St. Elizabeth of the Trinity (1880-1906), was a young French Discalced Carmelite who was canonized by Pope Francis on October 16, 2016. She was a gifted pianist who in 1901 entered the monastery, where she lived for just five years before dying of Addison’s disease. Her writings reveal a profound spirituality that all Christians can learn from.
He is always with you, be always with Him, through all your actions, in your sufferings, when your body is exhausted, remain in His sight, see Him present, living in your soul. (Complete Works, Volume II, 68)
One of the deepest truths of Christianity is that God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – dwells in our hearts through the grace of Baptism. As St. Paul said, the mystery of the Gospel “is Christ in you, the hope for glory” (Colossians 1:27). This mystery is at the heart of the spirituality of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity.
Though God is always with us, we must do our part to remain with Him by being attentive to Him in the silence of prayer.
Remain in Me, Pray in Me, adore in Me, love in me, suffer in me, work and act in Me. (Complete Works, Volume I, 95)
As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us, “Christ enables us to live in him all that he himself lived, and he lives it in us” (CCC 521). The Christian life is not about imitating Jesus from a distance, but about allowing the Lord who dwells within us to live and act in us, so that we become more and more like him. St. Elizabeth of the Trinity beautifully expresses that truth in this prayer.
A praise of glory is a soul of silence that remains like a lyre under the mysterious touch of the Holy Spirit so that he may draw from it divine harmonies. (Complete Works, Volume I, 112)
The book of Revelation says that in Heaven each of us will receive a new name (Revelation 2:7), given to us by God. Inspired by St. Paul, Elizabeth often said that her heavenly name will be Laudem Gloriae, or “praise of glory.” “In love [the Father] destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:4 – 6).
As a musician, St. Elizabeth often used the biblical image of the lyre, a harp-like stringed instrument. Just as the strings of the lyre just resonate beautifully in the hands of a skilled musician, our souls are meant to vibrate at the Holy Spirit's touch, as he makes us more and more like Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God.
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 wish to tell this secret to those whom I love so that they also, through everything, may also cling to God through everything (Complete Works, Volume II, 51).
Although we tend to associate Heaven with images of pearly gates and fluffy clouds, Heaven is actually a share in God's own life through Jesus. We will not see God face to face until after death, but God already dwells in our souls through grace. Even now, faith can give us a foretaste of the happiness we will share forever when we are perfectly united to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
I think that in Heaven my mission will be to draw souls be helping them go out of themselves to cling to God be a wholly simple and loving movement, and to keep them in this great silence within that will allow God to communicate himself to them and transform them into himself. (Complete Works, Volume II, 360)
St. Elizabeth of the Trinity's greatest joy was her encounter with the Trinity in prayer, and she invites us to this same encounter through her writings, her example, and her heavenly intercession. May each one of us live out the grace of our baptism by being attentive to God in prayer, so that we may more fully share in his own life.
Below is a prayer of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity that powerfully captures her rich spirituality:
O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me to become utterly forgetful of myself so that I may establish myself in you, as changeless and calm as though my soul were already in eternity. Let nothing disturb my peace nor draw me forth f from you, O my unchanging God, but at every moment may I penetrate more deeply into the depths of your mystery. Give peace to my soul; make it your heaven, your cherished dwelling-place and the place of your repose. Let me never leave you there alone, but keep me there, wholly attentive, wholly alert in my faith, wholly adoring and fully given up to your creative action.
O my beloved Christ, crucified for love, I long to be the bride of your heart. I long to cover you with glory, to love you even unto death! Yet I sense my powerlessness and beg you to clothe me with yourself. Identify my soul with all the movements of your soul, submerge me, overwhelm me, substitute yourself for me, so that my life may become a reflection of your life. Come into me as Adorer, as Redeemer and as Saviour.
O Eternal Word, utterance of my God, I want to spend my life listening to you, to become totally teachable so that I might learn all from you. Through all darkness, all emptiness, all powerlessness, I want to keep my eyes fixed on you and to remain under your great light. O my Beloved Star, so fascinate me that I may never be able to leave your radiance.
O Consuming Fire, Spirit of Love, overshadow me so that the Word may be, as it were incarnate again in my soul. May I be for him a new humanity in which he can renew all his mystery.
And you, O Father, bend down towards your poor little creature. Cover her with your shadow, see in her only your beloved son in who you are well pleased.
O my "Three", my All, my Beatitude, infinite Solitude, Immensity in which I lose myself, I surrender myself to you as your prey. Immerse yourself in me so that I may be immersed in you until I go to contemplate in your light the abyss of your splendour! (Complete Works, Volume I, 183)
Quotations are from the following sources:
St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, Elizabeth of the Trinity: Complete Works, Vol. 1, trans. Sr. Aletheia Kane, O.C.D. (Washington, DC: ICS Publications, 2014)
St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, Elizabeth of the Trinity: Complete Works, Vol. 2, trans. Anne Englund Nash. (Washington, DC: ICS Publications, 2014)