BTP5 Heaven In Faith Day 3 Prayer 1 by St. Elizabeth of the Trinity – Beginning to Pray w/ 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 w/ 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 w/ 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 w/ 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 .

BTP-LOT14 – The Journey of Prayer – The Life of St. Teresa of Avila – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts Podcast

The Journey of Prayer – The Life of St. Teresa of Avila – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles

Dr. Anthony Lilles and Kris McGregor discuss the transformative journey of prayer as experienced and taught by St. Teresa of Avila. Dr. Lilles highlights St. Teresa’s autobiographical work as not just a recount of her life but as an instructional guide on the spiritual journey toward deeper communion with God through prayer.

St. Teresa’s teachings emphasize the progression through different stages or degrees of prayer, which she explores more deeply in her masterpiece, “The Interior Castle.” This progression reflects a soul’s journey from initial efforts in prayer, characterized by personal exertion and devotion, towards the profound experiences of mystical prayer, where God takes the initiative and intimately unites with the soul.

The focus of this episode is on St. Teresa’s use of vivid metaphors, like drawing water from a well and the soul as a garden, to describe the nurturing of spiritual virtues through prayer. These stages of prayer, from vocal and meditative prayer to the more advanced states of recollection, quiet, and ultimately union with God, are accessible to all baptized Christians as part of their spiritual heritage and call to holiness.

Dr. Lilles also addresses common challenges and misconceptions about spiritual progress, emphasizing the importance of humility, confidence in God’s grace, and openness to the transformative power of divine love. He encourages listeners to engage deeply with St. Teresa’s writings and to recognize the universal call to a profound spiritual life grounded in prayer.

This episode serves as a compelling invitation to deepen one’s prayer life by following the path laid out by St. Teresa of Avila, understanding prayer not just as a practice but as a journey of love, transformation, and intimate union with God.


St. Teresa of Avila Interior Castle Podcast Anthony Lilles Kris McGregor

For more episodes in this series: The Life of St. Teresa of Avila; with Dr. Anthony Lilles

For an audio version of the book  “The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus” by St. Teresa of Avila

For other audio recordings of various spiritual classics, you can visit the Discerning Hearts Spiritual Classics page.


Discerning Hearts reflection questions for this episode:

  1. How does St. Teresa of Avila’s metaphor of drawing water from a well resonate with your own prayer life and efforts to nurture spiritual virtues?
  2. Reflect on the progression from vocal prayer to mystical prayer in your life. Have you experienced moments where you felt God was taking the initiative in your prayer?
  3. St. Teresa emphasizes humility in prayer. How do you understand humility in the context of your spiritual journey, and how can you cultivate a more humble approach to God?
  4. Consider the metaphor of the soul as a garden. What ‘flowers’ or virtues are you currently watering through your prayer, and what steps can you take to cultivate them more fully?
  5. St. Teresa describes different stages of prayer, including the prayer of quiet and union with God. Have you encountered these states in your prayer life, and how have they transformed your relationship with God?
  6. Reflect on the challenges and barriers you face in deepening your prayer life. How can St. Teresa’s teachings help you overcome these obstacles and grow in intimacy with God?
  7. Prayer is both a personal journey and a way to draw closer to the community of the Church. How does your prayer life connect you with the wider Church, and how can you use your experiences to support and encourage others in their spiritual journeys?

An excerpt from Chapter 11, discussed in this episode:

“I speak now of those who begin to be the servants of love; that seems to me to be nothing else but to resolve to follow Him in the way of prayer, who has loved us so much. It is a dignity so great, that I have a strange joy in thinking of it; for servile fear vanishes at once, if we are, as we ought to be, in the first degree. O Lord of my soul, and my good, how is it that, when a soul is determined to love Thee—doing all it can, by forsaking all things, in order that it may the better occupy itself with the love of God—it is not Thy will it should have the joy of ascending at once to the possession of perfect love? I have spoken amiss; I ought to have said, and my complaint should have been, why is it we do not? for the fault is wholly our own that we do not rejoice at once in a dignity so great, seeing that the attaining to the perfect possession of this true love brings all blessings with it.

