BTP-L5 – Letter 165 – The Letters of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Letter 165 – The Letters of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles

Dr. Anthony Lilles and Kris McGregor look into a letter from Elizabeth of the Trinity that reflects her profound reflections on the Eucharist and its spiritual significance. Elizabeth sees the Eucharist as the ultimate expression of God’s love, a foretaste of the beatific vision, and a source of heavenly communion on earth: The union with God through the Eucharist, where believers experience a deep, personal love and presence of God, which transforms them.

They also touch on the historical context of Elizabeth’s time, particularly the closing of the Carmel chapel due to anti-church sentiments in France. Despite external turmoil, Elizabeth focuses on the internal, spiritual reality, urging believers to find solace and transformation in the Eucharist.

Elizabeth’s insights are relevant today, especially for those struggling with self-worth and life’s hardships. She encourages turning inward to God’s immense love in the Eucharist, withdrawing from external distractions, and embracing the presence of Christ in faith, even amidst darkness and trials; as well as renunciation, humility, and accepting God’s trials to make space for His presence in our hearts. The role of Mary, the Mother of God, in guiding believers towards a simple, fruitful surrender to God’s will.

Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Understanding Elizabeth’s View of the Eucharist How does Elizabeth of the Trinity describe the Eucharist as a consummation of God’s love and a foretaste of the beatific vision?
  2. Historical Context and Spiritual Focus What does Elizabeth’s focus on spiritual realities instead of external turmoil teach us about handling modern-day challenges?
  3. Dealing with Self-Loathing and Hardships How can Elizabeth’s perspective on God’s immense love help individuals struggling with self-loathing and feelings of failure?
  4. Renunciation and Creating Space for God What are practical ways we can practice renunciation in our daily lives to make space for God’s peace and presence?
  5. Embracing Trials for Spiritual Growth How can accepting and surrendering to God during times of trial open our hearts to a deeper relationship with Him?
  6. Role of Mary in Spiritual Life How can we look to Mary, the Mother of God, for guidance and support in our spiritual journey towards a simple, fruitful surrender?
  7. Eucharist as Bread for the Journey In what ways can receiving the Eucharist strengthen and heal us, especially in times of spiritual sickness or challenge?
  8. Silence and Peace in a Noisy World How can we cultivate a soul that is wholly at peace amid the noise and distractions of modern life?
  9. Faith in Darkness What does it mean to have “faith in darkness,” and how can this deepen our bond with Jesus?
  10. Support of the Saints and Angels How can the knowledge that we are supported by the saints, angels, and the Blessed Mother give us courage and strength in our faith journey?

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity

Letter 165

[ June 14, 1903]
Dijon Carmel, June 14
J. M. + J. T.

“Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.”2

Monsieur l’Abbé, It seems to me that nothing better expresses the love in God’s Heart than the Eucharist: it is union, consummation, He in us, we in Him, and isn’t that Heaven on earth? Heaven in faith while awaiting the face-to-face vision we so desire. Then “we will be satisfied when His glory appears,”3 when we see Him in His light. Don’t you find that the thought of this meeting refreshes the soul, this talk with Him whom it loves solely? Then everything disappears and it seems that one is already entering into the mystery of God! . . .

This whole mystery is so much “ours,” as you said to me in your letter. Oh! pray, won’t you, that I may live fully my bridal dowry. That I may be wholly available, wholly vigilant in faith, so the Master can bear me wherever He wishes. I wish to stay always close to Him who knows the whole mystery, to hear everything from Him. “The language of the Word is the infusion of the gift,”4 oh yes, it is really so, isn’t it, that He speaks to our soul in silence. I find this dear silence a blessing. From Ascension to Pentecost, we were in retreat in the Cenacle, waiting for the Holy Spirit, and it was so good.5 During that whole Octave6 we have the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the oratory; those are divine hours spent in this little corner of Heaven where we possess the vision in substance under the humble Host. Yes, He whom the blessed contemplate in light and we adore in faith is really the same One. The other day someone wrote me such a beautiful thought, I send it on to you: “Faith is the face-to-face in darkness.”7 Why wouldn’t it be so for us, since God is in us and since He asks only to take possession of us as He took possession of the saints? Only, they were always attentive, as Père Vallée says: “They are silent, recollected, and their only activity is to be the being who receives.”8 Let us unite ourselves, therefore, Father, in making happy Him who “has loved us exceedingly,”9 as Saint Paul says. Let us make a dwelling for Him in our soul that is wholly at peace,10 in which the canticle of love, of thanksgiving, is always being sung; and then that great silence, the echo of the silence that is in God! . . . Then, as you said, let us approach the all-pure, all-luminous Virgin, that she may present us to Him whom she has penetrated so profoundly, and may our life be a continual communion, a wholly simple movement toward God. Pray to the Queen of Carmel for me; I, for my part, pray fervently for you, I assure you, and I remain with you in adoration and love! . . .

Sister Marie Elizabeth of the Trinity, r.c.i.

Catez, Elizabeth of the Trinity. The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 2: Letters from Carmel (pp. 105-106). ICS Publications. Kindle Edition.

We would like to thank Miriam Gutierrez for providing “the voice” of St. Elizabeth for this series

For other episodes in the series visit the Discerning Hearts page for Dr. Anthony Lilles

Anthony Lilles, S.T.D., has served the Church and assisted in the formation of clergy and seminarians since 1994. Before coming to St. Patrick’s, he served at seminaries and houses of formation in the Archdiocese of Denver and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The son of a California farmer, married with young adult children, holds a B.A. in theology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville with both the ecclesiastical licentiate and doctorate in spiritual theology from the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Rome (the Angelicum). An expert in the writings of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity and the Carmelite Doctors of the Church, he co-founded the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation and the High Calling Program for priestly vocations. He also founded the John Paul II Center for Contemplative Culture, which hosts symposiums, retreats, and conferences. In addition to his publications, he blogs at .

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