Then and Now
Catherine–Mectilde de Bar (1614 –1698) lived in times no less troubled and troubling than our own. The life of the Church in her day was marked by worldliness; lust for power; shameful compromises with Mammon; scandals among the clergy and in cloisters; desecrations of the Most Blessed Sacrament; and not a little dabbling in the occult. At the same time, the Church was blossoming prodigiously; a true spiritual springtime followed the Council of Trent. Immense graces were in evidence everywhere: the reform of priestly life; zeal for missionary labours; the institution of good seminaries; the reform of ancient Orders; the foundation of new ones; and underlying it all, a wonderful application to prayer by people in every state of life.
Monasteries have always been listening posts. One might imagine that, given the monastic enclosure — a real and effective separation from the world — and the investment of so many hours of the day in divine worship, work, study, and solitary prayer, little of what generates controversy in the wider Church would impinge upon the silence of the cloister. Not so, not so.