BTP7 Heaven In Faith Day 4 Prayer 1 by St. Elizabeth of the Trinity – Beginning to Pray w/ Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts Podcasts

Episode 7 “Heaven in Faith” Day 4 Prayer 1  – “Our God, wrote St. Paul, is a consuming Fire”

This episode with Dr. Anthony Lillis and Kris McGregor discusses Elizabeth’s emphasis on the universal call to contemplative prayer and her belief that living in love, as she describes, should be an immediate and constant reality for Christians. Dr. Lillis elaborates on the retreat’s core message: that individuals are called to dwell in the love of the Trinity, experiencing this love in the present moment, and allowing it to inform and transform all aspects of their lives.

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity

Elizabeth’s reflections suggest that contemplative prayer deepens one’s relationship with God and facilitates a transformation into divine love, influencing not only personal spirituality but also familial and communal relationships. Dr. Lilles connects this transformative process with the broader Christian tradition, including references to other saints and scriptural teachings. He also addresses potential misunderstandings about Christian mysticism, clarifying that becoming like God does not mean losing one’s personhood but fully realizing one’s humanity in the divine image.

Overall, the discussion underscores the profound impact of contemplative prayer on personal growth, familial bonds, and the ability to love authentically and selflessly, reflecting the heart of Christian life and vocation.


Day 4 First Prayer

13. “Deus ignus consumens.” Our God, wrote St. Paul, is a consuming Fire, that is “a fire of love” which destroys, which “transforms into itself everything that it touches.” “The delights of the divine enkindling51 are renewed in our depths by an unremitting activity: the enkindling of love in a mutual and eternal satisfaction. It is a renewal that takes place at every moment in the bond of love.” Certain souls “have chosen this refuge to rest there eternally, and this is the silence in which, somehow, they have lost themselves.” “Freed from their prison, they sail on the Ocean of Divinity without any creature being an obstacle or hindrance to them.”

14. For these souls, the mystical death of which St. Paul spoke yesterday becomes so simple and sweet! They think much less of the work of destruction and detachment that remains for them to do than of plunging into the Furnace of love burning within them which is none other than the Holy Spirit, the same Love which in the Trinity is the bond between the Father and His Word. They “enter into Him by living faith, and there, in simplicity and peace” they are “carried away by Him” beyond all things, beyond sensible pleasures, “into the sacred darkness” and are “transformed into the divine image.” They live, in St. John’s expression, in “communion” with the Three adorable Persons, “sharing” their life, and this is “the contemplative life”; this contemplation “leads to possession.” “Now this simple possession is eternal life savored in the unfathomable abode. It is there, beyond reason, that the profound tranquillity of the divine immutability awaits us.”

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. 98-99). ICS Publications. Kindle Edition.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Contemplative Prayer and Daily Life: How can I integrate contemplative prayer into my daily routine to remain in constant communion with God? What practical steps can I take to cultivate a more prayerful attitude throughout my day?
  2. Dwelling in Love: Saint Elizabeth emphasizes the call to dwell in the love of the Trinity. Reflect on what it means to “dwell in love” in your own life. How can you open your heart more fully to this divine presence?
  3. Transformation through Love: Consider how the experience of God’s love has transformed or can transform your life. In what ways do you see yourself being called to change, to die to self, and to live more fully in God’s love?
  4. The Role of Suffering: Reflect on how encountering Jesus in the painful parts of your life has or can bring about spiritual growth. How can you invite God into these areas of struggle or suffering?
  5. Family and Community: Dr. Lilles connects Elizabeth’s teachings to the concept of the family as a “school of love.” How does your faith influence your relationships with family and community? In what ways can you foster a more loving, Christ-centered environment in your home or community?
  6. Christian Joy: Consider the distinction between happiness and joy in the Christian sense. How have you experienced the joy of the Lord even during challenging times? What does it mean to find joy in God’s presence regardless of external circumstances?
  7. Spiritual Maturity: Reflect on the process of becoming fully human and fully alive in God’s image, as discussed by Dr. Lilles. What does spiritual maturity look like for you? How can you cooperate more fully with God’s transformative grace in your life?
  8. Love in Action: Saint Elizabeth wanted her spirituality to apply to the real world. Reflect on the statement, “my only occupation is loving.” How can you apply this ideal in your interactions, decisions, and service to others?

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 www.beginningtopray.com .

