Updated: Apr 19
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - Abode of Light (Day 1):
"I dreamt it was my joy"
What makes you 'joyous'? Do you regard 'joy' as a spiritual gift or treasure?
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - Abode of Light (Day 2):
"O gentle shepherdess"
Read the link below about the importance of Rachel in the Old Testament. Who do you think Elisabeth might be referring to with this title?
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - Abode of Light (Day 3):
'"Where Love itself has Home"
How often do we associate the word 'Love' with the word 'Home'? Can we reflect today on ways that we might make our physical 'Homes' beacons of 'Love' and on ways we might make our spiritual inclination to 'Love' a reality in the 'Home' of our hearts.
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - Abode of Light (Day 4):
"To fête you in the height"
Fête, in the context of Elisabeth's writings, means to honour or to welcome a special figure.
This entire poem we are using throughout Lent ('A Dream of a Praise of Glory') is dedicated to Mother Germaine in Dijon Carmel, for whom Elisabeth had a deep affection.
'The height' perhaps an inner space, where there can be a true and profound expression of our gratitude and connection with others and with the divine. We might be some way off, but it is a longing for a spiritual unity that shall not pass.
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - Abode of Light (Day 5):
"But 'Praise of Glory', still on earth, can only guess"
Elisabeth had adopted the term 'Praise of Glory' to convey something of her view that the human soul, free of any worldly interference and lost to the concept of 'self', becomes more and more conformed to the figure of Christ and to the divine will of God. To move to this goal requires complete loving surrender and a deep perseverance and faith that replaces our former person or identity.
The interesting thing about this line is that she uses the term along with the word 'guess' in this piece of poetry. This inner 'Praise of Glory' does not pretend to know everything around the presence and the workings of of God. There are still mysteries, doubts and uncertainties. The key is to sense something of 'the lift' or the 'gentle pull' towards the model of perfection we find in Jesus Christ. The term 'Praise of Glory' helps us to root our goals in Eternal Love.
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - Abode of Light (Day 6):
"What was that glimpse she had"
As a 'Praise of Glory', open to the divine will and purpose, Elisabeth experiences a high level of spiritual awareness and insight.
Referring to herself here in the third person, Elisabeth acknowledges a 'glimpse' of true order and of peace. She is to go on and to explore further in the poem the vision or 'dream' that envelops her throughout this experience of 'Unity with God'.
When we put our preoccupations, priorities and concerns aside, what is it that we feel within? Fear? Uncertainty? Emptiness? Excitement? Perhaps the key question should be: what are we then willing 'to enter' or 'to discover' at any one point of detachment or surrender?
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - Abode of Light (Day 7):
"Of that Abode of Light"
We think of the word 'Abode' to describe a place of residence, of dwelling and of rest. An alternative or additional use of the word can mean to 'bode' or to 'foreshow'.
The joys we seek and strive for within this earthly realm are little compared to the joy of nearness to God and clarity of soul that touches Elisabeth.
'Light' is that source of energy encouraging growth and expression, yet here it is revealing the intimacy of human faith, frailty and relationship ever closer to the Eternal.
Look again to the ways of 'Light.
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - Abode of Light (Day 8):
"Yet: in the Father's house, deep down in me I said"
The second half of this line is perhaps stressing the earlier point made about human perseverance and devotion to reach a spiritual destination.
Elisabeth is writing this particular piece of poetry to express her gratitude to Mother Germaine of Dijon Carmel for her kindness especially during Elisabeth's terminal illness when she helped to prepare her for death.
Elisabeth writes from that point of discovery - even arrival - at the 'Father's house' and yet it is a place she appears to recognise lying within. An internal reality, that is nothing less than 'the Trinity'!
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - Abode of Light (Day 9):
"Within that Secret Place, the Heart of God"
Leaving the particular experience of Elisabeth aside for now, we can turn our attention to the 'Secret Places' that hold for us a sense of peace and serenity, a joy and simple happiness.
This could be a place within our home, our garden, the local park or place of worship. It could be a place of sanctuary and acceptance within ourselves. A place that lengthens our breath.
Are we there, in that sphere of realisation, also not reflecting the divine presence? By saying 'yes' to time with God are we not affirming that we too can become 'beacons' of Love and of Light close to 'Home', renewed and focused on any duties and tasks ahead of us?
