Quote of the day, 12 June: St. Elizabeth of the Trinity

Voice of Heaven

We who are bathed in light, within the ‘Three’ —
The Face of God, the splendour of its rays —
See, by those shinings, into Mystery;
They ever show new secrets, Heaven’s days.
Infinite Being! Depth unsoundable!
Delighted, lost in Your Divinity —
O Trinity, God thrice-immutable,
We see Yourself in Your own clarity.

Voice of Earth

The saints in Heav’n… but, also, here below
Souls come and merge themselves in such a Love, 
In mystery and night this happens so —
God satisfies: in dark, in Day above.
Through everything… on earth: already we’re
Possessing You, our Peace and vision! for,
As in one light we gather, there and here,
We lose ourselves in God, for evermore!

Voice of Heaven

As sharers, now, in God’s own Essence, you
Possess all we possess in Heaven… See! —
You have not yet the joy we have, that’s true:
But as for giving — you give more than we.
And when one loves, how good it is to give!
(You can be giving, every hour and place.)
Oh, give God glory while on earth you live —
By self-oblation. Seize on this high grace!

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity

Poem 80, [Au sein des Trois]
[15 June 1902]


Note from the blogger: We present Alan Bancroft’s translation of Poem 80 and note that we have edited his text slightly to conform with the original French.

First, we have condensed Bancroft’s two quatrains per voice to create an eight-line stanza, which was the original construction used by Saint Elizabeth. Next, we deleted an open parenthesis in the line: “Possessing You, our Peace and vision! (for”. Our reasoning was simple; Bancroft’s text lacked a close parenthesis.

Our third edit is an addition: Bancroft chose not to publish the fourth and final stanza of Elizabeth’s untitled poem, so we provide our translation below.

Saint Elizabeth’s biographer and editor of the Oeuvres Complètes, the Discalced Carmelite scholar Conrad de Meester tells us that the autograph copy of this poem has neither title nor date, but the handwriting and the black ink clearly indicate that it was written a few months after Easter 1902.

Concerning the title, Father de Meester suggests the title Au sein de trois, enclosed in brackets. Documents from the Process for the Cause of Beatification explain that this is a “fragment of a pious recreation,” also mentioning “Sainte Germaine 1902.”

Therefore, Father de Meester deduces that the date of this poem is 15 June 1902, which was the feast day of the prioress, Mother Germaine of Jesus. Father also says that the autograph copy doesn’t indicate the alternating voices, but the documents of the Process do, in fact, provide that detail.

Furthermore, since this poem was written for the Carmelite genre of pious recreation, Saint Elizabeth intended for it to be sung. Father de Meester states that the melody was Reste avec moi, Jésus-Eucharistie. He tells us that Soeur Agnès de Jésus Maria testified during the Apostolic Process: “When we would go to work in the garden during recreation, we would sing together (and with great enthusiasm)…” quoting the stanzas of the poem.

Without attempting to recreate Bancroft’s rhyme scheme, here is our translation of the fourth stanza.

Voice of Heaven

Ah, let us protect those souls of the earth
Who are our sisters and who will come one day
To unite with us in the Father’s House
And contemplate his Face forever.
We love them, these great solitary beings,
These enchained women, these virgins of the Lord,
And we want that in their dear monastery 
The Beloved may repose with happiness.

de Meester, C 2017, Rien moins que Dieu: sainte Elisabeth de la Trinité, Presses de la Renaissance, Paris.

Elizabeth of the Trinity, Marmion, C and Bancroft, A 2001, Barb of fire: twenty poems of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity: with selected passages from Blessed Columba Marmion, OSBGracewing, Leominster.

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