Quote of the day: 7 December

Complete Works

of

ELIZABETH OF THE TRINITY

Excerpts from the Foreword by the editor

Father Conrad de Meester, OCD

(1936-2019)


 

We joyfully present to our Christian brothers and sisters the writings of Elizabeth of the Trinity, which appear here for the first time in their entirety.

Doubtless, history will be surprised when it verifies that three-quarters of a century was necessary since the death of this great contemplative on November 9, 1906, for the integral publication of her works to be realized. Her desire to remain “hidden in God” has been well served by the vicissitudes of time!

And it was only pure Chance — a word which since then I gladly write with a capital letter — which led us to consider this edition, happily favored by the coincidence of the centenary of Elizabeth’s birth on July 18, 1880.

Certainly, Elizabeth of the Trinity is already known, perhaps more so abroad than in France. Since 1909 the Souvenirs, her first biography written by her prioress, has experienced a wide diffusion and has been translated many times. One of her prayers O My God, Trinity Whom I Adore is loved and recited almost everywhere in the world. Large extracts from her writings have been published, and Elizabeth has already taken her place among the classic authors of the Experience of God.

But this edition, of which the greater part of the texts has never been published, and which has benefited from ample information, has the good fortune to present to us Elizabeth’s whole personality. Alongside her most sublime features, her lofty praises of the divine Mystery, we hear the rich harmonies of her other keyboard, her whole humanity. The somewhat blurred halo which surrounded Elizabeth like that of a medieval saint gradually comes into focus.

The preparation of this edition has convinced us that, thanks to a much more abundant documentation than we had before, we can avoid limiting Elizabeth’s message in the future. Certainly, we must emphasize her special graces of recollection and prayer, of listening to and understanding the word of God. That is her charism which won for her the love of contemplatives, priests, and theologians. But now the scope of this charism expands wide enough to encompass in its light the smallest events of our daily life, the least encounters with our neighbor, which, like so many sacraments, reveal God’s presence and demonstrate how we are to give ourselves to Love at each moment. The charism of Elizabeth of the Trinity goes so far as to show us that the contemplation of the Word is prolonged in the concrete act of the gift of self. Finally, what makes her so close to us is that she had to seek God in faith, in a life more hidden and more monotonous than our own. And what makes her so different from us is not at all that she was the object of so many graces from God but that she was so terribly logical in her faith in Love present, Love inviting her.

We entrust this integral work on Elizabeth to every friend who is seeking God. It was no little labor but the happiness of the friendship which brought about this edition was doubled by our joy in meeting a prophet of the presence of God, one of the race of saints! We sense in her the Fire of the Spirit. May a spark from this Fire fly into the hearts of many of our brothers and sisters who read this book.

Conrad de Meester, OCD

Conrad de Meester OCD (2)
Father de Meester with his biography of Elizabeth of the Trinity | Credit: Discalced Carmelites

 


 

We share with our readers the sad news of the death of Father Conrad de Meester as it was conveyed to the world 6 December 2019 by the Discalced Carmelite General Curia, after having received this notice from the Discalced Carmelite Provincial Superior of Flanders, Father Paul de Bois:

Last night our brother Conrad fell due to thrombosis. He was taken by ambulance to the hospital… where he had more thromboses. Last night our brother met his Savior. I believe that he gave his whole life for the Order and for the Church.

In response to the news, Discalced Carmelite Superior General Saverio Cannistrà, OCD sent the following reply:

Dear Fr. Paul:

Yes, truly Father Conrad worked hard to delve into and make known the riches of our Carmelite saints. He had both theological expertise and an admirable precision in philology and history. The Order owes much to his work as a specialist in spiritual theology and as a disseminator.

We pray for him: may the Lord grant him the reward of a life generously offered to the Order and to the Church.