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - Abode of Light (Day 10):
"I sense that, Mother, I on you, in turn might blessings shed "
Here, Elisabeth directly addresses Mother Germaine at Dijon Carmel, who is caring so sensitively for her.
She 'senses' that a soul united to God can indeed be a force for support and sustenance for those seeking to do the will of God.
Today, we think of our own mothers, our step mothers and guardians, our aunts and sisters - the female presence in our lives - that have helped shape and nurture us throughout 'thick and thin'. We hold them in our prayer and ask that God blesses them.
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - Abode of Light (Day 11):
"This notion flooded me with happiness immense"
On Day 1 of this Lenten Reflection we asked what it might be that brings you 'happiness' or joy? And if 'joy' might be considered a spiritual gift.
Elisabeth uses the term 'abandonment' frequently when she describes that deep encounter with the divine. She enters a tranquility and a joy that feels 'immense', a capacity to see something of the cherished course of Love within another. It is the very 'relationships' in her Carmelite life that are reinvigorated with happiness by her spiritual openness and her commitment.
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - Abode of Light (Day 12):
"I never shall forget those hours I spent with you: Your forming of me"
Elisabeth addresses Mother Germaine with tender and honest words. From her time at Dijon Carmel she has witnessed and lived the 'Carmelite Charism' of prayer, community and service.
'Those hours' are , of course, the hours of suffering and pain that Elisabeth has endured.
Today, as the conflict in Ukraine escalates, we pray with our whole hearts for all those caught up in the fighting. For those needing urgent medical attention, food and water. We pray for the frail and the vulnerable. For the many who have fled their country.
Be present alongside all of them Lord and grant them inner strength and resilience in this dark hour.
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - Abode of Light (Day 13):
"for the Rendezvous divine"
The Jewish philosopher Martin Buber coined the phrase 'All real life is meeting'. He pointed to the the sphere of true relation with God in 'I-Eternal Thou' dialogue that transcended our words and ideas and experiences.
Elisabeth is aware of her deteriorating health and an encounter with God is one she is both preparing for and anticipating in hope.
Maybe it is the small and simple things we observe during the course of the day that reassure us of God's presence and the hope of salvation.
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - Abode of Light (Day 14):
"The plans, together made (no words for this will do)"
Friendship and companionship, at our true hour of need, go beyond any quick or hard definition. They can be nothing short of life giving and renewing.
'No words for this will do...', because our connections with the Spirit of God and with others can seem primal and instinctive.
Those are connections that we can know have been exposed to the gift of 'Light'. They can seem once again to be all that ultimately matter in a fragile universe.
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - Abode of Light (Day 15):
"My Spouse would tell me 'Come' - I waiting for His sign"
Once again Elisabeth conveys her deep devotion to the person of Jesus. She again hints at a bond indefinable. The 'sign' will become clear to her.
There is a central Carmelite theme here. Namely around awareness of the deepest aspirations of the human heart. As James McCaffrey (OCD) writes, 'a longing unsatisfied... a reaching out of a heart...until it rests in God'.
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - Abode of Light (Day 16):
"He consecrated you to act in this, as a priest would in sacrifice''
Elisabeth uses the language of the mass and of offering here. There are echoes of Psalm 116.
She is sharing - on a spiritual level - how important another human being can be in strengthening us and preparing us for the trials and tests ahead. That figure might, in fact, free us from our old traits and preoccupations.
Facing the unknown can be daunting. Yet within us we can still hold to the right course of action and to divine presence.
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - Abode of Light (Day 17):
"You'd offer me and raise my being to His Love: delivered up for good''
How many times do we need others to 'raise our being' during the course of life? Our partner or spouse, our father or mother, our work colleagues and friends?
Here Elisabeth recognises the ultimate inspiration. The Love of God that transcends all our needs and desires.
Today we raise 'our being' in the silence of divine goodness. And we aim to 'raise' others who may be feeling low and isolated.
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - Abode of Light (Day 18):
"To be consumed by Him, through all my nights and days''
During the period of Lent, we focus on the tests and the trials Jesus underwent in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights. This experience transformed him as he was 'led by the Spirit' and conquered the temptations and the selfish ways of this world. Read carefully Luke 4:1-13 once again. How close do we feel to 'Him' in this story? Can we identify areas in our own life where we need to be 'led by the Spirit?'
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - Abode of Light (Day 19):
"And Mother - you recall"
Today, on this 3rd Sunday of Lent, we can turn our attention to the pivotal figure of Mary, Mother of Jesus.
