Monday, 12 July 2021

The Praise of Glory

 MAGNIFICAT for last Sunday uses as its "Meditation of the Day" an extract from St Elizabeth of the Trinity.  The text is published under the title Heaven in Faith in the Institute of Carmelite Studies (ICS) complete works of St Elizabeth, Volume 1. In the following I use the Scripture translations used in the ICS edition, rather than those used by MAGNIFICAT, which use the Jerusalem translations used in the Liturgy (and thereby seem to lose a subtlety in St Elizabeth's thought).

"If you knew the gift of God", Christ said one evening to the Samaritan woman. But what is this gift of God if not Himself? And, the beloved disciple tells us: "He came to His own and His own did not accept Him". St John the Baptist could still say to many souls these words of reproach: "There is one in the midst of you, 'in you', whom you do not know".

The two words "in you" are inserted into, and emphasized, in the quotation of St John the Baptist, and echo a phrase in St Luke's Gospel.

The MAGNIFICAT meditation then omits a following section, losing a Marian reference in St Elizabeth's thought (St Elizabeth may have included this section prompted by the occurrence of the solemnity of the Assumption at the time of her writing):

"If you knew the gift of God..." There is one who know the gift of God, one who did not lose one particle of it, on who was so pure, so luminous that she seemed to be the Light itself: "Speculum justitiae". One whose life was so simple, so lost in God that there is hardly anything we can say about it.

"Virgo fidelis": that is, faithful Virgin, "who kept all these things in her heart".

 The extract then takes up the theme of the praise of glory, quoting St Paul:

"We have been predestined by the decree of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, so that we may be the praise of his glory."

It is St Paul who tells us this, St Paul who was instructed by God Himself. How do we realize this great dream of the Heart of our God, this immutable will for our souls? In a word, how do we correspond to our vocation and become perfect Praises of Glory of the Most Holy Trinity?

"In Heaven" each sould is a praise of glory of the Father, the Word and Holy Spirit, for each soul is established in pure love and "lives no longer its own life, but the life of God". Then it knows Him, St Paul says, as it is known by Him.... St John of the Cross affirms that "the soul surrendered to love, through the strength of the Holy Spirit, is not far from being raised to the degree of which we have just spoken," eve here below! This is what I call a perfect praise of glory!

 Where the Jerusalem translation "..chosen to be, for his greater glory..." appears to be passive in its intent - it is God's action that makes us manifest his greater glory - ".. so that we may be the praise of his glory" suggests an active sense too, on the part of the soul, though active in response to the initiative of God. Whatever the subtleties of the exegesis of the Scriptural text, the idea that the soul should live as a praise of glory of the Trinity is a key part of St Elizabeth's thought.

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