BTP6 Heaven In Faith Day 3 Prayer 2 by St. Elizabeth of the Trinity – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts Podcasts

Episode 6 “Heaven in Faith”  Day 3 Prayer 2  – “You have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God”

This episode with Dr. Anthony Lillis and Kris McGregor discusses the concept of spiritual death, where the soul, aspiring to be close to God, must detach and surrender itself entirely to divine will, transcending earthly attachments. This process is likened to St. Paul’s teaching about dying to oneself daily, allowing Christ to increase within. The discussion touches upon the dark night of the soul, as described by St. John of the Cross, emphasizing that such experiences, though challenging, are avenues for profound encounters with God, beyond mere understanding or feeling.

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity

The episode delves into the necessity of trusting God amidst sufferings and renunciations, illustrating this through personal anecdotes and the experiences of saints like Teresa of Avila. It addresses the human struggle with attachments, guilt, and the reality of death, urging listeners to embrace these realities not as ends in themselves but as means to deeper union with God.

In summary, the episode underscores the transformative power of divine love and the call to surrender fully to God, highlighting the paradox that true life in Christ requires a willingness to undergo spiritual death and detachment.


Day 3 Second Prayer

11. “You have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” St. Paul comes to bring us a light to guide us on the pathway of the abyss. “You have died!” What does that mean but that the soul that aspires to live close to God “in the invincible fortress of holy recollection” must be “set apart, stripped, and withdrawn from all things” (in spirit). This soul “finds within itself a simple ascending movement of love to God, whatever creatures may do; it is invincible to things which” pass away, “for it transcends them, seeking God alone.”

12. “Quotidie morior.” “I die daily.” I decrease, I renounce self more each day so that Christ may increase in me and be exalted; I “remain” very little “in the depths of my poverty.” I see “my nothingness, my misery, my weakness; I perceive that I am incapable of progress, of perseverance; I see the multitude of my shortcomings, my defects; I appear in my indigence.” “I fall down in my misery, confessing my distress, and I display it before the mercy” of my Master. “Quotidie morior.” I place the joy of my soul (as to the will, not sensible feelings) in everything that can immolate, destroy, or humble me, for I want to make room for my Master. I live no longer I, but He lives in me: I no longer want “to live my own life, but to be transformed in Jesus Christ so that my life may be more divine than human,” so that the Father in bending attentively over me can recognize the image of His beloved Son in whom He has placed all His delight.

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. 97-98). ICS Publications. Kindle Edition.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Self-Reflection and Renunciation: How do you understand the concept of “dying daily” in your spiritual life, and are there specific attachments or desires you feel called to renounce to grow closer to God?
  2. Trust in God Amidst Suffering: Reflect on a time you experienced suffering or desolation. How did you respond to God during this time, and how can you cultivate a deeper trust in God despite difficulties?
  3. Encountering God in Darkness: How do you relate to the idea of the “dark night of the soul” as described by St. John of the Cross? Can you identify any periods in your life that might reflect this experience, and what did they teach you about your relationship with God?
  4. Spiritual Growth through Renunciation: Consider the areas in your life where God might be asking you to make space for Him through renunciation. What steps can you take to respond to this call?
  5. The Role of Prayer in Surrender: Reflect on your prayer life. How does prayer help you to surrender more fully to God, and how might you deepen your prayer life to facilitate this surrender?
  6. Learning from the Saints: How do the experiences and teachings of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity and St. Teresa of Avila inspire you in your spiritual journey? What specific aspect of their spiritual lives resonates with you the most?
  7. Love and Sacrifice: The podcast mentions that to love is to do so at one’s own expense. How do you understand this statement in the context of your faith and daily life? How does it challenge you to live out your Christian vocation?

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 www.beginningtopray.com .

BTP5 Heaven In Faith Day 3 Prayer 1 by St. Elizabeth of the Trinity – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts Podcasts

Episode 5 “Heaven in Faith”  Day 3 Prayer 1  – “We will come to him and make our home in him

This episode with Dr. Anthony Lillis and Kris McGregor unpacks the nuances of Saint Elizabeth’s call to deep, transformative prayer and how it aims to bring individuals closer to God. They explore Elizabeth’s profound connection with scripture, despite her limited access to full texts, showcasing her deep spiritual insight and understanding, particularly of Saint Paul’s writings and the Gospel of John. It highlights her emphasis on mature, sacrificial love as the essence of a deep relationship with God, contrasting this with more superficial, emotional attachments.Catholic Devotional Prayers and Novenas - Mp3 Audio Downloads and Text 8

Dr. Lilles further illustrates Elizabeth’s theology of love, explaining how true love for God transcends mere feelings, drawing on examples of self-giving and sacrifice that lead to a deeper divine intimacy. The narrative is enriched by the story of Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, whose experience in prison exemplifies how love can transform even the most dire circumstances into profound encounters with God.

