A Carmelite is a soul who has looked upon the Crucified, who has seen Him offering himself as a Victim for souls to His Father, and recollecting herself beneath this great vision of Christ’s charity, she has understood the ardent love of His soul and has willed to give herself as He did.
(St Elizabeth of the Trinity)
We will spend this week under the patronage of St Elizabeth of the Trinity, a young French Carmelite who died in 1906 at the age of 26.
Even as a young girl Elizabeth was conscious of God dwelling within her and this led her to develop a deep interior life. She was attracted to Carmel by its combination of silence and solitude with a warm, sisterly life in community.
A Carmelite hungers for silence that she may always listen, penetrate ever deeper into His Infinite Being. (Letter 123)
Read and Reflect
My Rule tells me: “In silence will your strength be”. It seems to me, therefore, that to keep one’s strength for the Lord is to unify one’s whole being by means of interior silence, to collect all one’s powers in order to employ them in the one work of love…A soul that debates with itself, that is taken up with its feelings, and pursues useless thoughts and desires, scatters its forces, for it is not wholly directed towards God. (St Elizabeth. Last Retreat)
On the mountain of Carmel, in silence, in solitude, in prayer that never ends, for it continues through everything, the Carmelite already lives as if in heaven, by God alone. (Letter 133)
Remember that you are in Him, that He makes Himself your dwelling here below; and then, that He is in you, that you possess Him in the most intimate part of yourself, that at 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. (Letter 175)
I think if we are to meet so many needs, we must become a ‘continual prayer’ and love much. The power of a soul surrendered to love is so great. (Letter 225)
Let us sanctify ourselves for souls, and since we are all members of one body, in so far as we have an abundance of divine life, we can communicate it in the great body of the Church. (Letter 191)
Contemplative prayer is a communion of love bearing Life for the multitude, to the extent that it consents to abide in the night of faith. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2719)
- Do any of Elizabeth’s words resonate with you?
- Can you find times and places of silence in your life?
- Are you comfortable with being alone sometimes?
- A brilliant pianist, Elizabeth made the sacrifice of music when she entered Carmel. What would be the biggest thing you would have to sacrifice?
- Elizabeth had a difficult time with her mother when she spoke of her wish to enter Carmel. How do you think your family and friends would react? – And how would you handle it?
Lectio Ephesians, 1: 3-12
To do: Listen to the podcasts from St Elizabeth of the Trinity.
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 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 `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! Amen
(extract from St Elizabeth’s prayer to the Trinity)