We think so much of ourselves, and are so dilatory in giving ourselves wholly to God, that, as His Majesty will not let us have the fruition of that which is so precious but at a great cost, so neither do we perfectly prepare ourselves for it. I see plainly that there is nothing by which so great a good can be procured in this world. If, however, we did what we could, not clinging to anything upon earth, but having all our thoughts and conversation in Heaven, I believe that this blessing would quickly be given us, provided we perfectly prepared ourselves for it at once, as some of the saints have done. We think we are giving all to God; but, in fact, we are offering only the revenue or the produce, while we retain the fee-simple of the land in our own possession.

We resolve to become poor, and it is a resolution of great merit; but we very often take great care not to be in want, not simply of what is necessary, but of what is superfluous: yea, and to make for ourselves friends who may supply us; and in this way we take more pains, and perhaps expose ourselves to greater danger, in order that we may want nothing, than we did formerly, when we had our own possessions in our own power.”


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.

BTP-LOT13 – The Journey of Prayer – The Life of St. Teresa of Avila – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts Podcast

The Journey of Prayer – The Life of St. Teresa of Avila – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles

Dr. Anthony Lilles and Kris McGregor discuss chapters 9-11 in St. Teresa’s autobiography. In them, St. Teresa explores the degrees of prayer, moving from ascetical prayer to mystical prayer. She reflects on struggles, the importance of renewing the gift of prayer, and introduces the idea of the prayer of quiet as a mystical gift from God. Dr. Lilles observes she makes use of an analogy to a garden, meant to highlight the transformative journey.

The discussion underscores the boldness and courage required in following the Lord and the need to find a sacred place of prayer, especially in challenging times.


St. Teresa of Avila Interior Castle Podcast Anthony Lilles Kris McGregor

For more episodes in this series: The Life of St. Teresa of Avila; with Dr. Anthony Lilles

For an audio version of the book  “The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus” by St. Teresa of Avila

For other audio recordings of various spiritual classics, you can visit the Discerning Hearts Spiritual Classics page.


Discerning Hearts reflection questions for this episode:

  1. Degrees of Prayer: How does St. Teresa of Avila transition from describing her life before conversion to exploring the different degrees of prayer in chapters 9-11?
  2. Struggles in Prayer: What struggles does Teresa face in her prayer life, particularly in chapter 9, and how does she overcome discouragement?
  3. Obedience in Sharing Mystical Prayer: Why does Teresa express reluctance to talk about the mystical prayer of quiet, and how does she connect it to obedience?
  4. Analogies for Prayer: How does Teresa use analogies, such as the garden metaphor, to explain the importance of devotion and personal engagement in prayer?
  5. Transformation in Prayer: Discuss the transformative journey from ascetical prayer to mystical prayer as Teresa introduces the prayer of quiet in chapter 10.
  6. Boldness and Courage: Why is boldness and courage emphasized in the context of following the Lord, drawing parallels with other saints like St. Augustine?
  7. Finding a Sacred Place: In challenging times, why is it crucial, according to Dr. Lilles, to find a sacred place of prayer and trust in God’s love and mercy?

An excerpt from Chapter 11, discussed in this episode:

“I speak now of those who begin to be the servants of love; that seems to me to be nothing else but to resolve to follow Him in the way of prayer, who has loved us so much. It is a dignity so great, that I have a strange joy in thinking of it; for servile fear vanishes at once, if we are, as we ought to be, in the first degree. O Lord of my soul, and my good, how is it that, when a soul is determined to love Thee—doing all it can, by forsaking all things, in order that it may the better occupy itself with the love of God—it is not Thy will it should have the joy of ascending at once to the possession of perfect love? I have spoken amiss; I ought to have said, and my complaint should have been, why is it we do not? for the fault is wholly our own that we do not rejoice at once in a dignity so great, seeing that the attaining to the perfect possession of this true love brings all blessings with it.

