Sayings of Mectilde de Bar

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In my conference at ADORATIO 2011 I will be quoting more than once Mother Mectilde du Saint-Sacrement (Catherine de Bar, 1614-1698), the foundress of the Benedictines of the Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament, an Institute that is still flourishing here in Italy. Mother Mectilde is not well known in the English-speaking world. Practically none of her writings have been translated in English.

Saint John of the Cross has nothing on Mother Mectilde: their doctrines are strikingly similar, except that Mother Mectilde's is rooted in the Rule of Saint Benedict with a marked emphasis on the adorable mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, on the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and on the feasts and mysteries of the Liturgical Year.


Inward Emptiness

You must make in yourself a great emptiness of all that is not God, and apply yourself seriously to exclude anything that might be an obstacle to the descent of the divine Paraclete in your hearts.

The Nothing and the All

Let us labour energetically to make Jesus reign in our hearts, and to this end let us annihilate ourselves; it is the only way to make Him the possessor of our hearts.

Pious Fantasy

The interior life is not what one thinks or imagines. It consists not in having beautiful thoughts, nor in saying beautiful words, nor in remaining in a passive kind of prayer without applying one's mind, as if one were in lofty heights. All of this is, more often than not, no more than fantasy.

The interior life is found in the solid practice of mortification, in the love of littleness and in total detachment from oneself and from creatures.

Death to Self in Little Things

If you are entering religious life to belong more to God, enter disposed at every moment to sacrifice. Providence will offer you very frequent occasions for this, without taking into account the things that will happen with the express purpose of putting you to the test. You will not be mortified in big things; the little things are more often the cause of our pain. At times a word will be harder for you to bear, not much is needed to make you suffer.

Expect Unexpected Things

Consider that God alone is, and that what He wants from a victim is that she should abandon herself to Him even to the the complete loss of herself. When we consecrate ourselves to God as victims, I assure you that we don't know what we are doing: if it pleases the Lord to accept our sacrifice, something which will not fail to happen when the soul does this in His Spirit, the soul must resolve to accept unexpected things.

Pure Abandonment

All the nerve of the interior life is in this pure abandonment, which is neither seen, nor intuited, nor felt: it really is a state of death, in which one must resist in spite of nature and the cry of self-love.

Recourse to Mary Most Holy

One day, finding myself in great suffering and having no one to whom I could open my heart, I turned to the Holy Mother of God in these terms: "O Most Holy Virgin, have you brought me here to let me die? Would it not have been better to leave me in the world, given that here I do not find here the means to serve God with more holiness and purity? You see that I do not know to whom I ought to have recourse to teach me my duties, I have no one, and I know neither how to pray nor how to make mental prayer. Be for me, I pray you, a mother and a teacher. Teach me all that I must know."

A Really Bad Monastic Day

Everything tires me, everything bothers me. The most inoffensive words irritate me, and I am finding it hard even to put up with myself. How can I do always the same thing, always at the same hour, in the same way, what enslavement!

Filled Full with Holiness and Love of Christ

Let me know You, O divine Jesus. Lift the veil of our shadows: let the torch of faith make me penetrate the holiness and the love contained in Your holy mysteries, and let my soul be penetrated by these to the point that no creature may be able to occupy it.

Mystical Death

It is necessary to lose all, this I see well, but my interior nature seeks to rest at least the tips of my feet so as to catch a breath. Oh, how rare it is, this total death! It is necessary to die and to be buried in Him who triumphs and is glorified in the death of His creatures. It is necessary that I die even to helpful things, to the light and to all that would be to me even the slightest support.

Eucharistic Prayer

They speak to me often of prayer, but I never hear anyone speak of the Most Holy Sacrament. Is there perhaps another mean to attain to God other than the Holy Eucharist? Is not the Holy Eucharist God Himself?

Pride

Pride is the source of all our faults and also of all our misfortunes.

8 Comments

This was very interesting, Father. If you have access to her writings, you might consider compiling a little pamphlet of them for publication so that she can be better known here in the United States.

Thank you for this, but I find what Mother Mectilde has written to be a scary prospect - complete and utter abandonment. How silly we poor creatures that we should hold onto ourselves so when God Alone should suffice and be our absolute All!

Hello Father,
Are there any books on this Saint which you mention, I would dearly love to read more of her writings.
Thank you.
Anne

Dear Father Mark,

I'm looking forward to your conference (on your blog).
Mother Mectilde reminds me so much of Little Therese in a lot of the sayings you've quoted (especially Pious Fantasy, Death to Self in Little Things), as well as of other great saints in their hidden (or open) pursuit of holiness and life and love of God in Christ.

The quote "A really Bad Monastic Day" would be familiar to anybody whose life is a settled affair; but I imagine Little Therese would have made "enslavement" into sacrifice worthy of her "little" self since she couldn't or wouldn't perform more heroic deeds for her Lord.

Anyway, thanks again, Father.
It's fascinating and eternally important what you are posting here. It helps me stay focused and less restless in between Sundays.

Mère Mechtilde du Saint Sacrement also had an amazing expression that I found so beautiful (from "Adhérer et Adorer" pg. 60). She advised her spiritual daughters in convent to "Faire Pâques closes" when they came to adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament... to make each time of adoration like the Pascal Feast, "behind the closed doors" of their Upper Room. She suggested they try to live the Passover Feast in the interior Cenacle of their hearts, entirely closed to the outer world... to remain there in silent adoration, to drink deeply of the Paschal Mystery, from its beginning to its end. Her words made me think again of Psalm 42 : "Here deep calls to deep in the roar of your torrents...". Faire Paques closes means to enclose in one's heart and soul the Precious Mystery of the incessant ebb and flow of the Ocean of Mercy ....from the agonising "waves" of silence and longing that come in the apparent absence of the Beloved, and then back once again to the "waves" of grateful thanksgiving , in the joyful praise of His Presence.
Mother Mechtilde said we do not have strong enough Faith and that if our Faith were what it should be, then there would be constant miracles happening all around us! She told her nuns to begin prayer always with an Act of Faith :
"My God, You Are. I believe that You Are, and I believe that I am pure nothingness in Your Holy Presence".
She wanted her daughters to simply open themselves up during Eucharistic Adoration as silent and humble vessels of nothingness, to be filled by the immensity of His Presence. Her desire for them was not so much to speak or praise the Lord during Adoration as to receive and to listen, in a posture of extreme meekness and silence. In this sense, she spoke of our bodies not such much as a "Monstrance" for the Lord's Presence , but rather as a Ciborium. I thought that word was far better indeed, because a Ciborium tends to be ever so much more discrete and humble than a Monstrance. In addition to it being "closed" , a Ciborium is the perfect vessel in which to receive the Living Waters, "For Wisdom is mobile beyond all motion, and she penetrates and pervades all things by reason of her purity"...and we must not lose a single, precious drop !

Thank you , Father Mark. We are so blessed on this Blog to be able to read the thoughts of our saintly brothers and sisters in the Church who have gone before us, especially those like Mother Mechtilde du Saint Sacrement, who are not yet well known ! I am grateful to your for sharing her words here....

Thank you, Fr. Kirby, for sharing this. I had never hear of Mother de Bar and the few snippets you have provided here seem to be quite the jewels! I hope to find some more of her writings.

Thank you Mary for finding the information with weblink, unfortunately, the books are hard to find and not circulated any longer in English.

Father, can we have further spiritual insights from Mother Mechtilde's writing? She seems to have a fountain of Spiritual wealth and help to offer us in our age. More, more, more please!

Loupee. Huge thanks for your comment. What spiritual gems you have given us for all to contemplate on.
A fraternal hug.
Anne

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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