Throughout the conversation, the focus remains on the transformative power of love and prayer, urging listeners to deepen their own spiritual lives by embracing these principles. The podcast serves as a guide for those seeking to cultivate a more profound prayer life and relationship with God, inspired by Saint Elizabeth’s enduring spiritual legacy.


Day 3 First Prayer

9. “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home in him.” The Master once more expresses His desire to dwell in us. “If anyone loves Me”! It is love that attracts, that draws God to His creatures: not a sensible love but that love “strong as death that deep waters cannot quench.”

10. “Because I love My Father, I do always the things that are pleasing to Him.” Thus spoke our holy Master, and every soul who wants to live close to Him must also live this maxim. The divine good pleasure33 must be its food, its daily bread; it must let itself be immolated by all the Father’s wishes in the likeness of His adored Christ. Each incident, each event, each suffering, as well as each joy, is a sacrament which gives God to it; so it no longer makes a distinction between these things; it surmounts them, goes beyond them to rest in its Master, above all things. It “exalts” Him high on the “mountain of its heart,” yes, “higher than His gifts, His consolation, higher than the sweetness that descends from Him.” “The property of love is never to seek self, to keep back nothing, but to give everything to the one it loves.” “Blessed the soul that loves” in truth; “the Lord has become its captive through love”!

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. 96-97). ICS Publications. Kindle Edition.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Understanding Sacrificial Love: How do you understand the difference between “sensible love” and “sacrificial love” in your own spiritual journey? Reflect on instances where you may have experienced each type of love.
  2. Scriptural Engagement: Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity had a profound connection with Scripture despite limited access. Reflect on your own approach to the Bible. How can you deepen your engagement with God’s word, and what role does the Holy Spirit play in this process for you?
  3. Love Attracting God: The podcast discusses the idea that our love attracts God to dwell within us. Reflect on your personal prayer life. How do you cultivate a love that draws God closer, and how do you perceive His presence in response?
  4. Transformative Suffering: Considering the story of Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, reflect on how suffering or hardship has transformed your relationship with God. Can you identify any “sacraments” in your sufferings that have brought you closer to God?
  5. Prayer and Relationship with God: Saint Elizabeth emphasizes deep prayer as a means to foster a profound relationship with God. Reflect on your prayer life: Is it more about speaking to God, or do you also cultivate silence to listen to Him? How can you incorporate elements of Saint Elizabeth’s approach to deepen your relationship with God?
  6. Love and Truth: The concept of loving in truth is highlighted as crucial for genuine spiritual growth. Reflect on your relationships and your love for God. Are there areas where you need to be more honest or authentic, both with God and with others?
  7. Living Love in Daily Life: Reflect on how you can live out the call to love sacrificially in everyday life. Are there specific actions or changes you can make to better embody this kind of love in your family, community, or workplace?

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 www.beginningtopray.com .

BTP4 Heaven In Faith: Day 2 Prayer 2 by St. Elizabeth of the Trinity – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts Podcasts

Episode 4 “Heaven in Faith”  Day 2 Prayer 2  – “Hurry and Come Down”

This episode with Dr. Anthony Lillis and Kris McGregor discussing the second prayer of the second day from St. Elizabeth of the Trinity’s retreat, “Heaven in Faith.” Dr. Lillis, an expert on Carmelite spirituality, emphasizes the importance of silence and contemplative prayer, drawing insights from St. Elizabeth’s reflections to guide listeners into a deeper spiritual journey.

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity

Dr. Lillis explains that the retreat encourages participants to find a phrase or sentence in the reflections that resonates with them, suggesting that this is a way God communicates personally. He emphasizes the need for solitude and interior reflection, moving away from external distractions to focus on God’s presence within the soul.

The discussion delves into the concept of humility and self-acceptance in the context of spiritual growth, highlighting the need to confront and surrender one’s inner brokenness and resistance to God. Dr. Lillis underscores the transformative power of God’s love, which purifies and refines the soul, likening this process to fire that burns away all impurities.

