Novena to Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity (October 31 - November 8)

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As we begin this annual novena to St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, please be sure to review these intentions daily and to speak them out loud so that we might all, with full devotion and intention, implore the help of St. Elizabeth for our sanctification and the healing of the Church.

Through the intercession of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, we ask that all members of Apostoli Viae"

  • Would come to know the grace of contemplation.
  • Would receive the insights they need to cooperate with God to remove all within them that is not of God and that hinders their love and service of Him and those whom He has placed in their care.
  • Would be aided in their preparation for Advent as a time of reflection, renewal, and rejoicing.

For the material and spiritual needs of Apostoli Viae, and in particular, those that would allow for the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Retreat center to continue to be an epicenter of grace, healing, and spiritual renewal for the Church.


Day 1
Intention: For the gift of “God’s sight”
We often hear the expression, “you can’t see the forest for the trees.” We can become so engrossed in the concerns and anxieties of life that we lose “the big picture.” This big picture includes the reality that God is always at work among us. 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: What dark ways of thinking or pre-occupations do I need to renounce in order to welcome the light of eternity in my life? Who in particular should I pray and give thanks for? 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 Jesus, that we may see what you see and love in the way that you love and thus 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.
Glory Be… Our Father… Hail Mary


Day 2
Intention: For the resolve to do everything for God’s glory, with thanksgiving and charity.
It is always a temptation to allow frustration, failure or rejection to become the driving forces of our lives. Yet we are predestined in Christ for another way of life, a life of glory filled with every spiritual blessing. To become the praise of God’s glory, 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] It was once common tradition that the faithful pray before any activity or undertaking a task. It’s never too late to start practicing this again.
Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity: “Oh! how empty is all that has not been done for God and with God!” [L 333]

Meditation/Assignment: 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 Jesus, that we may see what you see and love in the way that you love and thus 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.
Glory Be… Our Father… Hail Mary


Day 3
Intention: For a heart 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] For Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity, God is present in a wholly loving way in the souls of those who cry out to Him and believe in Him by faith. This is because baptism transforms the soul into His temple, His beloved dwelling place. Through this presence in our hearts, He is always ready to communicate the immensity of His love whenever we welcome Him. To welcome God’s overflowing presence, she recommends that we seek to recollect ourselves and to constantly call to mind the immensity of His love – it is always more than we can imagine or hope for. St. Paul writes, “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: “Mark everything with the seal of love! It alone endures.” [L 333]

Meditation/Assignment: 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 Jesus, that we may see what you see and love in the way that you love and thus 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.
Glory Be… Our Father… Hail Mary


Day 4
Intention: For the resolve to seek to be rooted deeper in God.
To be rooted deeper in God requires a special kind of fidelity in which we remain in communion with love, flow into love and allow ourselves to be rooted in love. In the face of the exceeding love of God, Saint Elizabeth proposed that each of our acts, movements, thoughts, aspirations must be rooted more deeply in love (HF 43). She does not have in mind a passing feeling, a nice wish or a vague intention. As she herself witnessed even during her long difficult illness, this divine gift is welcomed in the concrete circumstances of the present moment no matter how challenging. Not limited to what is convenient but instead ready for any sacrifice, God’s love in us always opens up a way to thank Christ who for our sake was crucified by love. 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 Jesus, that we may see what you see and love in the way that you love and thus 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.
Glory Be… Our Father… Hail Mary


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 said that to achieve this self-emptying, we must study Christ and concentrate on His devotion to accomplishing the will of the Father. With Christ, we must learn to say “Here we are, O Father, we come to do your will.”

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/Assignment: 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 Jesus, that we may see what You see and love in the way that You love and thus 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 of with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Glory Be… Our Father… Hail Mary


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 intoour 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 Jesus, that we may see what you see and love in the way that you love and thus 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.
Glory Be… Our Father… Hail Mary


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 the constant theme in the Carmelite mystics, who always emphasize how close the Lord is to us and how he never leaves us. Even if you disappoint 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”. 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 Jesus, that we may see what You see and love in the way that You love and thus 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.
Glory Be… Our Father… Hail Mary


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/Assignment: 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 Jesus, that we may see what You see and love in the way that You love and thus 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.
Glory Be… Our Father… Hail Mary


