Carmelite Authors 101: Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity



Thank You Melinda and welcome to all of you on behalf of the Institute of Carmelite Studies I welcome you to the fifth of our lectures on the Carmelite authors 101 meant to be really just a introduction to these Carmelite authors in the hopes that what you hear here will inspire you to read further in the various ones that we have covered so far Theresa and jonatha cross brother Lawrence of the Resurrection and today we're going to be focusing on Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity and she's really I say this somewhat apprehensive Lee she's a lesser-known Carmelite writer but there are many Carmelites who would say she's really well known particularly in the Carmelite family and yet her influence is growing steadily particularly in in in recent years like Terez of the SU the little flower she was born in France at the end of the 19th century and died at the very young age of 26 very similar to Saint Terez in both of those aspects and although somewhat overshadowed by the popularity of st. Terez Elizabeth's writings have a theological and a spiritual depth all of their own we're delighted to have father Daniel challenge with us here today to introduce blessed Elizabeth and her writings to you Daniel is a native Hoosier and he was born in New Castle Indiana and giving him away now in 1950 he entered the Carmelites in 1978 and after receiving his BA in Romance languages from Georgetown and an MA in theology from the Catholic University of America he was ordained to the priesthood in Washington DC in 1988 he did his postgraduate studies in Carmelite spirituality at the International Center of terrhagen sand honest that's st. John to the cross but san Montes studies in Avila Spain and later he received a licentiate in sacred theology from the University of Salamanca in Spain where his licentiate thesis explored the topic of healing in the writings of st. John of the Cross currently father Daniel lives in the Carmelite community at Holy Hill Wisconsin in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee where he is the novice master for the Washington province of Discalced Carmelites in the years since his ordination father Daniel has served the Carmelite Order in many capacities most notably in the work of formation as novice master and director of students among the friars but through seminars and lectures among the seculars and with our nuns he is a member of the Institute of the Carmelite studies and the Carmelite form and is in demand both in this country and abroad as a retreat master as a lecturer and a leader of seminars and workshops on Carmelite themes he is also co-author of Christian Insight Meditation following in the footsteps of Saint John of the Cross published in 2007 by wisdom publishers here in Boston this morning he will share with us his long interest in the life and writings of blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity paying particular attention to her spiritual doctrine from the perspective of baptism and its implications for Christian living and so please join me in welcoming father Daniel thank you good morning and welcome to this reflection is talk on Elizabeth the Trinity where I will hopefully introduce the spiritual the light and the spirituality of Elizabeth in June of 1901 just a few weeks before her 21st birthday in less than two months before her entrance into the Carmelite monastery of Dijon Elizabeth Cortes penned these words to a priest friend of the family for 10 days now my leg has troubled me I have a little water on the knee I am deprived of Church deprived of Holy Communion but you see the good God doesn't need the sacrament to come to me it seems to me that I have him all the time it is good this presence of God it is there in the depths in the heaven of my soul that I love to find him since he never leaves me God and me me and him oh that is my life God and me me and him that is my life not only do these words become the motto of Elizabeth's life they also summarize succinctly her whole spirituality living in awareness of God's abiding and loving presence within the depths of her being and within every person and in all creation Elizabeth of the Trinity was a woman seized by God's presence a God whom she experienced and referred to as quote the God of all love I will divide my lecture into three parts in part 1 we want to take a brief journey through Elizabeth's life in part 2 we will reflect on four aspects of for spirituality and we will conclude with a reflection on her prophetic mission and its implications for our personal and collective lives so let's begin by looking at Elizabeth's life Elisabeth Cortes who was also named in her family Sabbath was born on July the 18th 1880 in the military camp of Hvar in central France she was the daughter of Joseph Coty's and the rear Olaf her father Joseph came from a poor agricultural family in northern France in 1853 at the age of 21 Joseph enlisted in the army and eventually through hard work and a tenacious spirit was raised to the rank of captain Marie Rolo Elizabeth's mother was the only child of a military family from the Lorraine region Elizabeth had one sister Marguerite who was born on February the 20th 1883 in 1882 joseph was transferred to dijon where the family settled in the military society of the city Saro however fell upon them in 1887 captain Cortes who had a history of heart failure died unexpectedly he passed away in the arms of his seven-year-old daughter Elizabeth widowed at a young age with two daughters to raise and educate but mcat has sold their home and moved into an apartment that providentially was located about a hundred and fifty meters from the Discalced Carmelite monastery from the balcony of their apartment they could peer into the enclosed garden of the Carmel Elizabeth never attended any formal education in school her mother hired a private tutor to teach her daughters a general education however in order to provide for them the means of making a living she enrolled that in the Conservatory of Music of Dijon with the hope that they would become piano teachers other words to support themselves later on it wasn't long before her piano teachers recognized