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or I would tell the Superior I could not learn of her. She begged I would not, and told me she was under a solemn obligation not to make known the cause of her grief. She asked me if I was happy; I told her I was not to see her unhappy, and again entreated her to tell me the cause of her tears. She said I must not tempt her to break her promise; for if we were detected in conversation, she would be made still more unhappy. I then asked, if she had recovered from her illness, why she did not go to her class, &c. She said the Superior had forbidden her, but she could not answer any other questions. I had formed a strong attachment for this young lady, and it gave me pain to see her so distressed.
At next recreation, the Superior sent us word to meet the Bishop in the meditation garden. Sister Mary Magdalene being too exhausted to walk as fast as we did, the Bishop asked who that was, and being told, he burst into a laugh, and said, “ Sister Magdalene, when are you going to heaven?” She replied, in a voice scarcely andible, “ I have no will of my own, my lord; whenever it shall please God to take me.” She thought she should not live to see Christmas. Pp. 23, 24.
At my next lesson I told Mary Francis if she did not explain to me the cause of her grief, I should certainly tell the Superior; for I could receive no benefit from her instructions while she was so confused, and the Superior had reprimanded me for not learning my lessons; and I promised if she would tell me I would not inform the Superior. She replied, that she could not answer me then, but would think of it, and give me an answer in the afternoon. Accordingly, in the afternoon, a Religieuse being present, watching us, she communicated what I desired to know by writing on a slate, and desired to know if I was happy. I answered, that I did not like the Superior so well as formerly. She then wrote, that while at prayer and meditation she concluded it was her duty, particularly as I was dissatisfied, to give me some advice, and considered her promise before made was not binding; and receiving from me a promise of secrecy, she proceeded to say that she hoped she should be pardoned, if any thing wrong was said by her, as my whole happiness depended on the words she should communicate. “ I ain,” says she, “ kept here by the Superior, through selfisha motives, as a teacher, under a slavish fear, and against my will. I have written several letters to my father, and have received no satisfactory answer; and I have for a long time felt dissatisfied with my situation. The Superior has failed in fulfilling her promise, not complying with the conditions on which I was received ; which were, that as she was in need of a teacher, particularly in French and music, I might take the white veil, and leave whenever I chose ; and my taking the veil, as it was only a custom,' should not compel me; and that my obligations should not be binding. My father thinks I can leave at any time, for I do not believe he has received my letters.”—Pp. 24, 25.
At my lesson in the afternoon I again conversed with Mary Francis concerning the letter, and requested her to inform me how my happiness was concerned. She said still that the letter read to the community was a forged one; that Mrs. I. was her aunt and sincere friend; and did her father know her sufferings, and the treatment she received from the Superior, he would prosecute her; that she feared the Superior as she did a serpent. She then advised me not to bind myself, after my three months' “test” or trial, to that order, by complying with the rules of " reception," any farther than would leave me at liberty to go to another if I chose; and I must not think, because they were wicked, that the inmates of all convents were so. I assured her that although I had thought there were none good but Catholics, I now believed there were good and bad among all sects. She then requested me not to betray her, and told me the Superior intended to keep me there for life, and she thought it her duty to warn me of the snares laid for me. She disliked that order, and wished me to inform her why, and in what manner, I had come there. I related to her then, and during the next afternoon, all the particulars. She appeared very much surprised to learn that my friends had been opposed to my coming, as the Superior had told her that they had put me there for life. She said she had been taken from the public apartment, because she had been seen weeping by the young ladies; that should the Superior refuse to let her go, she should, if possible, make her escape; and named a Religieuse (Miss Mary Angela) who had made her escape before.Pp. 25, 26.
I bave now come to that part of my narrative in which I must again speak of the sufferings of sister Magdalene. One day she came from the refectory, and being so much exhausted as to be hardly able to ascend the stairs, I offered to assist her, and the Superior reprimanded me for it; saying, her weakness was feigned, and that my pity was false pity. She then said to sister MagdaJene, after we were seated, in a tone of displeasure, if she did not make herself of use to the “community,” she would send her back to Ireland; on which sister Mary Magdalene rose and said, “ Mamere, I would like The Superior cut short what she was going to say by stamping upon the floor; and, demanding who gave her permission to speak, imposed on her the penance of kissing the floor. The Superior, after this, imposed hardships which she was hardly able to sustain, frequently reminding her that she had but a short time to work out her salvation, and that she must do better if she did not wish to suffer in purgatory. The Superior questioned me about my feelings- wished to know why I looked so solemn. I told her I was ill from want of exercise ; that I was not accustomed to their mode of living, &c. She said I must mention it to my confessor, which I did. The next time the Bishop visited us, he was in unusually high spirits, and very sociable; and he related several stories which are not worthy of notice in this place. He again asked sister Magdalene when she thought of going to that happy place to receive her crown of glory. She replied, “ Before the celebration of our divine Redeemer's birth, my lord." He said she ought to be very thankful that she was called so soon. -P. 27.
Not long after this Mary Francis (Miss Kennedy) escaped from the convent. Miss Reed, although much dissatisfied with the community, consented to enter the noviciate.
