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Paper of exactions


An essential text to discover the life style of the Carmel of Lisieux.

Reading it, you will understand Saint Therese more than ever.      

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PAPER OF EXACTIONS

OF THE

Discalced Carmelite Nuns

OF THE ORDER OF

OUR LADY OF MOUNT CARMEL

taken from

the traditions of our Spanish Mothers and Foundresses.

 sigle-OCD

In addition to a written Rule and Constitutions every Order has its traditions, which become the authentic interpretation of the Constitutions and set forth the Spirit of the Order in a vivid manner. The traditions of the Order, reformed and established by St. Teresa, have long since been committed to writing. They were drawn up by the first Spanish daughters of the Saint, who thus handed on in its detail and its fullness the daily life and spirit as they were established and nurtured by the Saint. They supplement the Constitutions and form an exact portraiture of a genuine Teresian Convent. These traditions or Exactions, as they have been called, have been sanctioned and recommended by authority every time they have been reprinted. This first English translation, which is a faithful rendering from an authentic copy, is hereby recognized, approved, and the usual Imprimatur is hereby given.
Archbishop's House of Westminster, Octave of the Assumption B. V.M., 1898.

 



Jesus + MARIA

The souls whom God calls to serve Him in our holy Order should understand that their first and principal obligation, as Carmelites, is to honor with a special care the most Blessed Virgin Mary, first in her supreme dignity of Mother of God, in all the privileges and grandeurs which flow from this dignity, and in the universal sovereignty which it gives her over heaven and earth: and secondly, in the excess of goodness and of humility which has induced this most Blessed Virgin to become the Mother and the Patron of this Order.

In order to fulfill this duty, each one will be careful to receive Holy Communion at least once a month in honor of our Blessed Lady, for the accomplishment of her designs upon earth, for the increase of her honor in the souls of men, and to obtain from her that each member of her Order may love, honor, serve, and belong to her, to the full extent of the merciful designs of her Divine Son and of her own desires for each.

Secondly, they should have ever present the end for which our holy Mother Saint Teresa instituted our Reform. She did so that we might by prayer, zeal, and holiness of life employ ourselves con­tinually in the service of Jesus Christ, and of His Church in all her needs.

They are also strictly obliged to pray for their own Monastery and for all the other Monasteries of the Order; for those who direct and those who assist them.

In the third place, they must remember that, in this Order, we make profession not only of being Nuns but also of being Hermits, after the example of the ancient Fathers of the desert, in so far as this is possible living as we do in Community; this is what our holy Mother expressly tells us in the Way of Perfection and elsewhere; she teaches us that what Carmelites should always desire is to be alone with God alone, that in this solitude they may enjoy their Divine Spouse, Who has led them hither in order to speak to their hearts, as He Himself says; and in her other works this great Saint never wearies of exhorting her daughters to this retired and solitary life occupied with God alone.                    

 

For the morning.

When the sisters awake they will be careful to offer their first thought to God by an act of adora­tion, giving and offering themselves to the Most Holy Trinity as to their first principle and last end.

As soon as they hear the signal for rising,” as if they heard the voice of God saying to them," You have rested enough," they must rise promptly and kneeling on their bed, make the sign of the cross and then put on their cotte saying: my God I awake at dawn of day to think of Thee, to love Thee, to serve Thee and to fulfill in all things Thy Holy Will. They must then get up with courage, calling to mind the great love with which the Son of God came from the bosom of His Father at the moment of His Incarnation to descend upon this earth subjecting himself to all our miseries.

 As soon as they are up, they should prostrate themselves to adore God and to render homage to His Sovereign Majesty; they should also ask for the blessing of our Lord and of His Holy Mother, beseeching them for grace to honor them during the day; this must be done in the space of a Pater         Noster. Then they must dress quickly and with a great desire to go to converse with God in prayer. Each one should strive to be one of the first to reach the Choir to receive the blessing of the Guardian Angel of the Community. On coming into Choir they should make the three Acts of Religion; they can then say their morning prayers, or anything else according to their devotion.

When the Angelus bell has been rung, the Vent Sancte Spiritus is said in Choir and after the collects the Sanctissima that we may give ourselves to the Blessed Virgin, and through her to her Divine Son.  According to the recommendation of our ancient Mothers, in order to draw full fruit from this hour of prayer, we should say the Veni Sancte Spiritus and the Sanctissima with much devotion, and afterwards be careful not to make any noise which might in any way distract those who are near to us. At the end of the hour of prayer 'the Sub tuum, versicle and collects are said as marked in the Ceremonial.

If any sisters leave the Choir between the two bells, they may begin to do their cells; but they must return punctually to the Choir as soon as they hear the bell begin to toll, in order to be present at the beginning of Prime. The sign for beginning the Hours is given immediately after the last stroke of the bell.  At the end of the Hours, each one will visit the hermitage of our Lady to offer herself to her from the early morning and to implore her protection upon all the actions of the day.  Each sister should visit two Hermitages every day; on Sundays and Feasts all the Hermitages may be visited according to each one's devotion.

 If a sister has anything to say to the Mother Prioress, or a novice to her Mistress, she should try to do so before Mass, so as to avoid having to speak during the Holy Sacrifice and in order to keep the silence which should be observed in Choir. On Communion days no one will fail to wash her hands again before Mass if she has touched any­thing dirty.            

 

On manual labor.

 

After Community hours, each one should withdraw to her cell or her office, as the Consti­tutions ordain, to employ herself with her work. The Sisters must understand that they are obliged to devote themselves with great fervor and assiduity to their work, not only as Religious, but also as daughters of Adam, remembering that after his sin, God laid upon him as penance to eat his bread in the sweat of his brow. Besides this obligation, that of rendering homage to the most holy life of Jesus Christ should draw them thereto most forcibly; they should remember that in the first thirty years of His life He employed Himself constantly in the most toilsome labor. 

The Holy Apostles were so faithful to this practice, that Saint Paul worked even at night, after having spent the day in preaching the Gospel, and he so expressly recommended this manual labor to the faithful that he says: "If any man will not work neither let him eat," and of this we are reminded in our Holy Rule. After the Apostles, the Anachorites and Solitaries and the first Fathers and Founders of Religious Orders, as St. Basil, St. Augustin, St. Benedict, St. Bernard, held this custom in so great esteem that they established it in their Orders as one of the things most necessary to the perfection of the spiritual life. And our holy Mother, St. Teresa, exhorts us to it, and prescribes it in terms so express in the Constitutions and in several other passages of her works, that we cannot pretend to the honor of being her daughters if we allow ourselves to give way to idleness.

In order to avoid this evil and to enjoy the advantages which are found in the fulfillment of a duty so sacredly established, each one should faithfully employ all the time during which she is not in Community or occupied elsewhere by obedience, "working with her hands in the place of her retirement." Our time is not our own, it belongs to Religion; nevertheless in this as in all else, we must avoid an eagerness which would be opposed to inward recollection.

When the dinner hour draws near, those who have any little things to do will take the necessary time, as also to carry their work to the place where the recreation is to be held; otherwise no one should leave her cell until the bell rings for the Examen; but as soon as the bell is heard each one must leave at once for the Choir, and there make a rapid review of her actions since she awoke, resolving to amend the chief fault she sees in herself, and a Pater Noster will be said to ask our Lord the grace to do so, as the Constitutions ordain.

THE REFECTORY.

When the reader says: In nomine Domini, &c., all the Sisters will make an inclination at the Holy Name of Jesus.

Between the two ringings of the little bell the Sisters will raise their hearts to God, making their own, some of the thoughts and practices which the Saints have taught us to this end: as to unite themselves to the holy dispositions of Jesus Christ, who deigned to humble Himself even to these very actions; to give Him thanks that in His love He provides His poor little creatures with what is necessary for their life, although by their sins they have merited to be abandoned by Him.

They will then make an act of renunciation of the satisfaction which might be taken in the meal, offering also to Our Lord the mortification to which our state of life obliges us, and remembering that He delights to communicate the sweetness of His spirit even here below to the souls who, for love of Him, willingly deprive themselves of the satisfaction of their senses.  When the little bell rings the second time, after having made the sign of the Cross, they will turn up their sleeves; they will then take their bread, make the sign of the Cross upon it before cutting it, and kiss it, blessing God and holy Religion, who gives it to us as an alm.

They must keep their eyes cast down before them, without turning their head or looking at the others or at what is given to them, and when the server presents the portions they must make a deep inclination to her, taking what is nearest to hand without any choice. They must take care to hold themselves straight, neither leaning upon the table nor against the wall, their feet withdrawn under their habit without ever crossing them, and their hands under the scapular before and after the meal. They must also be religious in their way of eating, careful not to eat with noise or hastily, nor yet too slowly, taking care to have finished with the others.

Each one should eat her soup and all that is reasonably necessary of the portions, endeavoring to do so not for the satisfaction of the senses, but by obedience and with a view to being better able to fulfill the Rule. Whatever repugnance may be felt must be struggled against, trying to overcome it and not to let it manifest itself exteriorly by any gesture.

It is a custom in Religion to make the sign of the Cross over one's cup before drinking for the first time, and to hold it in both hands. Care must be taken not to put anything that can be eaten into the bowls and not to let crumbs of bread fall to the ground. Each one, when she has finished, must gather up the crumbs from her napkin and eat them in loving memory of Our Lord, Who, after He had worked the miracle of the multiplica­tion of the loaves, said to His disciples: "Gather up the fragments that remain lest they be lost."

Care must be taken not to put bread-crumbs into portions which one does not intend to finish, and to leave what remains of bread or portion so clean that it cannot be an occasion of mortification to whoever may eat it after us. One should take care not to dirty one's fingers and napkin more than can be helped, and when one has finished wash one's knife and spoon, and in all things have a careful regard to cleanliness.  If anyone happens to spill something or to make a noise she must rise at once and go to prostrate herself in the middle of the Refectory. 

It is not allowed to ask for anything in the Refectory unless it be bread and water. If a Sister perceives that something is wanting to one sitting next to her, she will procure it for her by making a sign to the server, or else she will go and tell the Mother Prioress or whoever is presiding. 

Nor is it allowed to give or send anything to anyone; the Mother Prioress alone can do this.  When the Mother Prioress, or in her absence the Sub-prioress, enters or leaves the Refectory during the meal, all the Sisters rise and bow to her as she passes.

When the Table of the Offices is read, those who are named should bow in token that they look upon it as a grace to receive an Office. If a Sister comes in after the reading has begun she must prostrate in the middle of the Refectory and not rise until the sign is given by whoever is presiding. Should anyone arrive after the Community has left, she should also prostrate but rise at once without waiting for a sign, unless the Mother Prioress or the Sub-prioress is present.

 On all Fast days, for the evening collations, everything should be put on the tables before the Community arrives, and when anything hot has to be served, the Lay Sisters should take care to place it towards the end of the hour of prayer, this must be observed even for the Sisters who, for some special necessity, are dispensed from fasting; what is served to them must be put under their napkin.

Each one when she has finished eating lets drop the end of her napkin on the Table, waiting quietly for the first ringing of the little bell; then, on fast days, she folds it in two; on other days she only folds over on the table the end she has used after putting under it her knife and spoon; at the second ringing of the little bell, all rise, and after answering Deo Gratias to the Reader, leave the table recol-lectedly and without noise to say Grace.  

If a Sister having come late to the Refectory has not finished when the sign is given she will not leave the table with the others but will remain standing till the Community has left the Refectory.  Every evening, excepting the eves of Feasts and of Sundays, the napkin is folded in four, the spoon and knife put into it, and the cup as usual upon the napkin.

