The 11 of us missionary interns continue our path to World Youth Day Lisbon through prayer, service, and team time! In a recent formation talk, Father Anthony led us into a deeper encounter with the spirituality of Saint Elisabeth of the Trinity.
“The Trinity — this is our dwelling, our ‘home,’ the Father’s house that we must never leave.”
With deep passion and love for this saint whose testimony lit many in our generation on fire for God, Father Anthony described a sister who embraced her desires for family, love, and security and found the fulfillment of these sacred desires in the depths of the Trinity. By lending her the strength to leave behind her friends, family, and earthly comforts, God tenderly beckoned her not to forsake her desires for family and comfort but to find the fulfillment of these desires in His Fatherly embrace.
This concept of one finding their home in the Trinity has been interwoven through many of our formation meetings as interns this summer. The Beatitudes members who have walked with us often describe that we must realize that the desires we attempt to satisfy with earthly, fleeting goods can only be fulfilled in communion with God. Although we cling to the security and comforts of the world, it is only in allowing God to gently break our attachments to these things that we can find our comfort in Him, the comfort that our heart has longed for as we pursue comfort in passing things. Because of this reality, our summer of pilgrimage is Sacred, for it allows us to actively step away from the material consolations and security that we idolize to realize that only God can truly fulfill these desires.
The morning after the formation talk, six of us loaded into a white van with Father Anthony and traveled through the beautiful countryside of France between Nouan and Toulouse, belting out songs as wind from the open windows whipped in our faces. After a few hours of driving, we stopped and spent time exploring Rocamadour, a scenic village built along the cliffs of a mountain in south-central France. After we walked winding streets enclosed by pre-medieval buildings, we journeyed up a stairway to the Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Rocamadour. We celebrated Mass in the chapel containing the statue of the Black Madonna!
After climbing back into the car, squished together among hiking backpacks, enough snacks to last us a month, and Father Anthony’s rollerblades, the themes we discussed in our formation on Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity resurfaced for Christine, who is another intern, and me. Although we were surrounded by beauty and so many moments of joy and laughter, Christine and I experienced an unexpected wave of homesickness.
We discussed how stretching it was to live the pilgrim lifestyle where we did not have a consistent, material home. Because we had spent the last month backpacking to various community houses and host homes, we hadn’t had the opportunity to dig our roots into one material place. While our team has become a family, we both felt an ache considering the lack of our biological families, those who have known and loved us so intimately for years.
While we experienced this seemingly unfulfilled desire for the presence of family, God gently pushed into these desires and fulfilled them more deeply than I could have imagined. When we arrived at Blagnac, many of us immediately experienced profound peace walking into the beautiful convent. We felt at home. While there was a fun, fast-paced energy and liveliness to the Bethany community house in Nouan, there was a beautiful spirit of joyful contemplation and a slower pace of life in the Blagnac community house. The veil between heaven and earth was thin in this convent, and the brothers and sisters cultivated an atmosphere of warm silence through which they encountered the depths of God’s love and tender goodness and Fatherly love of God.
Having drawn the interns into this convent, just as Divine Bridegroom draws his beloved into the wilderness, God drew us into a period of the purification of our desires in which we could realize that He was the one that we most deeply longed for when we ached for material home and our families. In the contemplative atmosphere of Blagnac, we have received more opportunities for desert days, days of silence through which we could enter more deeply into the Father’s love. Just as God revealed his consuming love for the bride by bringing her “into the wilderness,” (Hosea 2:14), so too had we received the blessing of experiencing the Trinity as a home in these periods of silence where we cannot attempt to fulfill our deep desires through stimulation and goods other than God. Entering more deeply into a spiritual desert where I felt the lack of my material family and the resulting ache in my heart, I radically encountered Abba’s tender, gentle embrace.
This home in the Trinity and in community prepared us for more pilgrimage on the path to World Youth Day! Pray for us!