The first time I heard the call to be a Bride of Christ, I was taking a year off from college and I went to a Catholic conference, which hosted at least 10,000 or more Catholic students, from different colleges from all over America. My best friend, at the time, and I went to basically every talk together, but there was one I attended alone and I see now there was a reason for that. It was a talk on the lives of saints given by a religious Sister; she was young and beautiful, that struck me. I never saw the draw of why one becomes a nun. I saw the Sound of Music and Audrey Hepburn’s Nun Story, and how depressing! It was one thing to be a missionary sister, but a cloistered nun? You either have to be “shy as can be, no personality or can’t find a husband”, were my initial thoughts on the matter.
She had a slide show of saints and we landed upon a Blessed (now Saint) Elizabeth of the Trinity. She became a Carmelite nun who died at age twenty-six. I had never heard of her, but what fascinated me was her life before Carmel. She was a talented piano player, was very lively and had many friends. She was a different person in front of the Blessed Sacrament, however. The Elizabeth in prayer was a sight to be seen; it was as if everything around her vanished and it was just her and God. Her very name means “house”, which actually sums up her life in a nutshell; more on that later. The next picture of her shown, she had her hair up in a bun and the expression on her face was….angelic. As that picture was on the screen, the Sister giving the conference went on to say how Elizabeth wanted to give her life as a chaste virgin as Christ’s bride. I began to grow uneasy, “why am I feeling drawn to this?” Elizabeth’s mother would not have it, so she made her attend all these military balls to get her married. The words she said next I still remember crystal clear; one of the men told Elizabeth’s mother:
Look at her face….she is already taken.
At that moment the tears came, and I cried and cried. I also hoped that nobody around noticed, good thing I was alone with a room full of total stangers. How embarrassing, though, “hold yourself together!”. I knew at that moment, I could not ignore Christ any longer or His “call”, but I did. And I ignored it for another six months until I opened Saint Faustina’s Diary, and the quote I read by Our Lord just “happened” to say, How long will you keep putting me off? And how long must I put up with you? Elizabeth was the first saint and Carmelite who helped me see that and I will never forget it. The life of a Carmelite is not a walk in the park, but nothing is as a Catholic. We are not in heaven yet, but the life of a nun NEVER appealed to me, until I realized one should only become a nun, when they want to give ALL to God as their Spouse.
This was Elizabeth’s prayer to the Most Holy Trinity, we sang it as a harmony in Carmel and these words are proof that nothing but love and love alone, reign in the heart of a Carmelite:
O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me to forget myself entirely that I may be established in you as still and as peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity.
May nothing trouble my peace or make me leave You, O my Unchanging One, but may each minute carry me further into the depths of Your Mystery.
Give peace to my soul; make it Your Heaven, Your beloved dwelling and Your resting place. May I never leave You there alone but be wholly present, my faith wholly vigilant, wholly adoring, and wholly surrendered to Your creative Action.
O my beloved Christ, crucified by love, I wish to be a bride for Your Heart; I wish to cover You with glory; I wish to love You… even unto death!
But I feel my weakness, and I ask You to clothe me with Yourself, to identify my soul with all the movements of Your Soul, to overwhelm me, to possess me, to substitute Yourself for me that my life may be but a radiance of Your Life. Come into me as Adorer, as Restorer, as Savior.
O Eternal Word, Word of my God, I want to spend my life in listening to You, to become wholly teachable that I may learn all from You. Then, through all nights, all voids, all helplessness, I want to gaze on You always and remain in Your great light. O my beloved Star, so fascinate me that I may not withdraw from Your radiance.
O consuming Fire, Spirit of Love, come upon me, and create in my soul a kind of incarnation of the Word: that I may be another humanity for Him in which He can renew His whole Mystery.
And You, O Father, bend lovingly over Your poor little creature; cover her with Your shadow seeing in her only the “Beloved in whom You are well pleased.” (Mt. 17:5)
O my Three, my All, my Beatitude, infinite Solitude, Immensity in which I lose myself, I surrender myself to You as Your prey. Bury Yourself in me that I may bury myself in You until I depart to contemplate in Your light the abyss of Your greatness.
Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity (Discalced Carmelite)
Do you see now, why her name meaning “house”, was her whole life? She wanted to be nothing but a home for the Blessed Trinity, to come into her soul, and dwell as if in a house. Another tabernacle! “The Three”, as she so tenderly called them; one can only have such a loving nickname after having centered her whole being on getting to know them. We give nicknames to those we know and love. I have often heard that the names we are given can be symbolic of what we are called to. I think we are all called to be tabernacles for Our Lady and the Trinity. I hope Elizabeth helped you see that through this post, the way she did for me those six years ago.