in Elizabeth an innate musical talent for the next 13 years the piano became her faithful and constant companion she practiced four to five hours a day and even more before concerts her natural talent developed so well that at the age of 13 she won first prize for ear training among her favorite composers were Chopin Liszt and Schumann music played an important role in Elizabeth's development it developed her as a woman taught her discipline exposed her to culture and meaningful relationships and was a channel to express her creativity and emotions it also trained her for that deeper interior listening to the voice of her beloved who dwelt in her heart Madame katas and her daughter's socialized within a Catholic bourgeois circle of friends their military background provided them with an active social life an opportunity to travel extensively Elizabeth inherited from her mother a warm personality and a gift for forging friendships she was lively sensitive energetic and passionate in her on the other hand she was not born a saint as a child she was prone to fits of anger and over sensitivity her sister geet testified that as a child her sister could be a pure devil later on Elizabeth confessed that oversensitivity was her dominant fault and she worked hard to master her anger her fits of temper and her over sensitivity Elizabeth would have been a good match for any young man more than one military officer sought her company and asked for her hand in marriage she loved to dress well according to the fashion of the day and if you look at her photo album you know I don't I think they sell them around and still might she has on vacation it's a great study to look at her own purple her photo album because it shows you the kind of the feminine how feminine she was and also her social life but her photo album reveals that she was quite original in her dress she loved hats with fancy feathers she made her own blouses and she had a passion for gloves her friend France was destroyed or described her in this way quote she was very elegant she liked to dress up she had a sense of perfection her hair was admirably done and she dressed well she had incomparable black eyes too large of a mouth her nose a little turned out in the poem and the following provides some idea of her feminine taste this is from Elizabeth herself to a letter that she wrote to a friend of hers we have been to buy flannel for marie-louise at the new dressmaker on Liberty Street he has a ravishing selection the one we chose was Scottish garnet on Rose we're going to sew it in a little while I hope I succeed I am going to put all my efforts into it I recommend that geek go to Mother's hairdresser don't forget the straw poem and to make a braid in front dip the tail of the brain and powder if we're making the bun she lived a normal active social life she enjoyed dances parties picnics and tennis madamn cat has his friends were sensitive to the difficulties in the loneliness of being a woman with two young daughters so many other military friends reached out to them and invited them for visits in yearly holidays they vacationed in the Alps Switzerland and in southern France since they travel by train Elizabeth was able to contemplate the beauty of the mountains the ocean and the French countryside here is the letter describing one of their vacations in the Pyrenees Mountains our vacation here has been only a succession of pleasures morning dances morning musicals and parties in the country the Society of Tarbes is very pleasing we did leave the piano and the music stores couldn't keep us supplied with enough enough music to psyche me the day before yesterday was my birthday Madame Rose stone gave me a ravishing turquoise brooch I stopped now to pose my trunks I will think of you at Lourdes from there we are going to circulate to in the Pyrenees Lucia coterie etc I so loved the mountains that I contemplate while riding you it seems to me that I cannot live without them in Dakota and here's another short excerpt from a letter to her friend Alice we are having a very pleasant time in Luna vo breakfasting with some lunching and dining with others playing tennis office often with some very nice girls in a boat Elizabeth is also active in her parish she attended conferences and retreats for the youth of the parish as well as the parish mission preached by the Redemptorists she taught catechism and had a special special gift in relating to children she have organized a day camp for children whose parents worked in a tobacco factory and she participated in a team then sought out children who had not yet made their first one in communion she also visited the sick of the parish there is a testimony from one of her companions a woman named Mary Bouvet who took her to the various prisoners in the parish I admired her visits to the poor she had a kind word that opened hearts she attracted children and knew how to speak to them even in hostile families she knew how to find a right word to say about God and about our duties in hearing hearing the miseries and sufferings of people her heart became tender and compassionate I remember we visited a man who had been bedridden for 17 years due to a paralysis I remember that Elizabeth suffered hearing about the pain of this poor man in leading him she said to me I couldn't say anything to this poor man I almost became sick he suffers so much she was all pale I excused myself for having made her enter the room she told me we will return here and try to please him and to distract him and in effect during the next visits she insisted we visit this infirm and and this time she spoke to him about suffering and God she knew how to speak to him the poor man was completely calmed by her spirit in the poem what is so remarkable about Elizabeth is that in the midst of this active social life and her ministry in the faith community she experienced a spiritual presence welling up from within her depth her mother owned the complete works of Teresa of Jesus so reading Teresa's writings especially the way of perfection inspired her and gave her an understanding of the indwelling of the Trinity within her Elizabeth experience of God's indwelling presence did not begin on this is very important to impressed remember it did