We think so much of ourselves, and are so dilatory in giving ourselves wholly to God, that, as His Majesty will not let us have the fruition of that which is so precious but at a great cost, so neither do we perfectly prepare ourselves for it. I see plainly that there is nothing by which so great a good can be procured in this world. If, however, we did what we could, not clinging to anything upon earth, but having all our thoughts and conversation in Heaven, I believe that this blessing would quickly be given us, provided we perfectly prepared ourselves for it at once, as some of the saints have done. We think we are giving all to God; but, in fact, we are offering only the revenue or the produce, while we retain the fee-simple of the land in our own possession.

We resolve to become poor, and it is a resolution of great merit; but we very often take great care not to be in want, not simply of what is necessary, but of what is superfluous: yea, and to make for ourselves friends who may supply us; and in this way we take more pains, and perhaps expose ourselves to greater danger, in order that we may want nothing, than we did formerly, when we had our own possessions in our own power.”


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.

BTP-LOT12 – Saints Inspiring Saints – The Life of St. Teresa of Avila – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Saints Inspiring Saints – The Life of St. Teresa of Avila – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles

Dr. Anthony Lilles and Kris McGregor explore Chapter 9 of St. Teresa of Avila’s autobiography in part two of a two-part episode, going into further detail about a profound moment in the life of St. Teresa of Avila, where she reflects on her own spiritual journey and draws parallels with St. Augustine’s conversion.

From that, Dr. Lilles talks about the interconnectedness of saints, and how they highlight the importance of witnessing, continuous conversion, and not seeking consolations in prayer. He also discusses the importance of seeking God with a pure heart, renouncing sin, and being actively receptive to God’s gifts in and during contemplative prayer.


St. Teresa of Avila Interior Castle Podcast Anthony Lilles Kris McGregor

For more episodes in this series: The Life of St. Teresa of Avila; with Dr. Anthony Lilles

For an audio version of the book  “The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus” by St. Teresa of Avila

For other audio recordings of various spiritual classics, you can visit the Discerning Hearts Spiritual Classics page.


Discerning Hearts reflection questions for this episode:

  1. Reflecting on Transformative Moments: How do transformative moments in the lives of saints, such as St. Teresa’s encounter with a statue of Jesus, inspire and guide our own spiritual journey?
  2. Influence of Saints on Spiritual Lineage: Consider the idea of saints influencing one another, forming a spiritual lineage. How does this interconnectedness impact the broader Christian community and individual believers?
  3. The Role of Witnessing in Faith: Explore the significance of witnessing in the faith journey. How can sharing personal experiences of conversion and grace inspire and support others in their spiritual growth?
  4. Conversion as a Continuous Journey: Reflect on the concept of continuous conversion presented in the episode. How does this perspective challenge or complement the understanding of spiritual growth in your own life?
  5. Balancing Emotions and Grace in Prayer: How can one strike a balance between seeking emotional consolations in prayer and actively focusing on maintaining a clear conscience, turning away from sin, and being receptive to God’s grace?
  6. Contemplative Graces in Prayer: Consider the beauty of contemplative graces and the notion of being actively receptive to God’s gifts in prayer. How can fostering an actively receptive disposition enhance your prayer life?
  7. Seeking God with a Pure Heart: Reflect on the importance of seeking God with a pure heart, as discussed in the episode. How might this focus influence your approach to prayer, relationship with God, and the journey of faith?

An excerpt from Chapter 9, discussed in this episode:

“At this time, the Confessions of St. Augustine were given me. Our Lord seems to have so ordained it, for I did not seek them myself, neither had I ever seen them before. I had a very great devotion to St. Augustine, because the monastery in which I lived when I was yet in the world was of his Order; and also because he had been a sinner—for I used to find great comfort in those Saints whom, after they had sinned, our Lord converted to Himself. I thought they would help me, and that, as our Lord had forgiven them, so also He would forgive me. One thing, however, there was that troubled me—I have spoken of it before—our Lord had called them but once, and they never relapsed; while my relapses were now so many. This it was that vexed me. But calling to mind the love that He bore me, I took courage again. Of His mercy I never doubted once, but I did very often of myself.

