This passage is from a letter written by Mother Mectilde de Bar (1614-1697) from the Benedictine Abbey of Montmartre, where she lived as refugee and a guest from 1641 to 1642.
I beseech you to offer me mightily and with insistence to God, and to pray Him to mobilize all the powers of my soul, in such a way that I would die a thousand times rather than offend Him. This fear of falling into evil gives me a thousand apprehensions and prevents me from being perfectly resigned to having to go forth from here, although I abandon myself to God as much as I can. Very willingly would I descend into hell rather than than displease God; help me in this by your prayers.
At the moment, my most habitual thought is the desire to be perfectly annihilated (en–nothing–ed) and configured to the most precious Cross. As for annihilation (en–nothing–ment), I mean it to be both internal and external, knowing that without this I will not advance towards God. Presently, with regard to the external, it is easy with grace; but I find the internal difficult, because it seems to me that all one’s diligence is a very little thing unless God Himself annihilates the [soul’s] powers. The vivacity of my spirit gives me a lot to do, and my little constancy deprives me of so many graces.
Mother Mectilde of the Holy Sacrament has been called a Benedictine John of the Cross. At the same time, she has, as she admits in this letter, great vivacity of spirit, as did Saint Teresa of Avila. Mother Mectilde was lively, intelligent, and enterprising.
After having crossed France in the midst of war, dire poverty, and uncertainties, she is safe in the abbey of Montmartre and fears having to leave the haven of the cloister again, although she is trying to abandon herself to God’s designs on her life. The great affair, for Mother Mectilde, is that she not sin. For nothing in this world or in the next would she displease God.
When Mother Mectilde speaks of being annihilated — en–nothing–ed — it is not at all in the sense of an ontological annihilation, a complete non-existence; this would, in no way, be admissible. Rather, she is speaking of a passive purification worked by God in the soul, by which all that is contrary to life in Christ is destroyed and reduced to nothing.
Mother Mectilde admits to being able to put to death certain of her external traits, but she recognizes that only God can reach into the depths of the soul and reduce to nothing those potentialities that, at every moment, want to affirm themselves over God, and assert themselves in the face of Him Who Is.