“Right now, try to get to know Jesus. Walk in His presence always. Look upon Him constantly. It is essential that you fall deeply in love with Him. After Communion, ask Him for that love. By loving Him, you will learn to overcome and offer yourself.” — St. Teresa of the Andes, OCD
“The Word will imprint in your soul, as in a crystal, the image of His own beauty, so that you may be pure with His purity, luminous with His light.”
Ten years before entering the Carmelite Convent in Dijon, France, eleven year-old Elizabeth Catez met the prioress on the afternoon of her First Holy Communion. What the prioress told her on that occasion left a deep impression in her soul; upon learning Elizabeth’s name, the prioress told her that her name meant “House of God.” She later wrote on the back of a holy card for Elizabeth: “Your blessed name hides a mystery, accomplished on this great day. Child, your heart is the House of God on earth, of the God of love.”
“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Cor 3:16)
Upon entering Carmel at the age of twenty-one, Elizabeth sought God’s Face within the temple of her own soul, in prayer and silence, with a growing desire to be united with Jesus, to share in His life and sufferings–to be transformed into His image–so that God the Father would find in her the image of His Son, in whom He was well-pleased. Elizabeth wrote, “God bends lovingly over this soul, His adopted daughter, who is so conformed to the image of His Son, the ‘first born among all creatures,’ and recognizes her as one of those whom He has ‘predestined, called, justified.’ And His Fatherly heart thrills as He thinks of consummating His work, that is of ‘glorifying her by bringing her into His kingdom, there to sing for ages unending’ the praise of His glory.” She prayed that the Holy Spirit “create in my soul a kind of incarnation of the Word: that I may be another humanity for Him in which He can renew His whole Mystery.”
“We must become aware that God dwells within us and do everything with Him; then we are never commonplace, even when performing the most ordinary tasks.”
This was the fruit of contemplation that St. Elizabeth of the Trinity wanted to share with everyone; the secret of transforming love hidden within our own hearts. By gazing steadfastly upon God, in faith and simplicity, the Word of God, Jesus Christ–as in the legend of St. Veronica’s Veil–will leave the imprint of His image on the veil of the soul. By her continual loving gaze at Him, St. Elizabeth of the Trinity was transformed into His image. When she died at the young age of twenty-six, she had already fulfilled her mission in the Church as a ceaseless “Praise of Glory,” reflecting the luminous, pure light of the Holy Trinity.
“It is Your continual desire to associate Yourself with Your creatures…How can I better satisfy Your desire than by keeping myself simply and lovingly turned towards You, so that You can reflect Your own image in me, as the sun is reflected through pure crystal? …We will be glorified in the measure in which we will have been conformed to the image of His divine Son. So, let us contemplate this adored Image, let us remain unceasingly under it’s radiance so that it may imprint itself on us.” –Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity, O.C.D.
Mary Julia Seelaus was born August 5, 1923, the second of eight children, in Philadelphia, PA. She attended Holy Child grade school, and Little Flower High School of Fine Arts. When she graduated, Mary Julia–a talented artist–was hired to do women’s fashion art displays, but a flame that was the love of God burned in her heart, and she soon formed a group of Young Christian Workers, similar to the movement in France at the time. One day, as she was riding home on the subway from her Christian Worker meeting, she heard a definite call to Carmel in her heart.
So, Mary Julia became a Discalced Carmelite nun, and her name became Sr. Miriam of the Mystical Body, OCD. She said that “The discovery of the doctrine of the Mystical Body was a great grace for me. Our loving God and Father has created each of us to be another humanity for Jesus.” One of her favorite Scripture passages was “I am the vine, and you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.”
Anyone who had the great privilege of knowing this tiny, cloistered nun, knew of her great love and devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus, which she shared with everyone. Sr. Miriam was that part of the Mystical Body who adored and loved the Face of Jesus, to make up for those souls who are indifferent to God, or even hate God. In her little New Testament, now yellowed and falling apart, St. Paul’s words to the Ephesians are doubly underlined, “God’s plan…is to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, with Christ as head.” (Eph. 1:10) A small picture of the Shroud of Turin (glued to a piece of cardboard, with a hanger carefully cut from duct tape) which belonged to Sr. Miriam, is worn through the surface of the photo, from the top of Jesus’s forehead to His chin, by a thousand kisses bestowed on His Holy Face as evidence of her faithful love and the desire to make reparation for those who did not love Him.
Her eyes sparkled when she spoke of Jesus, and one had the distinct impression that He was always at her side, because Sr. Miriam had the habit of addressing her Beloved out loud. If you asked her for prayers for someone, she would immediately implore Him, in her sweet voice, “O Jesus! Help them!”
Before Sr. Miriam died, at the Discalced Carmelite Monastery in Covington, Louisiana, she suffered, as some holy souls do, a great darkness. She felt that she was unworthy to even receive Holy Communion; she grew smaller and smaller, like a candle about to go out. The darkness passed and on June 27, 2017, her entrance into eternal life was a peaceful one. The funeral procession to her place of rest at St. Joseph’s Abbey was halted momentarily when a peacock, a symbol of the Resurrection, suddenly flew out of the woods to the middle of the road, next to the hearse which carried her precious body. The Face of Christ shone so brightly in Sr. Miriam’s soul, which remained always close to the Vine, that it cannot help but continue to bear good fruit. Sr. Miriam, pray for us!