Not long after this, at private confession, I was questioned very particularly in regard to my views of remaining there for life. "I told my confessor, that Í was convinced that order was too austere for me, and immediately burst into tears. He endeavoured to comfort me, by saying, I was not bound to that order for life; I could go to another order. I asked him if I might see my friends. He answered, “ Yes." After receiving a promise from him that I should go to any other order I chose, I consented to take the vows.-P. 30.
Meanwhile, sister Mary Magdalene was employed in the refectory. According to the Bishop she was a saint; and he said there was a saint's body in the tomb (one of the late sisters) which remained undecayed. I heard the Superior, about this time, tell Miss Mary Magdalene to burn all her treasures, or she would suffer in purgatory for her self-love, and she was afraid she did not suffer patiently, for she appeared romantic. Mary Magdalene fell prostrate at the Superior's feet, and said she would fulfil any command that should be laid upon her. The Superior gave her a penance to kiss the feet of all the Religieuse, and asked them to say an Ave and a Pater for her; after which she lay prostrate in the refectory until the angelus rung. One communion morning, as I rose and was dressing, I took some water as usual to rinse my mouth, and all at once Mary Magdalene appeared greatly agitated, and even in agony; made signs and crosses to signify that I should commit a sacrilege were I then to approach the communion; and I then recollected that nothing must be taken into the mouth on the morning before this sacrament. I relate this to show the state of her mind. The Superior one day requested the mother-assistant to get the keys of the tomb, and to have a good place prepared for Mary Magdalene, who forced a smile, saying, she should prefer hers near the undecayed saint's bed.-P. 31.
On one of the holy days the Bishop came in, and after playing upon his flute, addressed the Superior, styling her Mademoiselle, and wished to know if Mary Magdalene wanted to go to her long home. The Superior beckoned to her to come to them, and she approached on her knees. The Bishop asked her if she felt prepared to die. She replied, “ Yes, my lord; but, with the permission of our Mother, I have one request to make.” They told her to say on. She said she wished to be anointed before death, if bis lordship thought her worthy of so great a favour. He said, “ Before I grant your request, I have one to make; that is, that you will implore the Almighty to send down from heaven a bushel of gold, for the purpose of establishing a college for young men on Bunker Hill.” He said he had bought the land for that use, and that all the sisters who had died had promised to present his request, but had not fulfilled their obligations; "and,” says he, “you must shake hands in heaven with all the sisters who have gone, and be sure and ask them why they have not fulfilled their promise, for I have waited long enough; and continue to chant your office with us while here on earth, which is the sweet communion of saints.”—P. 32.
She lived rather longer than was expected, but her penances were not remitted. She would frequently kneel and prostrate all night long in the cold infirmary, saying her rosary and other penances, one or two of which I will mention. She wore next her heart a metallic plate, in imitation of a crown of thorns, from which I was given to understand she suffered a sort of martyrdom. This I often saw her kiss and lay on the altar of the crucifix as she retired. Another penance was, the reclining upon a mattress more like a table than a bed. A day or two after this, the Superior, Mother-Assistant, and Mary Benedict, ridiculed the appearance of Mary Magdalene, because of the dropsy, which prevented her appearing graceful, and because she was disappointed in not going to heaven sooner. The Superior gave her some linen capes to make, and said, “ Do you think you shall stay with us long enough to do these, sister ?” She took them, and said, “ Yes, Mamere, I thank you." -Pp. 33, 34.
The Bishop, in one of his visits, spoke particularly of the cholera. He told us we must watch and pray more fervently, or “the old Scratch would snatch us off with the cholera.” It was recreation hour; but Mary Magdalene was in the refectory. When she came to the communion, she appeared like a person in spasms; she tried to say “Ave Maria,” and immediately fainted ; we were all very much alarmed. At that moment the bell called us to the choir for visitation and vespers. When I retired, I felt much hurt to see Mary Magdalene in the cold infirmary, but did not dare to express my feelings. Next day, at recreation, the Superior, Mother-Assistant, and Mrs. Mary Benedict, made a short visit to Mary Magdalene, and on returning they told us she was better, and, in a spiritual sense, well; for she had refused taking her portion, or any thing eatable, as she did not wish to nourish ber body, because the will of God had been made known to her in a vision. We all had the promise of conversing with her, but we were so constantly employed in our various offices that we had no leisure.
The next day, it being my turn to see that all the vessels which contained holy water were filled, &c., I had an opportunity of looking at Mary Magdalene. Her eyes were partly open, and her face very purple; she lay pretty still. I did not dare to speak to her, supposing she would think it a duty to tell of it, as it would be an infraction of the rules. The next night I lay thinking of her, when I was suddenly startled, hearing a rattling noise, as I thought, in her throat. Very soon, sister Martba (the sick lay nun) arose, and coming to her, said, “ Jesus! Mary! Joseph! receive her soul;” and rang the bell three times. The spirit of the gentle Magdalene had departed.-Pp. 34, 35.
We must omit the progress of Miss Reed's unhappiness and disgust; but from one extract it will be seen that the counsels of Peter Dens are carefully attended to in America.
