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In this letter to her friend, Marguerite, the beleaguered Duchess of Orléans, Mother Mectilde du Saint-Sacrement instructs her on the inner repose and joy that come from perfect detachment from all passing things. She tells the Duchess that what she has been seeking all along is rest in the Heart of Jesus, the centre of her soul, and that outside the Heart of Jesus, there is no real rest.
The Duchess has a hard life: a husband on whom she cannot rely, constant moving from one place to another, civil strife, the toxic intrigues of the court, financial worries, and more besides. Mother Mectilde tells her plainly that every created thing and situation here below is bitterness and affliction of spirit. She counsels her not to get wrapped up in passing things, but to live in the presence of God.
Then Mother Mectilde uses an emphatic triple rien: nothing, nothing, nothing. One cannot but be reminded of Saint John of the Cross, who, for that matter, she resembles in so many other ways. Nothing that is not for Him, she says, nothing outside of Him, and nothing loved that is not loved in Him.
I very much like Mother Mectilde’s image of the adorable immensity in which we live, and move, and breathe, swimming like a sponge in the sea. She sees the ordinary Christian life as one of total immersion in God.
Do this, says Mother Mectilde, and prayer, that is, conversation with God, will become easy. She wants the Duchess to understand that by losing everything, she is losing nothing, and gaining the bliss that comes from attachment to God alone.
This is, I think, one of the texts in which Mother Mectilde comes closest in her teaching to that of the Spanish mystics, Saint Teresa of Jesus and Saint John of the Cross.
Repose in the Heart of Jesus
I was much gratified that yesterday you assured me of your health. This is news that brings me much joy. I pray Our Lord to continue giving it to you. But, with all the blessings that I wish for you, you will be in a perfect repose, by a holy union and transformation in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is the blessed centre of your soul, to which, for a long time already, you aspire. In truth, this is the true and essential repose.
Nothing, Nothing, Nothing
All the earth and its creatures are but bitterness and affliction of spirit, you know it well. The most deeply felt regret of our soul at death will be that we have not separated our heart from all that is created, and that we have often preferred creatures to the love of Jesus, by letting ourselves get too wrapped up in human things. Every day let us go to God with a holy resolution to do nothing that is not for Him, to desire nothing outside of Him, and to loving nothing except in Him.
In God Like a Sponge in the Sea
Let us see and do all things in this adorable immensity in which we swim like a sponge in the sea. No matter where we turn, we are in God. We move, and live, and breathe in Him, but often without thinking of it. Mother Mectilde wants the Duchess to walk in the presence of God, and discover the happiness that comes from possessing Him by faith.
Walk Thou in My Presence
Let us mind ourselves lest we continue our petty negligences, and hasten to become attentive to this admirable Presence. Jesus so deserves our attention. One must often arrest one’s focus on this divine object, remembering the precious lesson given that God gave Abraham: “Walk thou in my presence, and thou shalt be perfect.” Now, there is a law of perfection that is very amiable, very gentle, and very sweet. Become faithful to it, and partake of the supreme happiness of the saints, which is to possess God in this world by faith, whilst we wait to possess him by glory in heaven.
Joy in the Love of God
A soul that finds no more satisfaction in the objects of the earth will not find it difficult to converse with God and to take all her delights in Him. Be content that you’re no longer finding your joys among creatures, so that henceforth, you may find them all in Him who loves you with a love that is infinite and eternel.
The Precious Flames of Love
I pray Him to consume you in His precious flames, and make me worthy of being, with all the profound respects I owe you, all yours.