BTP2 Heaven In Faith: Day 1 Prayer 2 by St. Elizabeth of the Trinity – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Episode 2 “Heaven in Faith”  Day 1 Prayer 2  – “Abyss calls to Abyss”

This episode with Dr. Anthony Lillis and Kris McGregor focuses on the spiritual reflections of Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity, specifically her “Heaven in Faith” retreat and its application to prayerful living. The discussion centers around the integration of daily life with constant prayer, inspired by the second prayer of the retreat’s first day. This prayer, deeply rooted in the writings of Saint Elizabeth, emphasizes the call to “remain in me” as expressed by Jesus, advocating for a perpetual, habitual dwelling in God’s presence.

Saint Elizabeth’s reflections, as explored by Dr. Lillis, stress the importance of incorporating themes for meditation throughout the day, a practice that aligns with the spiritual exercises developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola. This method of reflection, involving morning and evening prayers followed by meditation, is aimed at fostering a deeper communion with Christ’s transforming love. Elizabeth’s writings serve as a guide for her sister and other believers to internalize divine teachings and apply them to their lives, thereby cultivating a continuous awareness of God’s presence.

Dr. Lillis elaborates on Elizabeth’s profound understanding of “remaining” in God, which is not limited to fleeting moments but extends to a permanent, habitual state of being with God in all aspects of life. This approach is rooted in Elizabeth’s personal experiences of divine presence and her contemplation of scripture, particularly her meditation on the simple yet profound line from scripture, “remain in me.” Elizabeth’s teachings advocate for a life where every action and relationship is infused with an awareness of God, encouraging believers to maintain joy in His presence amidst daily challenges.

The conversation also delves into the theological foundation of Elizabeth’s insights, highlighting the indwelling of the Trinity and the transformative journey of acknowledging one’s misery and nothingness before God’s mercy. Elizabeth’s writings reveal a path to spiritual transformation through the embrace of our weaknesses and failures, where encounters with God’s mercy lead to a life of love and grace.

Throughout the podcast, the connection between Saint Elizabeth’s excerpts and the discussion is deliberately woven to illustrate her significant contribution to understanding prayer and spiritual life. Her emphasis on recollection, or the discipline of turning one’s heart and mind back to God, emerges as a central theme. Elizabeth’s reflections on descending the “pathway of the abyss,” where one’s nothingness meets God’s mercy, underscore the potential for spiritual growth and transformation through the practice of remaining in Jesus. This practice not only fosters a contemplative and unceasing prayer life but also exemplifies how every aspect of daily life can become an expression of prayer, leading to a profound union with God.

Day 2 Second Prayer

3. “Remain in Me.” It is the Word of God who gives this order, expresses this wish. Remain in Me, not for a few moments, a few hours which must pass away, but “remain . . .” permanently, habitually, Remain in Me, pray in Me, adore in Me, love in Me, suffer in Me, work and act in Me. Remain in Me so that you may be able to encounter anyone or anything; penetrate further still into these depths. This is truly the “solitude into which God wants to allure the soul that He may speak to it,” as the prophet sang.

4. In order to understand this very mysterious saying, we must not, so to speak, stop at the surface, but enter ever deeper into the divine Being through recollection. “I pursue my course,” exclaimed St. Paul; so must we descend daily this pathway of the Abyss which is God; let us slide down this slope in wholly loving confidence. “Abyss calls to abyss.” It is there in the very depths that the divine impact takes place, where the abyss of our nothingness encounters the Abyss of mercy, the immensity of the allof God. There we will find the strength to die to ourselves and, losing all vestige of self, we will be changed into love. . . . “Blessed are those who die in the Lord”!

Elizabeth of the Trinity. The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity, vol. 1 (featuring a General Introduction and Major Spiritual Writings) (Elizabeth of the Trinity Complete Work) (pp. 94-95). ICS Publications. Kindle Edition.

Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Personal Encounter with God’s Presence: Reflect on your own experiences of God’s presence in your life. Can you recall moments where you felt particularly close to God, similar to Saint Elizabeth’s experiences? How do these moments influence your desire to “remain in Him” continuously?
  2. Integration of Prayer into Daily Life: Saint Elizabeth emphasizes the importance of habitually remaining in God’s presence, not just during formal prayer times but throughout the day. Reflect on the challenges and opportunities you face in integrating prayer and awareness of God into your daily activities. How can you make every action and relationship a reflection of your prayerful communion with God?
  3. Encountering God in Weakness and Misery: The podcast discusses the concept of encountering God’s mercy in the midst of recognizing our own misery and weakness. Reflect on how acknowledging your weaknesses and failures can be a pathway to experiencing God’s mercy and love more deeply. How does this perspective change your understanding of spiritual growth and transformation?
  4. Practice of Recollection: Saint Elizabeth speaks about recollection as turning our hearts and minds back to God. Reflect on the practice of recollection in your own spiritual life. What practical steps can you take to cultivate this discipline, ensuring that your awareness of God permeates everything you do?
  5. Living a Life Transformed by Love: The ultimate goal of Saint Elizabeth’s reflections is to be transformed into love through the grace of God. Reflect on what it means to you to be “changed into love.” How can you more fully live out this transformation in your relationships, decisions, and actions?

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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