I am continuing my translation of Mother Mectilde’s introduction to her Constitutions on the Rule of Saint Benedict, and adding something in the way of a commentary. Today’s passage is brief but rich in content.
The Spirit of Prayer
It is this spirit of prayer that will give them the key of the treasures of the knowledge and the glory of God, enclosed and hidden in the Most Holy Sacrament. It will give them entrance to the cellar of the adorable Bridegroom’s delicious wine; there they will drink great draughts of it and become inebriated with its sweetnesses and ineffable consolations. This spirit of prayer will give them the prerogative and privilege of all those virgins who follow the Lamb in all the tabernacles wheresoever He is encountered.
Mother Mectilde speaks here of the spirit of prayer. She uses the word “oraison” for prayer, much in the same way as Saint Teresa of Avila uses “oración”; the sense of the word denotes a spirit or predisposition to interior conversation with Our Lord. It has to do with recollection and watchfulness, with a readiness at every moment for what Saint Benedict calls in Chapter 4 of the Holy Rule, “falling to prayer.” Saint Benedict’s image is that of the law of gravity; he would have his monks fall to prayer, just as an object, once released from a height, naturally falls to the ground. The spirit of “oraison” is also a state of ceaseless attention to God, not by dint of a voluntaristic effort that brings with it fatigue and strain, but by an effect of divine grace and the secret operation of the Holy Ghost. This ceaseless prayer of the heart is a grace that Our Lord is ready to give to souls who seek it. Our Lord would have every Christian “pray always and never lose heart.” (Luke 18:1)
Mother Mectilde gives to this state of ceaseless interior prayer a decidedly Eucharistic orientation. It transports the soul to the tabernacles of Our Lord’s sacramental presence. Wheresoever the Lamb is present in the Sacrament of His Love, there too are present the virgin souls who follow Him. It is not infrequent that souls called to Eucharistic reparation find themselves drawn to go in spirit before those tabernacles of the world where Our Lord is left unattended, where He is forsaken.
All over the globe there are tabernacles before which no one ever lingers, before which no one ever kneels in adoration, before which no one tarries out of love, and for the sake of the surpassing friendship of Christ. How many tabernacles there are left in the cold solitude of locked churches from one week to the next. Souls called to Eucharistic adoration and reparation will go in spirit before these tabernacles, drawn on by the Holy Ghost, and there will minister mysteriously to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus so grieved and afflicted by the want of response to His Love.
There are those who claim that a spirituality of reparation is foreign to the spirit of the liturgy. The Improperia (Reproaches) of the Liturgical Synaxis of Good Friday, however, give poignant expression to the grief of the Divine Bridegroom, spurned and forsaken by the souls upon whom He has set His Heart: “O my people, what I have done to you, in what have I offended you? Answer me.” One cannot sing, or hear, or meditate the Improperia without being pierced to the heart by a desire to make reparation.
To be continued.