Those who cannot be present at the Benedicite or at Grace with the Community will be careful to say by themselves standing at their place, for the Benedicite:—Pater noster, Ave Maria, then the Antiphon ; Benedic Domine nos et h&c tua dona quo; dc tua largitate siimus sumpturi. Per Christum . . . In Nomine Patris. . . .   For Grace, standing near their place and turning towards the Crucifix :—Agimus tibi, &c., Retribtiere, &c., . . . Pater noster, Ave Maria, Fidelium animce per misencordiam Dei Requiescant in pace. Sit nomen Domine benedictum.  Ex hoc nunc, &c.                          

 

Of the mortifications of the refectory. 

 

We confess our fault in the Refectory for anything that we have broken. When anyone by her fault misses the Veni Sancte of the morning prayer she confesses her fault holding her pillow and she loses her next Communion. Those who upset their lamp also confess their fault in the Refectory, and are eight days without lighting it.

No mortifications are made in the Refectory, from the First Vespers of Feasts on which the Mother Prioress officiates, nor of Feasts of second class having octave, but Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday in Holy Week are excepted from this Rule because they are specially destined to honour the sufferings and the humiliations of the Son of God. None are made from the Morning Office of Easter Eve until after the octave. Nor at Pentecost from the Morning Office of the Eve until after the third feast. Nor again from Christmas Eve until after the Epiphany. None are made on Sundays and Feasts, nor on days of Elections, of Clothing, of Profession, of taking the Veil, nor on license days. On these same days the Rule and the Constitu­tions are not read.

When the Rule has not been read on Friday, it should be read on Saturday, unless there is again something to prevent. The professed Sisters have permission to perform two ordinary mortifications each week, but the novices who are not professed must ask permission of their Mistress each time, and have the way of doing them explained to them. They cannot do any other during meals but that of eating on the floor near their place; neither may they kiss the Scapular of the Mother Prioress when she is at table.

Not more than four Sisters should leave the Choir at a time to make mortifications, two from each side; and in Communities, which are as yet few in number, only two should leave. A Sister should ordinarily make only one mortification at the same meal according to her devotion.

Care should be taken not to be too long making them, in order that Grace may not be missed on that account. After having made a mortification and having put on her veil again, etc., the Sister must go and kiss the Scapular of the Mother Prioress, or, if she is not there, of the Mother Sub-prioress; in the absence of both she does not kiss the Scapular of the Sister who presides, nor can a Sister in this case say a fault against Holy Poverty, etc. When any Sister is kissing the feet, whether at the door or going round the tables, one should not give her the trouble of stretching too far forward, but gently present one's foot to her; and whenever the Sisters make mortifications going round the tables, those who are seated should make to them a half inclination when they begin and another when they finish.

On the morning when the Sisters have been to Holy Communion they do not kiss the feet nor do they prostrate at the door of the Refectory; neither should they kiss the ground without putting their Scapular under their mouth. Those who are in Office in the Choir cannot undertake any mortification, which might prevent them from fulfilling their office. When a postulant has just entered, no morti­fications are made for a few days, and they are not resumed until the Mother Prioress has made one herself, or has said that they may be resumed.

 

THE RECREATION.

The sisters must go to Recreation with as much punctuality as to any other Community hour, re­membering that God calls us thither as he does to Prayer in its time. They should be careful to take their work to the Community room in coming to the Examen. After Grace the sisters must go at once to Recreation, without stopping in any place or saying a single word. If anyone has failed in this point, she must go to prostrate herself (after saying her Ave Maria) near the Mother Prioress or Sub-prioress and confess her fault, should both be absent she does not prostrate.

On coming into Recreation each one kneels down and says an Ave Maria to offer herself to our Blessed Lady, and to obtain from her the grace not to say anything displeasing to her. No one should begin to speak until whoever is presiding has done so. The first word that is said must be of God, as for example: Vive Jesus, Thanks be to God, Blessed be God, or something similar. If the Mother Prioress is not there to preside, nor the Sub-prioress, the sisters should wait to be three before beginning to speak.

Care should be taken not to speak or laugh too loud nor to do anything contrary to that modesty which should always shine forth in every action of a Carmelite; but, if too much levity is to be avoided we must also take care not to be too serious, there­fore let there be no troublesome gravity during recreation which is given us to unbend and refresh the mind. Each one is free to converse about whatever may be recreating provided it be conformable to our holy state of life and that charity is not wounded. Gestures with the hands, contortions of the body must be avoided, in a word all giddy thoughtlessness unbecoming in Religious, yet without prejudice to true joy and holy gaiety.

We should be careful not to interrupt one-another in order to avoid confusion; each one out of humility and respect for her sisters should be more glad to listen than to speak. We should never assert and maintain our opinions and our way of thinking, nor give our advice unless it is asked or unless charity requires it; and, if so, only with great humility and reserve. We should never speak in recreation of the things of the world; nor, without permission, of what we may have heard in the parlor, since a Nun should wholly forget everything concerning the world which she has left for God.

We should not speak of the mortifications of the Refectory, nor of the other penitential exercises, nor whether little or much is given to eat, well or ill-prepared. No dreams should ever be related. Our Spanish Mothers assure that our Holy Mother St. Teresa forbids it absolutely. We should never allude to one another's natural defects. The sisters should take care not to contradict each other, nor to make any reproach to one another or the least observation however slight, were it only to say to a sister that she had not come when the bell rang, or that she had slept at Matins; one ought not to say so of oneself, as such things ought to be said rather with shame and sorrow than by way of recreation. Each one should strive to make herself agreeable to all. Ill temper, any appearance of contempt or of preference, childish caresses, words and ex­pressions of too great familiarity or savoring of the spirit of the world, all such things should be carefully banished from the conversation of the spouses of Jesus Christ. Nor ought we to allow ourselves to show what would be disagreeable or mortifying to us, as if anyone were to say : I could not do this—I could never bear that—such a thing is unendurable—or similar expressions most un­suitable to a religious soul who aims at a life of continual death to self and to her inclinations. If anyone, inadvertently or otherwise, were to forget herself at recreation, the others should try gently to change the subject, and to substitute another.

The sisters should carefully employ the time of recreation; on days when they do not work they should keep their hands under their Scapular, being seated in a religious way, not so close to each other as to appear crowded. On arriving at recreation each one should take her place in such wise as not to disturb the Sisters who are already seated.

No sister should ever ask at recreation what work the others are doing, what books they read, whence they came if they arrive late, where they are going if they leave the room. When a sister is absent, no one should enquire where she may be, nor whether she has been missing at any other Community hour. Neither is it allowed to speak with the officers about what concerns the offices, nor with the Turn-Sisters and Sacristans of anything that has to do with externs.

When, for some reason, two sisters spend the time of recreation elsewhere, they cannot recreate themselves together without leave. The novices, and indeed the sisters generally, should take care not to go to recreation unprovided with work, nor  uncertain as to how to do it; in case of difficulty they cannot beg any sister to show them, without first asking permission. When anything is shown at recreation, each one should be attentive to avoid all curiosity or immortified eagerness.

Two sisters having something to concert together, may not speak at recreation of what regards the offices under pretext of avoiding the breaking of the silence afterwards. When a sister is relating anything, those who are near should take care not to interrupt her, but at the same time each one should avoid being-irksome by holding long discourses, which prevent the others from speaking.

When the Mother Prioress comes in after recreation has begun, all the sisters rise and cease from speaking until she is seated, and they make an inclination to her as she passes. When she speaks of God at recreation all must listen, as also when she says anything to be heard by all, and should any sister continue speaking her neighbor should touch her and make her a sign.

We must never speak at recreation but with great respect and esteem for holy things, as also for Priests, Religious, Confessors, and Preachers, receiving in humility what they say of God, and passing over in silence whatever might happen to be defective in their discourses; it would be a sign of very little humility in a Religious to criticize any of these things; we ought rather to be disposed to draw from all things profit and edification.

We must never sing at recreation without leave. We should say nothing to a sister that we do not wish all to hear, and never whisper at recreation. Nor should we throw anything from one to the other, nor read to oneself any book, letter, or paper. Neither can we give or lend to each other or ask for anything without permission.

When there is a fire during recreation, we should go with simplicity to warm ourselves when we are cold without waiting to be invited to do so; on the other hand, we should not be too eager to go to the fire, but be submissive and pliable as a child, when we are told to do so; the most perfect is to do things in such wise as not to be noticed. We are allowed to take off our alpargates and to hold them to the fire, taking care neither to burn them nor our stockings. We should not stay near the fire longer than necessary, nor amuse ourselves there with useless talking.

We ought not to call a sister to give our place to her rather than to another; and no one who is by the fire during recreation can talk with the sisters who are there: the Mother Prioress alone can do so. We should neither work, nor read, nor sing while at the fire. If any sister is still cold when the bell rings for the end of recreation, she should ask permission to remain, and warm herself in silence.

At the first stroke of the bell for the end of the recreation, we must break off in the midst of what­ever we may be saying; it is not even allowed to finish a word half pronounced; we should likewise withdraw from the place where the recreation has been held; if any sister were obliged to remain there on account of her work, she should kiss her Scapular to have permission to do so and finish in silence.

ON SILENCE.

Those who embrace our way of life should fully understand that, as one of the primary obligations is to acquire an Eremitical spirit, so one of the principal objects of their solicitude should be to practice the virtues appertaining to this spirit; of these, silence is one of the first and most important, since the repressing of our conversation with creatures is one of the most powerful means which we can use to dispose ourselves for that inward communication with God in prayer which is, as it were, the soul and the very essence of this solitary life.

It is for this reason that our Holy Mother established in our order the use of a few signs that we might employ them instead of words for some little things which we have often to say to one another. But we must take care to remember: first, that it is not left to the choice of each one to invent signs as she thinks fit, but we must use those which are conformable to the established custom of the Monastery, and make them as distinctly as possible, so as not to give distractions to the Sisters to whom they are made.

Secondly, that none should be made un­necessarily, for the true spirit of silence is hardly less infringed by useless signs than by superfluous words. When it is necessary to speak, if two words suffice we must render this fidelity to God, not to say three; and should we find that we are listening to unnecessary words, the first who perceives it should humbly prostrate herself, the other prostrates herself also, and then they both rise together. The same is done if a Professed Nun when passing sees any sisters speaking in a place where silence is prescribed. We must have no fear in this of hurting true Charity nor of wounding the feelings of the sister who is thus admonished. Our first Spanish Mothers were most exact in the observation of this practice.

The places where silence is observed are: the Choir, the Ante-Choir or De Profundis, the Chapter room, the Cloisters, Dormitories, and Refectory; the Staircases, Hermitages, and all the Passages. Neither can any sister speak in the noviciate excepting the Mother Sub-prioress, the Mistress of Novices, and whoever the Mother Prioress may appoint to teach the novices to read or sing the Divine Office.

The sisters must understand that, with the exception of the hours of recreation, they cannot speak to one another unless it be for necessary things and even then in few words, as our holy Constitutions ordain. Therefore, when a sister is obliged, for the requirements of her Office, or for some other reason, to speak longer, she must ask leave. We should avoid as much as possible having to speak on coming out of Choir after the hours of the Divine Office.   When necessity obliges us to do so, we must wait until the sisters have withdrawn, and going aside into a room where we can shut the door, which we must be careful to do before saying the first word, we can then speak briefly and in a low tone of voice.  Generally speaking, whenever we have anything to say, it should be in a low tone of voice and apart from where the sisters have to pass, so that we may be seen and heard only by the sisters with whom we have to do, and that thus silence and solitude may be enjoyed through­out the Monastery.

