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Day Eight: For the grace of possessing heaven already in this life by faith.
For Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity, the veil between heaven and earth is thin. If we listen carefully with the ear of our heart, we can hear Mary share with us what she heard from Christ as He offered His great hymn of praise from the Cross. It is a canticle so beautiful, so exquisite, it reaches the very heart of the Father and fills the whole world with a salvific love. Through Mary’s presence in our agony, if we let her, Saint Elizabeth explains that the Mother of the Lord will teach us how to sing this same canticle– so that we can do something beautiful for God. She is with us to the very end. This is why Saint Elizabeth calls Mary “Gate of Heaven.”
As beautiful as this is, there are other canticles of praise that Elizabeth invites us to hear. She hears the 144,000 gathered around the throne of the lamb and she hears the elders who cry out “holy, holy, holy” as they cast down their crowns before the Risen Lord. The glory, praise, and silence of the saints echo in this life so that we too might know their joy. Saint Elizabeth wants us to hear this eternal hymn of praise and imitate it. A life lived in humility, simplicity, and recollection avails itself to such imitation – and when it does, heaven becomes present in this life by faith.
By faith, what is in heaven becomes present on earth. In the humble limits of the present moment and circumstances, we can participate in the great praise of glory that the angels and saints offer in heaven.
Heaven is not a remote or future reality. Heaven, even if hidden from our earthly eyes, is close by and present. It is present in the Mass. It is also present in everything – because by faith, everything and anything can become a sacrament that gives us God.
The love of heaven is present to us by faith. This is because faith makes us open to the presence of God dwelling in our souls. Wherever God dwells, there is heaven. The heaven of glory, with all the angels and saints, is present in our soul because this heaven is never separate from God. This means in the heaven of our souls where God dwells, the heaven of glory is already breaking in.
For the person of faith already implicated in the glory of heaven, nothing and no one is ever ordinary or commonplace. Every life event, no matter how small or large, how disappointing or joyful, is always a new opportunity for the soul to encounter the immensity of God’s love. The Trinity’s excessive love changes everything – even the most ordinary tasks become charged with new and everlasting meaning. This means that no one who believes ever really has an “ordinary” life – through faith, this passing life is opened to the greatness of eternity. Time for Saint Elizabeth is nothing other than “eternity begun and still in progress.”
In relation to the grace of living heaven by faith, Saint Elizabeth’s mission finds its footing in the great prayer of Jesus the night before He died. On that night, He offered his supreme prayer and his heart’s desire – that we might dwell where He dwells – the Son of the Father dwells in the Fathers love, and Saint Elizabeth is praying that we might realize Jesus’ divine dream and dwell with Him in this great love too. For this purpose, let us pray:
O My God, Trinity whom I adore, help me to forget myself entirely so as to be established in you as still and as peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity. May nothing be able to disturb my peace, nor make me depart from you, o my Unchanging One, but may each moment carry me further into the depths of your Mystery. Pacify my soul, make it your heaven, your beloved abode, your resting place. May I never leave you there alone, but may I be entirely present, my faith completely ready, wholly adoring, fully surrendered to your creative action.
O my beloved Christ, crucified by love, I would like to be a bride for your heart. I would like to cover you with glory, I would like to love you… unto death. I feel my powerlessness, however, and I ask you to clothe me with yourself, to identify my soul with all the movements of your soul, to defeat me, to overwhelm me, to substitute yourself for me, that my life might be but the radiation of your Life. Come into me as Adorer, as Healer, as Savior. O Eternal Word, Word of my God, I want to spend my life listening to you, I want to be completely docile, ready to learn everything from you. Then, through all nights, all voids, all weakness, I want to fixate on you always and to remain under your great light. O My beloved Star, fascinate me so that I would not be able to forsake your shining light.
O Consuming Flame, Spirit of love, come over me until my soul is render into an incarnation of the Word; may I be for Him another humanity in which he renews His whole Mystery.
And you, O Father, bend over your little creature, cover her with your shadow, and see in her only the Beloved in whom You are well-pleased.
O my Three, my All, my Beatitude, Infinite Solitude, Immensity in which I loose myself, I surrender myself as prey. Bury yourself in me in order that I might bury myself in you, while waiting to contemplate in your light the immeasurable depths of your grandeur.
The Novena to St. Elizabeth of the Trinity is authored by Dr. Anthony Lilles S.T.D.