Fraternally,
Fr. Saverio

With the passing of Father Conrad, a giant among Carmelite scholars has gone to be with the Lord. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

 

of the Trinity, E 2014, The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 1: General Introduction Major Spiritual Writings, translated from the French by Kane, A, ICS Publications, Washington DC

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity Novena – Day 4

So, when you feel as if you are about to lose your patience… let go

Intention

For an increase in the fruit of patience

St. Paul speaks

God is wonderful and glorious. I pray that his Spirit will make you become strong followers and that Christ will live in your hearts because of your faith. Stand firm and be deeply rooted in his love. (Ephesians 3:16-17)

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity speaks

If you knew how I prayed for you on your fifteenth birthday! I offered Holy Communion for that intention, then I gave you to the Holy Trinity, and it seemed to me that this gift was even more true, more complete than it was last year. Yes, my little sister, you belong entirely to “Them,” you are God’s thing. Oh! Really surrender yourself to Him, to His Love!… Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus says that “one is consumed by Love to the extent that one is surrendered to Love.” Since we aspire to be victims of His Charity like our holy Mother Teresa, we must let ourselves be rooted in the Charity of Christ, as Saint Paul says in today’s beautiful epistle. And how? By always living, through all things, with Him who dwells within us and who is Charity. He so thirsts to associate us with all that He is, to transform us into Himself. My little sister, let us awaken our faith, let us recall that He is there, within, and that he wants us to be very faithful, So, when you feel as if you are about to lose your patience or say something against charity, bring yourself back to Him, let go of this natural inclination in order to please Him. (Letter 179 to Germaine de Gemeaux, 20 September 1903)

Meditation 

Faced with the difficult challenge of overcoming a grave character defect, a wise man once realized that surrendering his problems and his entire self to God who is Love might enable him to find the strength in his weakness to “let go and let God.” Years before this concept and phrase became popular, St. Elizabeth of the Trinity—and St. Thérèse of Lisieux before her—counsels a teenager to adopt the “let go and let God” way of life. Surrender. Love. Faith. It seems that the trick to growing more patient is: (1) pray for the willingness to become more patient; (2) ask the Holy Spirit to show us when we are losing patience; (3) when the Holy Spirit reminds us, to consciously “let go” at that moment by immediately turning to God. A simple prayer should suffice, such as, “I can’t do it, but you can, so please help me.” St. Elizabeth says this should work for the inclination to speak unkind and hurtful words, too—in person, face-to-face, of course—but should we work on our speech in social media, too? Can and should we turn to God dwelling within to help us to overcome the natural inclination to “say something against charity” whenever we’re online?

NOVENA PRAYER 

O Saint Elisabeth!
In your great love of God,
You were always so close
to your friends’ needs.
Now, in Heaven,
Face to face with the Lord,
Do intervene near Him
for the needs we recommend to you.

(Make your request)

Teach us how to abide,
in Love and Faith,
with the Holy Trinity
in the utmost of our heart.
Teach us how to radiate God’s Love
amongst men, in our everyday life
just as you did yourself,
so that we may be a praise of God’s glory.

Our Father… (pray slowly, contemplating the meaning of the prayer)

Glory be… (three times, in praise of the indwelling Trinity)

 

Let There Be Light tabor-roeder Flickr 5919402636_a7b2da96ed_o
Phil Roeder / Flickr

 

 

Elizabeth of the Trinity, S 2003, The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 2: Letters from Carmel, translated from the French by Nash, A, ICS Publications, Washington DC

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity Novena – Day 3

He wants to be my peace so that nothing can distract me or draw me out of “the invincible fortress of holy recollection.”

Intention

For an increase in the fruit of peace

St. Paul speaks

For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. (Eph 2:14-18)

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity speaks

Here I am in the presence “of a mystery hidden from ages and generations,” the mystery “which is Christ”: “your hope of glory,” says St. Paul! And he adds that “the understanding of this mystery” was given to him. So it is from the great Apostle that I am going to learn how I may possess this knowledge which, in his expression, “surpasses all other knowledge: the knowledge of the love of Christ Jesus.”

First of all he tells me that He is “my peace,” that it is “through Him that I have access to the Father,” for it has pleased this “father of lights” that “in Him all fullness should dwell, and that through Him He should reconcile to Himself all things, whether on the earth or in the heavens, making peace through the Blood of His Cross….

