfection series, using the Doctors of the Church and Garrigou-Lagrange.
But, the key to being open to the graces of both active and passive contemplation, as explained by Elizabeth, in keeping with those great saints who went before her, is the key of death to the self.
Here are some bullet points from one of Elizabeth's treatises.
- All are called to be in union with Christ.
- But, this involves a stripping of all things, people, attachments, as well as a withdrawal from all things.
- Even though one is married with children, one must learn to live in a solitude during the day, to forget the self, even in the midst of the cares of the world.
- Becoming perfect must accompany this solitude, this yearning for God in love and the yearning for perfection.
- Finding heaven on earth can only happen through the acceptance of self-forgetfulness.
- This finding of heaven has nothing to do with consolations, either in prayer or in life.
- Quoting St. John of the Cross, Elizabeth writes that the Kingdom of God is within one, in a place beyond the temptings of the world and the devil.
- One's will must be in perfect harmony with the will of God, and as long as one has "fancies" contrary to God's will, one cannot grow in either love or holiness.
- Purification must be part of prayer and the choices of daily life.
- To attain union with God, the soul must be "entirely surrendered" and the will"must be calmly lost in God's will."
- Simplicity of intention means that one seeks God alone, and not anything or anyone else.
- One must desire the likeness of God. "Without the likeness which comes from grace, eternal damnation awaits us."
- As we are made in the image and likeness of God, the image of God must be the focus of the imagination, memory and reason, (notice--the emotions do not count, period).
All of these points, and there are more, refer back to the long perfection series as well as to the mini-series on Elizabeth of the Trinity.
Remember this simple chart to union with God:
First step: orthodoxy
Second step: oral prayer; surrendering the will
Third step: meditation, which is the beginning of mental prayer--based on Scripture and life of Christ
Fourth step: dark night of the senses-beginning of purgation
Fifth step: dark night of the soul-continuation of purgation, including demise of the predominant fault
Sixth step: active or acquired contemplation-during purgation and into the illuminative state
Seventh step: illuminative state
Eighth step: infused contemplation
Ninth step: union.
Follow the tags. Go back and read Garrigou-Lagrange again and again and again...definitions are important.