not begin when she entered the Carmelite monastery of Dijon because she had this profound sense of God's presence long before she walked through the threshold or the chromite monastery at the age of 14 during Thanksgiving after receiving the Eucharist she felt an irresistible urge to give her life to Jesus Christ she heard an interior word that directed her vocational path and that word is caramel after she made communion she had this word within her caramel kind of rose up in her and from this day forward she longed to be a Carmelite nun however if there is one thing her mother could not accept it was that one of her daughters would become a Carmelite but mcat has admired Saint Teresa and her works she owned them but she was family opposed to the idea that one of her daughters would become annoyed she wanted her daughters to settle in a good marriage have children she wouldn't be a grandmother not only did Madame Cortez resist if there's this vocational choice but she did everything in her power to distract her from it even to the point of attempting to arrange a marriage for her she total is abit that she would have to wait until she was 21 before she could enter Elizabeth suffered a lot during those years of waiting yet she's surrendered to the reality of her situation except that it is part of God's plan and lived for Christian life as deeply as she could in the midst of secular life she continued to socialize freely going to dances and parties and because they belong to the military society it was expected of her to go to Paul's and dances which is very interesting at that time because a lot of the preaching from pulpits in that period was against dancing it was it was an occasion of sin and so therefore preachers preached often for the pulpit against any type of dancing but her mother encouraged so this meant to do this because she wanted her married I mean a young man all right and Elizabeth accepted she went to many parties she continued to dress and play the piano and do all those things yet she read the st. Catherine of Siena recommended that we build an interior cell in our hearts where we can withdraw and be with our God any time of the day or the night and this is something that became very important for her according to one scholar other Conrad in Easter but mcat as is opposition to Alyssa's vocation was providential informing her prophetic charism in the church Elizabeth was anxious to enter Carmel but she had to learn to accept God's will and to interiorize her Carmelite location the years of waiting purified her desire and it taught her a great lesson that was loving Jesus takes place in the here and now in present reality in the cell of her heart not in some ideal situation in the monastery living behind walls she had to learn that it begins in life in the secular life that's why I think of this has a lot to offer laypeople and I really do believe I agree with this I read this too I forget what it's gone maybe it might have been probably 519 Easter who said it she does have a vocation I mean her call is for laypeople often times we think of her just in terms of her vocation a Carmelite isn't coming done but she has a particular vocation I mean a calling an attraction for they dangle their care isn't for them she lived her deep friendship with God in her apartment while she studied did her housework practice Chopin danced played tennis talked catechism and visited sick prisoners without monastic structures she developed a spirituality based on the call of every Christian living our baptismal dignity faith in God's presence revealed in Jesus and listening to the Word of God in scriptures she learned that essentially being a contemplative is not a matter of wearing a religious habit or living in a cloister although these are valid exterior signs of an institutional contempt of life to be a contempt of means entering into an intimate fringe of a God who lives in the depths of our being she expresses this beautifully in an intimate note that she wrote as a teenager in her journal she writes and this when she writes this when she's in the midst of having to wait and she's struggling with this because her mother was opposing her vocation may I live in the world without being in the world I can be in Carmelite from from within and I want to be so since I cannot break with the world and live in your solitude Oh at least give me solitude apart may I live in your intimate union may nothing distract me from you may my life be a continual prayer in the boat but mcat has finally gave her permission for Lisbon to try her vocation she entered the Carmel of deshawn two weeks after her 21st birthday on August 2nd 1901 she received the name Elizabeth of the Trinity she received the habit on December the 8th 1901 and made her final profession of vows on January the 11th 1903 she lived only five years in Carmel she died there young in there is nothing extraordinary about her Carmelite wife the presence of God she experienced before her entrance into Carmel maturity during her five years of religious life her life was deeply prayerful hidden and simple she was never a Prioress for a novice mistress she held any major office she was assistant portress or the turns sister they were transistors receive messages and package packages into a turnstile she helped initiate up one postulate into religious life and she's assisted in sewing and repairing habits exteriorly she did a simple and ordinary for the dislike but interior ly for life was profoundly rich God graced her with the deepening awareness of the indwelling of the Trinity within the depth of her being she was deeply rooted in God's loving presence that permeates and envelops every human being with the grace of the Holy Spirit and I might add intense personal commitment she lived Jesus's words remain in me as I remain in you as she wrote to a friend this is from Elizabeth the Trinity is the home we should never live we should never leave she wanted to live always within her home where she who was the Trinity there are two spiritual experiences in her religious life that profoundly shaped her mystical life the first is a grace that she received from reading Saint Paul's letters letter to the Ephesians st. Paul became Elizabeth's most influential