Thursday, May 09, 2013

The Greatness of our Vocation

by Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity

"I want to answer your questions.  Let's treat humility first; I have read some splendid pages on it in the book I spoke to you about.  The pious author says that nothing can disturb the humble.  He possesses invincible peace for he has plunged into such an abyss that no one would go that far to look for him.  He also says that the humble person finds his greatest pleasure in life in feeling his own weakness before God....Pride is not something that is destroyed with one good blow of the sword! Doubtless, certain heroic acts of humility, such as we read of in the lives of the saints, give it, if not a mortal blow, at least one that considerably weakens it; but without that grace we must put it to death each day! "Quotide morior" exclaimed St. Paul, "I die daily!"  .. This doctrine of dying to self is the law for every Christian, for Christ said: "If anyone wants to follow Me, let him take up his cross and deny himself."  But this doctrine which seems so austere, takes on a delightful sweetness when we consider the outcome of this death- life in God in place of our life of sin and misery.  That is what St. Paul meant when he wrote: "Strip off the old man and clothe yourselves anew in the image of Him who created you."  This image is God Himself.  Do you recall His wish which He so clearly expressed on the day of creation: "Let us make man in our image and likeness"? Oh! you see, if we would think more of the origin of our soul things here below would seem so childish that we have only contempt for them.  St Peter writes in one of his epistles that "we have been made sharers in His divine nature."  And St. Paul recommends that "we hold firm to the end this beginning of His existence which He has given us."
It seems to me the soul that is aware of its greatness enters into that "holy freedom of the children of God" of which the Apostle speaks, that is, it transcends all things, including self.  If anyone were to ask me the secret of happiness, I would say it is to no longer think of self, to deny oneself always.  That is a good way to kill pride: let it starve to death!  You see, pride is love of ourselves; well, love of God must be so strong that it extinguishes all our self-love.  St. Augustine says we have two cities within us, the city of God and the city of SELF.  To the extent that the first increases, the second will be destroyed.  A soul that lives by faith in God's presence, that has this "single eye" that Christ speaks of in the Gospel, that is, a purity of "intention" that seeks only God; this soul, it seems to me, would also live in humility: it would recognize His gifts to it- for humility is truth- but it would attribute nothing to itself, referring all to God as the Blessed Virgin did.
..All the movements of pride that you feel within yourself only become faults when the will takes part in them! Without that, although you may suffer much, you are not offending God.  Doubtless self-love is at the bottom of those faults which, as you say, you commit without thinking, but that... is in a way, part of us... What God asks of you is never to entertain deliberately any thought of pride, and never to act on the inspiration of pride, for this is wrong.  And yet, if you find yourself doing either of these, you must not become discouraged, for again, it is pride which is irritated.  You must "display your misery" like Magdalene at the Master's feet, and ask Him to set you free.  He so loves to see a soul recognize its weakness.  Then, as a great saint said, "The abyss of God's immensity encountrs the abyss of the creature's nothingness," and God embraces this nothingness"
Complete Works of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, Volume 1, pp.124-126

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