A Benedictine Teresa of Avila
Mother Catherine Mectilde de Bar (Mectilde-du-Saint-Sacrement) (1614-1698) was to Benedictine life in the 17th century what Saint Teresa of Avila was for Carmel in the 16th century.
Eucharistic Hermeneutic of the Rule
The Mectildian reform of Benedictine life sprang from a profoundly Eucharistic re-reading of the Rule of Saint Benedict. Dom Joseph Rabory (1870-1916), a Catalonian Benedictine of the Solesmes Congregation, who studied the writings of Mother Mectilde de Bar, considered her “the most profound interpreter and theologian of the Regula Benedicti“.
The Monk as Sacrificial Oblation
Mother Mectilde perceived that (1) Benedictine monastic life; (2) the Most Holy Eucharist; and (3) the kenosis (self-emptying) of Christ are intimately united. She affirms that the Rule of Saint Benedict is, of all monastic texts, the one best suited to a Eucharistic existence in which the monk-victim (hostia, sacrificial oblation) offers himself daily as a holocaust.
Transformation into Christ
Just as the Most Holy Eucharist is the supreme form of the kenosis of Christ utterly humbling Himself under the appearances of bread and wine, so is the monastic life the kenosis of the Christian called to conversio morum, to the self-emptying that gives all the space in oneself to Christ alone. This is what Mother Mectilde writes in her introduction to the Ceremonial of the Benedictines of the Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament:
Among all the Rules of the Church of God, [the Rule of Saint Benedict] is the one most suited to govern our Holy Institute, because it contains in itself a most lofty perfection and, by means of its austerity, makes you live in death as victims. It makes you sacrificial hosts of peace by means of the simple obedience and the humility that it teaches you, and by means of the divine praises that it enjoins you to sing by day and by night. In this way, and by continual prayer, it will make you become holocausts consumed in the pure flames of Divine Love.