When a sister has permission to say something to another, she should, before beginning to speak, let her know that she has this permission, which is done by kissing one's own Scapular. We should never call a sister from afar, this being contrary to silence and also to the respect which we owe to one another. It is likewise a custom in Religion never to speak or make signs through the windows, not even in times of general license.

Here it must be observed that during the hour of spiritual reading, silence should be kept with still greater exactitude; it is then only allowed to speak for such things as cannot be deferred until after three o'clock. Neither ought we to work, this time being given by our holy Mother, St. Teresa, for reading and prayer.

 

THE GREAT SILENCE.

The great silence is called by our holy Fathers the holy and sacred silence. All the Religious Orders have consecrated it to the communion of the soul with God; we must therefore during this time maintain so perfect a silence that one does not as it were perceive that there is any one in the house. We should make use of this exterior tranquility to enjoy and rest peacefully with the Spouse of our souls. The sisters cannot speak during the great silence excepting to the Mother Prioress, and the Novices to their Mistress; and even to them it must only be for some indispensable necessity; for should it be to ask leave for watching or other penances the observance of silence should be preferred to all private devotions. All signs which are not absolutely necessary should also be avoided; if something which cannot be delayed has to be said to a sister, it should be written. 

Although we ought, all through the day, to be careful to walk very quietly in the dormitories, in order not to interrupt the solitude of the sisters in their cells, yet we should take more special pains to do so during the Great Silence, that is to say, during the mid-day hour in Summer and' the hour after Compline; at these times we ought not to come and go in the Monastery unless it be for something very important and absolutely neces­sary; save such occasions, we have only permission to go from one place to another once during either of these hours; that is to say, to go where we may be heard by the sisters, as more especially in the dormitories and on the stairs; but in Summer we may walk in the garden.

Those who have devotion to spend these hours of silence in the Choir, in hermitages or other places of recollection, should be careful to make no noise, and not to take a light there after Compline. In shutting doors or windows, care must always be taken to do it very softly. We should not sweep, knock, or shake anything in such a way as to make a noise, in any part of the house whence we might be heard. Morning and evening, in getting up and going to bed, we must take care to do so very silently, going in and out of our cell so softly that we are not heard.

On exactitude at community exercises.

 

We should go with the greatest exactitude to all Community hours, in honor of the humble subjection of the Only-begotten Son of God to the moments determined and ordained by His Father, for the time of His Incarnation, of His Birth, of His Life, and even of His Death, which made Him often say, as is recorded in the Gospel: "Father, the hour is come." In honor, therefore, of these sacred words and of this dependence of Jesus, all the sisters will be careful to go promptly to Community hours.

At the first signal calling them, they must leave at once every other occupation, to the extent of not even allowing themselves to finish a stitch of their work, only just taking time to leave in good order what they have in hand.

They should leave "the place where they happen to be with a tranquil, recollected, mortified spirit, and with a grave and modest step, their hands under their Scapular; showing by their behavior that they are in the presence of God and of His Angels, as living sacrifices immolated in the honor and for the service of Our Lord Jesus Christ and of His most holy Mother.

The sister whose week it is to ring the bell, should attach very great importance to being punctual to the moment; to ensure this she will take care to be near the bell four or five minutes beforehand, and at the last stroke of the clock but not before she will put the bell in motion, she will be exact in ringing each Community hour as it is marked, and whilst ringing she should pay attention to holding herself very upright and firm and pull the bell evenly, and avoid any unbecoming posture; she must be attentive to say the prayers marked for the bells slowly, and to offer them for the conversion of sinners.

 

THE BELLS

 

For the Conventual Mass, the bell is rung during a Miserere, and, after an interval of another Miserere, 60 strokes are tolled with the smaller bell.
For the Hours, Vespers and Matins, the great bell is also rung during a Miserere, then, after an interval of a. Miserere, 100 strokes are tolled with the little bell for the Hours, 60 strokes for Vespers and Matins,
On Feasts of 1st Class, and of 2nd Class having octave, two great peals are rung for the Conventual Mass, Vespers and Matins, leaving an interval of a Miserere between; after a second interval of a Miserere, 60 strokes as usual.
At Matins the great bell is rung again during the Te Deum.
For the evening hour of prayer, the bell is rung during a Miserere and a De Profundis, and for the morning hour after the Angelus twice the Miserere.
At mid-day and at six o'clock in the evening, not longer than a Pater Noster after the Angelus.
For the Adoration at three o'clock, 33 strokes.
For the end of recreation both morning and evening (the latter serving also for Compline), for the Examen after Matins, and again for the retreat, 30 strokes, as also for the Litanies at two o'clock in Lent.
To assemble the Community: when the Sacra­ments are to be administered to the sick, for a Sermon, to receive the blessing of a Bishop or of a Superior, and for all other exceptional occasions when the Community has to be assembled, 12 strokes are tolled twice, leaving an interval of an Ave Maria between each time. The Community then assembles in the Choir, or in whatever place the Mother Prioress may have indicated.
At one o'clock in summer for the end of the mid-day silence, the matraque is passed, by the sister in charge of the bell.
Call-bell.—The Call-bell is used for ringing the Chapter, the morning Examen, and for calling the sisters.
For the Chapter three double strokes are tolled three times, leaving between each three double strokes an interval of an Ave Maria.
For the Examen before dinner twice 12 strokes which serve also for the Refectory; the same in the evening for supper or collation.
In ringing the Call-bell for the sisters it must be done distinctly and there must be given time to arrive: it ought not to be done more than twice consecutively, and a little interval should be left
before ringing a third time, the sisters must come promptly when they hear that they are called.
The Call-bell can only be rung for the Mother Prioress in very rare and pressing cases when it is not possible to find her.
The bell should not be rung for sisters when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, nor during Com­munity hours, or hours of silence.
For the reading of a quarter of an hour before evening prayer, 12 strokes are tolled.
The sisters who ring ought not to leave the bells between the peals, unless absolutely necessary.
The lay sisters ring the morning Angelus and hour of prayer; when the bell rings on exceptional occasions they must be exact in coming with the Community.      

 

THE CHOIR AND THE DIVINE OFFICE.

 

We must assist at the Divine Office with a grave and religious bearing, with great mortification of the senses, and with the recollection and devotion due to the Presence of God. Out of reverence for His Divine Presence, the sisters should be most exact with regard to the prostrations, inclinations, and other Ceremonies of the Order, neglecting none, and being careful to make them with all the gravity and modesty required; they should therefore often read the Ceremonial of the Choir, in order to be well acquainted with what they have to do in this holy place.

We should deeply impress upon our mind and in our heart the love and esteem of everything relating to the Divine Office since after the adorable Sacrifice of the Mass it is the holiest and most sublime act of Religion. This thought should make the sisters most zealous in learning and in observing everything that is prescribed by the Ceremonial, leading them to neglect nothing which it is in their power to do, to fit themselves for the perfect observance of all that regards the Choir.

Each one should be careful to see and mark her office before going into Choir, so as to be very sure of all she has to do and to say there. If being in Choir a sister has any doubt respecting the Office or the Ceremonies, she should ask the Mother Sub-prioress, looking first towards the Mother Prioress, and kissing her Scapular for permission to do so. When the bell calls us to the Choir all should go there without any delay. They should lower their sleeves before entering the Choir or the Anti-Choir, and this must also be observed before entering the Oratory when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed there. Their sleeves must also be lowered   for   Processions,    and   when   going   to Confession.

Whilst we are waiting in the Anti-Choir between the ringing of the Bells, we must not read any book or paper, this time being given us for recollection, to raise our souls to God, and ask of Him the grace to sing His praises with deep reverence and with all the dispositions due to His Divine Majesty. Nor must we read any book or paper during the Office, Mass, Examen, and Processions, excepting the books containing what the Community has to say.

We may not show or give anything to each other without permission. When singing, we must always hold our book and sing from it, without ever singing anything from memory; when reciting, we may put aside our book at the Benedictus, and during the little hours from the Chapter; but the Novices who have not made their Profession have no permission to put aside their book at any time unless it be for the recitation of Compline.

As the Ceremonial treats in detail of all things relating to the Divine Office and the Ceremonies of the Choir, we will here only call attention to two things. The first is to observe silence and mortification so perfectly as to appear dead to all things else save praising God and being attentive to His Divine Presence. Therefore if any one makes a noise or some mistake the others should not appear to perceive it, taking care not to turn their head or raise their eyes to look at anything whatsoever. They should also avoid touching their face or their habit, and be careful neither to show their hands nor their feet.

Secondly, when it is necessary to come and go in the Choir, to open or shut the doors or the windows, to cough or use one's handkerchief, etc. these things should be done as quietly as possible. If at any time one cannot avoid making too much noise, we should-leave the Choir and withdraw so as not to be heard; first out of respect for our Lord's presence upon the Altar, and secondly not to dis­tract our sisters from their attention to prayer which should be so precious to us. We should return to the Choir as soon as poss­ible; this permission for leaving the Choir is only for exceptional cases. This modest reserve should be more especially attended to during Mass and when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, we ought at such times to kneel down and to rise up most gently.

During the Divine Office, when a sister says something which should be heard by all, we should abstain from any movement that might make the slightest noise. On days when we have not our cloaks at the beginning of Mass, those who are going to Holy Communion should put them on at the Offertory: and the novices who are not Professed should put on their little veils at the same time. We should rise to go in due order to Holy Communion when the absolution at the end of the Confiteor has been given.

The thanksgiving should last a quarter of an hour after Mass is finished. When a sister arrives after Mass has begun, she should not take her place in the Choir without permission, to obtain this permission she goes and prostrates herself near the Mother Prioress, or in her absence near the Sub-prioress, and does not rise until she is told.
The Cantors bring the desks before Mass, when it is sung, and take them away after Mass is finished, but they must not on this account fail to enter and leave the Choir in procession with the Community. When None is sung, the second Cantor places them, for this she leaves the Choir at the brief Responses and goes to fetch them.
When we have any office in the Choir we must be most careful to discharge it perfectly, and to foresee every day what we have to say, so as to make no mistake.
When the Blessed Sacrament is exposed or when there are sisters in prayer in the Choir, we should not say our office there without permission, for fear of disturbing their recollection; and as a general rule in the places of devotion, when we are reciting vocal prayers, we should do so in such a low tone of voice as not to be heard by anyone.
Out of homage and reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, whenever a Mass is said in the Chapel during the little Hours, both Choirs remain stand­ing from the Sanctus until the Post-Communion.
Every time that the rules for the Ceremonies of the Choir oblige the sisters to kiss the ground, they should kiss it effectively and not content themselves with a half prostration.
Those who have devotion to prostrate them­selves, whether in Choir or in the hermitages, should take care to put their Scapular under their mouth; they cannot remain thus prostrate longer than the space of a Miserere.
If a sister makes any mistake during the Divine Office, or any noise, she must kneel down and kiss the ground, having her hands under her Scapular; on rising she makes a half-inclination turning towards the Blessed Sacrament.

When a sister enters the Choir after the Office has begun—that is to say, the Venite at Matins; the Hymn at the Hours; the first Psalm at Vespers; and at Compline, after the "Adjutorium nostrum, &c.," she kneels down in the middle of the Choir, and having made a cross with her thumb on her forehead, on her mouth, and on her heart, saying: Per signum Cruets de inimicis nostris libera nos Deus noster, and then an ordinary sign of the Cross, she prostrates to kiss the ground until the sign of the Mother Prioress, or in her absence of whoever is presiding. But had she simply left the Choir, on returning she goes to her place. The above-named signs of the Cross are always made on entering the Choir for the Divine Office when the Mother Prioress or whoever is pre­siding gives the sign to begin; they are also made on going into Choir for Mass, for the morning and evening hours of prayer, and for the Examen. On all other occasions, having taken Holy Water and made the sign of the Cross on entering the Choir, we go straight to our places, after the usual inclinations, and simply kiss the ground.

