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  • Writer's pictureDr. Anthony Lilles

Elisabeth of the Trinity and the Song of Praise

For Elisabeth, the soul's greatest activity is a song of praise. Contemplation and even the Beatific vision are described in terms of this spiritual, interior song. The soul is, for her, lyrical: its thoughts, emotions, imaginings are the strings of a lyre which require tuning. She believes silent prayer and self-control keep this interior lyre in tune. As it is more in tune, it becomes capable of producing the interior harmonies that Jesus offers the Father. She believes this music is possible for us because the Holy Spirit produces the movements of Jesus' heart in the soul. The music culminates at the Cross. It is from the Cross that Jesus offers the great canticle of his heart. This canticle gives fitting praise to the Father and redeems mankind. The soul's song is meant to be a participationg in the suffering humanity of Jesus. Only through the experiences of his humanity is serving God possible. His humanity poured out for us, in her thought, is access to heaven. By describing this access in terms of the interior music of the soul, she makes clear that prayer does not involve merely intellectualizing Jesus' humanity. Prayer involves a real participation in his suffering love. It is a taking up of the Cross. While she herself was suffering in the final months of her life, she wrote her community the lyrics of the song the soul sings in this song of praise: "I glory in the Cross of Jesus Christ" (see Gal. 6:14); "With Christ I am nailed to the Cross" (see Gal. 2:19); and "I suffer in my body what is lacking in the passion of Christ for the sake of His Body, the Church" (see Col. 1:24). Last Retreat, #13.

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