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 .

St. Catherine of Siena – Passion for Truth: Beginning to Pray w/ Dr. Anthony Lilles

Episode 22 – Beginning to Pray:  St. Catherine of Siena

From Dr. Anthony Lilles’ “Beginning to Pray”  blog site:

Catherine of Siena – Passion for Truth

She is an important figure for those who see a rediscovery of prayer as the force of renewal in the Church. Because she put her devotion to Christ first, she found herself with a spiritual mission to help restore the life and unity of Christ’s body. Some of her efforts met with a little success. But as she approached her death at the age of 33, her lifetime of effort in building up the Church seemed to be in vain. Corruption, scandal, cowardice – and most of all indifference – seemed to infect the Church even more. (For more on her life, go to http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03447a.htm.) Yet she never lost hope and she persevered in prayer. This is because she understood the love and mercy of God.

She was uneducated, but in 1377, by a miracle, she learned to write. Even so she retained secretaries to whom she dictated most of her thoughts. Her master work on the spiritual life is known as the Dialogues. These are conversations between her soul and God the Father. God the Father reveals his deep love for his Son and his plan to build up the Church. One of the beautiful aspects of this conversation is the Father’s explanation for how each soul can come to know Jesus.

Fr. Thomas McDermott - Prayer and the Dominican Tradition 2Christ is the bridge to the Father and we cross this bridge by allowing our hearts to be pierced by what the Lord has done for us. The passion of Christ reveals at once the truth about who God is and who we are in his sight. For her, among the greatest blocks to the spiritual life is ignorance. Knowledge of God and knowledge of self go hand in hand in progressing toward spiritual maturity. But the knowing is not simply an intellectual trip. It as the kind of knowing informed by the loving affection of a real friendship. The friendship she describes in tender terms evokes the deepest joys and sorrows all at once.

The gift of tears, so central to early Dominican spirituality, is a beautiful part of this description. She presents those holy affections as the only proper response to the great love revealed in Christ crucified. These tears move us away from sin and into the very heart of God. She describes this as a journey that begins with kissing the feet of Jesus and entering into his wounded side. For her, intimacy with the Lord is always through the Cross and informed by a profound gratitude and humility.

One other beautiful feature of her spirituality is her understanding of virtue. This understanding is not quite classical in that she goes beyond the generic definition of a virtue as a good habit. Instead, she addresses a problem that is related to life in the Church. She notices that different Christians excel at different virtues. One might have a special aptitude for the art of getting on with others and is a special source of justice in the community. Another may be especially able to enter into the heart of someone enduring great difficulty and brings to the Church a particular awareness of mercy. Still another might have a profound gift of prayer. The question she takes up is why has the Father given different gifts to different members of the Body of Christ.

In the Dialogues, the Father explains to her that He has distributed his bountiful gifts in this way so that each member of the Body of Christ must rely on all the other members and at the same time each member bears a particular responsibility to support the Body of Christ commensurate to the gifts he has been given. In other words, his has distributed his gifts in a manner that disposes us to love one another. And the Father is counting on this mutual love, this genuine fellowship. It is part of His plan that as we cross Christ the Bridge we enter into communion with Him not merely individually, but together as a family.

The family of God requires a new kind of love, a love which only God can give us. A beautiful foundation is laid for what will later be understood as a “call within a call,” that particular mission each one is entrusted with in the eternal loving plan of God. On one hand, answering this call involves some suffering – just as Mother Theresa in our own time discovered. But those who endure this would not have it any other way. There is a certain joy and fullness of life that one discovers when one generously embraces the loving plan of the Father. The possibility of this joyful fulness makes Catherine’s message to the Church dynamically attractive.

For those beginning to pray, Catherine sheds light on the importance of truth, devotion to Christ and the life of the Church. These things organically hang together in her vision of the spiritual life so that growing in prayer goes beyond the merely therapeutic: it opens up the possibility of fully thriving, of living life to the full.


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



Identifying and Battling the Irrational Spirits – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles

Identifying and Battling the Irrational Spirits – The Mystery of Faith in the Wisdom of the Saints.

