In this letter, written to a religious of Rambervillers in 1643 or 1644, Mother Mectilde-du-Saint-Sacrement speaks of abandonment to God in times of suffering. She wants her correspondent to understand that life’s troubles are spiritually advantageous. Suffering prepares the soul for union with God.
We are in the hands of His omnipotence, without reserve. I have a certain consolation in seeing that your troubles continue. I draw out of them consequences that are very advantageous for your soul, even if they make you suffer much. It is necessary to pass through the crucible of suffering in order to be worthy of the divine union.
Mother Mectilde wants her correspondent to say “Yes” to everything that God wills or permits. She returns to her constant teaching on being brought to nothing. This does not mean the annihilation of the soul created in the image and likeness of God; when she speaks of the annihilation of the soul, she is referring to the loss of one’s false self, that ugly self, distorted by sin, that pridefully rears its head in the presence of God, pretending to be something. This is the self that must be put to death. If God Himself is the executioner, so much the better. The job will be done swiftly and thoroughly.
Entrust yourself to God and abandon yourself to His holy action. Consent to all the designs that He has to bring you, by means of these troubles and sufferings, to nothingness. You must be more passive than active in your state. Even if the violence [of these troubles and sufferings] sometimes sweeps you away, the powerful hand of God will one day calm this tempest. Wait upon Him for everything, and lose yourself in the infinite goodness of His that bears with you in the rebellions of nature.
Here is a discourse not often held by modern spiritual directors: “Abandon yourself to Him to be entirely destroyed.” Mother Mectilde is speaking here of the passive purification of the soul; that is when God Himself begins to act directly upon the soul to remove the vestiges of pride and impurity that even the noblest human efforts cannot begin to touch. She calls this “the operation of His merciful justice.” It is the purification of the soul by the eternal love that, for Saint John of the Cross, is “the living flame of love.”
Abandon yourself to Him to be entirely destroyed; even more, I exhort you to contribute to this action by abandoning yourself to every sort of desolation, humbling yourself before His majesty so as to receive the operation of His merciful justice, that purifies you with His eternal love.