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and liable to be recalled or changed by her, as also the others are. The Mother Superior, after her term of office is expired, returns if expedient, to obedience, but if circumstances permit, she should not again become a simple sister or remain in the mother house ; but be appointed by her successor to be the Sister Superior of a detached community, if such are in existence.
11. The principle of all communities, that from which the name is derived, that which my friends long ago-our evangelical friends of a former generation -tried in vain to follow as an apostolic rule, or a Gospel precept, must not be lost sight of. But this principle of having all things in common must extend, of course, to a community of rank in the worldly meaning of the word. The rule in this respect ought to be stringent in England, where, above all lands, the aristocratic feeling so much prevails, and the distinctions of class are so obstrusively apparent. The words so commonly heard-he is not a gentleman,-she is not a lady-must have no place where all are brethren in Christ JESUS.
There must be community of birth as well as of life; while there cannot be community of piety, of devotedness, or of talents natural or spiritual. For these, and by these one may rise above the other, and one be honoured above the other; because one is the daughter of a peer and another the daughter of a peasant. It may be that the latter will prove the best worker, and as such be the
most honourable. Nor can there be a right or true state of feeling till we bring ourselves to these conditions.
I am convinced that it is a mistake to suppose that young English women and young girls of the lower ranks are either indisposed to such a life, or unadapted to it. Naturally speaking they must be more so, for one of the first requisites, bodily strength, is theirs in a greater degree; and in addition to this, they are generally free from the acquired habits and opinions which render the necessary obedience more difficult to persons of higher rank.
12. From regard to the peculiar state of England, no community should be sent to a parish without the consent of its Incumbent; because, unless, as in France, the government were to send them there officially, it is clear they might be acting like those who sent the Scripture Readers to parishes where they thought the Clergy did not do their duty. At the same time it must be recollected that the office of the Sister of Charity is not to be a teacher of religious doctrines. Her commission does not go much beyond the duty of bringing people to their Church, and to their appointed teachers; and, perhaps, if this were borne in mind, there are few who could really object to her work.
In any work of this kind, Episcopal sanction is of course essential to its true character; and next to Episcopal sanction, that of the government of the country is desirable. To induce the English government to adopt, as it perhaps eventually will do, such a system of organization in its works of charity, or of discipline, as would employ Sisters of Charity, where at present persons of a very different class are usually employed, would naturally be one of the objects of the work; and to this object, therefore, the work should be adapted. We have seen what English women
can do in foreign lands, when sent out under the sanction of their government. Let that government try what they can do at home. Let that government employ them in working out an enigma more difficult of solution than the state of the hospital at Scutari ; the state of our workbouses ; the results of our disciplinary schools. Let that government employ them in their own still more legitimate field, -in national education, and see what effect it will have in rendering education rather a blessing, than, as it too often now is, a misfortune to the working people of England. See if girls will not learn the virtue and propriety of keeping in their own place, of dressing, speaking, and acting in accordance with it, and if much that is ridiculous, and much that is repulsive, as well as much that is dangerous in our present ways and imitation of fashions, is not eventually subdued.
13. If placed in a parish by the desire of its Incumbent, he ought to provide the house for them, and they must do the work he wishes to be done, provided it fall within the scope of their rules; but in all things they are subject to the direction of their Superior, and to no other. Their responsibility is to her, to her all must look, all must apply; it is by her that reproof must be administered, by. her the correction of errors must be made. For spiritual help they will, or they ought, to depend on the pastor of the place where their lot for the time has fallen, but they never can in their daily life be subject in any degree to his direction, except so far as doing the work he wants to have done, if it be within their rules; because, if they were, they might be obeying him instead of performing the obedience they have promised. They ought to look to him as their temporal employer, and their spiritual friend, but not as their ruler, or as one having absolute authority over them.
I have used the word “direction” for this reason. I have been speaking of things seen in a Roman Catholic country, and among Roman Catholic orders. Now we all know what the term director in its spiritual sense implies; it is also a common term in temporals in France, and we have taken it from thence, as the director of a railway, and the director of a hospital, &c. But in its spiritual sense it has more latitude than in its secular sense. When a good Catholic goes to confession, he or she tells faults or sins, as the case may be, and receives direction which may tend to their amendment. This certainly is one degree of spiritual direction, but there is another. From constitutional temperament, clinging to guid
ance and dependent on help, or from circumstances of life which lead to the same result, there are persons-women, perhaps, more naturally than menwho place even their outer life under the guidance or direction of their Priest. These cases are, of course, comparatively very few, a very small minority, but they occur, as we all have seen caricatured in rather profane French stories, where some embarrassed woman is described as not knowing which road to take, when a friend she is anxious to please urges her to go one way, and her Director or Confessor commands her to go the other. This, of course, is a caricature of what sometimes, but only rarely, is meant by having a director. I only allude to it, because as there is always a director attached to the convents, I know that there is a notion in England that religious and charitable orders are under this sort of priestly direction which would obviate their own action; and I want to tell you some incidents which occurred to myself not very lately, which seem to prove that the notion, which would of course be fatal if tried in England, where diversity of opinion so largely prevails in the Church, is a mistake, even as regards the practice in those of another Church.
Some time ago I chanced to arrive after a very disagreeable journey, at a place where I found it difficult to obtain a lodging. I had carried a letter for a Sister of Charity there, and proceeding at once to her, I asked if she could find me such a place.