On October 16, 2016 the Catholic Church will raise to the altars the Carmelite mystic Elizabeth of the Trinity. Much like another French sister of Carmel, St. Therese of Lisieux, Elizabeth’s time on earth was brief: she died at the young age of 26. However, her dedication to prayer, devotion to the Trinity, and desire to instruct others on the indwelling presence of God make her a gift for the ages.
Dr. Anthony Lilles, academic dean of St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo has said that St. Elizabeth believed she had a “spiritual mission” to help guide souls to a “deeper encounter with Christ Jesus.” He further noted:
“You could call it contemplative prayer, or even mystical prayer. She said her mission was to lead souls out of themselves and into a great silence, where God could imprint himself in them, on their souls, so that they became more God-like.”
Elizabeth Catez entered the Dijon Carmel in France on August 2, 1901 at the age of 21. She would die a mere 5 years later from Addison’s disease. During her brief time there she lived a life of mystical prayer and even lead spiritual retreats. At her death St. Elizabeth’s last words were: “I am going to Light, to Love, to Life!”
Today she is best known for her prayer to the Holy Trinity. She is also the only 20th century mystic quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Many of her writings can also be found in Fr. Gabriel’s pre-conciliar classic Divine Intimacy, a book of daily meditations based on the traditional liturgical calendar and Carmelite spirituality.
It’s fitting to end with her most famous offering, her prayer to the Trinity. Written in September 1904, just 2 years before her death, it reveals both her deep love for God and an immense spiritual maturity.
Prayer to the Trinity
O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me to become utterly forgetful of myself so that I may establish myself in you, as changeless and calm as though my soul were already in eternity. Let nothing disturb my peace nor draw me forth from you, O my unchanging God, but at every moment may I penetrate more deeply into the depths of your mystery. Give peace to my soul; make it your heaven, your cherished dwelling-place and the place of your repose. Let me never leave you there alone, but keep me there, wholly attentive, wholly alert in my faith, wholly adoring and fully given up to your creative action.
O my beloved Christ, crucified for love, I long to be the bride of your heart. I long to cover you with glory, to love you even unto death! Yet I sense my powerlessness and beg you to clothe me with yourself. Identify my soul with all the movements of your soul, submerge me, overwhelm me, substitute yourself for me, so that my life may become a reflection of your life. Come into me as Adorer, as Redeemer and as Saviour.
O Eternal Word, utterance of my God, I want to spend my life listening to you, to become totally teachable so that I might learn all from you. Through all darkness, all emptiness, all powerlessness, I want to keep my eyes fixed on you and to remain under your great light. O my Beloved Star, so fascinate me that I may never be able to leave your radiance.
O Consuming Fire, Spirit of Love, overshadow me so that the Word may be, as it were incarnate again in my soul. May I be for him a new humanity in which he can renew all his mystery.
And you, O Father, bend down towards your poor little creature. Cover her with your shadow, see in her only your beloved son in who 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. Immerse yourself in me so that I may be immersed in you until I go to contemplate in your light the abyss of your splendour!
St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, pray for us!