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after visited at Mrs. G.'s, where I saw a fine drawing, exhibiting the peaceful and flourishing condition of the Holy and Apostolic Church, until the time of the Reformation, under Martin Luther. Mrs. G. recounted the sufferings of the Catholic Church in consequence of this “ pretended” reformation. My friends will understand, that by this time I had become a constant visitor at the convent.—Pp. 5—7.
Mrs. G(raham), mentioned in the above extract, was a Romanist friend of Miss Reed's, apparently in communication with the Ursuline Superior; she finally prevailed upon Miss Reed to enter the convent.
She advised me to leave my father's house, and all for the sake of Christ. She said she would procure me ornamental work, which would support me, independent of my relatives, &c. which she did. I thanked her most heartily, and told her I thought I should be happy, if I were certain of going to a cloister. She gave me her word that I should. I then took up with her advice, and left my friends, I thought for life, as I had no doubt but that I should soon enter the convent, resolving to leave all for the love of God, and to consecrate the remainder of my days to his service. I believed Mrs. G. to be my sincere friend, and an Episcopalian, as she had always told me she was, and placed myself under her protection. After visiting some Protestant friends, I found means to procure my clothing, &c. and went immediately to reside opposite the Catholic church. I employed myself while there in doing ornamental work for my Catbolic friends, and also in working lace for the bishop, the altar, &c. About this time I was offered compensation, but refused it, and received a present of ten dollars, a crucifix, a pearl cross, and two books, with my name stamped upon them in gold letters; which presents I received as tokens of kindness and friendship. And wishing to deny myself of any thing worldly, I gave up what jewellery I had; telling them I knew of no greater sacrifice I could at that time make, than to give up all the treasures my dear mother left me. I also gave my globe and gold fish, which were a present to me. At that time I thought I was holy, and could hardly speak to a Protestant. I had read many Catholic books. My time was wholly employed in working for the Catholics, except my hours for meditation and prayers.—Pp. 8, 9.
Having been rebaptized, Miss Reed was admitted into the monastery.
On Sabbath morning, August 7th, 1831, I was attended to the gate of the couvent by my friend, Mrs. G. I was shown into the public parlour by the lay sister, and was requested to kneel down and continue my devotion until the Superior made her appearance. She soon came, and made a sign for me to follow her. She led the way into a long room, darkened, at one end of which stood a large crucifix, made of bone, which I was afterwards informed was made of the bones of saints. The Superior told me, in a whisper, it was the time of silence. But after arranging my dress, she took from her toilet a religious garb, which she placed upon my head, and bade me kiss it, saying it had been blessed by the Bishop. She then pronounced a short Latin prayer, while I was kneeling, at the same time giving me her blessing. After this, she conducted me into another apartment, where was a stranger whom she called a postulant; and giving me permission to speak, she left the room. sister then entered the room with refreshment; after partaking of which, we had permission to walk in one particular path in the garden. picked up a pear, and began to eat it, and invited me to do the same ; which I declined, being acquainted with the rules of the convent, which are very strict, as will be learned in the course of the narrative. She did not regard the rules so strictly as the Superior required, who, being made acquainted with her conversation by separately questioning us, sent her away, as she said, to another order; but I now know that this was not the case.
To return to our walk in the garden : the bell rang, when we were immediately conducted to the Religieuse Choir; and here the Superior caused me to kneel three times before I could suit her. After the performances were over, which consisted of the office of adoration to the Blessed Virgin and prayers to the saints, repeated in the Latin tongue, of which I knew nothing, we proceeded to the resectory, where we partook of our “portions.” After saying Latin, we kneeled and kissed the floor, at a signal yiven by the Superior on her snuff-box. Before eating, one of the Religieuse said, “ in nomine Domini nostri Jesu Christi," all making the sign of the cross, and responding “Amen." After receiving our portions, we performed several devotions, such as kissing the floor and repeating Latin, while the “ angelus” was ringing. On entering this room, the “ novices" kneel and repeat the « Ave Maria," kiss the floor, and seat themselves for recreation, according to the Rules given by the Superior, entitled “ Rules by the Reverend Mother." The following are the Rules, which were enclosed in a gilt fraine, and suspended in the community; and it is the duty of every novice to read them at least once a week.
1. To rise on the appearance of a superior.
2. When reprimanded, tu kneel at once and kiss the floor, until the signal be given to rise.
3. When speaking of the superior, to say Our Mother; when speaking to her, and to the professed Choir Religieuse, Mamère; to say Sister, when speaking to the Novices; of them, Miss; and of the professed choir, Mrs.; to say out or ours, instead of my or mine.
4. To say “ Ave Maria" every time we enter the community.
5. Before entering any room, to give three knocks on the door, accompanied by some religious ejaculation, and wait until they are answered by three from within.
6. Not to lift our eyes wbile walking in the passage-ways; also never to touch each other's hands.
7. To stand while spoken to by the bishop or superior, and kneel while speaking to them; to speak in a particular tone.
8. If necessary to speak to the superior during the time of silence, approach her kneeling, and speak in whispers.
9. Never to leave a room without permission; giving at the same time our
10. To rise and say the “ Jour" every time the clock strikes, except when the bishop is present, who, if he wishes, makes the signal.
The following are the written “Rules and Penances of our Holy Father, Saint Augustine,” together with those of Saint Ursula, as near as I can recollect. They are read at the refectory table every week.
1. To kneel in the presence of the bishop, until his signal to rise.
2. Never to gratify our appetites, except with his holiness the bishop's or a father confessor's permission.
3. Never to approach or look out of the window of the monastery.
6. To wear sandals and haircloth; to inflict punishment upon ourselves with our girdles, in imitation of a saint.
7. To sleep on a hard mattress or couch with one coverlet.
8. To walk with pebbles in our shoes, or walk kneeling until a wound is produced. Never to louch any thing without permission.
9. Never to gratify our curiosity, or exercise our thoughts on any subject, without our spiritual director's knowledge and advice. Never to desire food or water between portions.
10. Every time, on leaving the community, to take holy water from the altar of the Blessed Virgin, and make the sign of the cross.
11. If a Religieuse persist in disobeying the superior, to be brought before the bishop of the diocese, and punished as he may think proper. Never to smile except at recreation, nor even then contrary to religious decorum.
12. Should the honoured Mother, the Superior, detect a Religieuse, whose mind is occupied with worldly thoughts, or who is negligent in observing the rules of the monastery, which are requisite and necessary to her perseverance and perfection in a religious life, she should immediately cause her to retire to her cell, where she could enter into a retreat.
I shall now continue my narrative of the remainder of the first day. At recreation, the Postulant and I had permission to embrace, in a new form, the Religieuse. After that they congratulated me on my success, saying they had ever prayed for me since they had heard of my vocation. The evening bell for the Latin office now rang, and we assembled at the choir, where we performed such ceremonies as I before named, until the time of retiring. As we were strangers, the superior conducted us to the infirmary, where other novices were preparing to retire, and before leaving it, bade us not to rise until we had orders. Next morning being holy day morning, the bell rang at three, instead of four, as it usually does, for meditation, in the choir. While the angelus was ringing, at five a.m. we were called to attend Complin and Prime, until half.past six; then Litany to the Saints. After Litany, the bell rang for diet in the refectory every morning, except Friday, on which day we assembled for confession to the Superior.
The manner of confession to the Superior is as follows: the room is first darkened, and one lighted wax taper placed upon the Superior's throne; and she is considered as filling the place or station of the Blessed Virgin. After taking their places in the greatest order and silence, the Religieuse responds. Then the lecturess reads from a book calied Rules for the Ursuline Order, by Saint Ursula, about complaining of the cold, our clothing, food, &c. &c. They sit on their feet during the reading, a posture extremely painful. The reading finished, the Superior whispers to the Sisters to approach her separately, which they do; each one in her turn approaches, and repeats the following: "Our Mother, we acknowledge that we have been guilty of breaking the rules of our Holy Order, by lifting our eyes while walking in the passage-ways; iq neglecting to take holy water on entering the community and choir; failing in respect to our Superior, and veneration to our Father; failing in religious decorum, and in respect to our vows—poverty and obedience ; for which we most humbly ask pardon of God, penance and forgiveness of you, our Holy Mother.” As each one finishes, the “ Holy Mother" gives her advice and penances, and her blessing; they then kiss her feet, and sometimes make the cross with their tongues on the floor; then making their inclination, they retire to the choir to perform the penances.
After they are all assembled in the choir, the Superior says, “Kyrie eleeson ;" and they all answer,"Kyrie eleeson ;" the Superior says, “ Christe
eleeson ;" and they answer, “ Christe elecson,” &c. She then says Litany to the Saints in Latin, beginning with “ Sancta Maria," and they respond," Ora pro nobis," &c. &c. This ceremony is very solemn. It is performed until eight o'clock, A.M. when we receive our portions, sitting on the floor. The bell rings at half-past eight for young ladies' recreation. Then we attend to study until a quarter before eleven; then private lecture until eleven; then the bell rings for the examination of conscience till a quarter past eleven; then for diet. The services at diet are, after repeating Latin :—first, they seat themselves in order upon a bench, first crossing themselves, in their appointed places, on one side of a long narrow table; before each one lies a small linen napkin or servet, rolled around another small cloth, containing a knife and fork; beside each servet is a plate, containing the “ portion;" then the superior enters and passes along to her table, at the head of the room, the nuns making their inclinations as she passes. She then makes a signal on her snuff-box, and the Religieuse, whose turn it is to speak, says, “Benedicite :" the Superior answers "Benedicite;" and so it continues, in a similar manner, from one to the other, the “Efficient” repeating a Latin prayer. The Superior then makes the signal for the lecturess to read from the Lives of the Saints and Martyrs, while the others
are eating. When the signal is given, each one rolls up the koise and fork in the napkin, and lays it as she found it; (they also open it at a signal) and the one whose turn it is to do so, after kissing the foor as a token of humility, takes from the drawer a white apron and a basket containing a napkin, and after putting on the apron, brushes the fragments from the tables into the basket, and takes the servets, making her inclination to each one. She then takes the articles off the Superior’s table, one by one in a napkin, in a solemn
If any eatables fall on the floor, they must be taken up in a napkin, and not by any means with the bare bands.
After this, the Superior makes a signal, and the lecturess and hefore-mentioned Religieuse kneel in the middle of the floor and kiss it, and immediately rise and join the others in repeating the Latin prayers; after which the lecturess rings the angelus. During this ringing, they all kneel and repeat it; then assemble in the community for recreation.". During this they are permitted to converse with one another, but in a particular and low tone, and only on such subjects as the Superior shall give them; if she be absent, the conversation is usually on the subject last read at the table; and they work during the time. After recreation, public lectures take place, and at one o'clock the bell rings for “visitation" to the altar; which, with the Vespers, occupy us an hour and a half
. Then the Rosary is said. On hearing the bell again, we all assemble in the community, where there is a “point of prayer" read. Then lessons occupy us until five; meditation and reflection half an hour longer; then the bell again rings for diet, where we go through the observances before named; then recreation forty-five minutes, then the miserere, during which the bell rings; then public prayers in the choir; then the Benedictus rings, and the lay sisters come up into the choir. Matins, lauds, and prayers continue froin seven until nine o'clock, when we retire while the bell is ringing, except those who attend lessons and penances. This concludes a day and its services, The same course was pursued every day except Fridays and Sundays, when there was some variation.--Pp. 11-17.
Poor Miss Reed, however, quickly discovered that she had mistaken her vocation. She appears to have possessed sound sense as well as lively imagination. Deprived of the means of grace and edificationher Bible, intelligible public worship and instruction, &c. &c. the superstitious observances which replaced them soon ceased to interest her. Before her formal reception into the noviciate she began to mistrust the sincerity of the professed piety of her new friends, and very shortly afterwards a revolution took place in her opinions, not only with respect to conventional life, but also the Romish system itself. The austerities imposed upon a nun, named Mary Magdalene, and the disclosures elicited from another, Mary Francis, who subsequently escaped, greatly contributed to this result. (We may observe, that each nun assumed upon her reception a new name. Most Roman ecclesiastics, male or female, display a string of aliases to their names ; that assumed by Miss Reed was Mary Agnes Theresa.)