In this episode Dr. Lilles discusses the nature of prayer.  The use of “methods” or “techniques” is cautioned by Dr. Lilles.  The relationship with the person of Jesus Christ is paramount.  He discusses the struggles in prayer and the real “enemies” which assault us in prayer.  He points to the experience and teachings of St. Anthony of the Desert, who battled the irrational spirits opposed to our relationship with God.  Dr. Lilles then relates that teaching to the places of “death” which confront our lives today, the importance of naming the  irrational “spirit” and using the “Word of Truth” to fight the battle.

Dr.Anthony Lilles is a Catholic husband and father of three teaching Spiritual Theology at St. Patrick’s Theological Seminary. He teaches spiritual theology and spiritual direction to transitional deacons, and the spiritual classics to the men who enter the Spirituality Year, a year of prayer in preparation for seminary formation. He is the author of the “Beginning to Pray” Catholic blog spot.

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

 

 

 

The Prayer of St. John Paul II – Special Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts Podcast

In this episode, Dr. Anthony Lilles and Kris McGregor discuss The Prayer of St. John Paul II. Dr. Lilles reflects on “Sign of Contradiction,” the Lenten Retreat preached in 1976 by Karol Cardinal Wojtyla to Pope Paul VI and the papal household.

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

St. Hildegard von Bingen and “The Iron Mountain”: Beginning to Pray w/ Dr. Anthony Lilles

From Dr. Lilles’ “Beginning to Pray” blog site:

September 17 is the feast of St. Hiildegard of Bingen. She lived from 1098-1179. A Benedictine Nun, at the age of 42, she was given visions and commanded rise up and cry out what she saw. She obeyed and produced a set of writings known today as Scivias.

Her first vision is of a hidden mountain, the mountain of God’s throne, an iron mountain of immutable justice hidden in divine glory. A purifying Fear of the Lord contemplates this splendor. Not the kind of fear that pulls away to protect itself. Rather the kind of fear that is vigilant and sees the truth. Eyes which gaze with this holy fear can never be satisfied with the merely mediocre. They guard against every form of compromise. The glory they behold demands absolute allegiance, complete surrender, and total humility.

Dr. Anthony Lilles STD - Beginning to Pray 4In this description, is St. Hildegard suggesting a way by which we might enjoy the same vision she has shared in? This is no exercise in esoteric navel gazing. Her vision demands a journey beyond our own self-pre-occupation and into real friendship with God, a friendship protected by the strength of divine justice. She sees the truth in a way that demands an ongoing conversion of life.

She is well-formed in St. Benedict’s conversatio morum. The mountain she sees is not a truth we scrutinize so much as the truth that scrutinizes us: a scrutinizing of all our thoughts and actions in light of the Gospel. The truth she beholds demands repentance from the lack of justice we allow ourselves to slip into. The iron mountain she contemplates renders futile every effort to conform the Gospel to our own ways and invites us to be transformed by its just demands.

Today, where all kinds of cruelty are so easily excused and any form of self-indulgence so readily lifted up to the level of a fundamental human right, we need to rediscover the shadow of the iron mountain from which St. Hildegard cries out to us. Only under the glory of this mountain can we find the peace that the Lord has come to give. Only in the blinding light into which Holy Fear gazes can we find the humility to love one another the way Christ has loved us.

Through the years, clergy, seminarians, eligious and lay faithful have benefited from Dr. Anthony Lilles’ lectures and retreat conferences on the Carmelite Doctors of the Church and the writings of St. Elisabeth of the Trinity.  He is the author/editor of the “Beginning to Pray”  catholic blog spot.

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

The music that is used comes from

BTP#30 St. Benedict, Listening, and Discernment – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts

BTP30 St. Benedict, Listening and Discernment  – The Mystery of Faith in the Wisdom of the Saints.  In this episode, Dr. Lilles offers a general introduction to this series, the mystical key to discernment, and teaching of St. Benedict.