scriptural writer we who first hoped in Christ have been destined to and appointed to live as a praise of God's glory comes from Ephesians 1:12 this Pauline text revealed to Elisabeth her personal vocation just the Saint trans felt called to be loved in the heart of the church Elizabeth felt the Holy Spirit calling her to men for the praise of God's glory she wanted to live here on this earth as she would in eternity to be the praise of God's glory and she confided her vocation to father to Kenan dongha who was a personal friend of the family and is unlike a spiritual advisor to her I am going to tell you a very personal secret my dream is to be the praise of his glory I read that in Saint Paul and my great bridegroom made me understand that this was to be my vocation while in exile waiting to sing the eternal saunters in the city of the Saints and the Pope wouldn't it mean for her concretely to be appraised of God's glory from her last retreat we can glean five interior attitudes of a praise and glory what this man taught her how she tried to live this I mean she took that line of Scripture and she just I think she just meditated upon and over and over again and just kind of fleshed it out and what it meant for her first of all a praise of God's glory is one who's rooted in love a person who makes love of God and others the foundation of their life secondly a praise and glory cultivates silence silence for Elisabeth is an interior attitude of deep listening to the Word of God and God's will as it is expressed in daily life thirdly a praise and glory keeps her gaze on God in faith and simplicity and the fourth characteristic of a praising glory is it she's not preoccupied with herself she follows Jesus by striving to let go unhealthy preoccupation useless fears and oversensitivity which only creates interior noise Medibank Elisabeth has a lot to say about the noise that we carry within ourselves so silence for her is not so much in exterior silence is a deep inner attitude in calming of the emotional life so that a person can be she could be much more centered and rooted in the present moment finally the person who lives as a praise of God's glory is full of gratitude and gives thanks to God for God's love and mercy the second important spiritual experience that deepened Elizabeth's mystical life took place on November in November of 1904 during the communities retreats preached by a Dominican friar this dominican friar other faj focuses retrieved on the incarnation of the word of God the retreat ended on November the 21st the Feast of the presentation of Mary the retreat master asked the nuns to renew their vows in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament as a sign of their religious consecration that day after having spent a long period of prayer in front of the bus's sacrament which was exposed in the oratory Elizabeth offered herself to the Holy Trinity she expressed this offering in a prayer that synthesizes and expresses her entire spiritual journey oh my god Trinity whom I adore you may have known this prayer she's very famous for this prayer this prayer resembles Saint tresses act of oblation to merciful love in fact Saint Reza's act of oblation left an indelible mark on the Elisabeth spirituality Elisabeth offering to the Trinity it expresses her fervent love and great thirst to give herself completely to God whom she calls for all in the attitude and the prayer was discovered only after her death and it was found among a personal nose wasn't it wasn't discovered in 19th to 1906 in spring of 1905 Elizabeth health began to decline with Addison's disease a disease that affects the adrenal glands the disease was unknown and incurable at that time Addison's makes it it makes it extremely difficult to nourish oneself which results in weakness loss of weight low blood pressure gastrointestinal disturbances dark pigment of the skin insomnia severe headaches and extreme exhaustion despite the debilitating effects of her illness she continued to grow spiritually and she deepened her understanding of what it meant for her to be a praise of God's glory she accepted her illness with peaceful resignation and saw the ravages of her illness as a work of God's love howling out within her and emptiness that only God could feel and conforming her to Christ crucified her last audible words in her last agony were I'm going to light to love into life she died on the morning of November the 9th 1906 surrounded by her Prioress and her sisters pope john paul ii beatified her on November the 25th 1984 and he presented her to the world in this way quote as a cloistered religious who lived a life hidden in God with Jesus Christ a brilliant witness of the joy of being rooted and founded in love she celebrates the splendor of God because she knew herself inhabited in the intimate depths by the presence of the Father of the Son and of the Holy Spirit in whom she recognized the reality of living and infinite love in the quote what can a young come like not who died at the age of 26 in 1906 offer us in our contemporary culture how could our live and experience shine as a prophetic witness for our lives Elizabeth has left us some profoundly spiritual writings she wrote 342 letters between 1882 and 1906 two sets of personal writings state fragment from her personal journal journal which she was 18 19 years of age and 17 personal notes including her prayer her offering to the Trinity she dentists for spiritual treatises heaven and faith the last retreat the greatness of our vocation and a beautiful letter that was found only after many many years later let yourself be loved it was a letter written to her Prioress mother Germain of Jesus and it was only found after mother Jermaine's death Elizabeth also wrote 125 poems there are four themes of her spirituality that I believe are prophetic and have much to offer our Christian life in the 21st century her spirituality is number one baptismal it is Trinitarian thirdly it is christological and it is an invitation to interior prayer so let's begin by looking at the baptismal spirituality first of all Elisabeth spirituality is thoroughly and deeply baptismal she understood well our baptismal and dignity and the call to holiness rooted in the sacrament