O my God, I amazed at the hardness of my heart amidst so many succours from Thee. I am filled with dread when I see how little I could do with myself, and how I was clogged, so that I could not resolve to give myself entirely to God. When I began to read the Confessions, I thought I saw myself there described, and began to recommend myself greatly to this glorious Saint. When I came to his conversion, and read how he heard that voice in the garden, it seemed to me nothing less than that our Lord had uttered it for me: I felt so in my heart. I remained for some time lost in tears, in great inward affliction and distress. O my God, what a soul has to suffer because it has lost the liberty it had of being mistress over itself! and what torments it has to endure! I wonder now how I could live in torments so great: God be praised Who gave me life, so that I might escape from so fatal a death! I believe that my soul obtained great strength from His Divine Majesty, and that He must have heard my cry, and had compassion upon so many tears.”


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.

BTP-LOT11 – St. Teresa’s Transformative Moment – The Life of St. Teresa of Avila – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts Podcast

St. Teresa’s Transformative Moment – The Life of St. Teresa of Avila – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles

Dr. Anthony Lilles and Kris McGregor explore Chapter 9 of St. Teresa of Avila’s autobiography in part one of a two-part episode, starting with her transformative encounter with a statue of the wounded Christ. This pivotal moment leads to deep conversion as Teresa, tired of a dual life, experiences tears of compunction, realizing Christ’s sacrificial love.

Dr. Lilles highlights the method of prayer Teresa adopts, particularly the importance of using one’s imagination to picture Christ during prayer and using that as a connection to the remembrance of Christ and the transformative power of returning to moments of grace through prayer.


St. Teresa of Avila Interior Castle Podcast Anthony Lilles Kris McGregor

For more episodes in this series: The Life of St. Teresa of Avila; with Dr. Anthony Lilles

For an audio version of the book  “The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus” by St. Teresa of Avila

For other audio recordings of various spiritual classics, you can visit the Discerning Hearts Spiritual Classics page.


Discerning Hearts reflection questions for this episode:

  1. How do external objects of devotion, like statues, aid your prayer life?
  2. In what ways can spiritual exhaustion manifest in your own journey, hindering genuine peace in prayer?
  3. Reflect on a moment when you felt spiritually vulnerable and encountered God’s love.
  4. Consider Teresa’s commitment not to backslide. How can you maintain spiritual progress amidst life’s challenges?
  5. Explore the role of tears in contrition and conversion. How has compunction (the gift of tears) played a part in your spiritual growth?
  6. Reflect on your prayer methods. How does your imagination contribute to your encounters with Christ?
  7. In what ways can you incorporate the remembrance of Christ into your daily prayer life for transformative effects?

An excerpt from Chapter 9, discussed in this episode:

“My soul was now grown weary; and the miserable habits it had contracted would not suffer it to rest, though it was desirous of doing so. It came to pass one day, when I went into the oratory, that I saw a picture which they had put by there, and which had been procured for a certain feast observed in the house. It was a representation of Christ most grievously wounded; and so devotional, that the very sight of it, when I saw it, moved me—so well did it show forth that which He suffered for us. So keenly did I feel the evil return I had made for those wounds, that I thought my heart was breaking. I threw myself on the ground beside it, my tears flowing plenteously, and implored Him to strengthen me once for all, so that I might never offend Him any more.

I had a very great devotion to the glorious Magdalene, and very frequently used to think of her conversion—especially when I went to Communion. As I knew for certain that our Lord was then within me, I used to place myself at His feet, thinking that my tears would not be despised. I did not know what I was saying; only He did great things for me, in that He was pleased I should shed those tears, seeing that I so soon forgot that impression. I used to recommend myself to that glorious Saint, that she might obtain my pardon.

But this last time, before that picture of which I am speaking, I seem to have made greater progress; for I was now very distrustful of myself, placing all my confidence in God. It seems to me that I said to Him then that I would not rise up till He granted my petition. I do certainly believe that this was of great service to me, because I have grown better ever since.”


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.