It must be remembered that we have to kiss the ground every time that we enter or leave the Choir.
It would be a great imperfection to show any annoyance at being in Office in Choir with any particular sister, or at being placed near to her.
The Novices can never be nearer than two steps from the Grate, and when the Blessed Sacra­ment is exposed, and the Grate of the Choir is open, they ought not to draw nearer than about the middle of the Choir. They may never touch the Grate.
We must never prostrate ourselves in the Choir when the Grate is open and the shutters are closed.
Every day after Compline, each one should return to the Choir to say silently the Veni Creator for all those who are commended to the prayers of the Community on that day, and a Subtuum presidium to Our Lady for all who are about to die the following night.
A sister who is of the second call is three days without rising for the morning hour of prayer and without making the deep inclination at the Office; she kisses her Scapular the first day for per­mission ; and at the evening hour of prayer she may sit down without further permission.
We ought not to stay in the Choir after Compline if we are afraid of being unable to keep awake.

 

THE NOVICIATE AND DUTIES OF NOVICES.

Every day the novices should ask the Blessed Virgin to receive them as her daughters, since they have the grace of being in her order, and beseech her to teach them how to praise, love and serve her Divine Son.
Our first Superiors wished St. John the Baptist to be their protector, in order that he might obtain for them the spirit of prayer, silence, separation from all things and mortification of the senses.
They should have continual recourse to our Holy Mother Saint Teresa, and ask her for her spirit that they may faithfully follow all that she has taught us by her example, by her writings and by our rule and constitutions, fearing, through want of fervor in fulfilling her precepts to be a cause of decline in the spirit of her reform. They must therefore be faithful in avoiding what she wished to correct in the novices, that is to say. the desire of being esteemed, attention to the defects of others without ever acknowledging our own; the point of honor, thinking oneself less well treated than the others; love of the world, care of one's body, seeking for exemptions and comforts. Our Holy Mother desires that novices should amend in all these things before their Profession, and ordains that, if they do not do so, their Profession shall be delayed or they shall be sent away; she says that they will be all their lives what they are in their noviciate. They must therefore have a great zeal to make progress in perfection and in all virtue following in the footsteps of the saints who have gone before them, advancing some by the martyr­dom of blood, others by that of love—all by sufferings, humiliations, penance, a solitary life separated from creatures, caring only for rest in labor, joy in suffering, consolation in the Cross, undisturbed by that which troubles nature, knowing that "the Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence and the violent bear it away."

The novices should therefore also repress all inequalities of temper and be ever ready to yield to what is wished of them without any choice either of place or cell, or employment, cleaving only to God alone. They should be entirely sub­missive to the will of others, make their own spirit die to all things, see only that which is good in their sisters and shut their eyes to all things else.
At half-past two on days when we do not sing Vespers, the novices go to the noviciate; it begins by the ordinary Antiphon: Veni Sancte Spiritus.
The mistress of novices will not fail to go every day to the noviciate, whilst the novices are assembled there, to teach them true piety and virtue, the observance of the rules and everything which they ought to know; attaching very great importance to this as our constitutions recommend.

The novices say their faults once a week in the noviciate, on a different day from that on which the Chapter is held; observing all that is marked for the Chapter of faults, excepting that they do not kiss the Scapular of their mistress, but they make an inclination to her. If on any occasion the mistress is not in the noviciate, nor the Mother Prioress, the novices would make their spiritual reading each one by herself or all together accord­ing as might be thought best.
At one o'clock the novices go to mark their office; but in Lent, on fasts of the Church and all Fridays in summer they mark it at ten o'clock and then return to their work.
They make every day half an hour's spiritual reading. In Lent when there is the whole hour for reading they add only the fifteen minutes before the evening hour for prayer, they cannot dispense themselves from this without leave.

When an extra Communion is granted to the Community the Novices do not take it for them­selves, nor the permissions given to the Nuns in general to ask certain little things of the officers,
unless they are specially told to do so, never taking for themselves what tends to consolation or personal satisfaction, but only such things as regard labor, penance, and humiliation in which their zeal and their fervor should shine forth.
They should take care to retain nothing in their way of speaking which still savors of the spirit of the world. When they have to name their Father and Mother, whether with the Mother Prioress, or in speaking to externs, to enquire for them or send them messages, they should say: My Father and my Mother; never using worldly terms and titles and avoiding also all undue familiarity of ex­pression.
They should also carefully avoid the use of exaggerated expressions; and in speaking of themselves they must not say: I have, I give—but: we have, we give, speaking generally in the plural unless it be of their own imperfections.
The Novices should not, without permission, bind themselves as by obligation to say regularly any prayer, however short; were it only an Ave Maria by day, since all their actions should be regulated by obedience.

Simplicity, docility, dependence, and subjection, these are the principal virtues to the acquisition of which the Novices should apply themselves without ceasing; they should neither see, nor hear, nor judge of anything save in that religious spirit which they are taught to acquire. They ought not to wish to know what is going on in the world, nor even what is done within the Monastery, in order to be occupied only with the one thing necessary, with God and with their progress in perfection, applying themselves thus to laying a good foundation during their Noviciate; for it is difficult to acquire later on, what has not been seriously aimed at during this time.
When their Mother Prioress instructs them they should speak to her and answer her questions with great simplicity, candor, and perfect confidence, telling her, at all times, their needs and in­dispositions whether spiritual or corporal; in a word they should see in her Jesus Christ whom she represents to them, and apply themselves faithfully to accomplish all that she tells them to do, following sincerely the advice which she gives to them, for woe to those who reject correction and murmur against it. Let them aim at that spirit of Christian infancy to which Salvation is attached and, since we must become as little children in order to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, lowli­ness and subjection should be theirs in a very special degree.

They should have great respect for their Mistress, who is charged to form them to the Religious life, that is to say, to that state of life which is to unite them closely to God. They will always speak to her on their knees, when they are not in Community, they will prostrate themselves when she reproves them for any fault; and in speaking of her they will always say: "our Mistress," even in Community. They will speak to her with candor and with simplicity, being fully convinced that they will always find in the confidence they have in her a powerful help in working at their perfection and for advancing in the practice of all the virtues appertaining to their state.
They may not ask her any permission at recreation or anywhere in Community, not even in a low tone of voice, reserving this for when they are alone with her. It would be a want of respect towards the Mother Prioress to ask any permissions of their Mistress in her presence.

They will show all the letters which they write and which they receive to their Mistress, and will write none without permission.
In the Choir the Novices have to observe two things: First, such perfect silence and mortifica­tion as to appear dead to all things else, save praising God and being attentive to His Presence. Secondly, they should take great care not to go to and fro in the Choir without necessity, and when they are obliged to do so, it must be softly and silently, both out of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament and in order that they may not interrupt the prayer of the sisters.
When the Mother Prioress commands anything without addressing herself to anyone in particular, the Novices should try to do it with that prompti­tude which makes evident their love of obedience; they must never make any difficulties at recreation with regard to anything which is commanded them, and if they have something to say con­cerning what they are ordered to do, they must wait till the end of the recreation before doing so; this must be most faithfully observed, the contrary being very unedifying in a Religious Community.
The Professed Novices ask permission, once for all, to read the books of the Community which are placed in the Hermitages. Each week the Novices ask the ordinary permissions. They should ask their Mistress what they have to do with regard to the Offices of the Week which fall to their share; commending themselves to God that they may accomplish them well. Each one-who is named Hebdomadary should ask Him to enable her to fulfill   this  function with  fitting recollection  and edification.
The Mistress of Novices can give them permission to go into each other's cells when necessary

Modesty and religious behaviour.

The Religious Habit requires, of those who have the honor of wearing it, great modesty shining forth at all times and in all places, especially in Choir, in Chapter, in the Refectory, and in walking through the House.

The sisters should be careful to regulate and compose their movements to the best of their power, in honor of the outward bearing of Our Lord and of His Blessed Mother. They should hold themselves upright whether speaking or walking, taking care to walk as quietly as they can. They should be modest and recollected when going about the house, keeping their hands under their Scapular unless they have something to carry. They should avoid turning their head or raising their eyes to look at anything out of curiosity or levity; thus their mortification will show how watchful they are to keep themselves occupied with the thought of the Presence of God. Our Spanish Mothers used sometimes to raise the Scapular of the sisters whom they met, particularly of the Novices, to see if they were holding their Rosary.

They should let no hurry or precipitation be seen in their actions, accustoming themselves to walk at a measured pace, but without being too slow; taking care not to drag their feet, and to make so little noise in walking as not to be heard. Our first Spanish Mothers were most exact in this practice, and strongly recommended it; they used to say that a Carmelite should be seen before she is heard.

When the sisters are sitting in their cells or in their offices, although no one sees them, they should not lie down, nor hold themselves badly. They should not stretch out their feet; but let their attitude be always full of modesty, without any desire to make themselves too comfortable since we ought always to observe a religious mortifica­tion.

Whilst hearing a Sermon, whether in the Choir or in the parlor, still greater care should be taken to be seated in a religious manner, without moving more than can be helped and without turning one's head; bowing when the preacher addresses himself to the Community, and when he pronounces the holy names of Jesus and Mary, and that of our holy Mother St. Teresa. If anyone were asleep, the sister nearest to her should awake her; it has been thus ordained from time immemorial.

They should never complain of little discomforts, such as cold, heat, fatigue, or infirmities, nor of anything disagreeable and mortifying which they may meet with amongst the things given to them for food, clothing, and other necessaries of life. They should be careful not to wear anything that is not clean and in good order.

The Professed sisters should never be without their upper veil, excepting when sweeping or work­ing in the laundry. In a word the mortification of Jesus Christ should at all times regulate and hold in subjection all their senses and all their move­ments both interior and exterior, and this, in all places, and in all their occupations, even the most laborious.           

                                  

OF OBEDIENCE

The sisters should cultivate a great esteem for religious obedience and be very faithful in the practice of this virtue, never allowing themselves to neglect anything, of however little consequence it may appear to them to be, which regards obedience, since all that they do, down to the least thing, is in honor of the obedience which the Son of God and His Blessed Mother practiced upon earth.

They should never ask more than once for what they wish, even though it be to make acts of virtue and penance, asking for them merely by way of a simple proposal in order to learn the Will of God and with a perfect detachment of spirit; and if their wishes are not favorably received they should withdraw without showing or expressing any discontent, remembering that the best and most useful exercise for a religious soul is to renounce her own ideas and follow those of others.

All the sisters should be in a state of holy in­difference with regard to every employment and occupation with which they are charged by obedience; and if, amongst the things given them to do, there should be any about which they feel some difficulty and repugnance, they should be very careful not to let it appear, but rather rejoice in the opportunities which God gives them of denying their own will. If an important reason obliges them to make some representation upon what is commanded, they should do so in private, once only, and as a single proposition.

They should never allow themselves to ask for what reason such and such a thing is commanded them nor in any way give their opinion upon the subject. If they are not able to suppress the first movements contrary to obedience they must at least by virtue, avoid letting them appear out­wardly.
When the Mother Prioress commands something in Community, such as to go and collect wood, to fold linen, etc., no one can dispense herself from doing so without permission even although it were to do something which she thought equally useful; and, when anyone in particular is sent to a similar work, she should rejoice at having this opportunity of lightening the toil of her sisters.