I was particularly hurt in witnessing the austerities put on a Religieuse, named Sister Mary Magdalene, who came from Ireland, Once, while reciting the office, she, by accident or losing breath, spoke in a lower key than she should; at a signal from the Superior, she fell prostrate before her desk, and remained so for one hour, until the office was finished, when she had permission to rise. This was the first time I thought the superior bad done wrong.
She asked me, at another time, what I thought was the reason of my teacher's crying ; (her name was Miss Mary Francis) I replied I did not know, She said it was the operation of the Holy Spirit, and her devotional feelings were very deep.
The next day, while we were at our recreations, Miss Mary Francis appeared in great distress from some cause, and in tears. She soon after pencilled a few lives, and approached the Superior kneeling, &c., and presenting the paper; she appeared confused and very angry, and bade her take a seat. After this, the Superior thought it necessary for me to retire to the infirmary and take an emelic, wbich I did the next day. The day after this I had orders to take medicine, which I was averse to, and on my declining, the infirmarian made the sign of the cross a number of times, and told me it was the Superior's orders, and I could not avoid taking a part of it. I remained in the intirmary two days without a fire, and the weather was very cold. I had then permission to go to the choir, where I immediately fainted, at which the Superior was angry, and said in a whisper, she had told me I ought not to have any feelings.
For a while sister Mary Francis was not present at the office and recreations as usual, and the Superior gave as a reason for her absence, that she was ill. But it will be necessary for me to leave for a moment Miss Mary Francis, and speak of Miss Mary Magdalene. The latter was put over me as a teacher in the room of Mary Francis, whom I then supposed to be sick; but I afterwards learned that she was confined, that she might have a better opportunity to clear herself of the temptations of Satan. Sister Mary Magdalene told me she was about to leave this world, and wished to give me some advice. She said she thought it was God's will to take her to himself. After reminding me of the respect due to the Superior, and of my negligence in not kissing the floor in the choir, and of my looking up while walking in the passages, she then spake of sister Mary Francis; said she would soon be able to give me lessons as before; but wished to know which of the novices I thought had the best vocation for a religious life, and which one would be most likely to return to the world. To the latter I replied, “ Sister Mary Francis.” She asked why? I said she did not appear to observe the rules so strictly as the others. She asked me if that would be any inducement for me. I replied, “ No, not that." She appeared unable to talk, but notwithstanding her weak state and trembling hands, she sewed all the time. I told her it gave me pain to see her distress herself so. With a peculiar emphasis she said, “Sister, obedience !” and, in a very affecting manner, made the sign of the cross.
While at my lessons one day, in the hours of silence, the Superior and Mother-assistant came, wishing me to tell them where Miss Mary Francis was. I replied, I had not seen her. They left the room, and soon Miss Mary Francis entered, in tears. The Superior followed, and seizing her by the arm, shook her violently, threatening to punish her for disobedience, and wished she had a cell austere enough to put ber in, and exclaimed, Shame! shame! you disedify’ Miss Mary Agnes.” She then told her not to feign sickness again, but to show by her appetite her illness. After the penance of kissing the floor, &c., she gave her a number of prayers to copy for the Protestant scholars; and from that time we were watched with the greatest scrutiny. The next day the Superior gave me permission to write to my father. She said Miss Mary Francis was crazy, and she should not keep her in the convent more than a month longer, if she did not reform. Mary Francis' grief will be well recollected by those in the public apartments. The next day I wrote to iny father. The letter was corrected by Miss Mary Francis, who was not crazed, as stated by the Superior. I then whispered to her, it being the time of silence, and asked the cause of her grief. She wrote on a slate, “ she could not.”. A Religieuse was in the room, watching us very narrowly, and to mislead the Religieuse, she reminded me of making false syntax.—Pp. 20-23.
Two or three days after this, I met Miss Mary Francis at my lessons in the community, and again asked her to tell me her distress by writing on the slate,
VOL. XVIII. NO. V.