As John of the Cross writes 'The Mother gazed in sheer wonder'. That gaze is a gaze of faith, that can unlock and unravel a deeper meaning and understanding of what God is doing, here and now, in our lives.
Take an opportunity today to be with Mary - open to the Spirit - and to gaze in wonder and to recall in faith and in hope.
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - Abode of Light (Day 20):
"The Stream of Life would flow along one channel"
Drawing simple analogies with the wonder and the ways of nature can help bring calm, perspective and even healing into the midst of our over stretched lives.
Reflect on the image below.
Breathe softly and relax.
Now imagine yourself 'flowing' towards the tower in the distance.
The channel of water allows your body, your mind and soul to glide as 'one' towards your destination.
You are in safe hands. You are at peace
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - Abode of Light (Day 21):
"You, to find its course in me ..."
Jesus tells us 'I am the Way, the Truth, the Life'. By accepting his teachings and opening ourselves to the brighter ways of 'Love', we can move forward in truthful relationship through present circumstances.
Elisabeth often uses the word 'movement', to refer to phases of our spiritual growth. Phases which are demanding and difficult, but phases where we can look to Jesus as our model of faith and our inspiration, edging closer to intimacy with the divine.
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - Abode of Light (Day 22):
"So, the tides were flooding forth, to whelm me utterly"
We can be easily 'overwhelmed' by the trials and demands of everyday life, and the constant stream of news stories that question the moral direction of our fragile world.
Yet here, Elisabeth presents an image of being 'overwhelmed' by life in Christ. The 'stream' has now become 'tides' and the 'channel' now become 'floods'.
There is a sense of ever deeper presence and serenity, a proximity to goodness that can't be overturned or dislodged.
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - Abode of Light (Day 23):
"Whilst I was in your heart, by faith communing"
Within all of Elisabeth's writings there is a strong emphasis on spiritual joy and inner contentment brought about by 'faith'.
Through baptism we are invited into ever deeper communion with God, and Elisabeth conveys how we can sense something of 'heaven in faith' through a devotion to the path of Jesus Christ.
Here, again, we read of the unique 'bonds of faith' between Mother Gernaine and Elisabeth as she struggles through illness.
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - Abode of Light (Day 24):
"At each new dawn (so deep the silence always)"
As a Carmelite nun Elizabeth of the Trinity placed a huge emphasis on the power and the presence of silence. She felt that when one's heart and mind ('Interior life') where still and silent, there could be a transforming effect upon us, whereby we see the divine ways afresh again.
Each morning holds so much to learn, to experience and to discover within the world and within ourselves.
As the Dominican Meister Eckhart writes: 'Be willing to be a beginner every single morning'.
Today, on the feast of the 'Annunciation of Our Lord' we can aim, like Mary, to be open to the reconciling, the healing and the loving approach of the Spirit of God.
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - Abode of Light (Day 25):
"You'd approach to bring to me my Savior and my Lord"
What true gifts of 'joy' and 'light' we bring into the lives of others through our willing acts of kindness, compassion and friendship.
We have witnessed such acts taking place across the world in response to the humanitarian and refugee crisis in Ukraine.
There are echoes in this line of Elisabeth's poem of Teresa's famous prayer, reminding us of the profound responsibilities, meaning and reach we take on through our individual and collective ministry:
It is as follows:
'Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours' (Teresa of Avila)
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - Abode of Light (Day 26):
"May He express to you the love, the gratitude That in your little child - her deeps of heart - are stored"
Love cannot be expressed easily. To reduce it to a particular emotion or sensation, a single sentence or thought process is inadequate.
The profound simplicity, the levels of gratitude and the meaning that Love instills in our very being is beyond expression... perhaps that is why music and poetry remain for us (as they once did for Elisabeth) a source of deeper interpretation and connection.
In this line of the poem, Elisabeth conveys neatly Jesus as 'the Word', by which 'eternal love' has a voice. He communicates in friendship and intimacy that which we hold in our hearts but is so frequently inexpressible.
What we 'store' in our hearts needs expression.
The vehicle for that however might be very different than what we are so accustomed to in this world.
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - Abode of Light (Day 27):
"If yet, the linen cloth God has not willed to tear"
Putting every element of our lives in the hands of God is so hard.
