Tag Archives: Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

Bl Elizabeth of the Trinity child picBlessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, OCD, is honored on this date by Mother Church but because it is Sunday, her feast is either transferred or not commemorated in the sacred Liturgy today. She lived from 1880-1906 and beatified by Pope John Paul II on November 25, 1984.

Her last words were: “I am going to Light, to Love, to Life!”

As we move through history we come to have real remembrances of our saints like this child photo of Blessed Elizabeth.

Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

Elizabeth of the TrinityOne of the local Dominican friars put me on to the life and insight of the French Carmelite nun, Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity (whose feast is November 8). Thinking of this Blessed woman on Trinity Sunday draws me to think more deeply of what Love is in my own life and how it exists.

Blessed Elizabeth (1880-1906) had a personal mission of making the Holy Trinity better known and widely loved by every Christian. Hers is a manner of living the baptismal consecration we have received by the power of the Holy Spirit as a gift of living in the Father, Son and Spirit who make Their home within us (cf. Jn 14:23). Some of the many things she said:

The Trinity – this is our dwelling, our ‘home’, the Father’s house that we must never leave.

I think that in heaven my mission will be  to draw souls, by helping them go out of themselves to cling to God by 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.

To her mother she said: Oh, may the Master reveal to you His divine presence, 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 in us, to become the Companion of our exile, our Confidant, our Friend at every moment.

A Christmas poem of 1901 states: He comes to reveal the mystery, To give all of the Father’s secrets, To lead from glory to glory, Even unto the bosom of the Trinity.”

Why is Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity important for today? Why is this very young Carmelite nun relevant to my experience of faith? True to the meaning of her name, Elizabeth (means ‘house of God’), she communicated to the world that “God wants to make is His home in us.” She is widely admired and her writings are read the important and common persons because people seen in them a certain authenticity, a call to go deeper into the mystery of Love, that is, God Himself. Many call Blessed Elizabeth a “prophet for our time” saying that she heard God’s call, and speaks the truth to us today. In his beatification homily Pope Saint John Paul said that Elizabeth is “a brilliant witness to the joy of being ‘rooted and grounded in love'” (Eph 3:17). Can we say the same for ourselves?

Years later in the mid-20th century the Servant of God Father Luigi Giussani would echo the teaching of Blessed Elizabeth by reminding his followers that God is not an abstraction, an idea, a figure of ages past.  But that God is a Presence here-and-now, contemporaneous with human experience. Blessed Elizabeth and Father Giussani would indicate that a true Christian cannot claim with any degree of seriousness that we are surrounded by God as by air, light or energy, BUT that God is present within us; that God is at home in the human heart, that He exists in our concrete experience; that the newness of Christianity is that God wants to be in relationship with each person, and that God really cares and loves us. God incarnate –Jesus Christ– is not absent but truly present in every facet of human life. We know this by way of His eucharistic Presence.

Blessed Elizabeth’s writings reveal an awareness of the indwelling presence of God. She wished to “live through love in his presence” and to be in communion with Him for ever.

Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity.jpg

“Here there is no longer anything but God. He is All; He suffices and we live by Him alone” (Letter 91).

Today is the feast of the Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity (1880-1906), one of those mature Carmelite mystics who forcefully brings us back to center.

She reminds us that the most Holy Trinity is given to each person at the time of Baptism and again in Confirmation and fed through the Eucharist.

She once wrote, “It seems to me that I 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 …” (Letter 122).

Prayer to the Trinity by Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

Trinity El Greco.jpgO my God, Trinity whom I adore; help me to forget myself entirely that I may be established in You as still and as peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity. May nothing trouble my peace or make me leave You, O my Unchanging One, but may each minute carry me further into the depths of Your mystery. Give peace to my soul; make it Your heaven, Your beloved dwelling and Your resting place. May I never leave You there alone but be wholly present, my faith wholly vigilant, wholly adoring, and wholly surrendered to Your creative Action.

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 unto 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 but a radiance of Your Life. Come into me as Adorer, as Restorer, as Savior.

O Eternal Word, Word of my God, I want to spend my life in listening to You, to become wholly teachable that I may learn all from You. Then, through all nights, all voids, all helplessness, I want to gaze on You always and remain in Your great light. O my beloved Star, so fascinate me that I may not withdraw from Your radiance.

