Dr. Lilles continues the spiritual explorations of the Letters of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity. In this episode, we discuss letter 158, with a special focus on the nature of mystical and contemplative prayer as described below:
[February 24, 1903]
Dijon Carmel, February
J. M. + J. T.
Before entering into the great silence of Lent, I want to answer your kind letter. And my soul needs to tell you that it is wholly in communion with yours, letting itself be caught, carried away, invaded by Him whose charity envelops us and who wishes to consummate us into “one” with Him. I thought of you when I read these words of Père Vallée on contemplation: “The contemplative is a being who lives in the radiance of the Face of Christ, who enters into the mystery of God, not in the light that flows from human thought, but in that created by the word of the Incarnate Word.”3 Don’t you have this passion to listen to Him?3a Sometimes it is so strong, this need to be silent, that one would like to know how to do nothing but remain like Magdalene, that beautiful model for the contemplative soul, at the feet of the Master, eager to hear everything, to penetrate ever deeper into this mystery of Charity that He came to reveal to us. Don’t you find that in action, when we are in Martha’s role,4 the soul can still remain wholly adoring, buried like Magdalene in her contemplation, staying by this source like someone who is starving; and this is how I understand the Carmelite’s apostolate as well as the priest’s. Then both can radiate God, give Him to souls, if they constantly stay close to this divine source. It seems to me that we should draw so close to the Master, in such communion with His soul, to identify ourselves with all its movements, and then go out as He did, according to the will of His Father. Then it does not matter what happens to the soul, since it has faith in the One it loves who dwells within it. During this Lent I would like, as Saint Paul says, “to be buried in God with Christ,”5 to be lost in this Trinity who will one day be our vision, and in this divine light penetrate into the depth of the Mystery. Would you pray that I may be wholly surrendered and that my Beloved Bridegroom may carry me away wherever He wishes. A Dieu, Monsieur l’Abbé, let us remain in His love;6 is He not that infinity for which our souls so thirst?
Sr. M. Elizabeth of the Trinity, r.c.i.
Our Reverend Mother asks me to express her gratitude for the canticle; how good she is and how she gives God (to others), don’t you agree? On Monday7 I will offer Holy Communion for you; don’t forget me either.
Catez, Elizabeth of the Trinity. The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 2: Letters from Carmel (pp. 95-96). ICS Publications. Kindle Edition.
Special thanks to Miriam Gutierrez for her readings of St. Elizabeth’s letters
For other episodes in the series visit
The Discerning Hearts “The Letters of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity” with Dr. Anthony Lilles’
Anthony Lilles, S.T.D. is an associate professor and the academic dean of Saint John’s Seminary in Camarillo as well as the academic advisor for Juan Diego House of Priestly Formation for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. For over twenty years he served the Church in Northern Colorado where he joined and eventually served as dean of the founding faculty of Saint John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver. Through the years, clergy, seminarians, religious and lay faithful have benefited from his lectures and retreat conferences on the Carmelite Doctors of the Church and the writings of St. Elisabeth of the Trinity.