It is not allowed to go into each other's cells or offices, under whatever pretext, without a special permission from the Mother Prioress, excepting in the case of a storm or heavy rain to shut the windows, or again in the night if one heard some sister in need of assistance.
The sisters cannot offer to help one another without permission; all that they can and ought to do is to relieve those whom they meet heavily laden, helping them to carry their burden; and those to whom this charity is offered should not make difficulties, but accept this assistance in a spirit of gratitude.
When the Mother Prioress is in the Offices or in the cells, the sisters who have to speak to her can enter after having knocked; excepting in the Turn, the Sacristy, the Parlor, or the Confessional, where no one may enter, nor even draw near without being expressly told to do so.

The sisters cannot, without permission, borrow from one another what they require for their Offices, Hermitages, etc., but when a sister is asked to lend anything she should do so, although she may be inconvenienced thereby, preferring the advantages of others to her personal utility, and persevering in the practice of self-sacrifice in order to follow more perfectly the law of charity; but, on the other hand, each one should be full of discretion in this respect, never asking permission to take or to ask of the sisters things which are necessary to them and of which the privation may cause them some mortification.

When on account of illness, work, etc., the Mother Prioress has given an unlimited permission to a sister, the latter should ask for its renewal at the end of a month; if she fails to do so, the permission ceases, and she can no longer make use of it.
With regard to obedience we must be pliable as a child, without excuse, without sadness, without murmur, without cowardice, and that until death.
We should strive to speak on all occasions with simplicity and candor: this virtue, which is singularly pleasing to God, is also very pleasing to men, and always edifies them.
When a sister has leave to speak to another, or to ask her for anything, she makes her understand that she has this permission by kissing her own Scapular.
When the Table of the Offices is read in the Refectory, each one should look upon it as a grace to receive an office, and take great pains to fulfill its duties to the best of her power.
The novices should ask their Mistress what they have to do with respect to the offices which fall to their share.

THE OBSERVANCE OF NEVER EXCUSING YOURSELVES.

 

Amongst all the practices of virtue which our holy Constitutions require of us, that of never excusing ourselves is one of the most useful for making progress in the practice of humility; the sisters should therefore be very faithful in the observance of this point of our Constitutions, not justifying themselves for the faults for which they are reproved or of which they are accused, although they have not been guilty of them. The custom of our Order teaches us on these occasions to keep silence and prostrate ourselves.

We should never receive with indifference or with a spirit of recreation the reproofs given to us, although for slight faults; we should then pros­trate ourselves, and take care always to perform this exterior action with a spirit humbled before God. We should also keep up the custom of pros­trating ourselves when anything is said in our presence to our advantage, and also when we have given occasion to a sister to prostrate herself.


OF HOLY POVERTY.

We ought to be full of zeal in the observance of Holy Poverty, preferring for oneself whatever is poorest and of least value in the house, showing the desire which we have to practice this virtue; if we do not feel this desire in our hearts, we have reason to fear that we are not true Carmelites.

In the occasions which present themselves for making choice of something for oneself or for one's office, we should always take that which is least and poorest; such as the smallest and the most inconvenient cell, old and patched clothing; contenting ourselves with poor food, with a small fire; in a word just like the poor, looking upon ourselves in very truth as the Poor of Jesus Christ. Through the same spirit of poverty, each one should take with indifference all that is given her for her personal use, however poor and ill-arranged it may be, receiving it with a spirit of gratitude, not as if it were her due, but as a fruit of the charity of the Community. In this view we should be content with what is strictly necessary, suppress­ing everything useless; and even in what is necessary taking care not to appropriate anything however small and valueless, as if it were our own. We should also be careful even amongst needful things to avoid everything choice or of too great value, that all may savor of the poverty of Jesus Christ.

The same care must be taken with the objects of devotion which we are allowed to have. In our cells we have three engravings or prints. When we find that something is wanting in our cell or in our office, we must not speak of it, either complaining or otherwise, but accept this privation in the spirit of poverty. No sister should ever let the officers perceive her taste with regard to the things they supply to her, nor show any discontent with the Habit, Alpargates, etc., whether they are long or short, well or ill-made; the inconveniences that may be occasioned by them should only be mentioned to the Mother Prioress, or by novices to their Mistress.

We should pick up whatever we may find about the house and put it in a place where it will not get spoiled. Out of reverence for Holy Poverty we should not even pass over a piece of thread or a pin without picking it up; if we are not in want of it we should put it into the pin-cushion of the Community; as regards everything else which we may find in the Convent we should not make use of it for ourselves, for our office or hermitage, without first showing it to the Mother Prioress. In sweeping we gather up all the little pieces of wood and straw that may be amongst the dust, and even what breaks off from the broom, and take all to the place where the wood is kept for burning. We should carefully preserve the books and furniture of which we have the use, and pay par­ticular attention with regard to the books for the Choir, never leaving them about the house nor placing them on the ground, nor folding in the leaves; when we make use of them it should be always with the reverence due to the Divine Office.

Through the same spirit of poverty, we must take care not to waste, break or spoil anything that can be of use in the offices, hermitages, or other places of which we have the charge; we should also take care of our clothing to make it last as long as we can. When we go down stairs we must hold the holy habit so as not to let it trail on the ground and whenever we have anything to do in the house which might make it dirty, it should be hooked up. We must do nothing with­out permission were it only a stitch, but when what we wear is in danger of being' spoilt for want of being repaired, we must ask permission to show it to the officer; that is to say when it is something which she cannot herself perceive.

We should be careful to make good use of our time, negligence on this point is a serious fault against holy poverty.

                                          

of the respect

which we ought to have for our mother prioress 

and for all the sisters.

 

We must have a deep respect both interior and exterior for our Mother Prioress, seeing in her person that of Jesus Christ and being as exact in doing what she ordains as if the Son of God himself commanded it, carrying out what she orders in general as if she were speaking specially to each one in particular.
We must speak in a low tone of voice in her presence, and be eager to do her service in every­thing of which we are capable. We must always speak to her kneeling, bend down before her when she reproves us for any fault, only rise when she gives the sign to do so, and never excuse our­selves. When we meet her in the house we draw aside at a distance of two or three steps and turning towards her, make a deep inclination as she passes. In the morning when she is not in Community, we ask her blessing. We should kiss her hand each time that we present anything to her or that she gives us something.

We rise when she enters the Choir, the Chapter, the Refectory, the Recreation, etc., etc., and we do not sit down again until she is seated herself. We ought not to take the liberty of asking any service of the Mother Prioress nor enter her cell to take a light nor take a light from her when we meet her in the house, should she wish to light our lamp we must receive this charity kneeling. We must never go into her cell with our habit hooked up nor with an apron, nor without a veil.
We must never listen to what the Mother Prioress may say in her cell or elsewhere; we must be careful as soon as she speaks to a sister to withdraw sufficiently to be unable to hear what is said and should we be unable to avoid hearing we should let her know. If we happen to be with her when other sisters come to speak to her, we should take no part in the conversation. When our Reverend Mother sends for us, we must not leave until she sends us away; when we go to her of our own accord, we may leave as soon as we have finished what we have to say.

We must ourselves ask our permissions of our Mother and not take the liberty of asking them through other sisters. We can enter wherever she may be, excepting in the Turn, the Sacristy and the Parlors in these latter cases if we have something to say to her which cannot be deferred we should address our­selves to the Turn Sister. We must never take the place of the Mother Prioress nor of the Mother Sub-prioress; we must not put either cloak or books in the Mother Prioress's stall, nor ever make use of the things which are set apart for her.

One can never enter the cells of the Mother Prioress, and the Mother Sub-prioress, nor the cells of any of the other Nuns, in their absence. The Mother Prioress alone can give permission to enter those of the Professed Nuns, but the Mistress of Novices can give the Novices leave to go into each other's cells if necessary. When the Mother Sub-prioress presides in Community we must not speak to her except on our knees, and a sister whom she reproves must prostrate herself.
The novices should kneel when speaking to her, whether in Community or elsewhere, unless the Mother Prioress be present, and they should prostrate themselves when she reproves them. We may ask leave of the Mother Sub-prioress to take a piece of bread, to go to bed if we feel ill, to have a pocket handkerchief, to remain where we are after a Community hour. But we do not ask her these permissions unless we know that we cannot find our Mother, and we never ask her leave for penances nor for things of devotion, nor to give anything to one of the sisters, nor to enter into some office, etc.; these permissions are asked only of the Mother Prioress.

Nothing is more to be desired than the affectionate union of all the sisters, which draws down upon the whole Community the loving attention and the favors of the God of peace. But familiarity, far from contributing to this inestimable union, on the contrary tends most certainly to lessen it. If the sisters do not mutually respect and honor one another, accord­ing to the precept of St. Paul, slight disagreements will very soon give birth to little troubles of which the consequences are always most sad; besides which, the dissipation inseparable from frivolity becomes a continual obstacle to the union of the soul with God. Let the sisters, then, converse together at recreation and elsewhere, like good sisters who love and esteem one another sincerely, without constraint, without frivolity, but with respectful liberty and with the freedom that springs from reciprocal affection, so that it may be seen that they are at their ease, and that they are full of charity and consideration one for the other. It would be a want of respect to a sister to call her by her name without previously saying "Sister."

When the elder sisters speak to the younger ones they should do so in a gentle, kind, and affectionate way, but at the same time so as to make them understand that they honor them; the young sisters, on their side, when speaking to the elder ones should do so with marked respect. In a word, each one attentive to her own duty should avoid observing whether the others fulfill or not their duty towards her; it is for those only who are in charge to observe such things.

When we meet a sister in the house we must be careful to bow to her, making a half inclination, and if at a doorway we should humbly draw back to let her pass; should she refuse to do so, we must then pass gently and with confusion at the humility of our sister. In this same spirit of charity, and to repress familiarity, the sisters should look upon themselves as daughters of the Blessed Virgin, and they should respect one another as belonging to Jesus and Mary, doing homage to the honor which the Son of God rendered to our nature by uniting it to His Divinity, and by taking the Blessed Virgin for His Mother. With this view of Jesus and Mary in the person of our sisters, when we see any one of them in trouble we shall have great care to recommend her to God.


OF THE CELLS.

We should keep our cell clean, taking care not to make ink spots or other stains. It is the abode of the Divine Spouse, and indeed we are there but for a short time and until it is given to another. Every day after the hours unless prevented by some other occupation we do our cell, we must not take more than seven or eight minutes for this in order to begin work as soon as we can. It is against holy poverty to employ more time than necessary for each occupation, our time belongs to then be clean but without exaggeration, for nature insinuates itself everywhere and everywhere it must be withstood.

We are allowed to have the following things in our cell:—A little stool, three engravings or prints, a plain wooden Cross, a Holy water stoup, a lamp, a broom, a duster, and the usual books, which are: The New Testament, the Psalter Latin and English, The Rule and Constitutions, the Paper of Exac­tions, The Imitation of Jesus Christ, a book for Spiritual reading, one for Meditation, and the Life of a Saint.

We usually sweep our cell twice a week, on Wednesday and Saturday, we can never dispense ourselves from sweeping on Saturday without a special permission. We must take up the dust and carry it away ourselves, we may only shake our duster in the dormitory passage if it has not yet been swept. From time to time we should ask leave to shake our blankets and to do our cell very thoroughly, but we ought not to choose a foggy or damp day for this. The Lay Sisters have permis­sion to do their cells after Prime.

During the day each sister should stay in her cell or office which she ought not to leave without necessity; the cell should be the home of a Carmelite; on this account we should in the morning recall to our memory what we may have to ask or to do during the day, in order to attend to it at the end of some Community hour. And we should even try to see to several things at that one time in order to make as few journeys as we can about the house. Those who help in the Offices should retire to their cells as soon as they are able to do so.

