Catholic Contemplative Affiliation

Contemplative Quotes

On the Feast 0f St. Elizabeth of the Holy Trinity

“It is in this sense that ‘…the abyss of God’s infinity turns to face the creature’s abyss of nothingness.’
Elizabeth of the Holy Trinity had sensed such a ‘embrace of infinity’ very early on. Now she can summarize:
‘Push farther and farther into this deepness.  From here is the wilderness into which God wants to entice the soul in order to talk with her, as the prophet sang (Hos.2:14).  In order to hear the password, one not dare to camp on the surface, rather one must penetrate by recollection deeper and deeper into the divine being.  “I keep going, “Paul exclaimed (Phil.3:12).  In the same way we must descend daily to the path of the abyss, the abyss that is God.  Let us slip down this slope in a confidence bursting with love.  “Deep calls on deep” (Ps 41:8).  Here all the way down, the divine crash [le choc divin] occurs.  The abyss of our nothingness, of our wretchedness, finds itself confronting the abyss of mercy, of limitlessness of God’s All.  Here we find the strength to die to ourselves and, losing every trace of our own way, to be changed into love.  “Blessed those who die in the Lord” (Rev. 14:13).
‘The eternal Being lives in an eternal, enormous solitude, that He never leaves even when he takes care of the creature.  For God never departs from himself, and this solitude is nothing other than his divinity.’  Yet this is also our Father’s house which we will never depart.  It is the “spacious abyss … of the unfathomable Trinity, into which the self-silenced soul sinks’”
--Hans Urs von Balthasar, Two Sisters in the Spirit: Therese of Lisieux and Elizabeth of the Trinity, pp. 423-424


“In the inner cellar of my beloved have I drunk. …
There he gave me his breast:
There he taught me science most delectable;
And I gave myself to him indeed, reserving nothing;
There I promised him to be his bride.”

        The delectable science which she says here that He taught her is mystical theology—the secret science of God, which spiritual men call contemplation—this is  most delectable, since it is science through love, the which love is its master and that which makes it to be wholly delectable. 
        And inasmuch as God communicates to  the soul this science and knowledge in the love wherewith He communicates Himself to her, it is delectable to her understanding, since it is a science which pertains thereto; and likewise it is delectable to her will, since it consists in love, which pertains to the will.

--St. John of the Cross, The Spiritual Canticle, 26:5; 27:#5. (E.Allison Peers translation)


I have come to find the term  presence a more central and more useful category for grasping the unifying note in the varieties of Christian mysticism.
Thus we can say that the mystical [/contemplative] element in Christianity is that part of its beliefs and practices that concern the preparation for, the consciousness of, and the reaction to what can be described as immediate and direct [transforming] presence of God.
--from Bernard McGinn, The Presence of God….The Foundations of Mysticism,  Vol. 1, p.xvii.


“Music that is silent,

And solitude that sings.”
La musica callada,
La soledad Sonora.”
-- St. John of the Cross, The Spiritual Canticle, 14 &15 Stanza, Expositions, 25 – 27  (Peers translation)

For questions, comments or other communication, please contact:
William Fredrickson