Make your way towards ennothingment

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From Mother Mectilde de Bar's Letter 92, my translation:

To receive Holy Communion well, not much is needed in the way of ceremony. It is enough to have purity of heart and humility. If you have this, don't worry about the rest. Of this I can assure you.
All your trouble is that you want to be what God does not want [for you]. If you were faithful, you would, a long time ago already, have become more detached from yourself and more ennothinged* in Jesus Christ.
I will see you, to persuade you that I am telling you the truth, and that you must make your way towards ennothingment. Otherwise, you will always be unhappy.

When I was about sixteen years old, precociously pious, and seeking how best I might follow Our Lord, a wise Vietnamese Trappist monk who, at the time seemed very old to me, used to say in his inimitable accent, "You be humble, brother Mark, and you be happiest man in town."

Now, all these many years later, I hear Mother Mectilde saying the same thing" "You must make your way towards ennothingment. Otherwise you will always be unhappy." Put positively, one might say, "Enter into your own nothingness, and you will find happiness." The psalmist says, "My happiness lies in Thee alone" (Psalm 15:2). This is where adoration begins: in the humble awareness of one's absolute nothingness, and in the offering of all that one is back to God, who is the uncreated Source of all being, and who is all Love, without beginning or end, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Out of love Thou didst create me
and from Thee alone have I received the gift of being,
and it is to Thee alone
that I desire to give myself back
as a victim, an offering of pure adoration.
Without Thee, I am not,
and I am
only because at every moment
Thou lovest me and keepest me in being
so that I might freely love Thee in return
with all my heart, and all my mind, and all my strength.
I am Thy creature, receiving all from Thee,
and Thou art God without beginning or end,
receiving nothing from Thy creatures
apart from that which they have first received from Thee.

Anything that makes one aware of one's nothingness, anything that demonstrates that one is nothing and that God is all is precious to a soul. This is why Saint Benedict says that the novice is to love humiliations. What is a humiliation if not anything that brings one closer to the realization of one's nothingness in the sight of God?

* And yes, I made up the words "To ennothing oneself" and "ennothingment" to express Mother Mectilde's frequently used s'anéantir and anéantissement -- annientarsi and annientamento in Italian. The English, "to annihilate" and "annihilation" do not give quite the same meaning.

6 Comments

Littleness, "ennothingment", a radical annihilation of the self?
Mother Mectilde de Bar found the radical discipleship as the only worthy way of adoration and letting in Divine Light and Grace two centuries before Saint Therese of Lisieux.
Actually, many prophets/saints/disciples embraced that way but Mother Mectilde and Therese expressed and defined it so beautifully, both in their writing and in their witness, of being poor of heart and spirit, to the greater glory of God in Christ.
Gratefully,
Agnieszka

Reminds me of the prayer from Walter Hilton's "Parable of a Pilgrim" (from his Scale of Perfection):

“I am naught, I have naught, I desire only one thing and that is our Lord Jesus, and to be with Him at peace in Jerusalem.” The meaning and power of these words you must have continually, at least in your thoughts either expressly or virtually. Humility says, “I am nothing, I have nothing.” Charity says, “I desire nothing but Jesus.” You must never lose these two companions, neither will they consent to be separated from each other, for they agree lovingly together, and the deeper you establish yourself in humility the higher you will advance in charity, for the more you see and feel yourself to be nothing the more ardently you will see and love Jesus, that by Him who is All you may become something."

It really is a very rich and powerful prayer for "self-naughting" or "ennothingness". In my personal prayer I paraphrase it to "I am nothing, I have nothing, I desire nothing, but the love of Jesus Christ" which I say after every Hail Mary while I pray the Rosary. Humility and Charity for the Divine Life.

Peter John

Thank you, Peter John, for your contribution.

A masterpiece! Memorable and Divinely inspiring post. I am going to copy everything in this article (together with comments) and place it in my prayer book, I already have the prayer you once published on 'praying for one's enemies' which has consoled me so much, and heals my wounds. Thank you Father Mark. God Bless your Ministry.

@ Peter John,

Thank you for sharing your personal prayer with us. I would like to incorporate this very rich prayer into my daily personal prayer also; I would like to add mercy into this prayer, so that it reads, as follows; I am nothing, I have nothing, I desire nothing but Love and Mercy from Jesus Christ. Is this alright?
Thank you again,
Anne

Anne,

The prayer I use is just a variation of the prayer mentioned in Hilton's Parable of the Pilgrim above. Any private prayer that enriches one's prayer life and leads one closer to our Lord is alright by me! At some point I might try to formally promote the prayer, but it is not mine. I came about it reading
the Augustinian Canons I find so much in common with (the Victorines, Blessed John Ruysbroeck, and Walter Hilton). That is the great richness of the Church.

Peter John

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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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