The divine labourer who works in you

Here is more of Mother Mectilde’s letter to Mother Saint–François–de–Paule Charbonnier. Her doctrine is austere, but it is not burdensome. I have always sensed spiritual joy and inward freedom in all that Mother Mectilde writes. These are Benedictine attributes, sure marks of the imprint of the liturgy on one’s personality. She is practical, insisting on punctuality, obedience, and calm. The word “nothing” recurs again and again, but the letting go of all things is the beginning of abandonment to the operations of God.

I can have no greater consolation in this world than to know that you belong entirely to God, and that you are in His hands like a soft wax to be shaped according to His most loving will. Above all things, hold on to your interior peace. Attach yourself to nothing, desire nothing, and fear nothing. A paradise on earth? This is the way to possess it. Be punctual in your obligations nonetheless, and be altogether indifferent with regard to the tasks entrusted to you and the commands of obedience. If you observe what I am telling you, nothing will be able to trouble you.

Be even–tempered in everything. Carry your treasure within yourself where, if you are faithful, no  created thing will be able to take it from you. It matters little that we are given this task or that provided that we fix a loving attention on the divine object that is always in the centre of our heart. Take everything as coming from Him, and never stop at the human limitations of your superiors and in your sisters. Accustom yourself to doing all your actions in a spirit of faith, and rise above the frailty of people. Look to the will of God in all things, and don’t entangle yourself in the creaturely side of things, be it for good or for ill. Accustom yourself to seeing God and His good pleasure in all your encounters.

I have so great a desire to see you really holy that I would want always to be at your side to set you straight and press you to belong entirely to Jesus Christ, as a pure victim of His love. I also advise you to give not a fig for interior sweetnesses and consolations. Attach yourself to nothing. Be like the statue in the hands of the sculptor that suffers him to cut away as he sees fit. God is the divine artisan who works in you and who must shape you into His Son. This is why you have to let yourself be stripped within and without, holding onto nothing apart from a simple and loving abandonment to God’s good pleasure. And when you will have nothing that is fond and loving, you will have what is crucifying and sorrowful. The latter are more sanctifying than the former.