 

Dr. Lilles offers 4 key points we should keep in mind as we move forward in this series

1.    The Search for God
2.    Listening to God – Lectio Divina
3.    Conversion to God – Conversatio Morum
4.    Living with oneself and letting God fashion one into His image

All four points can be found in the “Holy Rule of St. Benedict”  paragraph #58:

CHAPTER LVIII
Of the Manner of Admitting Brethren

Let easy admission not be given to one who newly cometh to change his life; but, as the Apostle saith, “Try the spirits, whether they be of God” (1 Jn 4:1). If, therefore, the newcomer keepeth on knocking, and after four or five days it is seen that he patiently beareth the harsh treatment offered him and the difficulty of admission, and that he persevereth in his request, let admission be granted him, and let him live for a few days in the apartment of the guests.

But afterward let him live in the apartment of novices, and there let him meditate, eat, and sleep. Let a senior also be appointed for him, who is qualified to win souls, who will observe him with great care and see whether he really seeketh God, whether he is eager for the Work of God, obedience and humiliations. Let him be shown all the hard and rugged things through which we pass on to God.

If he promiseth to remain steadfast, let this Rule be read to him in order after the lapse of two months, and let it be said to him: Behold the law under which thou desirest to combat. If thou canst keep it, enter; if, however, thou canst not, depart freely. If he still persevereth, then let him be taken back to the aforesaid apartment of the novices, and let him be tried again in all patience. And after the lapse of six months let the Rule be read over to him, that he may know for what purpose he entereth. And if he still remaineth firm, let the same Rule be read to him again after four months. And if, after having weighed the matter with himself he promiseth to keep everything, and to do everything that is commanded him, then let him be received into the community, knowing that he is now placed under the law of the Rule, and that from that day forward it is no longer permitted to him to wrest his neck from under the yoke of the Rule, which after so long a deliberation he was at liberty either to refuse or to accept.

Let him who is received promise in the oratory, in the presence of all, before God and His saints, stability, the conversion of morals, and obedience, in order that, if he should ever do otherwise, he may know that he will be condemned by God “Whom he mocketh.” Let him make a written statement of his promise in the name of the saints whose relics are there, and of the Abbot there present. Let him write this document with his own hand; or at least, if he doth not know how to write, let another write it at his request, and let the novice make his mark, and with his own hand place it on the altar. When he hath placed it there, let the novice next begin the verse: “Uphold me, O Lord, according to Thy word and I shall live; and let me not be confounded in my expectations” (Ps 118[119]:116). Then let all the brotherhood repeat this verse three times, adding the Gloria Patri.

The let that novice brother cast himself down at the feet of all, that they may pray for him; and from that day let him be counted in the brotherhood. If he hath any property, let him first either dispose of it to the poor or bestow it on the monastery by a formal donation, reserving nothing for himself as indeed he should know that from that day onward he will no longer have power even over his own body.

Let him, therefore, be divested at once in the oratory of the garments with which he is clothed, and be vested in the garb of the monastery. But let the clothes of which he was divested by laid by in the wardrobe to be preserved, that, if on the devil’s suasion he should ever consent to leave the monastery (which God forbid) he be then stripped of his monastic habit and cast out. But let him not receive the document of his profession which the Abbot took from the altar, but let it be preserved in the monastery.

Dr. Anthony Lilles STD - Beginning to Pray 10Dr.Anthony Lilles is a Catholic husband and father of three teaching Spiritual Theology at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary. He teaches spiritual theology and spiritual direction to transitional deacons, and the spiritual classics to the men who enter the Spirituality Year, a year of prayer in preparation for seminary formation.  He is the author of the “Beginning to Pray”  Catholic blog spot.

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

 

Here is the bibliography that Dr. Lilles spoke of in this episode:

The Mystery of Faith in the Wisdom of the Saints

Saints, other figures, dates and bibliographic information

 

St. Benedict of Nursia  – b. 480 –  d. 547.

St. Benedict.  The Rule.  Edited by Timothy Fry, O.S.B.  New York: Vintage Books, Random House, 1981, 1998.

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