of baptism for instance she felt full of reverence before her recently baptized niece could become a temple of a Holy Trinity at her baptism she writes her soul seems to me like a crystal that radiates God and if I were near her I would kneel down to adore him who dwells within her and later on to her sister she wrote this letter about regarding her two nieces God has predestined you to be conformed to the image of his son Jesus and by Holy Baptism he has clothed you with himself thus making you his children and at the same time his living temple in the boat she explains to her sister Marguerite that at our baptism we were sealed with the Holy Trinity and made shares in divine nature she goes on yes we have become his through baptism that is what st. Paul means by these words he called them yes called to receive the seal of the Holy Trinity at the same time we have been made in the words of st. Peter shares in the divine nature Elisabeth understood her vocation as a Carmelite nun as living her baptismal grace which is the call on every baptized Christian РMadame straddle a friend of hers she wrote one thing alone is necessary mary has chosen the better part which shall not be taken from her this better part which seems to be my privilege in my beloved solitude of Carmel is offered by God to every baptized Christian this better part as Elizabeth describes the contemporary part is our divine vocation to union with God through love and that is to become sharing to participate fully little by little in our life in the divine life from the waters of baptism we were born again as children of God a God who loves us and whom we call Abba as God's children we have become living temples of the Holy Spirit in appearance bearers of Jesus Christ predestined to become conformed to the image of Jesus Christ the beloved son of the father at the time of the new her beatification pope john paul ii he was very attracted to revile yzma spirituality especially her baptismal spirituality he invited pilgrims to follow her by by allowing their baptismal grace to blossom and this is what he wrote as when he knows we gave he preached as the devar me on occasion to a group of French pilgrims it is striking that very young in lay light similar to her numerous friends she had a strong experience in the presence of God in her of the greatness of God's love in Carmel she offered her life totally even in hard trials radiating to those around her the happiness of being loved by God and our being inhabited by the divine presence that she called that she loved to call my three an admirable witness to the grace of baptism develop in being who welcomed it without reserve she helps us to find in our own way the path of Prayer and the gift of ourselves in the post this is what the Holy Father thought of her John Paul the second Elizabeth of the Trinity reminds us of our baptismal dignity and invites us to live our baptismal grace Christian spirituality of the first two centuries was particularly focused on baptism but I think really we lost a deep sense of our baptismal grace you know we often think about pisum as some right that we went through with we were babies were ignored what we were adults later on we were baptized and we forget that baptism is a grace that we live every day and I think her spirituality reminds us of this now let's look at the Trinitarian aspect the Trinity our home Elizabeth was captivated by the mystery of the Trinity and I emphasize mystery because when she writes of the Trinity she always refers to it as mystery every time she writes the Trinity she'll always talk it will always be couched with the word mystery in a letter to Canon Angela she discerned her particular vocation in bearing the name Elizabeth the Trinity she wrote it seems to me that this name indicates a particular vocation isn't it beautiful I so love this mystery of the Trinity it is an abyss in which I lose my son we must remember however the mission was not a theologian she never attempts a theological treatise on the Trinity by analysing the imminent relations existing between the three divine persons the Father the Son and the Holy Trinity the Holy Spirit she was a woman of Prayer and a mystic who shares her experience of God she welcomes the experience of the Trinitarian mystery with simplicity and faith she expresses it in these simple profound gospel words God is long and it's interesting when you read through her letters and her and her spiritual treatises whatever she often when she refers to the Trinity she'll say that the guru tattwa the God of all love this that's kind of how she understands the Trinity she right in one of her letters she has this to say about the Trinity which I particularly like there is that being who is love and who wishes us to live in communion with him that's how she the Trinity for a being who is Bob for Elizabeth the Holy Trinity the Father the Son the Holy Spirit is not a dry theological Dogma rather a person a mystery the mystery of a God a self giving love who shares life and invites us into a communion of life a God who longs to me in relationship with us and draw us into God's transcendence in speaking of God Elizabeth draws on metaphors and expressions then speak of the greatness and the immensity and mystery of God for instance a God of all love an abyss of love in immensity in which I lose myself overflowing loved ocean of love by all might be attitude the great solitary furnace above divine abyss the Trinity our dwelling place our home Elizabeth Johnson in her marvelous book quest for the Living God speaks of God as gracious mystery ever greater ever near I think of this like this definition very much would resonate with her experience this mystery of love is closer to us than our breath it permeates our whole being sustaining us in life and drawing us ever deeper into relationship if we open to it and allow ourselves to be drawn inward Elizabeth felt herself being inundated and saturated by an ocean of love as she called it who is God and in a letter she writes I feel so much love over my soul it is like an ocean i immerse and lose myself in it is my vision on earth while waiting the face to face vision in light he isn't me I am in him I have only to love him so that myself be loved all the time through all things to wake and love to move in love to sleep in love so my soul in his soul my heart in his heart my eyes in his eyes so that through his contact he may purify me free me from my misery and it's interesting in that letter of you if you read the letters of Elizabeth that's letter 177 whenever she says waken love move in love it's always a capital L so which could be understood not only and admit as God is love you know being immersed in God plus the Atman loving early on in her youth she began to experience the welling up of this mystery of love within her she explains to her friends how the awareness of God's in twily presence transformed her life she writes it seems to me that I have found my heaven on earth since heaven is God and God is in my soul the day I understood that everything became clear to me I would like to whisper the secret to those I love so that they too may always cling to God to everything and again I leave you my faith in the presence of God of the God who is all love dwelling in our souls I can find to you it is this intimacy with him within that has been the beautiful Sun illuminating my life making it an anticipated heaven it is what sustains me in my suffering in the poem it isn't a spiritual journey was an ever deeper awareness of the indwelling of the Trinity within her that transformed her consciousness and gave meaning to all her relationships and everything that she thought felt said did and suffered throughout her correspondence the spiritual treatises she impresses upon her family and friends God's love for them and that they did in God and God lives in them that they are never alone and actually most of her letters were all to lay people the majority of which is a friend Mitch had many many friends he wrote so many letters to them with this message for instance she encourages her friend a Marie Louise Aubry who was expecting a baby she writes my dear Marie Louise I rejoice in your hosts about the arrival of a little angel don't be afraid be completely in peace he loves you he's watching over you like a mother over her little child remember that you are in him and that he makes himself during welling here below and that then that he is in you that you possess him in the most intimate part of yourself that in any hour of the day or night in every joy or trial you can find him there quite near entirely within you it is the secret of happiness it is the secret of the saints they knew so well that they were the temple of God and that in uniting ourselves to this God we become one spirit with him as st. Paul says end of quote and here another letter she reminds a good friend of hers it is love infinite love that envelops us and wants us to share here below in all his Beatitudes the entire Trinity rests within us this whole mystery will be our vision in heaven then this björk waster and then again to her sister geet who was the mother of two little girls she writes our life is in heaven Oh geet this heaven this house of our Father is in the center of our soul as you will see in st. John of the Cross when we are in our deepest Center we are in God is it that simple isn't it consoling through everything in the midst of your cares as a mother while you give yourself to your little angels you can withdraw into this solitude to surrender yourself to the Holy Spirit so he can transform you in God and then print on your soul the image of the Divine Beauty so the father bending over you over you lovingly will see only his Christ and say this is my beloved daughter in whom I am well pleased now let's look at the Christological aspect of Elisabeth Trinity from a spirituality in all Elisabeth Trinitarian spirituality she remains crystal central her journal written between the ages of eighteen and nineteen revealed her passionate love for Jesus before her entrance into religious life she had nourished herself from the writings of st. Teresa and especially the the newly published story of a soul a sitter dressed the Child Jesus in the Holy Face because Elizabeth read the destroy his soul just about a year after it was published you know just and the digital caramel was very much taken by destroying the soul and in Trez wasn't even a venerable at that time she was she was just out holy I might nun who died and they were very much taken by this German soul and it was through the addition of Carmel that Elizabeth had her first introductions st. dress these works st. treats the entrez undoubtedly inspired and her love for Jesus and instilled in her heart a spousal love for Jesus Christ now Carmelite spirituality is very spousal in its expression for love it's love for Christ in Carmel st. Paul became her master and his letter to the Ephesians profoundly influenced for crystal centric spirituality she always refers to st. Paul as my dear Paul my dear Saint Paul she meditated assiduously on the first chapter of Ephesians were Saint Paul writes that God has destined us to become his adopted children and to be conformed into the image of his beloved son Jesus Christ the theme of being conformed to Jesus Christ in particular Jesus crucified runs throughout Elizabeth's writings her great desire was to be conformed to Jesus Christ we need to understand why her focuses on Jesus crucified far from being dole eristic or masochistic Jesus crucified represented for Elizabeth the model of self giving love the exceeding love of God geometry pieces has come from st. Paul the exceeding love of God she repeats that over and over in her writings and usually it's connected with Jesus crucified God's self giving love is revealed in Jesus crucified who died of love for her and for all humankind she was drawn to Jesus crucified because he is the supreme model of the spousal love that she desired a love that freely surrenders itself completely to the other she wanted to imitate Jesus in his self giving love she passionately expresses her Christocentric spirituality in her prayer to the Trinity and I'm going to read you one section of her prayer to the Trinity that's very Christological if you read her prayer to the Trinity it there is begins with an opening addressing the Trinity the Father the seminal is spirit then it goes to the Father then to the son Jesus Jesus and then to the Holy Spirit and then it ends again with the Trinity is one this is one part o my beloved Christ crucified by love I wish to be a bride for your heart I wish to cover you with glory I wish to love you even to death but I feel my weakness and I ask you to clothe me with yourself to identify my soul with all the movements of your soul to overwhelm me to possess me to substitute yourself for me that my life may be better radiance of your life come into me as a door as restore as Savior all we turn a word were to my god I want to spend my life listening to you to become holy teachable that I may learn all from you then through all nights all boys all helplessness I want to gaze on you always and remain in your great light all my beloved stars so fascinate me that I may not withdraw withdrawal from your radiance I mean if we took that part of that prayer you can just spend a lot of time just just analyzing it because it is very rich in terms of of its Christology and it's beyond you know its theology and the spirituality of it okay now let's look at the in G this is as a teacher of interior prayer and recollection at this point we might ask ourselves how do we dispose ourselves for a deeper consciousness of God's bomb in his indwelling presence in our life how do we live our baptismal grace that gradually conforms us to Jesus Christ like all the great spiritual teachers Elizabeth says through prayer and it's same as priests if Jesus tells us prayer and reflection is the door to our interior Castle Elizabeth was graced with the special charism for interior prayer and recollection shortly before she died she wrote to another religious about what she believed would be her mission in heaven I think that in heaven my mission will be to draw Souls by helping them to go out of themselves to cling to God by a holy simple and loving movement and to keep them in this great silence that will allow God to communicate himself to them and transform them into himself into quote her mission therefore is to teach us to go within to cling to God to taste the presence of love within our hearts and allow God to transform us Elizabeth doesn't teach a method of prayer she invites her family and friends to pray she encourages them to recollect themselves to draw with inward to retire into the depths of their hearts for God dwells she writes for my part it is in the depths of my soul where the Holy Spirit lives that I recollect myself and retire this is the essential movement of prayer to recollect to withdraw inward into the depths of our heart in this sense she writes to a friend he never leaves us live therefore unceasingly with him enter into the interior of her soul he will always find him and through these words Elizabeth teaches us the meaning of prayer by faith and recollection prayer is becoming conscious of the immense mystery of the Trinity a God of love who lives in the deepest center of our being prayer is the awakening of the presence of God in our inner depths and this Elizabeth writes her friends invites her friends to enter into this experience she writes like me you have to build a little cell within your soul think that the good God is there and enter there from time to time and again you could friend live with him in your soul make acts of recollection in his presence and she wrote this beautiful letter to her mother I read something so beautiful in st. Paul he wishes for his followers that the father might strengthen them in relief so Christ might dwell in their hearts through faith and they might be rooted in love is it that strong and magnificent or me the master revealed to you His divine present it is so pleasant and sweet it gives so much strength to the soul to believe that God loves us to the point of living within us to become the companion of our exile our confident friend at every moment evidently her mother wasn't impressed with this so she had to go on to encourage her mother to make her point and she goes on by saying she drew up actually she draws upon the gospel to support interior tea she's trying to get her mother to the interior you can believe my doctrine for it is not mine if you read the Gospel of John you will see over and over again that the master insists on this commandment remain in me as I remain in you and also that beautiful thought at the beginning of my letter in which he speaks of making his home in us st. John his epistles wants us to have dollar ship with the Holy Trinity that word is so sweet and it is so simple it is enough Saint Paul says this it is enough to believe God is spirit and we approach him through faith realize that your soul is the temple of God it is again st. Paul who says this at every moment of the day and night the three divine persons are living within you you do not possess the sacred humanity as you do when you receive Communion but the divinity that essence of less endure in heaven is in your soul there is a holy adorable intimacy when you realize that you are never alone again if you prefer to think of God so if you prefer to think that God is close to you rather than within you well follow your own attraction as long as you live with him in the book the letter 273 for those who might want look at this prayer of presence can be lived always in everywhere and doesn't involve saying a lot of prayers it is not something we do only in Chapel or in the privacy of our bedroom definitely it involves taking quality time to be alone with God a commitment to the aluminum value types but it is also a way of life prayer is learning to live under God's gaze that is living in his presence and this is helpful and this one explains prayer to her friend Germain always loved prayer and when I say prayer I don't mean so much imposing on yourself a lot of vocal prayers to be recited every day as that elevation of the soul toward God through all things that establishes us in a kind of continual communion with the Holy Trinity by quite simply doing everything in their presence Elizabeth wanted her whole life to be a life of prayer she writes in her intimate journal may my life be a continual prayer one long act of love may nothing distract me from you neither noises nor distractions nothing for Elizabeth continual prayer is one act of love may I do everything