Edel Quinn and the Indwelling of the Trinity

At the last meeting of Concilium we reflected on the extraordinary devotion of the Venerable Edel Quinn to the Eucharist. Fr. Anselm Moynihan O.P., who was the very dedicated vice-postulator for her Cause wrote:“To be deprived of Communion was one of the greatest sufferings she could conceive. At one period in Africa she was a patient in a non-Catholic sanatorium and was able to receive Holy Communion only once a week. She said later that the privation of daily Communion gave her an experience of what hell must be like.” In her own words she says: ” Without the Eucharist what a desolation life would be… Thank the Trinity over and over again for this Gift… We want to be united with Him, to give ourselves to Him utterly. Our faith tells us He is in the Eucharist; let us seek Him there.” Devotion to the Eucharist is one of the brightest jewels in the crown of Legion Spirituality. It is enshrined in a special way in Praetorian and Adjutorian membership of the Legion. Perhaps a telling measure of our own devotion to the Eucharist is whether we seriously try to encourage our contacts to join these two forms of membership of the Legion. Certainly, Edel rejoiced in her Praetorian membership and its commitment to daily Mass and Holy Communion.

Today I would like to reflect briefly on another aspect of Edel’s interior life, namely, the indwelling of the Holy Trinity through grace in her soul. An Irish Carthusian nun, who was a very close friend of Edel, tells us how she and Edel read together again and again the little book: “From Holy Communion to the Blessed Trinity” by Fr. Bernadot O.P. The central theme of this book is that the Eucharist is the supreme means of enabling us to live the mystery of the Indwelling of the Trinity in our souls. Edel grasped this magnificent principle both in theory and daily practice. It was not surprising to learn that another of her favourite authors was Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity. Elizabeth is one of the great teachers concerning this mystery of God’s extraordinary intimacy with us in the very depths of our being through grace. For Elizabeth, and I feel sure for Edel too, there is no substantial difference between the Indwelling Trinity and the reality of Heaven. The only difference between the two is that we live the mystery of Indwelling by faith and Heaven by direct and beatific vision. Once this is grasped it is easy to understand why Edel craved moments of time and indeed long hours if possible, of gentle silence and recollection. Several key witnesses at the tribunal for her beatification testified under oath that despite the extraordinary business of her apostolic life her most striking characteristic was her spirit of recollection.

By way of conclusion I wish to quote again from Fr.Anselm Moynihan and from Edel’s private notebooks. “We are sharers in the very life of the Blessed Trinity, with the Incarnate Word as our Brother, his Father as our Father, his Spirit as the Soul of our souls. Yet we can never forget the transcendent holiness of God. And as a consequence, underlying, though not weakening the sublime intimacy we enjoy with the Divine Persons, will be an attitude of profound reverence and adoration… She knew her soul to be the living sanctuary of the Triune God. She snatched at every opportunity of quiet and silence to recollect herself and be alone with God and offer Him the incense of her adoration.”
Edel writes in her little spiritual notebook: “Let us ask the grace to live in realisation of our life in Christ, through Mary, adoring the Trinity.”

“In Christ Jesus we have all. Realise this. Often offer Him to the Trinity, present in our soul, giving all honour, reparation and glory throughout the day.”

“Realise that I am the temple of God, the dwelling place of the Trinity. In Christ we adore the Trinity. Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus. Try and adore the Trinity in our soul, even in the midst of troubles and external duties.”

“With Christ and helped by Mary, let us adore the Trinity. Cut out useless worrying thoughts… to adore with and in union with Jesus… the Trinity in my soul… per Mariam.”

“For Edel Quinn, then the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity was not just an abstraction, to be accepted indeed on faith but with little bearing on the practical working out of our lives. For her it was supremely practical, vital and energising. Her manner of applying it to her life, her prayer, her work, her relations with others offers us an example we can imitate - to the glory of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

“The Blessed Trinity - there is our dwelling place, our home, the Father’s house which we must ’ never leave” (Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity)