Sunday, November 08, 2015

Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

Today would be her memorial if it wasn't a Sunday.

She died on the 9th of November 1906, the feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica.  I always get her feast day mixed up with that, because the readings for the Dedication of a Church coincide nicely with the spirituality of Bl. Elizabeth, who understood herself - her soul - to be the Temple of God, as St. Paul taught, especially concerning the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity in the soul of the baptized, and so on.

Every November I think much about Bl. Elizabeth and always forget her feast day - thinking it is the 5th or 6th because she died in 1906, or mixing it up with the 7th, 8th, or 9th.  Now that I'm older I think - what if this is early onset of ... then I realize I've always done that.

My devotion to Elizabeth is rather detached in so far as I have no desire to emulate her life or follow the minutia of her daily activities, as a young girl or as a nun.  Her mission is quite unique I think.  She strikes me as a very mature spirit for both men and women - the attraction is neither her religious life nor her secular life of anticipation for the monastery.  Rather it is her understanding and experience of herself as the tabernacle of the Holy Trinity and her vocation as well as identity as 'the praise of his glory'.

Her spirit penetrated the deepest mystery of the Christian existence, the Christian vocation - it seems to me.  She opens the treasury of Catholic prayer and devotion in a very simple and direct way - in that she is perfectly Carmelite of course - St. Teresa and St. John, Therese and Lawrence of the Resurrection all were gifted with that simplicity.  Elizabeth seems to me to unlock the mysteries these saints lived and practiced and taught - for the most ordinary person - the most spiritually inexperienced.  Likewise, she seems to have distilled the doctrines of Catherine of Siena, Angela of Foligno, Tauler - as well as other early mystics, into practical, understandable terms.  I think her greatest gift was the grace to grasp and assimilate the mysticism of St. Paul and to translate his teaching for the most ordinary person to appreciate and grasp.  Her way of prayer is in effect the most 'common mystic prayer' there is - I think.

No need to number the steps of a stairway of perfection.  No need to calculate the rungs on the ladder, or distract oneself with the stages of one's prayer - one simply plunges into the depths of one's soul, and swims as it were, in the light of God's merciful love, allowing Him to draw you deeper and deeper into the abyss of his Immensity.  As Elizabeth might say - allow yourself to be fascinated by His light which elevates the soul - allow yourself to be drawn by His mystery - even in and through the darkest moments - travelling without moving into the deepest reaches of the unreachable until, as Elizabeth prayed 'until I depart to contemplate in your light the abyss of your greatness.'

Janua Coeli - Gate of Heaven
For me it is an image of a soul in Our Lady
-faintly - at the center is a light
reminding me of the Indwelling of the Holy Trinity.

We can have our Heaven - or at least begin it - here on earth.

Go to confession and receive Holy Communion.  Stay awhile after communion and Our Lord will teach you how to pray this prayer of recollection.  You will see cares and attachments fly away like the tiles from a rocket that is launched amidst great fire and emotion - traveling deeper and deeper into the silence and solitude of the soul, which expands like the universe - and soon - in God's time - you will see that spring-like-crystal, that light in the center, which draws you, fascinates and suspends you in love, peace, and joy ...

Bl. Elizabeth explains it better than I can: 
 "Always love 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 the 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."

I share this with you because if God has been so good and merciful to give me this prayer - he will do it for you.  It is very easy for people who are much better than I am.  I have deluded myself for years and thought I was doing just fine - but I look back and see so many sins, so much hypocrisy - and yet without prayer, I could never have recognized any of that.  I'm not pretending when I say that.

"A praise of glory is a soul that lives in God, that loves him with a pure and disinterested love, without seeking itself in the sweetness of this love, that loves him beyond all his gifts." - Bl. Elizabeth
Look at that!  You not only find out about prayer - but you get a better understanding of disinterested friendship as well.  Prayer is a sort of self-emptying as well, a process of detachment - again like the rocket - the tiles fall away, the booster falls away and we enter the immensity of space - our soul, and God is present at it's deepest center.

Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity pray for us that we may become the praise of his glory, with you and Our Lady 'Janua Coeli' - for all eternity!

Elizabeth with her statue of 
Janua Coeli - she carried it with her
everywhere.  It depicts The Immaculate Conception
as she identified herself at Lourdes.
The Immaculate Conception - Gate of Heaven.


  1. Thank you for that first quote - I often forget this about prayer and communion.

    1. That's good - I was actually going to take this down because I'm so stupid in my analogies - Elizabeth addresses the prayer perfectly in her own words. I get carried away.

  2. I'm grateful you left it up. I wouldn't have benefited from Bl. Elizabeth's definition of prayer, which is so much like St. Therese's, but takes it even farther . . .


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