Friday, April 7, 2017


Continuing our theme of Adoration, I noted in In SInu Jesu, that the author on occasion mentions a Benedictine nun I had not heard about, and since she plays an important role in this new Benedictine monastery, dedicated to Adoration, I decided I had better check her out.

MOTHER MECTILDE (Catherine)  de BAR was  born at Saint–Dié in Lorraine (France) in 1614 to a family of the lesser nobility. According to Prior  Mark of Silverstream she deserves to be universally known in the Church. “She is a woman of the stature of a Gertrude the Great, of a Teresa of Avila, and of a Marie de l’Incarnation. Mother Mectilde’s  life and mission are a vivid and compelling demonstration of the role of women in the Church today and in every age. Her writings, steeped in Sacred Scripture and in the liturgical tradition that formed her as a Benedictine nun, reveal a woman of profound human insights and of supernatural wisdom.”

When Catherine was 21,  she  joined the Order of the Blessed Virgin of the Annunciation, taking the name Sister Saint-John the Evangelist. In May 1635, she and the nuns of the convent in Bruyères  (NE France) were forced to flee before the Swedish army. Some nuns exhausted by hardships, fell ill with the plague.

In 1639 Mother Mectilde and her Benedictines were among the many refugees of the Thirty Years War in wandering from place to place in search of a home. They sought to arrange for hospitality at the Abbey of Montmartre in Paris but the Lady Abbess refused to receive the homeless Benedictines even though they  professed to the same Rule as her Community. She argued that the admission of strangers into religious houses caused disorder, and that it was better to refuse the nuns hospitality than to have to turn them out later for unsuitable conduct.

Mother Mectilde and Nuns  in Adoration

However, one night the Lady Abbess of Montmartre woke up in a dreadful state of fright. She said that it seemed to her that she saw the Most Holy Virgin and her Divine Son reproaching her for her lack of hospitality to the poor homeless Benedictines and she felt threatened with a rigorous judgment should they, through her fault, perish in their misery and need. The next day the Abbess convened her senior religious who all agreed that they had to execute the manifest will of God, inviting Mother Mectilde and her nuns to return.

In 1654 Mother Mectilde founded the Order of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament  in Paris. This was the first society formally organized for the Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Mother Mectilde compares the Benedictine nun (monk) to the Eucharistic Host on several levels. The first level pertains to the qualities of the Host and the Benedictine virtues: the Host is hidden in the tabernacle, and the nun is hidden in the enclosure of the monastery; the Host is silent, and the nun is silent; the Host has no movement in and of itself, the nun has no movement that is not made by obedience; the Host is abandoned to the will of another, the nun is abandoned to the will of God mediated by her abbess. The Host is, to all appearances, powerless, fragile, and perishable; the nun, too, is powerless, fragile, and perishable.

"Mother Mectilde offers a vision of Benedictine life capable of rejuvenating monasticism, especially where it has become institutionalized and listless, with an infusion of Eucharistic vitality. Her commitment to perpetual adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament corresponds to a contemporary yearning, especially among young people, for a personal, transforming encounter with the Face of God." (Prior Mark of Silverstream, Meath Ireland) 

No comments:

Post a Comment