BTP-LOT10 – Into the Heart of Conversion – The Life of St. Teresa of Avila – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Into the Heart of Conversion – The Life of St. Teresa of Avila – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles

Dr. Anthony Lilles and Kris McGregor explore Chapter 8 of St. Teresa of Avila’s autobiography, delving into her struggles with prayer and sin. The conversation emphasizes the courage required to persevere in prayer despite personal sinfulness, with St. Teresa stressing the transformative power of trusting in the Lord’s mercy for a profound conversion.

Dr. Lilles notes St. Teresa’s early articulation of themes found in later works, praising her unique writing style. They discuss the intrinsic link between prayer and sin, the significance of facing sins in God’s presence, and conclude by highlighting the transformative power of contemplative prayer amid life’s challenges.


St. Teresa of Avila Interior Castle Podcast Anthony Lilles Kris McGregor

For more episodes in this series: The Life of St. Teresa of Avila; with Dr. Anthony Lilles 

For an audio version of the book  “The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus” by St. Teresa of Avila 

For other audio recordings of various spiritual classics, you can visit the Discerning Hearts Spiritual Classics page.


Discerning Hearts reflection questions for this episode:

 

  1. Prayer and Transformation: Reflect on how your personal prayer life has led to transformation in your own life, similar to St. Teresa of Avila’s experience.
  2. Sin and Prayer: How do you balance the awareness of your sinfulness with the call to deeper prayer, as St. Teresa did?
  3. Fear in Prayer: Have you experienced fear or reluctance in approaching prayer, and how have you overcome it?
  4. The Role of Silence: Consider the role of silence in your prayer life. How does silence help you connect more deeply with God?
  5. Friendship with Jesus: Reflect on the concept of mental prayer as “friendly intercourse” with Jesus. How does this perspective change your approach to prayer?
  6. Perseverance in Prayer: Reflect on times when you found it challenging to persevere in prayer. What motivated you to continue?
  7. Eucharistic Adoration: How does Eucharistic adoration fit into your spiritual life, and what fruits have you experienced from this devotion?
  8. Confronting Sin through Prayer: How does prayer help you confront and deal with sin in your life?
  9. The Impact of Homilies: Consider how homilies and teachings at Mass have influenced your prayer life and spiritual growth.
  10. Seeing Jesus in Need: Reflect on the practice of visualizing Jesus in poverty and need, as suggested by St. Teresa. How does this affect your relationship with Him?

An excerpt from Chapter 8, discussed in this episode:

“It is not without reason that I have dwelt so long on this portion of my life. I see clearly that it will give no one pleasure to see anything so base; and certainly I wish those who may read this to have me in abhorrence, as a soul so obstinate and so ungrateful to Him Who did so much for me. I could wish, too, I had permission to say how often at this time I failed in my duty to God, because I was not leaning on the strong pillar of prayer. I passed nearly twenty years on this stormy sea, falling and rising, but rising to no good purpose, seeing that I went and fell again. My life was one of perfection; but it was so mean, that I scarcely made any account whatever of venial sins; and though of mortal sins I was afraid, I was not so afraid of them as I ought to have been, because I did not avoid the perilous occasions of them. I may say that it was the most painful life that can be imagined, because I had no sweetness in God, and no pleasure in the world.

When I was in the midst of the pleasures of the world, the remembrance of what I owed to God made me sad; and when I was praying to God, my worldly affections disturbed me. This is so painful a struggle, that I know not how I could have borne it for a month, let alone for so many years. Nevertheless, I can trace distinctly the great mercy of our Lord to me, while thus immersed in the world, in that I had still the courage to pray. I say courage, because I know of nothing in the whole world which requires greater courage than plotting treason against the King, knowing that He knows it, and yet never withdrawing from His presence; for, granting that we are always in the presence of God, yet it seems to me that those who pray arc in His presence in a very different sense; for they, as it were, see that He is looking upon them; while others may be for days together without even once recollecting that God sees them.”

Excerpt from Chapter 8 from “The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus of The Order of Our Lady of Carmel”


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.