He wants to be my peace so that nothing can distract me or draw me out of “the invincible fortress of holy recollection.” It is there that He will give me “access to the Father” and will keep me as still and as peaceful in His presence as if my soul were already in eternity. It is by the Blood of His Cross that He will make peace in my little heaven, so that it may truly be the repose of the Three. (Last Retreat, Twelfth Day)

Meditation 

Just imagine more than two weeks on retreat! From 14-31 August 1906, St. Elizabeth of the Trinity spends each day in prayer as if it is her “novitiate for Heaven.” Those days are not totally peaceful, though—there are doctors and infirmarians coming and going, trips to the monastery terrace to enjoy the good weather, another aged nun in the infirmary with her, and a visit with her mother in the parlor. So the peace that Elizabeth seeks is definitely the peace of which St. Paul writes: it surpasses all other knowledge. It is a peace rooted in the knowledge of Christ’s love. He is our peace! So even without two weeks on retreat, how can we seek him and know his love?

NOVENA PRAYER 

O Saint Elisabeth!
In your great love of God,
You were always so close
to your friends’ needs.
Now, in Heaven,
Face to face with the Lord,
Do intervene near Him
for the needs we recommend to you.

(Make your request)

Teach us how to abide,
in Love and Faith,
with the Holy Trinity
in the utmost of our heart.
Teach us how to radiate God’s Love
amongst men, in our everyday life
just as you did yourself,
so that we may be a praise of God’s glory.

Our Father… (pray slowly, contemplating the meaning of the prayer)

Glory be… (three times, in praise of the indwelling Trinity)

 

leaf peace Martin Gommel Flickr 403867182_562fe4a0ae_o
Martin Gommel / Flickr

 

 

of the Trinity, E 2014, The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 1: General Introduction Major Spiritual Writings, translated from the French by Kane, A, ICS Publications, Washington DC

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity Novena – Day 2

What delightful peace we experience when we place our joy in suffering!

Intention

For an increase in the fruit of joy

St. Paul speaks

I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. I became its servant according to God’s commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. (Colossians 1:24-26)

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity speaks

It seems to me that the happy ones of this world are those who have enough contempt and forgetfulness of self to choose the Cross as their lot! What delightful peace we experience when we place our joy in suffering!

“In my own flesh I fill up what is lacking in the passion of Christ for the sake of His body, which is the Church” (Col. 1:24). The apostle finds his happiness in this! The thought pursues me and I confess that I experience a profound inner joy in thinking that God has chosen to associate me in the passion of His Christ. This way of Calvary I climb each day seems to me more like the path of Beatitude! (The Greatness of Our Vocation, 6-7)

Meditation 

St. Elizabeth’s penned these lines to her young friend Françoise de Sourdon around the 9th of September, 1906. It is a testament to her Carmelite ascetic spirit, knowing that, as St. John of the Cross taught, “in suffering, strength is given to the soul by God” (Dark Night II, 16:9). St. Elizabeth of the Trinity makes this 12-page letter—she called it a “journal”—a precious piece of spiritual direction for a nineteen-year-old aspiring to holiness. If this is St. Elizabeth’s advice to a young adult Catholic, what can we learn from her words of wisdom? Is joy in suffering a thing of the past?

NOVENA PRAYER 

O Saint Elisabeth!
In your great love of God,
You were always so close
to your friends’ needs.
Now, in Heaven,
Face to face with the Lord,
Do intervene near Him
for the needs we recommend to you.

(Make your request)

Teach us how to abide,
in Love and Faith,
with the Holy Trinity
in the utmost of our heart.
Teach us how to radiate God’s Love
amongst men, in our everyday life
just as you did yourself,
so that we may be a praise of God’s glory.

Our Father… (pray slowly, contemplating the meaning of the prayer)

Glory be… (three times, in praise of the indwelling Trinity)

 

find ecstasy in life 5aug2016
From the Facebook album ‘Portraits of Chad’ by Comboni Missionary Father David Bohnsack, mccj (Used by permission)

 

 

of the Trinity, E 2014, The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 1: General Introduction Major Spiritual Writings, translated from the French by Kane, A, ICS Publications, Washington DC

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