The window of the cell must not be open when the weather is damp or foggy. In winter when the weather is fine enough to leave it open we shut it at 4 o'clock. When we go to a Community hour, we must be careful to leave our window in such a way as that should it begin to rain no accident could happen to remedy which would oblige us to leave the Community. Neither must we let our door bang, but leave it so that if open it makes no noise. We must be accommo­dating to our neighbors, not making any noise ourselves and not complaining if others do so. Every Saturday we place our little stool near the door to receive the weekly packet of linen; we should return to the linen office any of which we are not in need.

When we want a sister who is in her cell or office, we must knock at the door; if after knocking twice she does not answer, we must go away without opening the door; but the sister should understand that she is obliged to answer Deo Gratias, and to open the door to see what is required of her.
If we leave our Choir cloak anywhere out of our cell during the night we lose a Communion; if on feast days we are still in the Choir when the bell for the Examen rings we may leave our cloak there even until Vespers if it is a day on which it is worn.
We should keep our lamp in good order and clean it one of the two days in the week fixed for sweeping. We must not draw the wick up too far as this is contrary to holy poverty. We cannot leave it burning during the night, nor use a candle in our cell after Matins without leave. We cannot use a candle for any purpose without special permission.            

 

ON RETIRING TO REST.

After Matins we must retire to rest without stopping to do anything except what is indis­pensable.

In winter when we go to warm ourselves we must go with promptitude and each one in the order in which she entered should draw near to the fire without ceremony, and remain only the necessary time in order to make place for the others. Those who are sent to warm themselves during the Examen will manage to be ready to leave the fire when the Community come from the Choir. The sister who stays last at the fire should leave everything safe and in good order. On retiring to our cell we must go to bed quickly with simplicity and modesty: we must fold our veil and tocque carefully. In the morning when we put on our scapular and when we take it off in the evening we kneel down and kiss it out of reverence. There is an indulgence for saying the hymn : 0 Gloriosa Virginum.

When undressing we should be careful to unite the repose which we are about to take with that which our Lord and His most Holy Mother took when on earth, we should offer them all the praises which will he given to them during the course of the night in Heaven and on earth; and pray to our good Guardian Angel to keep away from us all evil thoughts and suggestions of the enemy of our souls, placing ourselves wholly in the hands of God and our Lady, imploring of them the grace to rest in their love.
 Before getting into bed we take Holy Water, and sprinkle some upon our bed: we then kneel down and commend ourselves to God according to our devotion, this should be done in the space of a Pater Noster; we are not allowed to say more prayers without special permission.
When we awake during the night we should take care to lift up our hearts to God by making some short aspiration; but it must be remembered that we are not allowed to occupy ourselves with any thought, even of God, which would prevent our sleeping.

About seven or eight minutes after the sisters have retired to their cells the Mother Prioress, or in her absence whoever she may have appointed, will visit the cells to see if all the sisters have re­tired, it will suffice for those who are already in bed to make it known by a sound; but those who are not yet in bed will come to the door and make a bow; if it is the Mother Prioress they will kneel to receive her blessing. After this, no sister is allowed to leave her cell except in a case of ne­cessity which she has been unable either to foresee or prevent. The same is to be understood of the early morning before the Matraque.

Those who have permission to watch will not fail to go to their cell for the time of the visit. We must never go to bed without putting on our little scapular. Our Holy Mother when making the visit after Matins carefully observed whether the sisters were faithful to this practice.


ON CONFESSION AND COMMUNION.

We must call to mind the recommendation made to us by our Reverend Father de Berulle, that penance is a Sacrament ordained by God for our sanctification, to be approached rather from the desire of the grace which it confers than to relieve ourselves from scruples. The sisters will go promptly to Confession as soon as they are called; in order to do so they will take care to make their preparation in the morning that the confessor may not be kept waiting, and those who do not present themselves in time will not make their Confession and will lose their first Com­munion.

We are not allowed to go out of our turn to Confession without a special permission. If we have this permission we must let the Sacristan know, to prevent her ringing unnecessarily. If we should recollect anything further before leaving the anti-Confessional we can return and speak to the Confessor, but if we had already left we must go and ask permission if  we  wish  to return.

The sisters will make their confession humbly, and without the addition of superfluous words, or any reference to the affairs of the house or what regards the conduct of superiors; neither will they speak to the Confessor about their health, they ought not even to tell him their name nor that of any sister unless he asks them, listening only to God in him and thus disposing themselves to receive the grace which is offered to them in this Sacrament.

Of holy communion.

On ordinary days the choir cloaks are put on at the Offertory, but on Sundays and feast days we put them on before Mass.
The two first to receive Holy Communion place themselves in front of the little grate after the last Domini non sum dignus, then while the priest approaches the little window, all who are going to Holy Communion will take their places according to their rank in religion, getting up quietly and all at the same time, and advancing as soon as those who have already received Holy Communion make room for them, without leaving an empty space between one another. The Sister Sacristan should see if all have their veils well arranged, if they present themselves properly, and if they are neither too near nor too far from the grate. When they are near to the little window they take Holy Water, and make a deep inclination both before and after kneeling to receive Holy Communion.
For Thanksgiving they place themselves against the stalls on the further side from the Communion grate, and when this side is full they pass to the other, filling up from the top of the choir towards the Communion grate.


THE CHAPTER.

At the beginning of the Chapter the sister who holds the office of reader will go to receive, on her knees, from the Mother Prioress, the little book of the Rule and Constitutions, and will then return to her place.
After the Veni Sancte has been said she will come to the middle of the Chapter, and making a deep inclination to the Mother Prioress she will say: " Jube Domne benedicere." After the bene­diction, "Regularibus disciplinis, etc." The sisters having replied: Amen, she will read from the Rule and Constitutions what has been pointed out to her by the Reverend Mother Prioress, beginning by making the sign of the Cross; at the signal to stop she will say: "Tu autem Domini miserere nobis," and the sisters will reply: " Deo gratias."
If a sister enters the Chapter after the reading has begun or while the Mother Prioress is speaking, she kneels down near the door; when the discourse is finished she prostrates herself in the middle of the Chapter.

The novices who are lay sisters, should there be any, begin the first to say their faults, after them the choir novices, then the professed lay sisters, then the professed choir novices, and lastly the professed nuns of the chapter, beginning in each category by those who have been the longest in religion. If there happen to be three lay sisters, three novices, etc., all the three will come at the same time to say their faults; should there be four, the two elder ones will begin and they will return afterwards to their place until the two others have finished, when they will all four leave together after making, two by two, an inclination in the middle of the Chapter.

When the Reverend Mother Prioress or who­ever may be presiding in her place gives the sign to begin saying the faults, those who are to begin will come two by two into the middle of the Chapter, they will make an inclination before kneeling down and prostrate themselves. After the sign, the one who has been the longer in religion of the two will begin by these words: "I very humbly say my faults of having . . . . “As soon as she has finished, her companion who is waiting will begin her own faults. The faults must be said loud enough to be heard by all present, and in saying them the eyes must be cast down and the hands kept beneath the scapular. When both have finished they will prostrate, and at the sign of the Prioress they will rise, make an inclination in the middle of the Chapter, and then go and kiss the Reverend Mother Prioress scapular, making an inclination to her both before and afterwards; they then either return to their places or go away as has already been said.

No sister should speak in the Chapter, except to say her faults or to reply to the Mother Prioress should she question her. Neither should anyone make known in any way, whether by murmur or otherwise, what may have been said or decided in Chapter; they ought not even to converse about it together, for thus discords and troubles arise which are the source of many faults. When the novices have once left the Chapter they ought not to pass that way again until the Chapter is over and everyone has left.  The penance enjoined in the Chapter should be done as soon as we can. For everything else relating to the Chapter see the Ceremonial.

Offices

 

When the sisters change their offices, they ought to ask permission of the Mother Prioress to speak together of whatever is necessary, in order that they may understand from the beginning all that regards their office, and have no further need of breaking silence.

In whatever office obedience places us, we must be diligent and punctual and sincerely endeavor to do our best. When we have permission to ask for anything belonging to an office we must ask it of the sister who is in charge, and return it as soon as we have finished with it. The officers ought not to give anything in particular to one sister rather than to another, neither can they have anything bought for their office without an express per­mission from the Mother Prioress.

Those who are second in office should show great deference to their officers. In order to help them they should take upon themselves as much as they can reasonably and religiously do, and be even ready when the occasion calls for it to make, in their favor, the sacrifice of their devotions without murmuring and with a good grace, for God loves an offering which is free and which is made with joy.

The officers should so arrange as to have to work together as little as possible, in order that each one may remain apart by herself in the place of her retirement, as the Constitution ordains. Should they require another sister besides those given to them as second or third in the office, they must ask leave, and the sister who is sent for this purpose should simply do what she is told without paying attention to anything else. The under officers must not give or lend anything belonging to the office without telling the first officer, nor make any change in the arrangement of things. They must also be very discreet about everything regarding the office, never speaking about it to others. Each sister should look upon her office and her cell as the means of perfecting herself in the house of God.


Reading in the Refectory

 

 

The sister to whom the office of reader in the Refectory is given should take care to prepare beforehand what she  has  to  read, in order to prevent mistakes and to avoid keeping the Community waiting. Towards the end of the Benedicite, as soon as the Hebdomadary has said et ne nos inducas, the reader comes to the middle of the Refectory and at the end of the blessing of the tables she makes a deep inclination to the Heb­domadary, saying, Jube Domne benedicere, and she does not rise until the Community have said Amen. At the first stroke of the little bell, before sitting down she makes the sign of the Cross prescribed for the reader, saying, In nomine Domini nostri Jesus Christi. Amen.

In the morning the reader begins by a point of the Constitutions; excepting on Sundays, on feasts of first and second class, from Wednesday in Holy week exclusively until the Octave of Easter, at Pentecost, from the morning office or the Vigil, until after the third Feast, from the eve of Christmas inclusively until after the Epiphany, on days of taking the Habit, of Profession and of taking the black veil and on days of license.

On any of the above days the rule is not read in the Refectory. When they fall on a Friday the reading is transferred to Saturday, but if again prevented it is not transferred to another day. Except on these occasions, the rule is always read on Fridays.

When a Postulant has recently entered, the Constitutions are not read for some days, but the reading of the rule is not omitted.

In the evening the Roman Martyrology in English is first read. It is the custom for the Community to stand whilst the reader announces the Feasts of Easter, Christmas and of our Holy Mother, the reader also stands and announces these three Feasts in a full and solemn voice. On ordinary days, after the Martyrology the lessons of the first Nocturn from the Holy Scriptures are read and also all the proper lessons of the Feast, followed by a short life of some saint of the day. The life of the saint whose Feast we are celebrat­ing or of whom we are simply making a commem­oration is usually read in the Refectory, and is begun on the previous evening. For great Feasts and great mysteries the discourses relating to them are begun at dinner on the Vigil of the Feast.

No book can be read in the Refectory which has not been approved and selected by our Rever­end Mother, and the reading of the book which she has chosen cannot be interrupted nor anything omitted without her sanction.

Whenever the reader begins a book she will give the title, the author and the heading of the chapter, and each time that she begins afresh she will say, continuation of such or such a book. The reader should read seriously, intelligibly without affectation, and in an even tone, and quite naturally as if she were speaking. The sisters should listen to the reading with attention and should carefully avoid making any noise. When the Mother Prior­ess enters after the Refectory has begun all the sisters rise and remain standing until she is seated; and the reader stops for a few minutes; if she happens to be reading some example of virtue, she will take up the reading again, a little further back, in order that our Mother may understand what is being read.