Moreover, Dr. Lillis connects this inner transformation with the sacramental life of the Church, particularly the Eucharist and Reconciliation, which provide grace and strength to overcome spiritual obstacles. He also highlights the importance of encountering Christ in various aspects of life, including the marginalized and the poor, as a means of deepening one’s relationship with God.

Overall, the episode offers a profound exploration of Carmelite spirituality, emphasizing the journey toward deeper union with God through prayer, self-examination, and the embrace of divine love.


Day 2 Second Prayer

7. “Hurry and come down, for I must stay in your house today.”  The Master unceasingly repeats this word to our soul which He once addressed to Zacchaeus. “Hurry and come down.” But what is this descent that He demands of us except an entering more deeply into our interior abyss?  This act is not “an external separation from external things,” but a “solitude of spirit,” a detachment from all that is not God.

8. “As long as our will has fancies that are foreign to divine union, whims that are now yes, now no, we are like children; we do not advance with giant steps in love for fire has not yet burnt up all the alloy; the gold is not pure; we are still seeking ourselves; God has not consumed” all our hostility to Him. But when the boiling cauldron has consumed “every imperfect love, every imperfect sorrow, every imperfect fear,” “then love is perfect and the golden ring of our alliance is larger than Heaven and earth. This is the secret cellar in which love places his elect,” this “love leads us by ways and paths known to him alone; and he leads us with no turning back, for we will not retrace our steps.”

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. 96). ICS Publications. Kindle Edition.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Personal Encounter with God: In what ways do I consciously make space to encounter God in my daily life? How can I cultivate a deeper awareness of God’s presence within me?
  2. Silence and Solitude: How do I integrate silence and solitude into my spiritual practice? What challenges do I face in doing so, and how can I overcome them?
  3. Contemplative Prayer: Reflect on your experience with contemplative prayer. How does it differ from your other prayer experiences? What fruits have you noticed from engaging in contemplative prayer?
  4. Self-acceptance and Humility: How do I deal with my own brokenness and limitations in my spiritual journey? In what ways can I practice true humility, acknowledging my dependence on God’s grace?
  5. Divine Love: Reflect on the concept of God’s purifying love as fire. How have you experienced this transformative love in your life? Are there areas in your life that you are hesitant to surrender to this purifying love?
  6. Sacramental Life: How do the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation, influence my spiritual life? What graces have I received from regular participation in these sacraments?
  7. Scriptural Engagement: How does Scripture inform and nourish my spiritual life? Can I identify a passage or story that has particularly moved me or challenged me recently?
  8. Love in Action: How am I called to see Christ in others, especially the marginalized or those in need? What concrete actions can I take to respond to this call?
  9. Interior Examination: In the context of an ‘examine’ of consciousness, what interior movements or inclinations have I noticed in myself? How do they align or conflict with my desire to grow closer to God?
  10. Spiritual Companionship: Who are my spiritual companions on this journey, and how do they support my growth? How can I be a better companion to others in their spiritual journey?

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 www.beginningtopray.com .

BTP3 Heaven In Faith: Day 2 Prayer 1 by St. Elizabeth of the Trinity – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts Podcasts

Episode 3 “Heaven in Faith”  Day 2 Prayer 1  – “The Kingdom of God is Within You”

This episode with Dr. Anthony Lillis and Kris McGregor delves into the writings of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, focusing on Retreat 2, Prayer 1 of her “Heaven in Faith” retreat. Dr. Lillis, an expert in Carmelite spirituality and theological contemplation, emphasizes the central theme that our hearts are meant to be a heaven where God resides, a reality made possible by grace and baptism. This retreat, initially penned for St. Elizabeth’s sister, invites believers to recognize and nurture God’s dwelling presence within, transforming it into the guiding force of their lives through faith renewal and the sacraments.

Catholic Devotional Prayers and Novenas - Mp3 Audio Downloads and Text 8St. Elizabeth’s writings illuminate the concept that the Kingdom of God is internal, a profound insight shared with St. John of the Cross, who believed that in the soul’s substance, where worldly and evil influences cannot reach, God imparts Himself, making every movement divine. This inner sanctuary, untouched by external forces, becomes the focal point for spiritual growth and intimacy with God, achievable through love, which binds the soul to its Creator. The more intense this love, the deeper the soul’s entry into God, culminating in a unity that transforms the individual into a reflection of the divine.