Having only a few minutes to stay at confession, I had until this time kep the secret of my friend Mary Francis; but the Bishop perceiving that I grew more discontented, endeavoured to comfort me, by saying that I was not bound to that order; but he wished to know more particularly my reasons for disliking it, and began to threaten me with judgments, and observing my agitation, said he must know what lay so heavily on my mind. He asked if it was any thing connected with the sickness and death of Mary Magdalene. I told him, “No, not that in particular; I do not like the Superior." He said I must tell him instantly all the wicked thoughts that had disturbed my mind, and asked me various improper questions, the meaning of which I did not then understand, and which'J decline mentioning. I was so confused, that I inadvertently spoke Mary Francis' name, and begged his pardon for listening to her; and he immediately exclaimed, “Ah! I know all; confess to me what she told you, and do not dare to deceive me; you cannot deceive God.” I told him nearly all that had passed between Mary Francis and myself.—P. 36.
Who can wonder at the zeal of the first Reformers against the base hypocrisy of this synagogue of Satan? “Oh, my soul, come not into their secret; unto their assembly my honour be not thou united !" Miss Reed's resolution to attempt an escape was finally fixed by the discovery of a plan for entrapping her, and conveying her into Canada.
After this the Superior was sick of the influenza, and I did not see her for two or three days. I attended to my offices as usual, such as preparing the wine and water, the chalice, host, holy water, vestments, &c. One day, however, I had forgotten to attend to this duty at the appointed hour; but, recollecting it, and fearing lest I should offend the Superior by reason of negligence, I asked permission to leave the room, telling a Novice that our Mother had given me permission to attend to it; she answered, “O yes, sister, you can go then.”. I went immediately to the chapel, and was arranging the things for mass, which was to take place the next day. While busily employed, I heard the adjoining door open, and the Bishop's voice distinctly. Being conscious that I was there at an improper hour, I kept as still as possible, lest I should be discovered. While in this room, I overheard the following conversation between the Bishop and the Superior :- The Bishop, after taking snuff in his usual manner, began by saying, "Well, well, what does Agnes say ? how does she appear?" I heard distinctly from the Superior, in reply, that, “ According to all appearances, she is either possessed of insensibility or great command. The Bishop walked about the room, seeming much displeased with the Superior, and cast many severe and improper reflections upon Mary Francis, who, it was known, had influenced me; all which his lordship will well remember. He then told the Superior that the establishment was in its infancy, and that it would not do to have such reports go abroad as these persons would carry; that Agnes must be taken care of; that they had better send her to Canada, and that a carriage could cross the line in two or three days. He added, by way of repetition, that it would not do for the Protestants to get hold of these things, and make another “ fuss.” He then gave the Superior instructions how to entice me into the carriage, and they soon both left the room, and I heard no more.- Pp. 44, 45.
It was with considerable difficulty that Miss Reed effected her escape from the convent, and eluded the attempts of ber Romanist friends to betray her again into the hands of the Superior. She, however, returned in safety to her father's house, and re-entered the pale of the Church.
The Narrative throughout bears internal evidence of truth and accuracy, being confined to a simple detail of facts.
It will probably make a great and salutary impression in a country where men have very little leisure for speculative controversies, and more regard for practical effects than barren opinions. For ourselves, we are led by its perusal to inquire anxiously whether the scenes here narrated may not this day be repeating in our own country, in those conventional establishments which are now too numerous, although probably not so numerous as in the United States? Here are secret societies, bound by secret oaths, yielding implicit obedience to the authority of a chief, who swears unlimited allegiance to a foreign power! May there not be some gentle Mary Magdalene now perishing under the murderous torture of the christianized Juggernaut ? Some wretched Mary Francis struggling in the cruel grasp of that monster who can firmly hold, by his active and nimble extremities, the victims whom he darkens that he may seize? And wherefore should not all these establishments be placed, as in France, under the superintendence and control of the magistrate, who should have the power of freely and uninterruptedly questioning each individual respecting her inclination to remain in the convent'; and in the event of a wish to quit it, of immediately conveying her to the place of her choice? But the pyrrhonistic votaries of modern liberalism would, we fear, hesitate in taking so decided a step in the maintenance of truth and justice, because they would thus seem to interfere with that which calls itself a religion. It is also with regret that we perceive, in some highly respected quarters, an attempt to damp the just and necessary zeal now springing up against Popery. Yet Rome is bold, offensive, and proselyting. Why must the Church, in an age of unbounded energy and activity, display a compromising timidity? Is it from an apprehension that this zeal may, as at the time of the Reformation and of the Great Rebellion, swerve into a wrong direction, and ultimately oppose the true discipline and just government of the Church? But of this result we can scarcely perceive any signs which can alarm us. The majority of the most influential opponents of Romanism are, at the same time, the most zealous maintainers of primitive, apostolical institutions and practices. And where can be found a more decided enemy than Rome to primitive catholicity? We are struck by the insecurity which prevails in that Church respecting the basis of Catholic truth. That infallible power, which has already schismatically changed the doctrine of the Universal Church in the points of the rebaptization of heretics, and the communication of the chalice to the laity, and which has usurped and vitiated the authority of the Episcopate, by refusing to true Bishops that which the