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 caritas 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 everything 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 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 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. Immerse Yourself in me so that I may be immersed in You until I go to contemplate in Your light the abyss of Your splendor!
[The Trinitarian Prayer of Elizabeth of the Trinity]
Glory Be… Our Father… Hail Mary


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

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19
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Their names they never tell me; but I see very well that there is in heaven so great a difference between one angel and another, and between these and the others, that I cannot explain it. “I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron’s point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it. The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God. The pain is not bodily, but spiritual; though the body has its share in it, even a large one. It is a caressing of love so sweet which now takes place between the soul and God, that I pray God of His goodness to make him experience it who may think that I am lying. “During the days that this lasted, I went about as if beside myself. I wished to see, or speak with, no one, but only to cherish my pain, which was to me a greater bliss than all created things could give me. “I was in this state from time to time, whenever it was our Lord’s pleasure to throw me into those deep trances, which I could not prevent even when I was in the company of others, and which, to my deep vexation, came to be publicly known. Since then, I do not feel that pain so much, but only that which I spoke of before—I do not remember the chapter —which is in many ways very different from it, and of greater worth. On the other hand, when this pain, of which I am now speaking, begins, our Lord seems to lay hold of the soul, and to throw it into a trance, so that there is no time for me to have any sense of pain or suffering, because fruition ensues at once. May He be blessed for ever, who hath bestowed such great graces on one who has responded so ill to blessings so great!” (ST. TERESA OF AVILA, THE BOOK OF HER LIFE, CHAPTER XXIX.) St. John of the Cross explains that this kind of experience happens “while the soul is inflamed with the Love of God, it will feel that a seraph is assailing it by means of an arrow or dart which is all afire with love. And the seraph pierces and in an instant cauterizes this soul, which, like a red-hot coal, or better a flame, is already enkindled. The soul is converted into an immense fire of Love. Few persons have reached these heights.” As God is good, this one act that literally touched the heart of St Teresa of Avila has gone on to spiritually touch the hearts of millions of people since. One person, also named Teresa, today, also, a Carmelite saint, is St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (aka Edith Stein). In 1940, she wrote this sonnet on the occasion of this feast day: From Heaven’s heights a beam of light here flashes, He came into the dark depths of my heart, The soul was wounded by Love’s flaming dart, Which penetrated all my limbs like lashes. Transformed since then is my entire being. Am I no more the same one that I was? That light has cleared away the dark, because I am like one who was once blind now seeing. Deep under me in unsubstantial distance, I see the world and all the rage of its states, Its buzzing noise does not reach me in this place. Eternal stars glow over my existence, And wondrously a bow of peace radiates, A gentle sign of God’s great mercy and grace.                              * * * The ray of heaven’s light allows me rest not, Thus what is lighted must become a light. The Light eternal sends me to earth’s plight: And so I turn to bear the world now so fraught. The love of God within my heart burns so deep, It gladly set the world in whole aflame. That love is homeless and attracts no fame, This causes pain and makes the faithful soul weep. It loves to let the golden stars shine brightly Into the deepest depths of earth’s darkest vale, With gentle light to penetrate the dark night. It wants to join both Heav’n and earth so tightly, And carry by the Holy Spirit’s strong gale The world aloft upon His wings into light. After St Teresa of Avila died in 1582, her body was exhumed and found to be incorrupt. Later, when it was decided that her heart should be removed from her body and placed in a jeweled silver reliquary, it was revealed that her heart had a visible wound from the angel's dart. This heart, wounded by Christ's love, can be seen today at the Carmelite Monastery of Alba de Tormes in Spain.  Members of Apostoli Viae and Carmelites around the world are clothed in the Holy Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. May God cover us in the mantle of Our Lady and guide us all along the way that is everlasting, the way tread by our holy sisters in Christ--Saints Teresa of Avila, Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, and so many others.  May our hearts never rest until they rest in Him. May our hearts be a light to others. May they burn with His flame, and set the world on fire with His love.   Images: Ecstasy of Saint Teresa by Gerard Seghers; La Transverbération de sainte Thérèse by Christian Wilhelm Ernst Dietrich; The Ecstasy of St Teresa, by Francesco Fontebasso.
47
In the Desert with Jesus and Mary
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