Obrázky na stránke

these habits one will spoil her conversation and the other her character. She must not therefore learn as a child what afterwards she will have to unlearn.

The eloquence of the Gracchi is said to have been largely due to the way in which from their earliest years their mother spoke to them. Hortensius became an orator while still on his father's lap. Early impressions are hard to eradicate from the mind. When once wool has been dyed purple, who can restore it to its previous whiteness? An unused jar long retains the taste and smell of that with which it is first filled. Grecian history tells us that the imperious Alexander, who was lord of the whole world, could not rid himself of the tricks of manner and gait which in his childhood he had caught from his governor Leonidas. We are always ready to imitate what is evil; and faults are quickly copied where virtues appear inattainable. Paula's nurse must not be intemperate, or loose, or given to gossip. Her bearer must be respectable, and her foster-father of grave demeanor.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

Let her very dress and garb remind her to Whom she is promised. Do not pierce her ears or paint her face, consecrated to Christ, with white lead or rouge. Do not hang gold or pearls about her neck or load her head with jewels, or by reddening her hair make it suggest the fires of Gehenna.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

When Paula comes to be a little older and to increase like her Spouse in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man, let her go with her parents to the temple of her true Father but let her not come out of the temple with them. Let them seek her upon the world's highway amid the crowds and the throng of their kinsfolk, and let them find her nowhere but in the shrine of the Scriptures, questioning the prophets and the apostles on the meaning of that spiritual marriage to which she is vowed. Let her imitate the retirement of Mary whom Gabriel found alone in her chamber.

[blocks in formation]

And let it be her daily task to bring you the flowers which she has culled from Scripture. Let her learn by heart so many verses in the Greek, but let her be instructed in the Latin also. For, if the tender lips are not from the first shaped to this, the tongue is spoiled by a foreign accent and its native speech debased by alien elements. You must yourself be her mistress, a model on which she may form her childish conduct. Never either in you or in her father let her see what she can not imitate without sin. Remember both of you that you are the parents of a consecrated virgin, and that your example will teach her more than your precepts.

Flowers are quick to fade, and a baleful wind soon withers the violet, the lily, and the crocus.

Let her never appear in public unless accompanied by you. Let her never visit a church or martyr's shrine unless with her mother. Let no young man greet her with smiles, no dandy with curled hair pay compliments to her. If our little virgin goes to keep solemn eves and all-night vigils, let her not stir a hair's breadth from her mother's side.

She must not single out one of her maids to make her a special favorite or a confidante. What she says to one all ought to know. Let her choose for a companion not a handsome well-dressed girl, able to warble a song with liquid notes, but one pale and serious, sombrely attired and with the hue of melancholy. Let her take as her model some aged virgin of approved faith, character, and chastity, apt to instruct her by word and by example.

She ought to rise at night to recite prayers and psalms; to sing hymns in the morning; at the third, sixth, and ninth hours to take her place in the line to do battle for Christ; and, lastly, to kindle her lamp and to offer her evening sacrifice. In these occupations let her pass the day, and when night comes let it find her still engaged in them. Let reading follow prayer with her, and prayer again succeed to reading. Time will seem short when employed on tasks so many and so varied.

Let her learn, too, how to spin wool, to hold the distaff, to put the basket in her lap, to turn the spinning wheel and to shape the yarn with her thumb. Let her put away with disdain silken fabrics, Chinese fleeces, and gold brocades; the clothing which she makes for herself should keep out the cold and not expose the body which it professes to

Let her food be herbs and wheaten bread, with now and then one or two small fishes. And that I may not waste more time in giving precepts for the regulation of appetite, let her meals always leave her hungry and able on the moment to begin reading or chanting. I strongly disapprove — especially for those of tender years — of long and immoderate fasts in which week is added to week, and even oil and apples are forbidden as food. I have learned by experience that the ass toiling along the highway makes for an inn when it is weary.


[blocks in formation]

Let her treasures be not silks or gems, but manuscripts of the Holy Scriptures; and in these let her think less of gilding, and Babylonian parchment, and arabesque patterns, than of correctness and accurate punctuation. Let her begin by learning the Psalter, and then let her gather rules of life out of the proverbs of Solomon. From the Preacher let her gain the habit of despising the world and its vanities. Let her follow the example set in Job of virtue and patience. Then let her pass on to the Gospels, never to be laid aside when once they have been taken in hand. Let her also drink in with a willing heart the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles. As soon as she has enriched the storehouse of her mind with these treasures, let her commit to memory the prophets, the heptateuch, the books of Kings and of Chronicles, the rolls also of Ezra and Esther. When she has done all these she may safely read the Song of Songs, but not before: for, were she to read it at the beginning, she would fail to perceive that, though it is written in fleshly words, it is a marriage song of a spiritual bridal. And not understanding this she would suffer hurt from it. Cyprian's writings let her have always in her hands. The letters of Athanasius and the treatises of Hilary she may go through without fear of stumbling. Let her take pleasure in the works and wits of all in whose books a due regard for the faith is not neglected. But if she reads the works of others, let it be rather to judge them than to follow them.

You will answer, “How shall I, a woman of the world, living at Rome, surrounded by a crowd, be able to observe all these injunctions?” In that case do not undertake a

? burthen to which you are not equal. When you have weaned Paula as Isaac was weaned, and when you have clothed her as Samuel was clothed, send her to her grandmother and aunt; give up this most precious of gems, to be placed in Mary's chamber and to rest in the cradle where the infant Jesus cried. Let her be brought up in a monastéry, let her be one amid companies of virgins, let her learn to avoid swearing, let her regard lying as sacrilege, let her be ignorant of the world, let her live the angelic life, while in the flesh let her be without the flesh, and let her suppose that all human beings are like herself.



The Apostolical Constitutions, consisting of eight books, is a very ancient compilation, which was designed as a manual of instruction in Christian conduct, worship, and usage for both clergy and laity. Its name is due to the old belief or assumption that it originated with the Apostles. Not all parts of the Constitutions are of the same age. It is generally agreed that the entire compilation is to be dated not later than the fourth century. It is, therefore, a document of great value in giving us an understanding of the spirit, organization, and usages of the Church in the age of Constantine. The Constitutions treat of education in three passages, which present the attitude of the Church to pagan literature, to the training of children, and to the instruction of catechumens. These passages, which are given in full, are taken from the Anti-Nicene Fathers.






Or if thou stayest at home, read the books of the Law, of the Kings, with the Prophets, sing the hymns of David; and peruse diligently the Gospel, which is the completion of the other.

« PredošláPokračovať »