Once again we turn to Mother Mectilde de Bar to sharpen the focus we must have in understanding the nature of our relationship with Christ and how it must shape our lives. She speaks of the infinitely adorable holiness of God and that nothing is holy except by participation in His divine holiness. It is by drawing close God in His holiness that a marvelous purity is brought about in the soul. Mectilde is clear that we must love the holiness of God and to do so we must love Him purely for Himself, without any interest and without any regard for oneself. Like the angels we must be consumed in God, celebrating His holiness and with our very being cry out "Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus!" We must hide ourselves in His hiddenness and adore Him in His mystery. This means that we must not want God to lower Himself simply to please us in our senses but rather we must learn to experience God as He is in Himself. She writes: "You must labor to empty yourself of yourself as much as you can, and walk in the presence of God. This point alone, faithfully practiced, is capable of making you live in the holiness which is God Himself. There is nothing so powerful for the right ordering of a soul as the continual presence of God; it vivifies, it purifies, and it sanctifies." Such must our willingness be not to presume to fathom the divine ineffability. We must simply believe the words God spoke to Abraham as applying to us: "Walk in my presence and be perfect."
Tu Autem in Sancto Habitas, Laus Israel. This morning upon waking, I found myself saying these holy words of the prophet: “O Lord, You dwell in holiness and all creatures praise You.” If Providence had given me time this morning, I would have talked with you about what is going on in my soul with regard to the feast we are celebrating today, and my desire was to apply you to the holiness of Jesus Christ.
Would to God that you are able to understand what I wish to be able to say about that infinitely adorable holiness! Revere what you cannot understand and know that today’s feast is the feast of Jesus’s holiness, which produces effects in all the saints. These are the words of the Church from the holy Mass, “You alone are holy.” Yes, in truth, God alone is holy and nothing is holy except by participation in His divine holiness.
Therefore, at your Communion today, adore the emanations of the divine sanctity in all the saints and say often with the Church, Tu solus sanctus, “You alone are holy.” O my God, I rejoice in Your divine sanctity, I rejoice that all the saints are the effects of it. Expose yourself to the divine sanctity so as to have some share in it, but remember that it causes a marvelous purity in souls, for in order to be holy it is necessary to bring about the destruction of all the impurities which are in us.
Our Lord causes you to have in your present condition some effects of His divine holiness, but you do not know them. Know, then, that He dwells in His holiness. God is in you, withdrawn into Himself. He dwells in His holiness; adore Him in it and think about your miseries as little as you can.
Holiness is the most austere, rigorous, and abstract of all the divine perfections. Moreover, there is nothing in God which is so much His, and which is so remote from what is not God, as His holiness. To love His holiness is to love Him very purely for Himself, without any interest and without any regard to oneself. The smallest perfections in God – if we can speak of something more or less great in Him – are those which have to do with us, such as mercy, since this has nothing to do with Himself. Moses, who was a mortal man, and viewed God in connection with creatures, magnified God’s mercy and cried, “Misericors, Clemens, patiens et multa misericordiae.” But the seraphim, who are pure spirits, detached and completely consumed in God, celebrate His holiness and sing, “Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus.” And it is the superiority of the New Law established through Jesus, to consider God, not according to our interests, but according to those of His greatness and glory. It is our obligation to honor and extol His sanctity along with the seraphim; to love Him not only as good and merciful towards us, but also as holy and for Himself.
In His agony Jesus properly bore God’s justice, but in the forsakenness of the cross, He bore God’s holiness. That is why for the sake of expressing the harshness of His forsakenness and the depths to which the divine holiness reduced Him, after saying, “My God, My God, why have Your forsaken Me, I cry night and day and You do not hear me,” He adds, “Tu autem in sancto habitas, laus Israel.” As for you, You will dwell and abide in Your holiness: that is, God, with respect to His Son on the cross, withdrew Himself into the highest solitude and most distant retreat of His holiness, and left Him entirely forsaken in His sufferings.
God is so holy, so incomprehensible, and so mysterious that we can truly say that He is a hidden God, “Deus absconditus.” He is so deeply hidden that He is above everything our minds can think. He is a God hidden from our senses, He is a God hidden from our understanding, in short, He is the Deus absconditus in an infinite number of ways. And if we adore Him hidden under the sacramental species, how much more must we adore Him in the mystery of Himself, or rather, in His incomprehensibility and hidden in His divine sanctity.
Oh! If you understood the dignity and excellence of a hidden God, you would take a singular delight in the retreat that God makes in Himself within you. But what prevents you from living in this truth, which is nevertheless a dogma of faith, is that when He does not pour out the sweetness and consolations of His graces into your soul, you suppose that God has withdrawn from you. Oh! How great is our blindness and how terrible is our presumption! Why do you want God to lower Himself so far as to please your senses? You must learn to find God in Himself and to take your satisfaction in the delight He finds dwelling in His holiness.
All the retreats God makes into Himself are holy and adorable and you must love and unite yourself to them. When you find in your soul that God makes Himself inaccessible, you must remain hidden in your nothingness, hiding yourself in such a way that the divine Majesty will cast His holy gaze on you and take delight in seeing you reduced to nothing in homage to His retreat in Himself within you.
It is presumption for the soul to want to understand something about God; it is not for us (poor little wretches that we are) to fathom the divine ineffability. We must do as the seraphim do: veil our faces, and cry out with profound reverence and love, Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus! Oh, how holy God is, how great God is, how immense God is, how powerful God is! Oh, how inaccessible and incomprehensible God is! I have a very great and profound joy in my soul to see that God can be comprehended only by Himself. We must be overwhelmed and lost in Him, not scrutinize His divine qualities. And it seems to me that we know God in a way that is much more pure when we know nothing at all through our intelligence but solely by the light of faith.
Our manner of thinking about God demeans His grandeurs, but the practice of pure faith raises us to Him and causes us to find Him in our soul’s center, where He makes His abode, which makes us to say with Jacob, “Truly God is in this place and I knew it not.” Yes, God lives in us, “et habitavit in nobis,” and you do not know it. He rests in Himself in the highest point of your soul, where He has established His dwelling, as He did in the past on the holy [mountain] Zion.
In that place He rests as on a throne of peace, as David says, “Et factus est in pace locus eius. Oh, how blessed is the soul that is led into this region of peace and is not disturbed by the impurity and din of creatures and its senses! In this profound solitude, the soul understand the marvelous lesson: “Be holy, for I am holy.” God desires you to be holy; it is by His divine mouth that He commands it. O holy and divine mandate! Since God orders you to be holy, it is a dogma of faith that He will give you the graces for it.
But what must we do, according to our small capability?
You must labor to empty yourself of yourself as much as you can, and walk in the presence of God. This point alone, faithfully practiced, is capable of making you live in the holiness which is God Himself. There is nothing so powerful for the right ordering of a soul as the continual presence of God; it vivifies, it purifies, and it sanctifies. That is why God says to Abraham, “Ambula coram me, esto perfectus.” Walk in My presence and be perfect. Believe that God is saying these same words to you; receive them out of obedience as from His divine mouth, and open your heart to be filled with the virtue of faith, so that by the pure use of it you may persevere in it.
I wish you in faith the highest of all blessings and the grace of perseverance, or rather, being consumed in the love of Jesus.
Mother Mectilde de Bar
Breviary of Fire