Dr. Lillis further explores the barriers modern individuals face in accessing this inner realm, notably the distractions and superficialities fueled by technology and material pursuits. He argues that neglecting the soul’s deeper needs can lead to spiritual emptiness or the pursuit of harmful or superficial remedies. Drawing parallels with the experiences of Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, he stresses the primacy of grace and the transformative power of prayer in attaining spiritual fulfillment. Christian contemplation, unlike other forms of mysticism, is characterized by its interpersonal nature, focusing on a relationship with Jesus Christ rather than seeking emotional or intellectual experiences.

This episode not only revisits the timeless wisdom of Carmelite saints but also addresses contemporary spiritual challenges, advocating for a deeper, love-filled pursuit of God within the soul’s sanctuary.


Day 3 First Prayer

5. “The kingdom of God is within you.” Awhile ago God invited us to “remain in Him,” to live spiritually in His glorious heritage, and now He reveals to us that we do not have to go out of ourselves to find Him: “The kingdom of God is within”! . . . St. John of the Cross says that “it is in the substance of the soul where neither the devil nor the world can reach” that God gives Himself to it; then “all its movements are divine, and although they are from God they also belong to the soul, because God works them in it and with it.”

6. The same saint also says that “God is the center of the soul. So when the soul with all” its “strength will know God perfectly, love and enjoy Him fully, then it will have reached the deepest center that can be attained in Him.” Before attaining this, the soul is already “in God who is its center,” “but it is not yet in its deepest center, for it can still go further. Since love is what unites us to God, the more intense this love is, the more deeply the soul enters into God and the more it is centered in Him. When it “possesses even one degree of love it is already in its center”; but when this love has attained its perfection, the soul will have penetrated into its deepest center. There it will be transformed to the point of becoming very like God.” To this soul living within can be addressed the words of Père Lacordaire to St. Mary Magdalene: “No longer ask for the Master among those on earth or in Heaven, for He is your soul and your soul is He.”

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. 95-96). ICS Publications. Kindle Edition.


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Understanding the Presence of God Within: How do you perceive the idea that our hearts are meant to be a heaven where God dwells? Reflect on your personal experiences of recognizing God’s presence within you.
  2. The Role of Grace in Spiritual Growth: Dr. Lillis emphasizes the primacy of grace over personal effort in growing closer to God. How have you experienced the role of grace in your spiritual journey? Can you identify moments when grace, rather than your own efforts, led to spiritual growth or transformation?
  3. Barriers to Interiority: The modern world presents numerous distractions that can lead us away from exploring our interior life. What are some barriers you face in seeking interiority and a deeper relationship with God? How can you address these barriers in your daily life?
  4. The Impact of Love on Spiritual Depth: St. Elizabeth and St. John of the Cross highlight love as the force that unites us with God, deepening our entry into Him. Reflect on how love has been a pathway to encountering God more deeply within your soul. What practices help you to grow in love for God and others?
  5. Contemplative Prayer vs. New Age Mysticism: The episode makes a distinction between Christian contemplation, which is interpersonal and focused on Jesus, and other forms of mysticism that seek emotional or intellectual experiences. How does this distinction influence your understanding of prayer and spiritual life?
  6. The Call to Interior Prayer: Reflect on the statement that the kingdom of God is within you. How does this truth affect your approach to prayer and daily living? Do you find it challenging to turn inward to meet Jesus in prayer? Why or why not?
  7. Overcoming Spiritual Distractions: In an age of technology and constant activity, how can you cultivate silence and stillness to listen to God’s voice within? What practical steps can you take to minimize distractions in your prayer life?
  8. Encountering Jesus in the Depths of the Soul: Dr. Lillis discusses encountering Jesus even in the absence of emotional or intellectual consolations. Have you ever experienced a sense of God’s presence that transcended feelings or thoughts? How does this experience influence your faith and prayer life?
  9. The Journey to the Deepest Center: St. Elizabeth speaks of penetrating into the deepest center of the soul through perfect love. What do you think this journey entails for you personally? How can you more fully open your heart to God’s love?
  10. Faith and the Interior Life: Finally, consider the role of faith in accessing the realities of God’s love and presence within us, as mentioned by Dr. Lillis. How does faith guide you to seek and find Jesus in the depths of your soul, beyond what is felt or seen?

