St. Elizabeth of the Trinity: Her Entrance into Carmel
The following selection is taken from the Introduction of our newly released Always Believe in Love: Selected Writings of Elizabeth of the Trinity, copyright 2017 by the Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc. Published by ICS Publications, Washington, D.C.
Carmel at Last
Joy, Turmoil, Prayer to the Trinity
Elizabeth entered the Carmel of Dijon on August 2, 1901, two weeks after her twenty-first birthday, becoming Sister Marie Elizabeth of the Trinity. Her spiritual maturity was so marked that a sister wrote in a letter to Lisieux Carmel: "Our postulant . . . will become a saint for she already has remarkable disposition for it." After her postulancy of four months, which Elizabeth found "delightful," she was overjoyed to receive the Carmelite habit on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1901.
In contrast to the light and joy of her postulancy, the novitiate was characterized by interior darkness and suffering. Mother Germaine of Jesus, Elizabeth's prioress, novice mistress, and first biographer gives no details, only referring in Elizabeth's obituary to dryness in prayer, spiritual darkness, scruples, anxieties, and depression. Elizabeth's physical health suffered and her dominant fault, hypersensitivity, resurfaced, causing Elizabeth great distress after all her efforts to overcome herself. She had become a very holy young woman before entering, but she had to learn to be a holy nun. With characteristic faith and generosity Elizabeth endured, and was solemnly professed on the feast of the Epiphany, January 11, 1903.
Inner peace returned and Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity entered into the "mystery and whole vocation in [her] name," which proved central to her spirituality. The most profound and famous expression of her understanding of this central Christian mystery is her Prayer to the Trinity, which conveys her almost palpable intimacy with "the Three" and leads us into our own relationship with the indwelling Trinity. The church implicitly recognizes this in citing Elizabeth's Prayer to the Trinity as the culminating expression of the section on the Trinity in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Her Trinity Prayer "speaks" her soul, the church's and, if we open ourselves up to it, ours.
Photos of Elizabeth shown above: taken before her 21st birthday and the last photo, taken a month before her death. Photos published with the kindness and permission of the Carmel of Dijon (Dijon-Flavignerot).