The Teresian Carmelites of the Anglo-Irish Province
To help people in every aspect of their lives by sharing and exploring
with them the rich sources of Carmelite teaching on prayer
within the broad perspective of Christian spirituality and life experience.

James McCaffrey, OCD

Assistant Editors
Joanne Mosley

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Iain Matthew, OCD Margeret McLaughlin, OCDS
Mary of St Philip, OCD Craig Morrison, O.Carm.
Peter Tyler, PhD. Martin Wray, MA

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It is with joy that we give notice of:

The Canonisation of Elizabeth of the Trinity
(October 16, 2016)


The Beatification of Fr Marie Eugene
(November 19, 2016)


We are pleased to commemorate, during 2016

The Year of Mercy

(December 8, 2015 - November 20, 2016)


The Canonisation of Sts Louis and Zelie Martin,
parents of St Therese of Lisieux

(October 18, 2015)



Prayer to the Trinity
Saint Elizabeth Catez

James McCaffrey

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity: Model and Teacher of Prayer
Jennifer Moorcroft

Elizabeth of the Trinity: Mystic and Spiritual Teacher
Celia Kourie

What Elizabeth Means to Me: The Full Blossoming of Humanity
Elizabeth McGeown

Spiritualité victimale and Elizabeth of the Trinity: A Journey to Surrender and Love
Roderick Campbell Guion

Elizabeth of the Trinity: Listening to her Music
Paula Moroney

Voices of the Heart

'Silent music, sounding solitude': A Girl with Rhythm in her Head
Eugene McCaffrey

Let Yourself Be Loved!: Elizabeth of the Trinity and Karl Rahner
Patrice Buckley

Immersion in the Presence of God: Entering into a Contemplative Gaze
Conrad De Meester

The Prayer to the Trinity: Drawn into the Abyss of God's Greatness
Joanne Mosley

Food for the Journey - Books



Lord Jesus Christ,
you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father,
and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him.
Show us your face, and we will be saved.

Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money;
the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things;
you made Peter weep after his betrayal,
and assured Paradise to the repentant thief.

Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us,
the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman:
'If you knew the gift of God!'

You are the visible face of the invisible Father,
of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy:
let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified.

You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness
in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error:
let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God.

Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its anointing,
so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the Lord,
and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm, may bring good news to the poor,
proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed, and restore sight to the blind.

We ask you this through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy,
you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever.







James McCaffrey


A near-contemporary of Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Elizabeth of the Trinity had a profound experience of the presence of God, which she nurtured in an impressive way during a few years of life in Carmel. We acclaim in her a being who was overflowing with natural gifts; she was intelligent and sensitive, an accomplished pianist, esteemed by her friends, delicate in her affection for her own. And so she blossomed in the silence of contemplation, was radiant with the happiness of a total forgetfulness of self; without reserve, she welcomed the gift of God, the grace of baptism and of reconciliation; she received admirably the Eucharistic presence of Christ. To an exceptional degree, she was aware of the communion offered to every creature by the Lord.

This is the saint, described here by Pope John Paul II, himself a saint of the Church, at her beatification on November 25, 1984; and this is the same saint we are celebrating especially at this time: Elizabeth Catez of Dijon (1880-1906), who will be canonised in Rome in just a few days' time, on October 16, 2016.

October is a month marked by the feasts of two of Elizabeth's greatest inspirations in Carmel and even before: Sts Teresa of Avila and Thérèse of Lisieux. But from all the thousands of people whose lives have mirrored the message of Teresa, of Thérèse and of Elizabeth herself - which is nothing other than the teaching of the Gospel, nourished by an inner intimacy with God in prayer - there will be many, many saints down through the ages: most of them unknown to us, yet standing out to their family and friends in a quiet and dignified way, these ordinary lives transfigured by the flame of God's love burning within them.

These are the women and men whom we celebrate next month, on the feast of All Saints. We remember those who have died in God's love and have already gained love's high reward, with a love now fully cleansed and purified of every taint of sin. We celebrate the victory of Christ's love in all his saints. St Paul - a teacher whose influence on Elizabeth cannot be overstated - reminds us that we are already one with the saints as 'fellow citizens' and 'part of God's household'. 'What you have come to,' the author of Hebrews tells us, '…is God himself, the supreme Judge, and you have been placed with the spirits of the saints who have been made perfect.'

The saints, then, have been 'made perfect'! This is not a phrase that always lies easily with some of us. It can so readily conjure up for us an idea of holiness as perfect observance of rules and regulations, laws and prescriptions - instead of a fitting response to a God of unconditional love: 'a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin.' We can find ourselves burdened with the image of a stern God, a kind of glorified detective or policeman only too ready to scrutinise us and call us to account for every minute detail of our lives. It is true that Jesus invites us in the Gospel of Matthew to be perfect: 'Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect,' he says to us. But what does the word 'perfect' mean in the gospel sense of the word?

