Mectilde de Bar: June 2011 Archives


I dedicate this, my translation of a conference for Pentecost by the Benedictine Mother Mectilde de Bar to my beloved brothers and friends of the Diocese of Tulsa who, today, are being ordained to the Order of the Holy Diaconate by His Excellency, Bishop Edward J. Slattery.

The Holy Spirit is the fruit of the coming of the Son of God into the world,
the fruit of His sufferings and of His labours.
In order for us to receive Him,
it was necessary that the Son of God suffer all His great sorrows;
moreover, had He not asked the Holy Spirit for us,
we would not have received Him.
The Holy Spirit is, therefore, God's Gift to us.
Like a powerful King who seeks among the good things of His kingdom,
what is most precious
to make of it a gift to the person dearest to him,
even so does the Eternal Father.
Possessing nothing greater than His Holy Spirit,
He gives Him to men in recompense for the suffering of His Son.
This festival is, then, most important,
and so the entire Church disposes herself for it
with a very particular devotion.

What then must one do in so as to to receive Him well
and partake of His fruits?
Two things are needed
to know how great a gift is the Holy Spirit
and what is needed to keep Him.
These will be the two points of my instruction
and the subject of your reflection.


The Holy Spirit is, first of all, the light that illumines us in our darkness;
strength in our weakness;
fire in our coldness.

We know by experience how much we have need of all these things,
since we are so immersed in shadows
that we see not even a single ray of light,
and nearly always we know not
what we are doing and where we are going.

So weak are we
that we are unable to carry out
even those things that we know God expects of us.

So cold are we towards God,
so little fervour do we have
and so low are our feelings.
that we are ashamed of ourselves.
See then how great is our need to receive the Holy Spirit.

But what must we do to keep the Holy Spirit?
Listen to what the Apostle Saint Paul says:
"My brothers, above all else I pray you and recommend
that you be very attentive not to grieve the Holy Spirit." (Eph 4:30)
And how can we grieve Him?
Let us listen to what He Himself says to the Spouse:
"Open to me, my sister,"
"Open to me my sister, my spouse." (Ct 5:2)
The Holy Spirit is always at the door of our heart:
let us be very careful not to shut Him out,
because this grieves Him.

In the little time that remains
we must train ourselves
to have a great will
and ardent desires to receive Him;
this will be how we open the door to Him.

But this is not enough.
It is necessary also to remove the obstacles
that may keep Him for entering.
And how?
By emptying ourselves of the spirit of the world
and of ourselves,
because two things opposed to each other
cannot subsist together;
that is that black can never become so white
as to have nothing of blackness left.

So it is with us.
Our soul will never be so bright
that all the blackness of sin will have gone out of it.
But we must empty ourselves
if we would be filled with the Holy Spirit;
in fact, he who would fill a vessel must empty it first.

And finally,
what must we do to receive the fruits of the Holy Spirit
and have Him abide in us?
Three things.
The first is humility.
Our Lord, in fact, when He was asked on whom
He would make His Spirit rest,
answered, upon one who is humble.

Let us therefore abandon all the thoughts that turn to our own interests,
to our self-love, and to our own judgment;
this is necessary if the we want the Spirit to live in us.

The second thing is a perfect submission to all that He wants of us.

And the third; the one that is highest,
the most excellent, and unfailing,
is abandonment.
If He wills that we be in health or in sickness,
we must will it;
in joy or in sorrow,
in labour or in rest,
in suffering or in enjoyment,
we must will it.

In the end, we must necessarily burn with this fire of the Spirit
in this world here below,
so as not to burn eternally in the fire of hell.

Make your choice: It is God who has said it.
Let us not cease from asking Him [for the Holy Spirit]
also because God says that if a child asks his father for something,
this will never be refused him.

