As we enter the month of February when stores are awash with merchandise sporting pinks, reds, and purples, consider that the first boundary of respecting yourself and others is your . . . SKIN. Reflect for a moment what skin does for our bodies. Our dermal layer protects us from dirt, disease, germs, injuries, and invasion by unsafe foreign objects. Essentially, skin keeps the good IN and the bad OUT.
There are many types of love (including non-sexual or erotic love) and expressions of love that reflect the beauty, truth, and goodness of God and his plan for love even in our imperfect and broken world. He created us out of and for love.
During the month of February and the Feast of St. Valentine’s Day, remember your body and every other human’s body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 6: 19-20)
Patron Saint of: Sick Persons, Loss of parents, Against Illness
The eldest child of two girls, Elizabeth Catez was born and baptized on a military base in France to her parents- a self-made decorated military officer Jospeh Catez and his wife Marie Rolland. Following the unexpected death of Jospeh Catez in 1887, Marie Rolland moved her family to the less expensive Dijon, France where Elizabeth studied at the local Conservatory and excelled in music. During her childhood, she displayed a fiery temper and strong-willed temperament which caused her mother even threaten sending her to a house of correction for reform. Despite her strong-willed, fiery disposition Elizabeth was a generous and warmhearted child contrite and loving. When Elizabeth received her First Holy Communion and Confirmation in 1891, she began developing better self-control.
During her adolescence, she developed an ardent devotion to the Blessed Trinity. She visited the sick, sang in her Church choir, and taught religion to children who were factory workers. During one her visits to Carmel in Dijon, the mother superior provided Elizabeth a copy of the “Circular Letter of St. Therese of Lisieux” which was the first edition of what would become The Story of A Soul. This exposure to St. Therese’s writings brought clarity and courage to pursue her vocation. Elizabeth desired to enter the Discalced Caramelite Order and refused multiple offers of marriage. She respected her mother’s wishes and delayed entering Carmel until she was twenty-one years old. She entered Carmel at Dijon on August 2, 1901 and donned her habit December 8, 1901.
The Church and Carmelite communities in France were racked with social upheaval and uncertainty racked with the effects of corruption, scandal, and division. The secular State prepared to take legal action against the Church including the potential confiscation of Church property and the exile of the Carmelite Order from France. While the French Church crumbled into anxiety and confusion, St. Elizabeth witnessed the mystical power of the peace Christ’s presence in a soul could instill. As she explained to her community and friends, “Everything is a sacrament that gives us God.” She believed God was present in the distress. She wrote letters and retreats for her community and friends which emphasized contemplative prayer- loving awareness and silent surrender to the loving gaze of the Father.
St. Elizabeth was influenced and inspired by the writings of St. Therese of Lisieux including her prayer and poem “Offering to Merciful Love” and “Living by Love.” Elizabeth, like Therese, believed in the mystical power of prayer and the salvation of souls. Elizabeth also embraced a “Little Way”- a radical approach to love. “I find Him everywhere while doing the wash as well as while praying.” Or another selection from her writings: “We must be mindful of how God is in us in the most intimate way and go about everything with him. Then life is never banal. Even in ordinary tasks, because you do not live for these things, you will go beyond them.”
St. Elizabeth wrote: “I think that in Heaven my mission will be to draw souls by helping them to go out of themselves in order to cling to God by a wholly simple and loving movement, and to keep them in this great silence within which will allow God to communicate Himself to them and to transform them into Himself.” She practiced a profound devotion of the Blessed Trinity which she referred to as “the furnace of an excessive love.”
As she neared the end of her earthly life, St. Elizabeth referred to herself as Laudem Gloriae or “praise of glory.” On November 9, 1906, at the age of twenty-six, after arduous and painful suffering, St. Elizabeth, the Mystic of Dijon, died of Addison’s disease an adrenal disorder which in the early 20th century no treatment existed. She accepted suffering as a gift from God. Her last words were: “I am going to Light, to Love, to Life!”
Her beatification process started in 1931 and her manuscripts were carefully investigated over the next ten years and approved for her cause for beatification in 1944. October 25, 1961 Pope Saint John XXIII declared her Servant of God. On October 12, 1982 Pope Saint John Paul II declared her Venerable and Beatified her in Paris on November 25, 1984 after the investigation of her first miracle was verified. After a second miracle attributed to the intercession of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity was verified and approved, Pope Francis canonized her on October 16, 2016.