Tuesday 7 November 2023

Elizabeth of the Trinity The Great Carmelite Saint - Jennifer Moorcroft - CTS Biographies

Elizabeth of the Trinity  
The Great Carmelite Saint
Jennifer Moorcroft
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860823329
eISBN 9781784692087
CTS Booklet B769

A few years back I stumbled upon the books and booklets from the Catholic Truth Society. I instantly fell in love with the clear and concise writing; the wonderful lives of Saints and Blesseds, amazing histories and the church teaching. I have read over 370 books from the CTS, and I have been blessed and benefited from almost all of them. There are many wonderful series. This is the eighth volume I have read from the pen of Jennifer Moorcroft. I loved the books in the CTS Great Saints Series. I have also read many in the CTS Biographies and also Saints of the Isles Series. And have enjoyed all of them. This volume is a fantastic read, in a wonderful series! This book was originally part of the CTS Great Saints Series which has since been rebranded Saints & Blesseds. This volume was originally published in 2017, the eBook edition was released in 2017, and it has not been rebranded like many others early in the 2020’s.  

The description of this book is:

“St Elizabeth of the Trinity, the fourth great Carmelite saint, reminds us of the rich Catholic tradition of prayer and union with God.

Today, many people are searching for greater depth in their lives and searching for inspiration. St Elizabeth of the Trinity reminds us of the rich Catholic tradition of prayer, union with God and love for the Trinity. She herself drew inspiration from the Scriptures, and especially on her ‘beloved St Paul’; so intensively did she live his teachings and those of St John, that they became the very expression of her own inner life.

Elizabeth of the Trinity is the fourth great Carmelite saint, together with St John of the Cross, St Teresa of Avila and St Thérèse of Lisieux, who are the outstanding teachers of prayer in the Catholic Church. A selection from Elizabeth's writings is included.”

And the chapters in this little volume are:

Life in the World
Into the Land of Carmel
The Praise of Glory
The Fellowship of his Sufferings
From the Writings of Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity
Suggested Further Reading

I highlighted numerous passages while reading this volume. Some of them are:

“With her canonisation on 16th October 2016, Elizabeth of the Trinity became the fourth great Carmelite saint, together with St John of the Cross, St Teresa of Avila and St Thérèse of Lisieux, who are the outstanding teachers of prayer in the Catholic Church.”

“She lived only five years in Carmel, but twenty-one as a lay person, and had already attained a degree of holiness before entering the cloister. In Carmel she saw no contradiction between what she lived as a religious and what was also possible for a lay person: all are called to holiness and union with God. St Teresa of Avila said we could find God in the midst of pots and pans, and Elizabeth echoed this when she said “we find God at the wash just as at prayer”.”

“St Elizabeth’s reputation as one of the most influential mystics of the twentieth century has been steadily growing since her death in 1906; it is to be hoped that more people will be drawn to her as a sure guide in the way of prayer and the path of holiness, and will be inspired by the beauty of her personality as expressed in her writings and example.”

“Nevertheless, even at an early age, and in that devout household, her parents noted that she had a genuine love for Jesus and was quiet and prayerful when in church.”

“It was a crucial time for Elizabeth; she made her first Confession around Christmas 1887, in preparation for her First Communion in five years’ time. During this period, visiting Canon Angles, a close family friend, Elizabeth climbed on to his lap and whispered, “I am going to be a nun; I will be a nun!””

“At Mass one day, Elizabeth had heard within herself the call to Carmel, and from her bedroom window she could see the grounds of the Carmel and the nuns there going about their work and prayer. Her mother, on the other hand, was determined that Elizabeth should look elsewhere for her future, perhaps as a music teacher.”

“In all these visits and times with friends Elizabeth was most appreciated not only for her kindness and thoughtfulness, but also for her tremendous drive and sense of fun. Her friend Françoise summed her up at this time: “She did not love the world but she was in it and seemed to enjoy herself.””

“She was also reading the newly published autobiography of St Thérèse of Lisieux, and wrote her own act of surrender to God. In another prayer she said she wanted to be a saint, to give her heart wholly to him, to do only his will: she offered to him “the cell of my heart to be your little Bethany; come and live there, I love you so much”.”