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 www.beginningtopray.com .

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 www.beginningtopray.com .

BTP1 Heaven In Faith Day 1 Prayer 1 by St. Elizabeth of the Trinity – Beginning to Pray w/ Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Episode 1 Beginning to Pray:  “Heaven in Faith”  Day 1 Prayer 1  – “Remain in Me”

The podcast episode one, hosted by Kris McGregor with Dr. Anthony Lilles, delves into “Heaven in Faith” retreat by St. Elizabeth of the Trinity. Dr. Lilles, an expert on Carmelite spirituality, highlights the significance of St. Elizabeth Of The Trinity, a Carmelite mystic from Dijon, who emphasized deep prayer and a transforming encounter with Christ as accessible to all Catholics. St. Elizabeth’s retreat, intended for her sister, is a guide to fostering a profound, personal relationship with God through prayer, consisting of daily reflections for contemplation.

St. John Paul II, notably influenced by Elizabeth, exemplifies her wide-reaching impact, showcasing her role in deepening the spiritual lives of many, including his own. Despite limited access to the full Bible, Elizabeth’s reflections demonstrate a profound scriptural engagement, akin to Lectio Divina, showcasing her deep understanding and integration of scripture into her reflections on prayer and communion with God.

Central to Elizabeth’s first reflection is the depiction of Jesus’ desire for us to be in communion with Him and the Father, highlighting the personal, relational aspect of prayer. Elizabeth articulates that experiencing heaven, or living in communion with God, isn’t confined to the afterlife but begins in the present through faith and prayer. She stresses the universal call to holiness, asserting that all Christians, regardless of their life circumstances, are invited to share in this communion with God, achievable through prioritizing prayer in their lives.

This episode sets the stage for a series that promises to explore the depths of Carmelite spirituality and the profound insights of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity on prayer, communion with God, and the pursuit of holiness in everyday life.


Day 1 First Prayer

1. “Father, I will that where I am they also whom You have given Me may be with Me, in order that they may behold My glory which You have given Me, because You have loved Me before the creation of the world.” 1 Such is Christ’s last wish, His supreme prayer before returning to His Father. He wills that where He is we should be also, not only for eternity, but already in time, which is eternity begun and still in progress. It is important then to know where we must live with Him in order to realize His divine dream. “The place where the Son of God is hidden is the bosom of the Father, or the divine Essence, invisible to every mortal eye, unattainable by every human intellect,” 2 as Isaiah said: “Truly You are a hidden God.” 3 And yet His will is that we should be established in Him, that we should live where He lives, in the unity of love; that we should be, so to speak, His own shadow. 4

2. By baptism, says St. Paul, we have been united to Jesus Christ. 5 And again: “God seated us together in Heaven in Christ Jesus, that He might show in the ages to come the riches of His grace.” 6 And further on: “You are no longer guests or strangers, but you belong to the City of saints and the House of God.” 7 The Trinity— this is our dwelling, our “home,” the Father’s house that we must never leave. The Master said one day: “The slave does not remain with the household forever, but the son 8 remains there forever” (St. John). 9


Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. How does St. Elizabeth of the Trinity’s understanding of prayer challenge your current approach to prayer and relationship with God?
  2. Reflect on the idea that heaven is not just a future state but an experience accessible in the present through faith and prayer. How does this perspective shift your view of daily life and spiritual practice?
  3. St. Elizabeth emphasizes the importance of scripture in deepening our relationship with God, even without full access to the Bible. How can you more fully integrate scripture into your prayer life to foster a closer communion with God?
  4. Considering Jesus’ desire for communion with us, as highlighted by St. Elizabeth, how might you respond more fully to this desire in your own life of faith and prayer?
  5. St. Elizabeth’s reflections were intended to guide her sister, a busy mother, in deepening her spiritual life. How does this speak to the possibility of profound spiritual depth amidst the busyness of your daily responsibilities?

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 www.beginningtopray.com .

St. John of the Cross with Dr. Anthony Lilles – Beginning to Pray Special – Discerning Hearts Podcast

St. John of the Cross with Dr. Anthony Lilles – Beginning to Pray Special – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Dr. Anthony Lilles and Kris McGregor discuss the relationship between St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila. St. John initially considered joining the Carthusians due to his inclination toward the contemplative life. However, after encountering St. Teresa and her vision for the reform of the Carmelite order, he changed his vocation. St. Teresa convinced him that the renewal of the Church’s mental prayer and contemplation would be achieved through the reform of the Carmelites.

St. John of the Cross’ insights on the diversity of gifts within the Church are also mentioned, emphasizing the complementarity of different religious orders.

St. John of the Cross

For The Ascent of Mt. Carmel Audio Book visit this Discerning Hearts page

For commentary on various sections of The Ascent of Mt. Carmel by Dr. Lilles’ visit this Discerning Hearts page


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.

LST9 – The Passion of St. Therese – The Letters of St. Therese of Lisieux with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

The Passion of St. Therese – The Letters of St. Therese of Lisieux with Fr. Timothy GallagherBA6 - "Refuse to Accept Discouragement" - Begin Again: The Spiritual Legacy of Ven. Bruno Lanteri with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

In this conversation, Fr. Gallagher reflects on the suffering of St. Therese and her experience of it in light of the “Little Way” as seen in her letters and the observations from others.

St. Therese of Liesuex

Here are some of the various texts Fr. Gallagher refers to in this episode:

The Letters of St. Therese of Lisieux, Vol. I: 1877-1890 (Critical edition of the complete works of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux)

Letters of St. Therese of Lisieux, Vol. II

This is one of the letters Fr. Gallagher refers to in this episode
An Excerpt from LT 226 From Thérèse to P. Roulland.

May 9, 1897

I do not understand, Brother, how you seem to doubt your immediate entrance into heaven if the infidels were to take your life. I know one must be very pure to appear before the God of all Holiness, but I know, too, that the Lord is infinitely just; and it is this justice which frightens so many souls that is the object of my joy and confidence. To be just is not only to exercise severity in order to punish the guilty; it is also to recognize right intentions and to reward virtue. I expect as much from God’s justice as from His mercy. It is because He is just that “He is compassionate and filled with gentleness, slow to punish, and abundant in mercy, for He knows our frailty, He remembers we are only dust. As a father has tenderness for his children, so the Lord has compassion on us!!” 6 Oh, Brother, when hearing these beautiful and consoling words of the Prophet-King, how can we doubt that God will open the doors of His kingdom to His children who loved Him even to sacrificing all for Him, who have not only left their family and their country to make Him known and loved, but even desire to give their life for Him whom they love…. Jesus was very right in saying that there is no greater love than that! 7 How would He allow Himself to be overcome in generosity? How would He purify in the flames of purgatory souls consumed in the fires of divine love? It is true that no human life is exempt from faults; only the Immaculate Virgin presents herself absolutely pure before the divine Majesty. Since she loves us and since she knows our weakness, what have we to fear? Here are a lot of sentences to express my thought, or rather not to succeed in expressing it, I wanted simply to say that it seems to me all missionaries are martyrs by desire and will and that, as a consequence, not one should have to go to purgatory. If there remains in their soul at the moment of appearing before God some trace of human weakness, the Blessed Virgin obtains for them the grace of making an act of perfect love, and then she gives them the palm and the crown that they so greatly merited.

This is, Brother, what I think of God’s justice; 8 my way is all confidence and love. I do not understand souls who fear a Friend so tender. At times, when I am reading certain spiritual treatises in which perfection is shown through a thousand obstacles, surrounded by a crowd of illusions, my poor little mind quickly tires; I close the learned book that is breaking my head and drying up my heart, 9 and I take up Holy Scripture. 10 Then all seems luminous to me; a single word uncovers for my soul infinite horizons, perfection seems simple to me, I see it is sufficient to recognize one’s nothingness and to abandon oneself as a child into God’s arms. Leaving to great souls, to great minds the beautiful books I cannot understand, much less put into practice, I rejoice at being little since children alone and those who resemble them will be admitted to the heavenly banquet. 11 I am very happy there are many mansions in God’s kingdom, 12 for if there were only the one whose description and road seems incomprehensible to me, I would not be able to enter there. I would like, however, not to be too far from your mansion; in consideration of your merits, I hope God will give me the favor of sharing in your glory, just as on earth the sister of a conqueror, were she deprived of the gifts of nature, shares in the honors bestowed on her brother in spite of her own poverty.

St. Therese of Lisieux. Letters of St. Therese of Lisieux, Volume II: General Correspondence 1890-1897 (Critical Edition of the Complete Works of Saint Therese of Lisieux Book 2) (Kindle Locations 7175-7190). ICS publications. Kindle Edition..


Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life:  The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola”. For more information on how to obtain copies of Fr. Gallaghers’s various books and audio which are available for purchase, please visit  his  website:   frtimothygallagher.org

For the other episodes in this series check out “The Letters of St. Therese of Lisieux with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts” page

LST7 – The Personality of St. Therese – The Letters of St. Therese of Lisieux with Fr. Timothy Gallagher Discerning Hearts Podcast

BA6 - "Refuse to Accept Discouragement" - Begin Again: The Spiritual Legacy of Ven. Bruno Lanteri with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

The Personality of St. Therese – The Letters of St. Therese of Lisieux with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

In this conversation, Fr. Gallagher continues to reflect on the illuminating personality of St. Therese, by examining several letters written about her and letters she wrote to extended family members.

St. Therese of Liesuex

Here are some of the various texts Fr. Gallagher refers to in this episode:

The Letters of St. Therese of Lisieux, Vol. I: 1877-1890 (Critical edition of the complete works of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux)

Letters of St. Therese of Lisieux, Vol. II


This is one of the letters Fr. Gallagher refers to in this episode
LT 166 From Thérèse to Mme. Pottier (Céline Maudelonde).

J.M.J.T.

Jesus †
Carmel, July 16, 1894

Dear little Céline,

Your letter gave me real joy. I marvel at how the Blessed Virgin is pleased to answer all your desires. Even before your marriage, she willed that the soul to whom you were to be joined form only one with yours by means of an identity of feelings. What a grace for you to feel you are so well understood, and, above all, to know your union will be everlasting, that after this life, you will still be able to love the husband who is so dear to you!…

They have passed away, then, for us both the blessed days of our childhood! We are now at the serious stage of life; the road we are following is different, however, the goal is the same. Both of us must have only one same purpose: to sanctify ourselves in the way God has traced out for us.1

I feel, dear little friend, that I can speak freely to you; you understand the language of faith better than that of the world, and the Jesus of your First Communion has remained the Master of your heart. In Him, you love the beautiful soul who forms only one with yours, and it is because of Him that your love is so tender and so strong.

Oh! how beautiful is our religion; instead of contracting hearts (as the world believes), it raises them up and renders them capable of loving, or loving with a love almost infinite since this love must continue after this mortal life which is given to us only for meriting the homeland of heaven where we shall find again the dear ones whom we have loved on earth!

I had asked for you, dear Céline, from Our Lady of Mount Carmel the grace you have obtained at Lourdes. How happy I am that you are clothed in the holy scapular!2 It is a sure sign of predestination, and besides are you not more intimately united by means of it to your little sisters in Carmel?…

You ask, dear little cousin, that I pray for your dear husband; do you think, then, I could fail in this?… No, I could not separate you in my weak prayers. I am asking Our Lord to be as generous in your regard as he was formerly to the spouses at the wedding of Cana. May He always change water into wine!3… That is to say, may He continue to make you happy and to soften as much as possible the trials that you encounter in life.

Trials, how could I place this word in my letter, when I know everything is happiness for you?…

Pardon me, dear little friend; enjoy in peace the joy God is giving you, without disturbing yourself regarding the future. He is reserving for you, I am sure, new graces and many consolations.

Our good Mother Marie de Gonzague is very appreciative of your kind remembrance of her, and she herself is not forgetting her dear little Céline. Our Mother and Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart are also very happy because of your joy, and they ask me to assure you of their affection.

I dare, dear little cousin,4 to beg you to offer my respectful regards to Monsieur Pottier, whom I cannot refrain from considering also as my cousin.

I leave you, dear Céline, remaining always united to you in my heart, and I shall, throughout my life, be happy to call myself, Your little sister in Jesus,

Thérèse of the Child Jesus
rel. carm. ind.

St. Therese of Lisieux. Letters of St. Therese of Lisieux, Volume II: General Correspondence 1890-1897 (Critical Edition of the Complete Works of Saint Therese of Lisieux Book 2) (Kindle Locations 3118-3148). ICS publications. Kindle Edition.


Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life:  The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola”. For more information on how to obtain copies of Fr. Gallaghers’s various books and audio which are available for purchase, please visit  his  website:   frtimothygallagher.org

For the other episodes in this series check out “The Letters of St. Therese of Lisieux with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts” page