THE COMMUNITY OF
THE HOLY FAMILY
COMMUNITY OF THE HOLY FAMILY
Aim of a Rule/ Obedience/ Chastity/ Poverty/ The
Chapel/ The Office/ The Eucharist and Communion/ Confession/
Examination/ Meditation/ Spiritual Reading/ Intercession/
Retreat/ Silence/ Recollection/ Conversation/ Fasting and
Mortification/ Almsgiving/ Humility/ Opennes and Simplicity/
Masculine Virtues/ Citizenship/ Work/ Study/ Beauty/ Schools/
Recreation and Rest/ Health/ Intercourse with Friends/ Cells/
Dress/ Meals/ Fasts and Festivals/ Officers' Duties/ Branch
Houses Abroad/ Faults/ Differentia of C.H.F. Rule
AIM OF A RULE
In Societies as in individuals, some workings are means to an end: and it is an economic saving and therefore gain to render these, by a rule, as far automatic as may be.
But beyond and above this, the Rule of a Religious
Society embodies an aim and makes it practical. It is intended
to provide an order in which each Sister and all together
shall be able, in openness and simplicity, to lead a good life
for the love of our Lord, in the humble practice of Poverty,
Chastity, and Obedience.
The keeping of the Rule is in itself a training in Obedience. Obedience is the willing acceptance of conditions which we cannot or ought not to alter. Religious obedience*/*Hebrews 2.14-end; 5.5-11./ is the doing and accepting of the perfect Will of God, none the less when this is shewn to us through imperfect creatures. Sisters+/+Sister in this Rule means both Professed Sister and Novice of this Community./ must be ready to believe that the Will of God for themselves will be made known to them through the Community.
Obedience is the one thing required for salvation, being the only test of a true faith, and being our correspondence with our spiritual surroundings, which is life. It is not only remedial and accidental; but it has its seat, with law, 'in the bosom of God'++/++Hooker, Ecclesiastical Polity, Book I, Chapter 18.8./
The obedience of our Lord's true disciples will always be growing more cheerful and loyal,*/*John 15.14-15./ because more humble; and more ready and delicate, because more loving and intelligent.
Our aim in Religion is not our own perfection, but God's glory: and so Community life requires a quite unconditional self-surrender+/+'Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath'/. We put ourselves at God's mercy, thankful to be there. We renounce any right to pick and choose; it is His to appoint the cost, of whatever kind or degree; nothing is to be too low and nothing too high for us, at His Will: we only ask of Him to give what He commands++/++Augustine, Confessions X.29./
Our obedience is due not only to a Rule, but also to all those who administer the Rule. We must remember that obedience, loyal and cheerful and prompt, so that its cost is hidden, is worth most when it costs most~/~2 Samuel 24.24/: and that is, when the thing is against our judgment or liking, and is commanded by one whom we do not naturally look up to. For then it is the purest surrender of our will to God alone.
It is the duty of every Sister to tell those who are set in authority over her if anything impossible is required of her** /**Constitution 22./ Also to tell of anything in her consitions which she thinks seriously hurtful to herself in body, soul, or spirit, or to her work, or to others through her. There her responsibility ends. If her appeal is disallowed, then with gladness and a clear conscience she may look to God's promises of strength in weakness and victory through failure, and thank Him for hte opportunity*/*Mark 16.17./. Nothing is impossible with God the Holy Ghost: and He is dwelling within us, ready to help our infirmities.
Those who are in office should always be ready humbly and generously to consider suggestions concerning their office, especially when made by those working under them+/1 Peter 5.5./. Such suggestions should be made modestly and diffidently, after prayer.
Sisters are put in office not to get their own way, God forbid, but to interpret and carry out the will of the Community, as humble self-forgetting servants ++/++'Never so safe as when our will/ Yields undiscern'd by all but God', Keble, Christian Year , Trinity 16./. Hidden, lowly, loving obedience is the only foundation for 'the grace of office'.
The being in authority or not is no measure of what we are in the sight of God. In the Holy Family St Joseph was immeasurably the least: yet he was its Head, and as such received and gave Divine guidance for it~/~Matthew 2.34-34, 20-21./.
Sisters' obedience cannot be too perfect: but it is quite possible that too little liberty may be left them. In our Community it is intended that Professed Sisters shall have a real though limited intiative and responsibility. They are to think for themselves, and must be encouraged to do so++/++Constitution 19./. Head Mistresses and Sisters in Charge must be allowed, as far as possible, to work in their own natural way, making their own experiments and, if need be, learning by their own mistakes.
The (supposed) Will of God must never be put before God's Commandments.
The foregoing is true, mutatis mutandis, for
the whole Community as for each of its members.
Christian Chastity is the working of the pure reverent love of Jesus Christ our Saviour and Lord and Spouse, and of each other and ourselves in and for Him*/*Ephesians 5.2./. Its test is humble self-sacrifice.
This is not, like youthful innocence, a beautiful natural endowment, which once lost can never be restored; but it is the vehement fire of love which burns out stains and quickens soul and body into fullness and fruitfulness of life and good works.
Virginity in itself, however pure, may be merely negative - a privation of the joys and disciplines of a married life; but virginity for the love of our Lord should be the deepest richest life of all, hid with Christ in God.
The correlative of reverence is modesty; and modesty is the shrine of chastity. Our work among the innocent lambs of Christ's flock is a help to this virtue. Modesty is to be practised in not putting ourselves forward, in gentleness of manner and voice, and in guarded speech. Sisters must not be ashamed of the shamefastness which Jesus Himself shewed+/+John 7.3-12./. There are matters neither right nor wrong in themselves which yet it is not right because not modest to speak of nor even to think of without necessity. Much more, of course, should we keep from speaking or thinking of evil things.
On the other hand it is certain that in the Name of the Lord we can drink deadly things without hurt: and we ought to do so courageously if charity should require it. Not ignorance of evil but the engrossing love of whatsoever things are pure make us pure.
In regard to outward things, Sisters should pay heed to George Herbert's admonition: 'Let thy mind's sweetness have his operation upon thy body, clothes and habitation', and must keep the Community's Customary with all possible exactness. The Blessed Virgin is the pattern of purity for Sisters, and her house at Nazareth is the pattern for houses of the C.H.F.
Particular friendships between Sisters in this
Community are to be cherished, if and so far as they help the
friends to learn and practise more abundantly a right love
towards Christ in all His members, and more particularly
towards those Sisters to whom they are not naturally drawn,
'ne quis contristetur'.
Christian poverty, like obedience and chastity, is an inward and spiritual grace shewing and perfecting itself in outward practice.
What is called 'poverty in the will' is obedience, and 'poverty in the affections' is chastity.
Negatively, the three are summed up in detachment.
But poverty is not more merely negative than chastity: it is love's crown of joy; it is the glad casting way of hidrance to fellowship with Jesus Christ in His life of poverty; it is the confident freedom of the Father's children, partakers of the inheritance of the Saints in the Kingdom of His dear Son, in Whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily*/*Colossians 1.12-13./. It is the joy of Mary in the stable at Bethlehem.
The joy of poverty has its roots also in obedience and chastity. It is only selfishness and faithlessness which makes us depressed and gloomy and hopeless: and such states are evil, even if not actually wrong at the time. We Christians, however sorrowful we may be, ought yet to be always rejoicing in God our Saviour; and this joy is to be won and kept by looking out from ourselves and up to Christ, and by the practice of poverty and mortification for love of Him.
In Community, our special opportunities of practising poverty mostly come through obedience. We have no money or time to spend or give as we like+/+Acts 3.6./. We have renounced the power of helping our friends in these ways, and we must be diffident in putting their claims before the Community++/++See Almsgiving and Intercourse with Friends sections./. And we must learn to count if joy, if without our responsibility~/~Obedience/ we have to go without something which we think needful, either for our work or health or comfort. We ought from time to time to look round the things which are allotted to our use, to make sure we do not cling to them.
