Adoring the Silence of the Word

Georges_de_La_Tour._The_Newborn._Detail._c._1645._Oil_on_canvas._Musee_des_Beaux-Arts_Rennes_France._jpegMother Mectilde de Bar (1614-1698) belongs to the family of great mystics who, like Saint John of the Cross, are content to remain in darkness, and cast themselves into an adoring silence. Here is my translation of a chapter talk Mother Mectilde gave in 1661. She is, of course, speaking here of the Introit of the Mass of Sunday within the Octave of Christmas, “Dum medium silentium”.

Silence in the Presence of the Word
Who would dare speak, and what can be said in the presence of the Eternal Word, who keeps so profound a silence and, all the same, with His silent language, makes Himself understood of souls who remain immersed in that sacred and most intimate silence that spreads peace abroad in the soul?

Stillness Within and Without
What could a creature, who is but darkness and deep ignorance, ever say concerning the Eternal Wisdom, the Divine Intelligence that contains in Itself all that is? We should be put to confusion were we to speak while He utters not a word and, by His silence, teaches us to be still within ourselves and without. The Angels are struck silent at the sight of the Divine Infant, seeing how He is become so little upon the straw, and how He has emptied Himself in the Host. What see we among these blessed Spirits except a holy amazement that casts them into an abyss of silence and respect?

Dum medium silentium
I find the words: Dum medium silentium admirable. The God of majesty is born amidst darkness and in silence. Oh . . . if only I could say something about the birth of Jesus Christ in a soul! He comes to birth in silence and darkness: silence within us and silence without, in our dealings with creatures. In darkness: not the obscurity caused by the soul’s imperfections, but the godly darkness that hides from us the sacred mysteries that He works within us: mysteries that we must adore and honour, and this, without having knowledge of them. Mother Mectilde de Bar, Chapter Conference, 31 December 1661

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