Author Claire Dwyer tells us about her new book and what she sees as the specific mission of this little-known saint: To help us start our Heaven on earth. Sign me up!
“I discovered St. Elizabeth while my children were young and quiet prayer time was hard to come by. I quickly realized that she was the perfect bridge between the deep Carmelite spirituality I was attracted to and the busy, active life I was living. This was because in her short life in the convent (she lived for only five years after she entered), she frequently corresponded with lay people and left behind a wealth of wisdom, encouragement, and advice for those who did not have the opportunity to spend hours in silence and prayer as she did in the cloister,” says author Claire Dwyer’s about her new book on St. Elizabeth of the Trinity,This Present Paradise.
I made the same discovery four years ago, when Elizabeth was canonized in October of 2016. The world then seemed almost as messy as it does today, even without the pandemic. And it only took a few minutes of reading her words to find solace. The link below gives you five quick excerpts from her letters:
I decided to ask Claire to tell us more about what she found in writing about this wonderful saint.
Aleteia: Elizabeth is little known but I think she deserves much more attention, especially in our own day. What message does she have for us? Claire: Elizabeth would be quick to remind us of one fundamental and beautiful reality: that by virtue of our baptism, God Himself dwells in our souls. She would urge us to enter within our own hearts in prayer and discover Him waiting there, desiring to communicate Himself and His love to us, desiring to receive ours in return. Elizabeth would be quick to assure us that even in the noise and chaos of daily life, we can remain centered in Him and experience His peace. Aleteia: What does Elizabeth tell us about difficulties in prayer? Do beginners at prayer also experience true aridity in prayer? Or is that just for the advanced? Claire: Everyone’s spiritual journey is an individual experience, but we do know some general principles—God is a God of order, even in the spiritual life. True spiritual aridity, that is, a complete lack of consolations in prayer as a state allowed by God (and not due to anything else, such as sickness or sin) is rarely experienced by beginners. This is because God is a good Father who desires to reward our beginning efforts to approach Him with great tenderness and a sense of His pleasure and joy. When prayer becomes dry and difficult for a season, that can be a type of severe mercy allowed by the Lord for those whose prayer life is maturing. He wants us to learn to love Him for Him alone and not for the ‘spiritual candy’ of His consolations. Elizabeth would certainly be able to relate to those who have experienced such aridity—her first year in the convent was excruciatingly dry and spiritually very difficult. But she would tell us that His love is not dependent on our feelings and to press on—not let it deter us in our commitment to prayer and in our charity to others. No one in the convent—other than her superiors—ever knew what dryness or darkness she experienced within, because she lived her life with a constant, genuine smile.
Claire believes that “St. Elizabeth’s specific mission is to help us discover the love of the Trinity dwelling in souls—our heaven, beginning even now on earth.”
“Ask her to help you know the Lord in a deeper way and discover your own personal vocation to holiness,” she advises!
With Lent only three weeks away, this book is a good one to consider. The Abiding Together Podcast is using it for their upcoming Lenten Study.