When the Angelus rings during the Refectory the reader should say it kneeling in the pulpit. On Saturdays, at the first stroke of the little bell the reader rises and reads the table of the Offices for the week.
On Easter day the reading begins on the Sunday morning by the announcement of the Resurrection. The Martyrology is not read. At the second stroke of the little bell the reader stops at once and makes a half inclination saying: Tu autem Domine miserere nobis.
While the Community is rising and preparing to say grace, the reader comes down from the pulpit, joins the server, and they prostrate themselves together in the middle of the Refectory and do not rise until whoever is presiding gives the sign.
When the reader of the first table is absent she is replaced by the sister who was reader the previous week and the same for the reader of the second table.
On Church fasts the first sister who has finished dinner can replace the reader.
 

of the reader of the second table.

After the Community has said grace the reader of the second table goes to the Refectory. After having made the sign of the Cross and said In nomine Domini Nostri Jesus Christi, Amen, she reads for about ten minutes from the same book which has been read at the first table, and then without waiting for a sign says: Tu autem Domine miserere nobis and goes away, but if the Mother Prioress is present she should continue reading until she gives the sign.


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of the server of the refectory.

At the first stroke of the little bell the sister takes her place in the middle of the Refectory, makes an inclination to the Crucifix, and prostrates herself until  the  signal  is  given by whoever is presiding; she then makes a second inclination folds up her sleeves, puts on an apron and walks round the Refectory to see if all the sisters have their soup, bread, water and wine or beer, after which she waits near the service window for the portions.  She  first  serves the Mother Prioress and the Sub-prioress, she then serves the sisters who  are  on   the   Mother   Prioress'   side  of   the Refectory, and returns to the service window for the  portions  to  serve  those   on   the  other  side. Before doing so, she makes an inclination in the middle of the Refectory. In presenting the table of portions she should remember that it  is  the right hand portions which should first be presented; this she will do without bowing to any sister unless it be to the Mother Prioress and the Mother Sub-prioress.

For the sisters who are making the mortification of eating on the ground the server does not make use of the service table, but serves them with her hand, she does the same for those who eat meat. These latter are served with covered dishes begin­ning by the sister who has been longest in religion. It must be remembered that when there are any who cannot abstain their table is served after all the rest of the Community have been served. The server should take care not to go to and fro unnecessarily, and when crossing the Refectory should always make an inclination to the Crucifix.

If the Mother Prioress comes into the Refec­tory at the same moment as a sister, the server begins by serving our Reverend Mother, bringing her, her soup separately, and then returns to the service window to fetch that of the sister. If a sister has been kept waiting for something of which she is in need, after bringing it to her, the server prostrates herself before the table at which the sister is sitting and does not rise without a sign from whoever is presiding. If there is any time left when she has finished serving, she may sit down on the steps of the pulpit and listen to the reading.

To clear the tables, she begins at the top of the Refectory, the side of the Reverend Mother Prioress and then the opposite side, in the same order as for serving. Care must be taken not to make any noise whilst clearing away either in removing the plates or in walking. It is a custom for a professed nun who has finished her dinner to kiss her scapular and to take the server's place; but if she is not replaced and continues serving until the end, she should not prostrate before the reader is ready to do so with her. At the end of the meal, at the first stroke of the little bell, the server takes the bread basket and a knife and goes round to collect whatever bread is left by each sister; she begins by that of the Mother Prioress and Mother Sub-prioress, con­tinuing by our Mother's side of the Refectory and finishing on the other side. It is the custom to serve the reader and the server with some of these pieces of bread.

 

Of the Infirmary

 

 

The first thing that the sisters have to do when they feel ill is to say so to the Mother Prioress and by her order to the Infirmarian; thus, the right order being maintained, Jesus Christ is served and glorified. If they were not able to find the Mother Prioress soon enough, the Infirmarian can send them to bed and can enter their cells to attend upon them.

On entering the infirmary, those who are ill will earnestly beseech God that nature may not over­come grace in their souls; they should come with the desire of making a good use of their illness, and of bearing it with patience and submission to God and to the Infirmarians. They should invoke the Blessed Virgin, our Father Saint Joseph, our Holy Mother, and their Guardian Angel, entreating them to help them to glorify God and to practice those virtues which they ought to have acquired in health, according to the teaching of our Holy Mother. They will be careful often to raise their hearts to God, in order to be filled with His Blessed Presence, in which is the whole strength of the soul in its time of trial.

      Those who are ill, when they are questioned will say what they are suffering with truth and simplicity, without exaggeration; after which they will abandon themselves  into  the  hands of the Mother Prioress and of the Infirmarian. They will submit like obedient children to the Infirmarian, doing nothing in the infirmary without her per­mission, as to get up, to drink, etc., etc. They will make a point of not asking for anything and of refusing none of the remedies or of the food which is given to them; when anything is a difficulty they will try not to let it be perceived, wishing it to be known to God alone. However, should they feel too great a repugnance or too strong a distaste for what is offered to them, they may express it to the Infirmarian, but in a low voice, so as to show they are ashamed of their weakness and that they may not disedify those who might otherwise hear them. They should rejoice when anything is wanting which they need, and  never allude to it before others, growing in the desire to give glory to God in their infirmity, and abandoning entirely to Him and to the Infirmarian the care of their health.

There is no time in which we have greater need for watchfulness than that of illness, because of the liberty which it gives, the difficulty which it makes us find in our exercises, the tedium inseparable from a state of suffering, and the consideration which is paid to our wishes.
Those who are ill should as far as possible try to observe silence, especially during Community hours and above all during the great silence, in order to honor God as much as they can, by the observation of the rule. They may say a few words in case of need; this is not to be understood of severe illness, when they may speak as much as their sufferings permit; but yet always, with due respect for the law of silence.

When they have to see the doctor, they should have their great veil lowered and not raise it until they are told to do so, drawing it down again dir­ectly after, but when they have received Extreme Unction, they usually only wear the little veil. They only speak to the doctor when the Mother Prioress, or the Sub-prioress, and in their absence, the Infirmarian tells them to do so; the latter will take care to be beforehand with this permission as soon as the doctor questions them. They should edify him by their patience and moderation, con­tenting themselves with saying what he wishes to know, without showing any eagerness for the remedies which are pleasing to nature, or aversion for those of which it is in dread.

When the doctor enters, if he says anything on the way it is right to answer him.
We cannot go to visit the sisters who are ill in the infirmary without an express permission each time, excepting when they have received Extreme Unction, and we must always ask the Infirmarian at what moment our visit will not disturb them. We ought never to go when the doctor is there, nor when the sisters who are ill are having their meals. No sister can stay longer than half an hour when visiting the sick, unless the Infirmarian were to beg her to remain in order to render some service to those who are ill, which should be done without asking any other permission.
The Infirmarians should not talk with those who come to see the sisters, they may only say how they are when they are not able to do so themselves.
When the sisters go to see the sick in the Infirmary their visits should be received with gratitude and they should be careful to converse of God and what can be a source of religious re­creation ; but not of their sufferings, only answering the enquiries of the sisters in a few words, we are well or ill, better or worse; acting thus from con­tempt of self and for the love of God. Those who go to visit them will not say what they think about their illness, nor what they would consider suitable to their state; they must remember that their visit should be made in a spirit of regularity, and that the least word of complaint or murmur must be avoided and anything savoring of imperfection.

The sisters cannot question one-another with regard to their health; but if they perceive a sister in any serious suffering, they should tell the Mother Prioress, so as not to fail in charity.
Those who are in the Infirmary should try, as far as their illness permits, to wait upon them­selves in many little things, both from a spirit of religion, and in order to lessen the fatigue of the Infirmarians, but without overtiring themselves. They should also be occupied with some little work, both to avoid idleness and from a spirit of poverty, but always it must be understood, without too much fatigue.
Those who are ill can ask the Infirmarian to fetch from their cells the things of which they are in need, but they cannot send other sisters there. During Community hours and the hours of silence they should not go to and fro in the Convent without necessity.
When the Mother Prioress is with the sick no one can go to visit them until she has left. The sick in the infirmary who do not go to the Chapter will say their faults to the Mother Prioress the next time she comes to see them, asking her for a penance. As soon as they feel themselves fit to go to the Refectory and to the other Community exercises, they should ask leave to do so; and if, as usually happens, they are not allowed to return to them so soon, they will remember to ask again as soon as they have strength enough, taking care to avoid a self-indulgence which might prevent their doing so.

Of the Parlor

 

 

Those who go to talk with externs should kneel down and say an Ave Maria before entering the parlor, to ask Our Lady for her blessing, to offer her the conversation they are about to have, and to beg of her that nothing may be said which is not in accordance with the character of her children, which they have the honor to be.

In the parlor, they should observe the rule laid down by our Holy Mother for the turn sister, to speak low and with edification. If they are going to open the shutter of the grate to those with whom they are about to speak, they must, before doing so, ascertain whether they are alone. When the shutter is open, they should never give or receive anything through the grate, nor should they even touch it.

They should sit on the ground unless some infirmity or special reason prevents their doing so. They should take care to keep their eyes cast down but without exaggeration, and never show any levity of manner, but a truly religious behavior in all things. They must always take their work with them and only raise their sleeves as much as is necessary to enable them to work.

The novices must always wear their little veil when the shutter is open. Should anyone from outside open the door of the parlor the shutter must immediately be closed. The same must be done if anyone knocks at the door of the parlor from the inside of the Monastery; the sister, before answering, locks the shutter, and if she leaves the parlor, although only for a short time, she takes the key with her, unless she were with a Superior, in which case she would leave the shutter open.

When there is only one person to see, only one side of the shutter is opened, and it must be on the further side from the tierce, and the other must be so shut as that she may see the sister entirely. If two sisters are asked for together in the parlor, one of whom may see the visitor and the other not, the latter must take care to be on the side which is closed so as not to be seen. They should never show any curiosity to hear news of the world, which they have left for God. If anyone besides those announced by the Turn Sister wishes to speak to them, they cannot do so without a fresh per­mission; and it is not sufficient for those persons to say they have asked for it, as they must receive the permission through either the inside or the outside turn sister. They cannot send messages without permission but if it is for their father, mothers, brothers or sisters, they may ask this permission of the tierce. Neither can they, without permission, ask those who come to see them to send someone else to whom they may wish to speak.

They cannot speak with externs for more than half an hour, unless for some special reason and with the express permission of the Mother Prioress. They should always bear in mind how strongly our Holy Mother, Saint Teresa, recommends us both in her Constitutions and elsewhere, to dispense ourselves in as far as we can from intercourse with our relations and not to meddle with their affairs. We should never speak of what we have heard in the parlor except to the Mother Prioress, remem­bering that our care should be, to be solely occupied with Our Lord and to forget all things else.

Singing in the parlor is not allowed, and we cannot ask those outside to sing; this does not apply to postulants, who may be asked to sing to judge of their voice. We must never talk with externs about penances. We must not show any repugnance to the tierce who is sent with us, nor amuse ourselves by talking with her either before going to the parlor or after leaving; we cannot send her with a message; if we have anything to ask we must go ourselves.