Is there also seemingly not an obstinate 'cloth' or 'veil' that refuses to be lifted on our version of experience and events ? We will not budge on some matters if honest! It might even take the hand of the divine to tear and to unveil at times so our true character is present!
Again, we are rooted here in Elisabeth's Carmelite calling, one that extends to her sense of others, we who are trapped by the irrelevant, the incidental and the irritating.
God can intervene!!
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - 'Abode of Light' (Day 28)
"That I might shining out, His hidden Beauty see"
Today a quotation from Elisabeth to ponder upon and one which conveys a simplicity and a joy within her daily Carmelite practice:
"Everything is delightful in Carmel, we find God at the wash just as at prayer. Everywhere there is only Him. We live Him, breathe Him. If you knew how happy I am, my horizon grows larger every day."
The light within us is nourished by an openness and eagerness for the divine.
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - 'Abode of Light' (Day 29)
"At least I now, by faith, lift up the veil"
Here we return to a central theme in the writings of Elisabeth, namely seeing beyond all with the eyes and the heart of faith
The noise and the commotion of life, the consumer and technological pressures, the overtalking and the meaningless phrases, result only in a greater obscurity and uncertainty.
Faith is the means by which we 'walk in integrity' and stand on 'level ground' (Psalm 26), with any burdens or confusions 'lifted'.
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - 'Abode of Light' (Day 30)
".. and there I live, along with Him, in his eternity"
It may be fruitful in our spiritual life to regard 'eternity' in terms other than time frames and time spans.
Jesus offers us the reality of 'relationship' enriched with the divine, a sense of life in its fullness, a 'home' touched by mercy and joy.
This 'spatial' understanding of the 'eternal' is a daily shifting of boundary and belief. We grow through a truth inspired 'beyond those things that are commonplace' in the words of Elisabeth.
We grow in our freedom before God and in our heartfelt response to God.
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - 'Abode of Light' (Day 31)
"Then (deep the mystery)"
Today we reflect solely on the following segment of Elisabeth's famous 'Prayer to the Trinity':
'O my God, Trinity whom I adore, let me entirely forget myself that I may abide in you, still and peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity; let nothing disturb my peace nor separate me from you, O my unchanging God, but that each moment may take me further into the depths of your mystery! Pacify my soul! Make it your heaven, your beloved home and place of your repose; let me never leave you there alone, but may I be ever attentive, ever alert in my faith, ever adoring and all given up to your creative action'
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - 'Abode of Light' (Day 32)
"I felt my Master say that this, my dream of the Heart, was truly to occur"
We have looked close at this poem of Elisabeth's entitled 'The Dream of a Praise of Glory' over the last few weeks.
It is a poem that demands empathy and a spiritual response to our present situation, our longing for meaningful and truthful things over and above the dark, the dull and the depressing.
But we need help ... we need the conviction of relationship with another - along that path. . It is the guidance of 'the Master' that directs and upholds us!
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - 'Abode of Light' (Day 33):
'And for my Mother now, I do not cease to pray':
Today we can reflect quietly on the words of Carmelite nun Edith Stein:
'Motherhood expresses unity of body and soul, of family life and the order of nature and grace, most aptly because in woman a new creature can be formed, taking life within her very body.
This represents such an intimate unity of the physical and spiritual that one is well able to understand that this unity imposes itself on the entire nature of woman” (Edith Stein)
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - 'Abode of Light' (Day 34):
"'Lord, make her rich in grace', in what I ask for her"
Elisabeth observes with a great affection, the comfort, the time and the reassurance that Mother Germaine devotes to her. She witnesses 'the grace' of God in the central Carmelite charism: of service, of community and in the depths of prayer.
As Titus Brandsma (O.Carm) reminds us : 'Our mission is not really to do big things, but to do small things with greatness'.
This poem is Elisabeth's sincere tribute to Mother Germaine and to her 'great' spirit of love and compassion.
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - 'Abode of Light' (Day 35):
"My guide, in all I've done since coming, has been she"
We now enter the final week of Lent and our focus is on the word 'guide' or 'guidance'.
To walk in the 'Light' through turbulent and uncertain times often involves a struggle or a tussle with the source of our 'guidance' ... we can be obstinate about giving 'consent' to the spiritual in the midst of other influences and longstanding pressures.