And therefore, it is assured that we will be heard:
and it is this that I wish for you with all my heart.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Mother Mectilde du Saint-Sacrement (1614-1698)


In my conference at ADORATIO 2011 I will be quoting more than once Mother Mectilde du Saint-Sacrement (Catherine de Bar, 1614-1698), the foundress of the Benedictines of the Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament, an Institute that is still flourishing here in Italy. Mother Mectilde is not well known in the English-speaking world. Practically none of her writings have been translated in English.

Saint John of the Cross has nothing on Mother Mectilde: their doctrines are strikingly similar, except that Mother Mectilde's is rooted in the Rule of Saint Benedict with a marked emphasis on the adorable mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, on the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and on the feasts and mysteries of the Liturgical Year.

Inward Emptiness

You must make in yourself a great emptiness of all that is not God, and apply yourself seriously to exclude anything that might be an obstacle to the descent of the divine Paraclete in your hearts.

The Nothing and the All

Let us labour energetically to make Jesus reign in our hearts, and to this end let us annihilate ourselves; it is the only way to make Him the possessor of our hearts.

Pious Fantasy

The interior life is not what one thinks or imagines. It consists not in having beautiful thoughts, nor in saying beautiful words, nor in remaining in a passive kind of prayer without applying one's mind, as if one were in lofty heights. All of this is, more often than not, no more than fantasy.

The interior life is found in the solid practice of mortification, in the love of littleness and in total detachment from oneself and from creatures.

Death to Self in Little Things

If you are entering religious life to belong more to God, enter disposed at every moment to sacrifice. Providence will offer you very frequent occasions for this, without taking into account the things that will happen with the express purpose of putting you to the test. You will not be mortified in big things; the little things are more often the cause of our pain. At times a word will be harder for you to bear, not much is needed to make you suffer.

Expect Unexpected Things

Consider that God alone is, and that what He wants from a victim is that she should abandon herself to Him even to the the complete loss of herself. When we consecrate ourselves to God as victims, I assure you that we don't know what we are doing: if it pleases the Lord to accept our sacrifice, something which will not fail to happen when the soul does this in His Spirit, the soul must resolve to accept unexpected things.

Pure Abandonment

All the nerve of the interior life is in this pure abandonment, which is neither seen, nor intuited, nor felt: it really is a state of death, in which one must resist in spite of nature and the cry of self-love.

Recourse to Mary Most Holy

One day, finding myself in great suffering and having no one to whom I could open my heart, I turned to the Holy Mother of God in these terms: "O Most Holy Virgin, have you brought me here to let me die? Would it not have been better to leave me in the world, given that here I do not find here the means to serve God with more holiness and purity? You see that I do not know to whom I ought to have recourse to teach me my duties, I have no one, and I know neither how to pray nor how to make mental prayer. Be for me, I pray you, a mother and a teacher. Teach me all that I must know."

A Really Bad Monastic Day

Everything tires me, everything bothers me. The most inoffensive words irritate me, and I am finding it hard even to put up with myself. How can I do always the same thing, always at the same hour, in the same way, what enslavement!

Filled Full with Holiness and Love of Christ

Let me know You, O divine Jesus. Lift the veil of our shadows: let the torch of faith make me penetrate the holiness and the love contained in Your holy mysteries, and let my soul be penetrated by these to the point that no creature may be able to occupy it.

Mystical Death

It is necessary to lose all, this I see well, but my interior nature seeks to rest at least the tips of my feet so as to catch a breath. Oh, how rare it is, this total death! It is necessary to die and to be buried in Him who triumphs and is glorified in the death of His creatures. It is necessary that I die even to helpful things, to the light and to all that would be to me even the slightest support.

Eucharistic Prayer

They speak to me often of prayer, but I never hear anyone speak of the Most Holy Sacrament. Is there perhaps another mean to attain to God other than the Holy Eucharist? Is not the Holy Eucharist God Himself?


Pride is the source of all our faults and also of all our misfortunes.

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

Donations for Silverstream Priory