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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity (July 18, 1880 – November 9, 1906)

Stained glass window of The Holy Trinity
Made in Hessen 1240-1250
Universitätsmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Marburg

Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity (July 18, 1880 – November 9, 1906) was a French nun and religious writer, a mystic and a Carmelite.

Her name "Elizabeth" which was the name she was baptised with was also the name she kept on her profession. It means "House of God". For her the name had a particular resonance.

On 21st November 1904 (The Feast of the Presentation of the Temple) she composed a prayer which summed up her spirituality: Ô mon Dieu, Trinité que j’adore:

Ô mon Dieu, Trinité que j'adore

O mon Dieu, Trinité que j'adore, aidez-moi à m'oublier entièrement pour m'établir en vous, immobile et paisible comme si déjà mon âme était dans l'éternité. Que rien ne puisse troubler ma paix, ni me faire sortir de vous, ô mon Immuable, mais que chaque minute m'emporte plus loin dans la profondeur de votre Mystère. Pacifiez mon âme, faites-en votre ciel, votre demeure aimée et le lieu de votre repos. Que je ne vous y laisse jamais seul, mais que je sois là tout entière, tout éveillée en ma foi, tout adorante, toute livrée à votre Action créatrice.

O mon Christ aimé crucifié par amour, je voudrais être une épouse pour votre Cœur, je voudrais vous couvrir de gloire, je voudrais vous aimer... jusqu'à en mourir ! Mais je sens mon impuissance et je vous demande de me « revêtir de vous même », d'identifier mon âme à tous les mouvements de votre âme, de me submerger, de m’envahir, de vous substituer à moi, afin que ma vie ne soit qu'un rayonnement de votre Vie. Venez en moi comme Adorateur, comme Réparateur et comme Sauveur.

O Verbe éternel, Parole de mon Dieu, je veux passer ma vie à vous écouter, je veux me faire tout enseignable, afin d'apprendre tout de vous. Puis, à travers toutes les nuits, tous les vides, toutes les impuissances, je veux vous fixer toujours et demeurer sous votre grande lumière; ô mon Astre aimé, fascinez-moi pour que je ne puisse plus sortir de votre rayonnement.

O Feu consumant, Esprit d'amour, « survenez en moi » afin qu'il se fasse en mon âme comme une incarnation du Verbe : que je Lui sois une humanité de surcroît en laquelle Il renouvelle tout son Mystère. Et vous, ô Père, penchez-vous vers votre pauvre petite créature, « couvrez-la de votre ombre », ne voyez en elle que le « Bien-Aimé en lequel vous avez mis toutes vos complaisances ».

O mes Trois, mon Tout, ma Béatitude, Solitude infinie, Immensité où je me perds, je me livre à vous comme une proie. Ensevelissez-vous en moi pour que je m'ensevelisse en vous, en attendant d'aller contempler en votre lumière l'abîme de vos grandeurs


O my God, Trinity whom I adore; help me to forget myself entirely that I may be established in You as still and as peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity. May nothing trouble my peace or make me leave You, O my Unchanging One, but may each minute carry me further into the depths of Your mystery. Give peace to my soul; make it Your heaven, Your beloved dwelling and Your resting place. May I never leave You there alone but be wholly present, my faith wholly vigilant, wholly adoring, and wholly surrendered to Your creative Action.

O my beloved Christ, crucified by love, I wish to be a bride for Your Heart; I wish to cover You with glory; I wish to love You...even unto death! But I feel my weakness, and I ask You to "clothe me with Yourself," to identify my soul with all the movements of Your Soul, to overwhelm me, to possess me, to substitute yourself for me that my life may be but a radiance of Your Life. Come into me as Adorer, as Restorer, as Savior.

O Eternal Word, Word of my God, I want to spend my life in listening to You, to become wholly teachable that I may learn all from You. Then, through all nights, all voids, all helplessness, I want to gaze on You always and remain in Your great light. O my beloved Star, so fascinate me that I may not withdraw from Your radiance.

O consuming Fire, Spirit of Love, "come upon me," and create in my soul a kind of incarnation of the Word: that I may be another humanity for Him in which He can renew His whole Mystery. And You, O Father, bend lovingly over Your poor little crature; "cover her with Your shadow," seeing in her only the "Beloved in whom You are well pleased."

O my Three, my All, my Beatitude, infinite Solitude, Immensity in which I lose myself, I surrender myself to You as Your prey. Bury Yourself in me that I may bury myself in You until I depart to contemplate in Your light the abyss of Your greatness

Overshadowed by her fellow Carmelite Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face who died in 1897, gradually more attention is being paid to Blessed Elizabeth. Elizabeth was familiar with the works of Saint Thérèse

Like Saint Thérèse she died young at the age of 26, in her case of Addison`s Disease.

She had a great devotion to the writings of the Apostle St Paul. It was her discovery of the Letter to the Ephesians which opened a door for her spirituality and in particular this passage from Chapter 1:

"In him [Christ] we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the one who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will,

so that we might exist for the praise of his glory, we who first hoped in Christ.

In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised holy Spirit,

which is the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God's possession, to the praise of his glory."
(St Paul Letter to the Ephesians 1: 11 - 14)

Of her life as a contemplative and the taking by her of the name laudem gloriae, she wrote:

“Praise of glory always involves thanksgiving. All its actions, its movements, its thoughts and aspirations, just as they root the praise of glory more deeply in love, are like an echo of the eternal Sanctus”. Writings, Retreat 10, 2

Shortly before her death she wrote to a friend:

« C’est ce qui a fait de ma vie, je vous le confie, un ciel anticipé : Croire qu’un Être, qui s’appelle l’Amour, habite en nous à tout instant du jour et de la nuit et qu’Il nous demande de vivre en Société avec Lui »

For more about this fascinating figure see

Michel-Marie Philipon, La doctrine spirituelle d’Élisabeth de la Trinité

Homily of Blessed John Paul II on the Beatification of Elizabeth of the Trinity (25th NOvember 1984) (French only)