Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A working draft for St. Elizabeth of the Trinity's feast day

DAY 1

Intention: For the gift of “God’s sight” We often hear and use the expression, “you can’t see the forest for the trees.” We can become so engrossed in the details of life that we lack the perspective of “the big picture.” But, God sees everything. St. Paul often refers to God’s sight; to St. Timothy he writes, “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone... This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.” [I Tim 2:1, 3] Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity: “In the light of eternity the soul sees things as they really are.” [L 333] Meditation: How and where can I expand my spiritual vision to see as God sees? NOVENA PRAYER O God of bountiful mercy, you revealed to Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity the mystery of your secret presence in the hearts of those who love you, and you chose her to adore you in spirit and in truth. Through her intercession may we also abide in the love of Christ, that we may merit to be transformed into temples of your life-giving Spirit to the praise of your glory. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

DAY 2

Intention: For the resolve to do everything for God’s glory, with thanksgiving and charity Frustration. Failure. Rejection. The negative experiences in life weigh us down, no matter how hard we try. And when those efforts fall short of success, the disappointments in doing often affect our attitudes, our being. St. Paul offers three concrete principles for living: + Do everything for the glory of God. [I Cor 10:31] + Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. [Col 3:17] + Let all that you do be done in love. [I Cor 16:14] Time was when the faithful had the practice of praying before beginning any activity or undertaking a task. It’s never too late to start practicing again. Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity: “Oh! how empty is all that has not been done for God and with God!” [L 333] Meditation: Just for today, say a little prayer before you begin your work, your classes, your fitness workout, your time on social media, or any activity. Resolve to make that time and effort something you do for God and with God. What was the result? Did you notice a difference? NOVENA PRAYER O God of bountiful mercy, you revealed to Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity the mystery of your secret presence in the hearts of those who love you, and you chose her to adore you in spirit and in truth. Through her intercession may we also abide in the love of Christ, that we may merit to be transformed into temples of your life-giving Spirit to the praise of your glory. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

DAY 3

Intention: For the heart of a mystic, overflowing with love “If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love,” St. Paul writes, “I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” [I Cor 13:1] All too often we hear these words and we think of a wedding that we have attended: that of a relative, a friend, or perhaps our own. But if we can remove ourselves from that context and place ourselves in St. Paul’s setting, he is offering examples of how worthless life is without love, God’s gift of charity. And, the Apostle reminds the Church that this gift is already ours! St. Paul writes, “God’s has love been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” [Rom 5:5] Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity: “Mark everything with the seal of love! It alone endures.” [L 333] Meditation: In silent prayer, reflect upon St. Elizabeth’s words, “mark everything with the seal of love.” Ask the Holy Spirit to inspire your reflection. NOVENA PRAYER O God of bountiful mercy, you revealed to Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity the mystery of your secret presence in the hearts of those who love you, and you chose her to adore you in spirit and in truth. Through her intercession may we also abide in the love of Christ, that we may merit to be transformed into temples of your life-giving Spirit to the praise of your glory. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

DAY 4

Intention: For the resolve to seek to be rooted deeper in God Have you ever tried to pull a weed? It’s always a breeze when the roots are small and shallow in the soil, but when you try and pull a weed whose roots are deep, the frustration mounts. Consider this example from the positive side: you and I are like plants that are rooted in God. The more firmly we are planted, the deeper our roots may grow. St. Paul writes to the Ephesians that he is praying for them, that the Lord “may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.” [Eph 3:16-17] And to the Colossians, he urges, “continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” [Col 2:6-7] Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity: “How serious life is: each minute is given us in order to “root” us deeper in God, as Saint Paul says, so the resemblance to our divine Model may be more striking, the union more intimate.” [L 333] Meditation: What prevents you from sinking my roots deeper in God? Pray for the grace to let go. NOVENA PRAYER O God of bountiful mercy, you revealed to Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity the mystery of your secret presence in the hearts of those who love you, and you chose her to adore you in spirit and in truth. Through her intercession may we also abide in the love of Christ, that we may merit to be transformed into temples of your life-giving Spirit to the praise of your glory. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