“Seeing her absorbed in prayer at supper that first evening, some of the older sisters thought, “that can’t last”, but it did. On entering her cell for the first time, with its white walls and simple furnishings, Elizabeth exclaimed, “God is here!””

“Elizabeth realised that prayer was not only her response to God, but that interior silence was needed in order to allow God to speak. Desires, joys, fears and sorrows, the inner chatter of “self” make a continual noise within that so easily drowns out the “small still voice” of God.”

“She had to learn through hard and bitter experience that prayer is not always easy. This brought her to a deeper humility and a realisation of how completely her gifts were given to her by God.”

“You must build a little cell within your soul as I do. Remember that God is there and enter it from time to time; when you feel nervous or you’re unhappy, quickly seek refuge there and tell the Master all about it. Ah, if you got to know him a little, prayer wouldn’t bore you any more; to me it seems to be rest, relaxation. We come quite simply to the One we love, stay close to him like a little child in the arms of its mother, and we let our heart go.”

“Around this time Elizabeth was reading the writings of St John of the Cross and also studying St Paul. She discovered another dimension to her vocation when, around Christmas 1903 Sr Aimée directed her to Ephesians 3:16, where St Paul speaks of the Christian vocation of living to the “praise of his glory”.”

“Immerse yourself in me, possess me, substitute yourself for me, that my life becomes but a reflection of your life. Enter into me as Adorer, Restorer and Saviour.”

“I cannot say I love suffering in itself, but I love it because it conforms me to him who is my Bridegroom and my Love. Oh, you see, that bestows such sweet peace, and profound joy on the soul, and you end up putting your happiness in everything that is irritating.”

“About 6.15 a.m., on 9th November 1906, still with that radiant expression, she died so peacefully that they couldn’t be sure of the exact moment. She had lived heaven on earth and slipped away so easily into its fullness. Her last words were: “I am going to Light to Love to Life!””

“Elizabeth’s mission is to guide souls on the path of prayer, a path that is simple, because it is to allow oneself to be loved by God and to love him in return with the love that he himself pours into the heart. And the very simplicity of this will allow the soul to reach the heights of holiness and union with God that Elizabeth herself attained.”

“If anyone were to ask me the secret of happiness I would say it is no longer to think of self, to deny oneself always.”

“And finally, grow in thanksgiving. That is the last word of the programme and is but the consequence of it. If you walk rooted in Christ, strengthened in your faith, you will live in thanksgiving: the love of the sons of God!”

The first two-thirds of the book is her life. The final section is a series of extended quotes from her works. I hope the quotes above give you a feel for this volume. It was a wonderful read. Deeply moving and very inspiring. 

This is another excellent little volume. It seems every time I read a book from the Catholic Truth Society I find 2 or three others I want to read. I have an ever growing wish list of eBooks, books in print, and books out of print I want to track down. I greatly enjoyed this volume. This is another excellent read, in a great series. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

For reviews in the CTS Biographies Series Click here.

Books in the CTS Great Saints Series:
Antonio Rosmini - J.B. Midgley
Bernard of Clairvaux - J.B. Midgley
Benedict Patron of Europe - J.B. Midgley
Charles Borromeo - J.B. Midgley
Dominic - J.B. Midgley
Elizabeth of the Trinity The Great Carmelite Saint - Jennifer Moorcroft
Francis de Sales - J.B. Midgley
Gemma Galgani Gem of Christ John Paul Kirkham
George: Patron of England - J.B. Midgley
John Baptist de La Salle - J.B. Midgley
John of the Cross - Jennifer Moorcroft
John Vianney - J.B. Midgley
Louis Marie de Montfort His Life, Message and Teaching - Paul Allerton SMM
Martin de Porres - Glynn MacNiven-Johnston
Patrick Missionary to the Irish - Thomas O’Loughlin 

Books by Jennifer Moorcroft:
A Catholic Response to the Jehovah's Witnesses
Saint Therese of Lisieux and Her Sisters 
When Silence Speaks. The Life and Spirituality of Elisabeth Leseur
The Hidden Light: A Life of Saint Dominic
He is My Heaven: The Life of Elizabeth of the Trinity
God Is All Joy: The Life of St. Teresa of the Andes

In the CTS Great Saints Series:

St Thérèse of Lisieux: Transformation into Love - Jennifer Moorcroft - CTS Biographies

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