O consuming Fire, Spirit of Love, “come upon me,” and 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. And You, O Father, bend lovingly over Your poor little crature; “cover her with Your shadow,” seeing in her only the “Beloved in whom 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. Bury Yourself in me that I may bury myself in You until I depart to contemplate in Your light the abyss of Your greatness.

(Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, 21 November 1904)

Elizabeth of the Trinity: Always Believe in Love

We are made for others. The human heart naturally reaches out, even craves and depends on friendship. The truest desire of communion of heart, mind and body happens in the with God (or at least it ought to begin with God) and then there ought to be a communion with another human being as is found in marriage, friendship or religious life. From experience, we understand that man and woman are incomplete without some fulfilling relationship but the fulfillment comes not from any relationship; it comes from a place deep in the human experience, the correspondence of the heart. Christians exist in a companionship that has divine and human coordinates. Analogically, we say the same of God. Catholics are not Unitarians (though you would not know by the way they act and speak about God sometimes); Catholics believe in and relate to God who is a trinity of persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We pray to God the Father through Jesus Christ under the power of the Holy Spirit. Further, Catholics say that the Trinity decided, because of their love, that the second person of the Trinity, would become man and open the gates of heaven so that humanity might know, love and serve God.

When it comes to the concrete, our faith in Christ as the Word made flesh indicates to us that we engage in reality precisely because the Lord entered into human history. But there are obstacles for a solid engagement of culture in an era that holds fast to a variety conflicting epistemologies that are contrary to the Gospel and orthodox theological reflection. Moreover, it may be difficult for some people to believe in and experience the reality of love: do we know that we fight to love and to receive love? Do we really accept that humanity is impoverished when love is absent or dysfunctional? Then there is the issue of believing that the intentions of a lover toward his (her) beloved are pure and oriented toward the good. Sadly, the idea that we ought to have affection for ourselves is often perceived as new news and met with no small amount of skepticism. One way of engaging life is having affection for ourselves -NOT egotism– but a genuine affinity for the self which opens the door to see life differently. Affinity for self and others can be another way of speaking about love, but the use of the word “affinity” gives us a new set of eyes and legs for engaging reality that is before us. Having affection for oneself means that we lean toward our destiny more seriously, intentionally and with wholesomeness so as to live a companionship desired for us by God.

Elizabeth Trinity cover.jpg

A recently published book puts our view of reality, love and God on end. Elizabeth of the Trinity: Always Believe in Love, edited by Marian T. Murphy, OCD (New City Press, 2009) is a wonderful collection of writings of this relatively unknown saint-to-be, Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity. Elizabeth was a Carmelite nun who spent five years in a Carmelite monastery before dying at the age of 26. She is revered as a mystic with a profound understanding of the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity, and that’s not only because her religious name in the convent acknowledges a fact after a spiritual experience. The book includes extracts from Elizabeth’s diary, letters, poems, retreat notes, a prayer, a chronology and a select bibliography among other things. This volume is my first introduction to the person and thought of Blessed Elizabeth save for Father Henry dropping her name in a homily or two. The holy and human attractiveness of Blessed Elizabeth confirms my suspicion that we want, need men and women to point the way to a deeper union with God: with Elizabeth (and countless others) there is no reason why Catholics have to search for mystical experiences in other faith traditions. What I came to realize is how profoundly centered on the love of the Trinity this young woman was, and how her mission to lead others directly to Christ was keen. What the Second Vatican Council asked us to do, that is, to reclaim to claim a personal holiness centered on the Incarnation, Elizabeth promoted in the 19th century by telling us: “Look at every suffering and every joy as coming directly from Him, and then your life will be a continual communion, since everything will be like a sacrament that will give you God.” There’s no separation from between life and God.  Do we live our lives with this conviction? Can we see this belief in our daily actions? One learns among many things in this volume that Pope John Paul II was influenced by Blessed Elizabeth and so made it his mission to make her known to the Church. At the foot of Elizabeth we realize ever more deeply that in being loved we can love.

As the editor Sister Marian said so very well in her excellent introduction: “The saints are God’s glorious palette, and without them, as Chesterton said: ‘we could lose the humanity of Christ’; for in them, we experience his rootedness in our ordinary lives. Their passionate, single-minded following of Christ fascinates us as we recognize the source of their, and our, true greatness.”

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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