DAY 5

Intention: To share in the self-giving love of Christ “Be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind,” St. Paul wrote to the Philippians. [Phil 2:2] The union of believers in the Church was Paul’s one, great goal. How to achieve it? “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself...” [Phil 2:5-7] For the Carmelite, union with God is the one, great goal, and the means to achieve it are similar: the self-emptying, self-giving love of Christ. Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity: Here is the secret: forget self, give up self, ignore self, look at the Master, look only at Him, accept as coming directly from His love both joy and suffering; this places the soul on such serene heights! [L 333] Meditation: Use St. Elizabeth’s quote to make a spiritual checklist for yourself. Resolve to practice one point on the checklist for one day, or one week, or one month. Review your progress with your confessor or spiritual director. NOVENA PRAYER O God of bountiful mercy, you revealed to Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity the mystery of your secret presence in the hearts of those who love you, and you chose her to adore you in spirit and in truth. Through her intercession may we also abide in the love of Christ, that we may merit to be transformed into temples of your life-giving Spirit to the praise of your glory. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

DAY 6

Intention: For an increase in faith in the presence of God dwelling within St. Elizabeth of the Trinity was a true daughter of her Holy Mother, St. Teresa of Avila. One of St. Teresa's most famous dictums concerning prayer that has guided Carmelites through all generations is this: “Keeping Christ present is what we of ourselves can do.” This method of prayer, taught and recommended by the Discalced Carmelite friar of Paris, Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, [The Practice of the Presence of God; ICS Publications, 1994, 2015] was well known to St. Elizabeth. Perhaps she knew of St. Teresa's method of keeping Christ present before she entered the Carmel of Dijon; certainly, she learned this method as she studied the works of St. Teresa, especially The Book of Her Life, Chapter 12, where the Saint explains the beginning stage of prayer. For St. Elizabeth, this practice of the presence of God is the springboard in prayer by which she dives deep into the abyss of mercy, the indwelling presence of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. St. Elizabeth experienced the abiding presence of God; by faith she knew the truth of St. Paul's promise to the Romans: “God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” [Rom 5:5] Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity: “I leave you my faith in the presence of God, of the God who is all Love dwelling in our souls.” [L 333] Meditation: Just for today, practice being aware of the presence of God within you. Ask the Holy Spirit to prompt you to be mindful of God’s presence. NOVENA PRAYER O God of bountiful mercy, you revealed to Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity the mystery of your secret presence in the hearts of those who love you, and you chose her to adore you in spirit and in truth. Through her intercession may we also abide in the love of Christ, that we may merit to be transformed into temples of your life-giving Spirit to the praise of your glory. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

DAY 7

Intention: For the grace of a greater intimacy with Christ Intimacy with Christ: it sounds like a wonderful thing, but we may think, “such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it.” [Ps 139:6] On the contrary, intimacy with Jesus is a frequent theme in the homilies of Pope Francis, who always emphasizes how close the Lord is to us and how he never leaves us:
The Lord is a friend forever. Even if you disappoint him and walk away from him, Jesus continues to want the best for you and to remain close to you; he believes in you even more than you believe in yourself...  The Lord... is always with you and he is happy to be with you. As he did with his first disciples, he looks you in the eye and he calls you to follow him, to “put out into the deep” and to “cast your nets wide” trusting in his words and using your talents in life, in union with him, without fear. Jesus is waiting patiently for you. He awaits your response. He is waiting for you to say “yes”. [Homily, Jubilee for Boys and Girls, 24 April 2016]
Practicing the presence of God, St. Elizabeth grew in this friendship and intimacy with the Lord to the point that his presence became her sustenance in darkness and suffering. Like St. Paul, she desires that we might grow in this love, too, so that we may “know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” and that we “may be filled with all the fullness of God.” [Eph 3:19] Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity: “It is this intimacy with Him “within” that has been the beautiful sun illuminating my life, making it already an anticipated Heaven; it is what sustains me today in my suffering.” [L 333] Meditation: Consider the points of suffering in your life. Jesus loves you infinitely! Are you permitting his love to sustain you in your suffering? Where are you trying to bear your burdens alone? Let him love you and uphold you. NOVENA PRAYER O God of bountiful mercy, you revealed to Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity the mystery of your secret presence in the hearts of those who love you, and you chose her to adore you in spirit and in truth. Through her intercession may we also abide in the love of Christ, that we may merit to be transformed into temples of your life-giving Spirit to the praise of your glory. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

