Skip links

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity and Letting Ourselves Be Loved

In the burning furnace of our faith is fire of love for God and love of neighbor. These are the two hinges on which turn the whole Christian life. They are the two great commandments that Jesus distilled from all the many prescriptions and prohibitions of the law (cf. Matt. 22:34-40). Loving God comes first, followed by loving everyone and everything in his name. It’s that beautiful, simple, and yet difficult. One of the main challenges we face in our search for the love for which we long and to love in the way for which we are made is to confuse the love of God with our love of neighbor. Time and time again we end up mistaking human love as a substitute for divine love. Today the Church celebrates a saint who helps us avoid this error by putting the love of God first by letting ourselves be loved by Him.

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity was born in France on 18th July in 1880, the firstborn of her parents. After the death of her father, her family moved to a town called Dijon where there was a Carmelite convent near her home. The life of the sisters intrigued the young Elizabeth and she joined the community on 2nd  August in 1901 at age twenty-one. Her five short years in the convent were intensely happy for the young Elizabeth, despite the suffering she endured because of the Addison’s disease that would eventually end her life on 9th November in 1906, at age twenty-six.

Apart from her chores in the community, the common life of prayer shared with the sisters and other responsibilities, Elizabeth had a great passion for music and writing. She was a talented pianist and liberally used the analogy of music to describe the spiritual life and how God seeks to attune us to his song of love. She wrote: “A praise of glory is a soul of silence that remains like a lyre under the mysterious touch of the Holy Spirit so that he may draw from it divine harmonies; it knows that suffering is a string that produces still more beautiful sounds” (Heaven in Faith). The darkness of suffering intensified as her illness worsened, and she wrote: “Believe that at those times he is hollowing out in your soul capacities to receive him, capacities that are, in a way, as infinite as he is himself. Try then to be wholly joyful under the hand that crucifies you’ (Letter 249).

God’s love was near and intimate for Elizabeth. For her, we are within the mystery of the Triune God, and He dwells in us. For this Carmelite saint, conversion is about attunement to the harmonies of God’s life within us and holiness is living in joyful melody with the dynamics of divine love. In her beautiful prayer to the Trinity, she wrote: “O my beloved Christ, crucified by love . . . I feel my weakness and 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.” For Elizabeth, her life of prayer and contemplation was like listening to the music of a song: “I listened to my Word whom I adore and I heard the song that is sung in the bosom of the Divine” (Poem 86).

Read more at Word on Fire 

Share with Friends: