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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
- How does St. Elizabeth of the Trinity’s understanding of prayer challenge your current approach to prayer and relationship with God?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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 .