DAY 8

Intention: For the grace of confidence in God’s power Here's a Carmelite quiz: who wrote it? “The Almighty has done great things in the soul of His divine Mother's child, and the greatest thing is to have shown her her littleness, her powerlessness.” St. Paul said that he was “content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.” [II Cor 12:10] St. Elizabeth was a great disciple of her beloved St. Paul, singing and praising the power of God each day in the Liturgy of the Hours. Even in her suffering, she trusted in his power, just as her “little sister” in Lisieux had done ten years before. The answer to our quiz? Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. [Story of a Soul, Ms C 04r
] Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity: “I do not fear my weakness; that’s what gives me confidence. For the Strong One is within me and His power is almighty.” [L 333] Meditation: Make a list of those aspects of your character or behavior that you consider to be your principal weaknesses. As you pray, next to each weakness write down an aspect of God’s character that demonstrates his power in comparison to your weakness. For example, if you often feel fearful, make a note that God gives courage. If your heart is broken, make a note that God grants healing. In prayer, ask the Holy Spirit to show you one point of God’s strength where he can overcome one of your weaknesses. Resolve to focus on his power at that point in your life. Share your progress with your confessor or spiritual director. NOVENA PRAYER O God of bountiful mercy, you revealed to Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity the mystery of your secret presence in the hearts of those who love you, and you chose her to adore you in spirit and in truth. Through her intercession may we also abide in the love of Christ that we may merit to be transformed into temples of your life-giving Spirit to the praise of your glory. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

DAY 9

Intention: For the grace to give everything to the Master It was the end of October when St. Elizabeth wrote the letter that has served as the prayerful foundation for our novena meditations. She was certain that she would die soon, and this letter to a dear friend served as her “spiritual testament.” At the head of the letter, she wrote this inscription: “Deus charitas est (God is love),” [I Jn 4:16] and she continued: “the hour is drawing near when I am going to pass from this world to my Father...” Totally surrendered to God, in an attitude of complete abandonment and self-giving to the Lord, she was prepared to meet her Spouse, the Bridegroom of her soul. Emptied of self, she was overflowing with divine love. She describes this as she writes: “Never was the heart of the Master so overflowing with love as at the supreme moment when he was going to leave his own! It seems to me as if something similar is happening in His little bride at the evening of her life, and I feel as if a wave were rising from my heart to yours! Dear Antoinette, in the light of eternity, the soul sees things as they really are.” And so, our novena comes full circle. Like St. Paul at his farewell to the elders of Ephesus, [cf. Ac 20:17-37] St. Elizabeth knows that what is essential counts. And, the example of self-giving and abandonment to Christ that she offers to us is the same example that we are called to offer to others. This is our vocation: to become great saints like Elizabeth of the Trinity. And to ensure that we are on the path to sainthood, she wants to help us in her own Totus Tuus way. Why not say yes? Say yes to holiness, yes to Elizabeth, say yes to Christ! Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity: “When I am up above, will you let me help you, scold you even, if I see you are not giving everything to the Master? because I love you! ... May He keep you wholly His, wholly faithful; in Him I will always be WHOLLY YOURS.” [L 333] Meditation: In silent prayer, turn to Saint Elizabeth in your need. She is up above, ready to help you because she loves you. Ask her to show you how to give every thing to the Master, Jesus Christ, in trust and love. Entrust yourself entirely to him as she did - he will keep you entirely his own! NOVENA PRAYER 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 f 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! [The Trinitarian Prayer of Elizabeth of the Trinity
]
St. Elizabeth of the Trinity's excerpts from Letter 333 to Madame Antoinette de Bobet are published in: I HAVE FOUND GOD, COMPLETE WORKS II— LETTERS FROM CARMEL a translation ofJ’ai trouvé Dieu, Oeuvres Complètes, Tome I/ B (Les Éditions du Cerf, 1980) Copyright © by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc. 1995, 2014 ICS Publications 2131 Lincoln Road NE Washington, DC 20002-1199