under your gaze as she often writes to her friends therefore Elizabeth takes us to the heart of prayer awakening to the presence of God within our hearts coming to know God's love for us as God's children making our life a continual act of love living under God's gaze in all that we do in daily life now let us conclude I would like to conclude by looking at the prophetic message of Elizabeth the Trinity has a prophetic message for our time in our culture she reminds us of our baptismal dignity as God's children made in the image and likeness of God temples of the Holy Spirit God has predestined us to be conformed to the image of his son Jesus Christ we begin this journey to conformity to Jesus at our baptism but we human beings are paradoxical we have an unlimited desire for the infinite a visceral hunger and thirst for the absolutely we are propelled for the transcendent by our very creation yet we may feel that God is distant and not concerned for us especially when we suffer and live through obscura times Elizabeth ceaselessly reminds her family and friends that God is over flowing love Saint Paul's words from Galatians 2:20 God's exceeding love struck a deep chord in her heart and it became a constant refrain in all her correspondence to a young woman she writes believe that he loves you that he wants to help you in all your struggles that you have to undergo believe in his love his exceeding love as st. Paul says always believe in love is the golden thread running through her writings Elizabeth offers us a very positive view of God she rarely speaks of sin held or purgatory which is actually unusual at the time where the kadek headaches of the 19th century spoke off of the hell purgatory sin how you can lose your soul you know you're always on the precipice of Hell giving in the 19th century you weren't careful for Elizabeth God is an abyss an abyss of love who draws close to us Lizabeth in us and cares for us she challenges us to faith to believe in God's law in her letter to mother Germaine let yourself be loved this is one of the most inspiring letters that she wrote I would all you know you ever get a chance to read it I would simple very very short letter but it's full of depth that you're something on furthermore we tend to seek to assuage our hunger and thirst for the absolute by filling up our lives with created reality in ways that can never possibly satisfy us we're conditioned to look for love the beauty and meaning in all the wrong places material goods physical appearance great achievements and the favorable evaluation of others we can easily live on the superficial level of life for instance there's a powerful cold to the body within our culture I mean the next time you walk you look at the grocery store go to the cashier line just read some of them the magazine covers ten ways for greater sex appeal washboard abs in two weeks I got these four magazine articles for what I read through the grocery lose twenty pounds in 30 days there is so much in our society that distorts our view of reality and gives us the message that happiness and the source of love are not are found in physical beauty youth sex appeal and material success Elizabeth on the other hand reminds us that the true source of love beauty and worth resides in our hearts in our relationship with God and with other people heaven is the dinner she tells us she announces the truth that we are tear for bears of God we are more than our bank accounts the clothes we wear our skinny waist and though others evaluate us we are in the dwelling place of God we remain in the image and likeness of God woven into the very fibers of our being is an image of the Trinity of God of all love by our baptism we have become God's beloved children and have been predestined to share in divine life and be and be conformed to Jesus Christ in other words deification is our destiny what we most hunger and thirst for is found within the depths of our own being Elizabeth invites us to live from those depths from that deep well of God's love within us and from there to drink of the life-giving streams of God's Spirit who alone can ultimately satisfy the deepest hungers of our of our hearts in our thirst for love and meaning for God and this has profound implications in our relationship with each other for every person is a child of God a dwelling place of God her message reminds us that in every person we meet we encounter a temple of the Holy Spirit every encounter is a meeting is a meeting place with the Trinity who caused us to unity our relationships are meant to be modeled on the Trinity Father may they be one as we are one jesus prayed before his passion in death no wonder Elizabeth had so many friends I think her name was very appropriate for her she had so many friends and they all loved her because she she was truly Trinitarian truly relational loveable and hospitable finally Elizabeth reminds us as her mother Teresa of Jesus that prayer and recollection is the doorway to coming to know and experience the intimacy God longs for each one of us prayer is coming to know the incredible mystery that dwells within us and how much we are loved and I'm going to end with this quote from her the greatness of our vocation which was a letter that she wrote to one of her friends as part of her spiritual treatises believe in his love his exceeding love as st. Paul says nourish yourself on great thoughts of faith which we which will reveal to you all its richness and the end for which God has created you if you live like this your piety will never be a nervous exaltation as you as you fear that will be true truth is beautiful the truth of love he loved me and gave himself for me this my little child is what it means to be true [Applause]

3 thoughts on “Carmelite Authors 101: Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

  1. 1 John 4 : 5 "This is why the source of their speaking is in the world and is the reason why the world listens to them."

  2. Excellent lecture! Thank you for introducing us to this Saint, Elizabeth of the Trinity!

  3. Guessing this was recorded a few years ago. Thank you! It would be amiss not to point out that our "Blessed Elizabeth" is now St. Elizabeth.

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