Today, we hold in prayer our family and our friends, our teachers and those in all ministries, who provide 'guidance' based on a genuine care and affection. We also ask for 'guidance' in the triumph of humility (AECI Prayer), so that the Spirit of 'Light and Hope' can fill our daily decisions and activities.
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - 'Abode of Light' (Day 36):
"It's in her arms, then, I would fall asleep"
There is no doubt Elisabeth is fully aware of the grave concerns around her ill health. She is in the constant care of Mother Germaine and her Carmelite sisters.
Today we pray for all those who face illness and anxiety around issues of health., be it physical health, mental health or spiritual health. We pray for all carers who do such committed and supportive work. May God grant them strength and patience.
Today, may we aim to be a physical presence to another in a small but significant way.
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - 'Abode of Light' (Day 37):
"To go, to gaze upon that Light which beams eternally"
Light invades our heart, our body and our soul. It demands a response... not a complicated one, but one of truth , confidence and wider understanding.
Jesus says, ' You are the light of the world. A city located on top of a hill cannot be hidden, nor do they light a lamp and place it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it shines on all those in the house.'
We carry it on to another.
That is a pattern we are entrusted with.
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - 'Abode of Light' (Day 37):
"To sing there my Sanctus, that never end shall know"
Today, try to find an appropriate time and space for some soothing and reflective sacred music:, using the link below
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - 'Abode of Light' (Day 38):
"If 'Praise of Glory', here on earth"
Again Elisabeth returns to the title by which she wanted to be known. The title which she adopted from St Paul's Letter to the Ephesians (1:12)
'... in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory'
Today on Palm Sunday, as we begin Holy Week, we ask God for the courage and the determination to live our lives in recognition of the 'hope' that Christ brings and the 'glory' of his Name - a statement of true faith on the earth through the way we conduct ourselves.
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - 'Abode of Light' (Day 39):
"Has never found the words to speak her heart in 'thank you's'"
How true this line of Elisabeth's poetry rings! The gratitude we owe to the people who shape us, who steer us, who are beside us and who shield us. The gratitude we owe to the divine for guidance and encouragement, for reshaping our soul through daily interaction, prayer and presence.
Today, in silence, let our hearts say 'thank you' , let us rest in that deep sense of thankfulness, let our minds empty before this true gratitude - for bringing us to an awareness of peace, beauty and light in our very midst.
Let our hearts speak with joy in conveying much of what we can't in words!
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - 'Abode of Light' (Day 39):
"Yet above, a resonating lyre, my Mother, by its sound will bring you - certainly!'
As you may be aware Elisabeth was an extremely accomplished pianist who performed across regions in France as a child.
She often uses musical imagery in her writings, here a 'lyre' (harp or lute) that resonates with a deep sense of affection and tenderness for Mother Germaine. There is an awareness of how music can linger within our hearts and often bring our focus back to a particular time, a place or a person.
According to classical tradition the Greek poet Homer used a lyre to accompany his verse (check out the sound of this ancient instrument at the link below):
AECI Lent 2022 Reflection - 'Abode of Light' (Day 40):
"Her sweet refrain of love"
This final line in Elisabeth's poem 'The Dream of a Praise of Glory' in many ways captures the two dominant phases of her life in unique form; namely her pre-Carmel and Carmel experiences.
Her youth was characterised by piano and choral music, her talent unquestioned. It was perhaps a deep source of comfort to her as she struggled to overcome the loss of her father and her grandfather it was certainly a source of true pride for her mother and delight to her wide family.
When she entered the Discalced Carmelite Order in August 1901, her focus became solely on devotion and intimacy with God. Her love for her fellow sisters and for others was apparent in the tasks and the duties she performed and in the tender writings she presented. A love - through prayer, service and community , interior silence - which sought only 'to allow God to communicate Himself and to transform."
Her 'Abode' of Dijon Carmel was beyond a space and a time.
It was an 'Abode of Light' that radiated a joy, a gratitude and a deep level of responsiveness to the mysterious and the profound workings of the eternal within our world, within our lives.
Thank you for joining this AECI Lent 2022 Reflection.
We shall continue to post daily reflections as we enter the 'Easter Triduum'
'The Prayer of the Garden' (1498 - 1500) by Sandro Botticelli
"And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” (Matthew 26:39)
'The Crucifixion' (1558) by Tiziano Vecelli (Titian)
"At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” , which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 15:33)
'The Resurrection' (c.1460s) by Piero della Francesca
'Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:31-32)