It is surely significant that when Luke wants to communicate the same lesson as Matthew, he does not say: 'Be perfect…', but: 'Be merciful as your Father is merciful.' Jesus speaks of reaching out to others in their pain, empathising with them, at one with them, in compassionate love. On the eve of the Passion and death, we are told that Jesus 'loved his own who were in the world' and that he 'loved them to the end' - that is, he loved them perfectly. He gave the supreme, complete, and fullest possible expression of his love. That's what it means to be 'perfect'. We have the same lesson from the lips of Jesus on the Cross. 'It is ended,' he cries - all is finished, consummated. His death is the supreme, complete and fullest possible expression of God's love: 'God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.'

I am reminded of St Teresa's teaching in the third mansions of her Interior Castle. In these mansions, she tells us, we are all like the rich young man in the Gospels. He wants to be 'perfect'. For him, a devout Jew, perfection was about observance of the law. 'What must I do,' he asks, 'to inherit eternal life?' And he says that he has observed all the commandments from his youth. Jesus then looks at him and loves him. So far, all is well. But Jesus now asks for something more: 'If you would be perfect, go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.' The young man went away sad, we are told, because he had great possessions. However, the problem was not that he had great possessions. Rather, he was possessed by them. They were an obstacle. His heart was enslaved by them, imprisoned, held captive. He was not free to give himself to Jesus completely and without reserve. That is what it means to be 'perfect'.

Teresa goes on to expand further the implications of this gospel story. She speaks of those who are 'upright… well-ordered… well-balanced… discreet… circumspect…' They are observant, but 'their reason is still very much in control,' she tells us, and she adds: 'Love has not yet reached the point of overwhelming reason.' To be 'perfect', for Teresa, is to surrender to love - that same love of God 'poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us'. It is to release the full potential of our love. To love is to give oneself, to give everything. It is to love God with an undivided heart as the saints did, without reserve. It is to do God's will, to obey the first commandment: 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.'

For the saints, love, not reason, is primary. That is the lesson of Jesus for all who wish to follow him, as we read in John's Gospel: 'Those who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.' So, the saints discovered Christ by loving Christ - that is, Jesus revealed himself to them in response to their love. They had pondered deeply the truth of God's word: 'Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God.' One of our Irish poets, Patrick Kavanagh, expressed so well this priority of love over reason when he wrote:

Mind is a poor scholar
O blind Mind
When is spun your chilly firmament
Souls nothing find.

One love lone flame
In a dark cell
Makes fuel of firmaments
And dims out Hell.

The saints are captive flames. And in them the prayer of St Paul for his first converts in Ephesus, and for all of us, is already fulfilled:

Out of his infinite glory, may he give you the power through his Spirit for your hidden self to grow strong, so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith, and then, planted in love and built on love, you will with all the saints have strength to grasp the breadth and the length, the height and the depth; until, knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge, you are filled with the utter fullness of God.

No saints are born saints. We do them no favours if we think that they were called by God to tread some easy, sheltered and primrose path. The law of love is more demanding than any written law. The poet William Blake once wrote: 'we are put on earth a little space / That we may learn to bear the beams of love.' The saints are no exception. They are called, like all of us, to take up the cross daily and to follow Christ. Like Jesus on the road to Calvary, they stumble, falter and fall. But for the grace of God, they would never be part of the heavenly chorus and be able to sing forever 'the mercies of the Lord'. They can now join the eternal chorus of the saints described in Paul's prayer:

Glory be to him whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine; glory be to him from generation to generation in the Church and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever. Amen.



The author is a Carmelite nun in the community of Kew, Melbourne, and a regular contributor to Mount Carmel with her articles and reviews. In this inspiring and lyrical article, she shares with us the spirituality of Elizabeth, whose musical gifts were channelled into the music of her soul - transformed by the Spirit, living the call to holiness here and now, and hearing, from a place deep within, the praise that is sung in heaven.


An echo beyond time
Elizabeth had music in her soul. Her whole life was set to music like a melody rising and falling. A natural pianist, she lived with the music of the great composers from an early age and graduated from the Dijon Conservatory at thirteen with highest honours. The music in her heart led her to even more sublime realms, and when she played she expressed more than words ever could. Music unlocked its secrets and revealed something of the divine which she longed to explore at length: that mysterious presence of God - dwelling, breathing life, within her.

