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  • Writer's pictureDr. Anthony Lilles

Elisabeth of the Trinity - Mysterious Hymn of Praise

For Elisabeth of the Trinity, to surrender ourselves to God in love is to join the Great Canticle echoing from the foundation of the world and resounding in the heights of heaven: the very praise of the glory of God's merciful love. In her biblical vision of the cosmos, those who pass through the great tribulation of Christ's passion also raise victorious with Him. They share in His glory and they make it known. And so can we, here and now, if we will choose to live by faith in the midst of the trial that God has permitted in our lives. The music that Elizabeth of the Trinity proposes is richly relational and engenders a tender reciprocity between Heaven's glory and the trials of earthly life, time and eternity, the soul as Bride and Christ, the Divine Bridegroom, This chord of reciprocity also resonates out from the soul surrendered to God to all the souls entrusted to it—so that they are all implicated in the eternal plan of the Father. The music of the heavens and the music of the soul can become the same because God dwells in both as in a temple.She describes a secret harmony exchanged not only in the life to come, but presently, right now, hidden in the silence of this humble moment, where eternity is already begun. What is realized perfectly by the souls in heaven is a hymn of praise anticipated now by those who live in the simplicity and humility of faith. Resounding in a silent fullness of love and communion, this music moves in the soul the more the soul is drawn to Christ. The melody of this mysterious hymn is unfamiliar and strange, but she attempts to find words for it. She describes the Divine Presence as in-flowing, enveloping, establishing and transforming. God's roaring silence produces peace, self-possession and interior strength. She draws her descriptions from the Bible: If speechlessness grips those who are pierced to the heart by the love of God, tradition calls this apophasis, she quotes the Bride of the Canticle of Canticles to bring out the relational and bridal dimensions of this failure of human speech: "I know longer know anything" she sings "but Christ crucified." Not a mental state or a natural mode of consciousness, she describes for us a speechless prayer realized when the soul is overwhelmed by the immensity of God's love, an immensity that flows through the Cross of Christ and overwhelms the soul. This is a hymn whose secret is known by the soul and shared with heaven. To help us glimpse the new self-possession it challenges us towards and produces in us, she intones songs that she attributes to Christ Himself: "My soul is always in my hands" and "I shall keep my strength for you." And for her, the strength that this hymn of praise unveils is found in observing silence. To be silent is to choose not to attempt to influence or control or manipulate. It is to be surrendered to what God is doing in the moment. This is how Christ lived—obedient to the will of the Father. To live like this, to choose to be humble and to accept the situation for what it is and then to order it to God, this requires dying to our own plans and dreams, to the tyranny of what we think ought to be, and to respond to the love of God being made known in the moment. To live like this, this is to die to self. Elisabeth reveled in this death to self—she not only accepted it, she sought it. As a result Christ's obedient, vulnerable, and vigilant heart came to reverberate in her own by faith. This is the source of the spiritual music, the rhythm that carried her personal hymn of praise. Because she wants to share the joy that she discovered, she yearns that we might discover this divine heart beat for ourselves. This vision sees the whole world animated by an eternal Sanctus. This Sanctus evokes surrender and lifts up by God, establishing total forgetfulness of self, total awareness of the Lord. Everything is in the shadow of Christ crucified by love, everything a response, a "thank you" for the immensity of love that He has revealed. Wholly attentive and adoring, a soul that is drawn out of itself by the love of the Lord is vulnerable and ready for a beautiful encounter, for the impact of Divinity into the frailty of humanity.

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