On Holy Thursday, at the precipice of his horrible suffering and death, Jesus stated His deepest desire. He knew upon leaving the Last Supper, that it would be a short time before he was inflicted with unimaginable suffering and crucifixion.
It was then that Jesus shared his deepest desire. “Father, I will that where I am, they also whom you have given me may be with me in order that they may behold my glory which you have given me because you have loved me since before the creation of the world.” His ardent desire for us, His creatures who have sinned and betrayed Him so many times, is to be with us.
Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity has reflected on this desire in her writings. St. John Paul II beatified her in 1984, five years into his papacy and identified her as one of the most influential mystics in his spiritual life. She was canonized on October 16, 2016, by Pope Francis.
St. Elizabeth died in 1906 at the age of 26. Yet this contemplative understood that the Holy Spirit is timeless, and holiness is an equal opportunity venture. During the last months of her life, she wrote down theological reflections that she believed would help people grow in prayer. She also wrote a 10-day retreat for her biological sister Margaret, a young mother. St. Elizabeth wanted Catholics to enter deep into the mystery of God in order to have a transforming encounter with Christ and change the way they encountered the world. One of the meditations she wrote about was the desire of Jesus on Holy Thursday.
Uniting with Jesus
“Jesus’ desire is for us to be with him in communion. This is what he aches for, his deepest desire that he prays for. This is what Jesus was doing the night before he died.”
St. Elizabeth calls this Jesus’s last wish, his supreme prayer. Out of this deep desire, he utters this prayer to the Father. She wants our hearts to be informed by this desire and to share it.
“If we do, our spiritual lives and prayers will explode,” she wrote. “Our thoughts will be soaked with God. Because if we realize that if this is the Son of God — he is the Word spoken by the Father that has become flesh, and this is Jesus’ deepest desire, it ought to evoke in us a desire that responds to it.”
St. Elizabeth wanted our faith to be to desire communion with God. That it is exactly what Jesus said he wants with us. We don’t have to take the afternoon off and bury ourselves in religious books and hours of prayer on our knees, according to her. To be contemplative, she explained, we need to understand the simplicity of wanting to be united with Jesus and at the same time, the deepness.
“Our omnipotent God, the creator of the World, wants most to be united with his poor limited frail creatures. He yearns for us to live with him.”
St. Elizabeth tapped into the understanding that we are made for something more than this world. In the midst of achievement, people are still empty, we are made for more, to dwell in union with God and God wants to dwell with us. When we live in unity with God, we have faith and we find our home with God.
“The peace we were made to enjoy is found only by faith in Jesus Christ because Jesus Christ is the only one who can lead me into the bosom of the Trinity into the heart of the Father and in the heart of the Father my heart finds rest and I find the fullness of my humanity and the joy that God created me for becomes mine.”
The information for this article comes from the Beginning to Pray with Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity podcasts. Dr. Anthony Lilles presents this as the 10-day spiritual retreat written by her. He is the co-founder and Academic Dean of the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation and also serves as the Academic Dean and Associate Professor of Theology at St. John’s Seminary. He is a founding faculty member of St. John Vianney Theological Seminary where he was Academic Dean for nine years. He is also the author of Hidden Mountain, Secret Garden: A Theological Contemplation on Prayer.
Copyright 2020 Patti Maguire Armstrong