When she entered Carmel, the full theme emerged and its haunting tones echoed beyond time and still linger for us through her profound writings. There is a beautiful harmony in Elizabeth's spirit and we sense it in her youthful energy and vivacity, and her passionate outbursts of childhood temper controlled in strength and determination, poise and calm. As she progressed during those short years in Carmel, she was purified and refined through painful illness and bleak darkness which made her musical soul even more tender. A dominant theme first heard in the distance is clearly developed as a 'Praise of Glory' with overtones spreading across her world.

Her great desire
The gift of music made Elizabeth the attractive and sensitive person she was. Her remarkable talents as a pianist were widely acclaimed, though the honours she received in youth never seemed to make her proud or affected. Life offered many pleasures to this popular young girl who played Chopin, Schumann and Liszt with ease, who liked to dance and dress stylishly, to travel and socialise, but also to pray and contemplate in stillness and to help the less fortunate or teach poor children.

Her great desire was to become a Carmelite, and she prepared herself for the day when her mother would give permission. The pain she felt came from seeing how much her mother suffered in this decision, since Elizabeth's father had died when she was only seven and her little sister, Guite, was four; naturally, Madame Catez had other dreams for this talented daughter. The longer the delay, the more the desire grew and her strength of virtue expanded. It is all the more remarkable that Elizabeth's external life continued, happy and normal as ever in the whirl of social activities and events.

The immensity of her desires
The day finally came for her to enter Carmel after her twenty-first birthday, a journey just around the corner, and she felt she was stepping across the threshold into heaven. Feelings do not last, but Elizabeth's focus never wavered. Because she was well prepared, accustomed to hours of deep prayer and to solitude and concentration through her years of immersion in music, she willingly settled into the routine of silence and prayer.

Elizabeth must have already practised great self-discipline and control, yet the silence of Carmel demands further emptying of self and even hollows out other comfortable satisfactions, as John of the Cross insists. There must have been times when the zealous postulant yearned for the freedom to express herself aloud in music and when she longed to share secrets with her beloved sister and intimate confidante, Guite, and when she missed the company of dearly loved friends. She gathered these thoughts and intuitions mainly in her letters and reflections, poems and retreat notes, eventually summed up in her memorable Prayer to the Trinity which captures the immensity of her desires.

Spheres of harmony and praise
Once she became a Carmelite, Elizabeth never complained: she never spoke of the loss of her music, never suggested that she lacked opportunity or felt the sacrifice of the gifts she had left behind. Her composure and acceptance were complete and generous. She saw herself as an instrument in the hands of the Divine Master, a lyre responsive to the touch of the Holy Spirit drawing forth divine harmonies. Music was elevated to a higher spiritual plane, like the music in the Book of Revelation, where creatures are caught up in the spheres of harmony and praise.

Perceiving the truth
The living words of Scripture and spiritual writings absorbed Elizabeth and gave her a programme she explored in detail. That sacred section in St John's Gospel containing Jesus' final discourse to his disciples revealed secrets for her. Remain in God, find everything contained in his love. 'Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them and we will come to them and make our home with them' (Jn 14:23).

St Paul became her constant master and mystical guide, for in his writings Elizabeth found affirmation of her call to holiness as living in the presence of God who dwelt within her. 'I live now no longer I, it is Christ who lives in me' (Gal 2:20). She connected passages showing how God's love brings us to life in Christ (cf. Eph 2:4). What is more, ultimately we are predestined 'to become true images of his Son' (Rm 8:29).

Her personal calling, as she clearly understood it, was to be a 'Praise of glory' (cf. Eph 1:12), combining all that she was and all that she would be. It was this phrase she seized upon and made her motto. It spelt out her whole outlook on life: reverence, adoration, prayer, reflection, beauty, joy, gratitude. Her praise echoed the truth she perceived but could not fully express in words. It was lived and shared, so as to give the same joy to others, with depths of feeling, understanding and compassion surpassing ordinary human experience because it emanated from God's own love. She needed nothing more because, as she said, 'a soul united to Jesus is a living smile that radiates Him and gives Him' (L 252). Elizabeth stepped aside to let that light shine through.

A channel of grace
As a musician receives a music score originally conceived by the composer, then conveys and interprets it afresh in personal performance, so prayer is received and then has its effect on others. This is not without effort and preparation, but the gifts that are freely given will live and be dispersed without being diminished. As they are shared they take on new life. In fact, a wonderful transformation is simultaneously taking place, as St Teresa relates in The Interior Castle: progress in prayer leads to complete union with God, and the closer the union the more effective and pure is the love that goes out to others.