When the Community is summoned to the parlor to receive the blessing of the Cardinal Archbishop of the diocese (or of an Ecclesiastical Superior) we do not wear our large veil and we observe what follows. When the Community is assembled at the parlor door, the Mother Sub-prioress waits until the Mother Prioress makes a sign to enter; all the sisters kneel for the blessing when the Mother Prioress kneels, and rise only when she rises. If when the Community is assembled in the parlor, at any time, a sister is called to speak to the visitor, she should come forward and do so in a few words and then return to her place. All must listen respectfully, leaving to the Mother Prioress the care of keeping up the conversation, unless something is said to one of the sisters, in which case she must answer with simplicity and humility. The sister who rings to call the Community to the parlor, should at the same time make a sign to show whether the great veils are required; all the sisters should assemble excepting unprofessed novices and postulants who only come when they are called. As soon as the visit is over each one should withdraw promptly without stopping to talk.

We may see through the open Grate and without a veil our Father, Mother, Grandfather and Grand­mother (and persons to whom we have similar obligations), Brothers, Sisters, Brothers and Sisters-in-law. Also Nephews and Nieces until the age of ten or twelve years. We can also see all Bishops and Nuns of another Order.

When a sister has to speak at the Turn, she cannot do so until the Turn Sister tells her that the Turn is free; it is the Turn Sister also who sees that the visitors are accompanied to the Turn. Whenever sisters have to speak at the Turn they should do so briefly ; having first said Deo Gratias, they cannot speak to others who may happen to come to the Turn without a special permission, as has been said for the parlor; neither may they stop to speak with the Turn Sisters when they leave the Turn. They should not lean forward into the Turn, nor put in their head or their hands to place anything there or take anything out, nor should they look at anything that may happen to be in the Turn. If a sister has permission to give something to her parents or to anyone else, she cannot pass it to them herself but will give it to the Turn-Sister to pass, and if, on the other hand, anything is passed to a sister from outside, she will leave it in the Turn to be taken by the Turn-Sister or by the Tierce who will carry it to the Mother Prioress; but, if the sister has been told that a speedy answer is required, she may let the Mother Prioress know.

We ought to be entirely detached from every­thing given to us from outside, with no wish to see what it is, and still less to have it for our own use, desiring rather that Obedience may dispose of it for others; the reverse would be a serious imper­fection in a Carmelite who is obliged by her state of life to a very great detachment. If whilst a sister is speaking at the Turn, anyone comes there with a message from outside, she cannot give an answer; but should simply say that she will call the Turn-Sister. She should then withdraw from the Turn until the Turn-Sister has given the answer required. If on the other hand the Turn-Sister is called from within she will beg the visitors to wait a moment.

We should not offer ourselves to be tierce for the parlor or for workmen; neither should we refuse when called, for we must always respond willingly and gracefully to every call upon our charity. We must retire promptly as soon as we hear the little bell which gives notice that there are people from outside in the house. We cannot go without permission into any place where there are workmen, and we must never amuse ourselves with watching them, we must be very careful not to let ourselves be seen: if we hear the workmen ringing we should inform the sister who has to attend to them. When neither the Mother Prioress nor the sister Depositrix  are  there, it is usually the tierce who has been longest in religion who speaks to the workmen.

Of Simplicity

 

 

Simplicity is one of the most necessary virtues of the religious life, but especially so for novices; they ought not to see, hear or judge of anything unless it be in the spirit which is given to them. When something is asked let them reply with great sincerity and ingenuousness.

The sisters should not wish to know what is going on outside the enclosure, nor even what occurs within the Monastery but attend only to the one thing needful, remembering that God will not call them to account for what he has not entrusted to their care, but that He will require of them a very strict account if they are wanting in that fidelity, simplicity, straightforwardness and forget-fullness of all created things in which he desires to find them.

Several little regulations

 

We should never pass through the Choir without great necessity, nor ever pass before the Choir or Anti-Choir without making an inclination.
The prayers which are said at the end of the Conventual Chapter are for the founders and bene­factors of our holy order, and those said in the processions are for deceased benefactors.
We should at all times and on all occasions have a deep respect and esteem for our sisters and never be wanting in the religious deference and consideration which we owe to the Community.
When the Community is going into any place of which we have the care, we must be zealous in making everything clean and in good order, and also wherever the procession is to pass when any sister who is not with the Community hears the procession passing she should withdraw out of sight.

 

When the Mother Prioress, or the Sub-prioress gives occasion to a sister to prostrate herself and forgets to bid her to rise, as soon as the bell rings for the next Community hour, she should rise out of obedience to the bell. We must remember that on account of the inconvenience arising from the practice of this observance, our Ecclesiastical Superiors have forbidden anyone to remain prostrate during the night; so that a sister being reproved after Matins should rise without being told to do so if the sign has been forgotten and not given.

The sisters should never watch each other's conduct, but each one should be attentive to do her own duty without examining if the others do theirs. If they happen to perceive any fault or negligence, as for instance some negligence in one who has to regulate the Community hours, they should not speak of it, one to another, in any way, the more so since there are Zelatrices, as our Constitutions say," whose charge it is to note faults of  the others,” they add, "must not pay attention to them, but let pass those which they see and take heed to their own: and let them not interfere if those who hold the Offices commit faults therein."  When postulants have lately entered we must give them all the proofs of kindness and charity which our holy state of  life demands, and take care to edify them in all things; we should not talk to them of Religious observances, and if they ask any questions on the subject, they should be referred to their Mistress.

When we receive some service from a sister, we should thank her by these words: Deo Gratias, as also when the officers give us the things of which we are in need; but during the great silence, or in the regular places where silence must always be observed,  we make them an inclination expressive of our gratitude. In asking a service of a sister, we should never use such words as:  Will you oblige us, but we must say:  Will you have the charity. The sisters should never speak to one another of their health or sufferings, nor of what they may be in need of, whether as regards food or clothing, &c. It is only to the Mother Prioress that they can speak of these things. We should not wear scissors hanging from our belt, and we must keep our little Rosaries hidden under our Scapular.

If a sister has caused another any pain, she will not let the day pass without asking her pardon; in doing so she kneels down, the other sister kneels also, and then they both rise together; but this cannot be done without permission. We should not ask for anything exceptional, whether for clothing or for food, etc., without a real necessity and without having first recommended it to our Lord.

The professed sisters of the Chapter have general permission to take Holy Water, to ask for a duster for their Cell, and for linen. We cannot write any letters without permission; we do not write during Advent and Lent, except in cases of special necessity; when we have given a letter to our Mother we should think no more about it. We cannot read any letter or paper that we find lying about in the Monastery, even were it only two or three words, but we must take it to the Cell of the Mother Prioress.

It is forbidden to carry away without permission any book from where they are placed for general use, and it should be brought back as soon as it has been made use of. Nothing may be thrown out of window but just a little water, nothing more, were it only a little piece of paper.

 

When we carry a lighted taper, we must hold some paper under it, to prevent drops of wax falling on the floor or on our Habit. We must be careful not to make any stains on our clothing, whether of wax, oil, &c., remembering that it is Our Lady's Habit and that it is blessed. Our Holy Mother desired that, whilst avoiding all research, we should be most careful as regards cleanliness. Should we happen to make any stains, we must remove them at once, after having asked leave. In like manner, if we spill oil in any part of the house, it must be washed immediately, otherwise it leaves stains which cannot be effaced. When we have not taken the discipline with the Community, we cannot take it afterwards without permission, excepting that of Friday, which, being specially ordained by the Constitutions, ought to be taken another day if it has been missed for any quite simple cause; but not when one is ill or absent from the morning prayer from indisposition.

We must never leave anything lying about in the house, neither books, nor sandals, nor anything else of which we have the use.
We may not go into the garden, when it rains, nor in any damp place without sandals.
On days when the Choir is to be very thoroughly swept, each sister should take away her Diurnal. 101
The books which are used for prayer must not be left in the Choir, nor in the Oratory, nor in the Anti-Choir at any time, but each sister should take them away to her cell or to her office in the morning after the Little Hours, and in the evening at latest after matins.
We must take great care of all the books given us for our use, trying not to wear them out or spoil them in any way.
We must never make use of our dirty linen to wipe our lamp, wood, or other things that might soil it; we must also be very careful not to leave pins in it for fear of hurting the hands of the sisters who wash the linen.
If anything not very clean is found in the house, or soiled linen which has been forgotten, each one should be eager to carry it away to its proper place, being glad of an opportunity of practicing charity, mortification, and forgetfulness of self.

The Call-bell should never be rung during the Silence, nor during any Community hour, nor when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed. Nor should it ever be rung for any general work, or to assemble the Community, without the permission of the Mother Prioress.

If one is in need of a sister who is at the recreation, we cannot call her from the door, but must   go   in   to   ask   permission  of  whoever is presiding to beg her to leave the Recreation.

End of the Paper of Exactions

 

 

We must have a high esteem for all the actions of the Religious life, however unimportant they may appear, and take great pains to do them all as perfectly as we are able, remembering that if they are little in themselves, they are great, and very great, in that they are ordained by the authority of Him Whose greatness is Infinite that they are means which He has inspired to His faithful servants wherewith to honor Him and to advance towards Him. And lastly that He promises to be Himself the Eternal recompense for the least of these little actions done for His love.

Words of Our Lord

"Do not think that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets.  I am not come to destroy but to fulfill...................... He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men, shall be called the least in the King dom of heaven.  But he that shall do and teach he shall be called great in the Kingdom of heaven. He who feareth God neglects nothing.   Amen.

Deo gratias.

Back to the basic texts

 

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for the morning.

When the sisters awake they will be careful to offer their first thought to God by an act of adora­tion, giving and offering themselves to the Most Holy Trinity as to their first principle and last end.

As soon as they hear the signal for rising,” as if they heard the voice of God saying to them," You have rested enough," they must rise promptly and kneeling on their bed, make the sign of the cross and then put on their cotte saying: my God I awake at dawn of day to think of Thee, to love Thee, to serve Thee and to fulfill in all things Thy Holy Will. They must then get up with courage, calling to mind the great love with which the Son of God came from the bosom of His Father at the moment of His Incarnation to descend upon this earth subjecting himself to all our miseries.

As soon as they are up, they should prostrate themselves to adore God and to render homage to His Sovereign Majesty; they should also ask for the blessing of our Lord and of His Holy Mother, beseeching them for grace to honor them during the day; this must be done in the space of a Pater         Noster. Then they must dress quickly and with a great desire to go to converse with God in prayer. Each one should strive to be one of the first to reach the Choir to receive the blessing of the Guardian Angel of the Community. On coming into Choir they should make the three Acts of Religion; they can then say their morning prayers, or anything else according to their devotion.

When the Angelus bell has been rung, the Vent Sancte Spiritus is said in Choir and after the collects the Sanctissima that we may give ourselves to the Blessed Virgin, and through her to her Divine Son.

According to the recommendation of our ancient Mothers, in order to draw full fruit from this hour of prayer, we should say the Veni Sancte Spiritus and the Sanctissima with much devotion, and afterwards be careful not to make any noise which might in any way distract those who are near to us. At the end of the hour of prayer 'the Sub tuum, versicle and collects are said as marked in the Ceremonial.

If any sisters leave the Choir between the two bells, they may begin to do their cells; but they must return punctually to the Choir as soon as they hear the bell begin to toll, in order to be present at the beginning of Prime. The sign for beginning the Hours is given immediately after the last stroke of the bell.

At the end of the Hours, each one will visit the hermitage of our Lady to offer herself to her from the early morning and to implore her protection upon all the actions of the day.

Each sister should visit two Hermitages every day; on Sundays and Feasts all the Hermitages may be visited according to each one's devotion.

If a sister has anything to say to the Mother Prioress, or a novice to her Mistress, she should try to do so before Mass, so as to avoid having to speak during the Holy Sacrifice and in order to keep the silence which should be observed in Choir. On Communion days no one will fail to wash her hands again before Mass if she has touched any­thing dirty.