Elizabeth's vision took on a priestly role, in the sense that she even thought of the life of a Carmelite as an Advent that prepares souls for Christ's coming incarnation, as does that of a priest. Thus she encouraged André Chevignard, a few months after his ordination (cf. L 250). To receive grace is to be enabled to mediate more effectively for others. This life of prayer is an all-consuming work where everything, our entire being and energy, are concentrated to a higher end, an ideal that takes every moment of a lifespan to complete.

Gazing in faith till light appears…
The real treasure Elizabeth left us was not even discovered until after her death. The Prayer to the Trinity was written on a modest page torn out of her notebook and put away in her little writing box but never mentioned to others. These most intimate words were addressed to the Trinity, on the significant feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin, November 21, 1904, when the community had just completed an eight-day retreat and renewed their vows.

In reverent tones she makes this prayer to the 'Trinity whom I adore', humbly asking that she might forget herself and be established in true peace and stillness; she was already aware of a profound relationship with God and wished for the indwelling love to become even stronger. The words she chooses have musical overtones: she speaks of absolute presence, of being attentive, vigilant, adoring, and wholly surrendered. This is not mere passivity but activity, an absorbing and re-echoing progression.

Of her beloved Christ she makes a simple direct request: 'Come into me…' In her love she longs to match his, and to be identified with him and possessed completely, herself a radiance of his life. Furthermore, she would spend her life listening to that Eternal Word, to the silence resounding, and would gaze in faith till light appears like the Star that fascinates and draws her.

The Holy Spirit, 'consuming Fire' and 'Spirit of Love', makes her think of the Annunciation and the Incarnation of the Word, so Elizabeth offers herself completely until life's final moment and looks towards the contemplation of full light.

When words cease…
We are reminded of St John of the Cross when he describes the Beloved in The Spiritual Canticle. All the beauty and wonder of nature give us only a faint idea of the surpassing grace of the supernatural. Contraries meet, opposites come together, and reality is turned inside out. The sounding solitude and the silent music arise from the depths of the spirit to tell us how we can know and perceive something of the eternal revelation of infinity where nothing is seen, nothing heard externally, but where everything is known interiorly, in secret - through the One who has loved us into being and rejoices in the new creation.

In that solitude, prayer leads to the place where God awaits us, and this union with God in love leads to communion with everyone and with all of creation within God. In the silence, the voice of love is heard more clearly, as the voice of peace, such as Elijah experienced in the sound of the gentle breeze (cf. 1Kgs 19:12), or as in the Book of Job, where we read of God:

…a whispered echo is all we hear of him.
But who could comprehend the thunder of his power? (Jb 26:14)

Those poignant silences in music give meaning to the notes that follow. The spiritual life has those silences, too, and for Elizabeth they were impregnated with presence and personal relevance. She found deeper revelation of infinity where mere words ceased.

Praise heard only in heaven
A sense of sacredness of the All-holy is one of the mysterious aspects of the Book of Revelation. Elizabeth takes this up when she refers to the harpists around the throne who fall down in adoration of the Lamb who was slain. In the New Jerusalem with all its light and beauty, glorious praises are sung continuously but heard only in heaven (cf. Rv 7:9-12).

One of the last pieces Elizabeth wrote was for her sister, Guite, to console her when she was gone. This inspiring and profound work, known as 'Heaven in Faith', gathers up the themes of her life and lifts the veil to share a magnificent vision, that of heaven where 'each soul is a praise of glory of the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, for each soul is established in pure love' (HF 42). Elizabeth called herself 'a soul of silence' (HF 43), an instrument sensitive to the touch of the Holy Spirit, tuned to produce sublime harmonies. Suffering produces more beautiful sounds until one is always giving thanks, deeply rooted in love. In heaven the song is uninterrupted, an eternal Sanctus. That is why she could firmly assert: 'Always believe in Love' (L 269). No suffering, then, could destroy her.

The radiance of the beckoning Star
Elizabeth's spirituality was marked by a calm serenity which she had acquired over a lifetime through many early tussles with her unruly temper. She came to live on a higher plateau and could survey life from the perspective of eternity, in the light, love and life of the Trinity. She did this with total dedication and peace despite cruel pain, weakness and spiritual desolation, while political disturbances and hostility to the Church also rumbled in the background.

Elizabeth had written: 'let us follow [the departed] by faith into those regions of peace and love'; 'everything must end in God', and 'like a little baby on the heart of its mother, we will fall asleep in Him, and "in His light we will see light"' (L 200; cf. Ps 35:10). The radiance of that light never diminishes; like the beckoning Star, fascinating us with its constant glow, it shines and reflects an inner beauty. Listen to its music in the silence of that loving Presence - eternity is now!