We must be careful, as poor people, not to waste or damage the Community's goods. Sisters ought to make all 'drudgery divine', but if they handle things carelessly and roughly, they spoil both them and the action. Those who have been rich must learn not to despise small savings, and those who have been poor must not lose sight of them. We must use our imagination to realise that if each of fifty Sisters wastes food, light, stamps, stuffs, or anything else, it makes as much difference to the outgoings of the fifty as if each lived alone.
The Community's 'standard of comfort' is to be that
which we should desire to secure for all the poor: i.e
. roughly speaking, such conditions as suffice for health and
efficiency. Under these each Sister's personal needs must be
carefully and charitably considered. On the other hand, each
Sister's aim for herself must be to have less than others,
rather than more, wherever she safely can.
Everything that is had or done in Chapel shall follow Sarum Use rather than Roman.
The Divine Office, 'Opus Dei', the special service which we are to render to God, is to be said with all possible care and devotion, the outward part so expressing the inward spirit that it may preserve and enhance and enrich it.
The Office books, antiphons, responds, etc., shall not be changed nor altered except by a majority in Chapter and by consent of the Chaplain General and Visitor*/*Constitution 5g and 6b./ No invocations of Saints shall be used, but comprecation, as distinct from invocation, may be used in not undue proportion. The Community Memorial shall be said after each of the Little Hours, and the S.H.F. Memorial after Sext: and others as appointed from time to time. The Evening Second Lesson is to be read aloud, preceded by a hymn, before Compline or whatever Office is attended by the household.
The singing shall be according to the principles of pure Plainsong.
Vespers shall be sung every day.
Mattins shall be said on three days in Holy Week and on All Souls' Day, also on occasion of a Sister's death; and may be said in commemoration of the departed at other times.
With these exceptions, Lauds shall always be said in the morning, and Prime may follow it at once. No other two Hours shall be said together; because the very purpose of keeping seven hours of prayer is to leave no long space without turning to God in common worship.
Nor shall it suffice that a few Sisters say the Office in choir; but the hours of the house shall be so ordered that all or almost all may be present.
If any Sister is of necessity absent, she shall say at the least: - for Lauds and Vespers, the Canticle and collect; for Prime, the Hymn and Collect; for the Little Hours, the Collect and the Community Memorial; and for Compline, that which is appointed in the S.H.F. [Society of the Holy Family, comprising lay Companions and Members].
THE EUCHARIST AND COMMUNION
The Holy Eucharist shall be celebrated in Chapels of the Community at least once a week. The Sisters shall all be present every day, whether in Chapel or at Church; and this obligation shall have the first claim on a Sister's physical strength, because the Sacrament of the altar is the very core and centre and spring of our daily life. Every Sister may make her Communion on all days for which the Prayer Book of 1662 gives an Epistle and Gospel, except Good Friday and Easter Eve; also on the Feasts of St Jospeh, and Visitation, the Holy name, and Corpus Christ, and on All Souls' Day; besides this, on so many week days as the Chaplain thinks good for each. He will judge of this, not according to desert - for then there would be no Communions - but according to the need of each.
Spiritual growth and advancement depend, not on frequency, but on the goodness of each Communion. And we ought to find in ourselves a continual desire for the time of our next Communion, even if we communicated every day. Humble and devout daily thanksgiving for our last Communion is most necessary to make frequent Communion safe and infrequent fruitful.
Those who are present at Mass without communication are on no lower footing, except in respect of their status at that particular Eucharist, than those who that day make their Communion; for we are all alike - being faithful - are communicants, evermore dwelling in Him and He in us, and together in our worship filling His hands with intercession and thanksgiving.
Our intention at the Eucharist should normally run
though the whole day, being renewed at the Hours; and it is
good that this intention should have been deliberately formed
or renewed and offered to our Lord overnight.
The Chaplain shall give each Sister her rule for Confession. The Mother may occasionally give a Sister leave to defer or anticipate her Confession or make it to a Priest of the Sister's choosing, but must report it to the Chaplain. Sisters shall make a General Confession covering their whole life, before Clothing, and another before Profession, covering the time since their Clothing.
Ten minutes every evening shall be set apart for examination. Besides this, each Sister shall make a particular examen in the middle of the day. Once in a month Sisters shall examine themselves by the Rule.
Professed Sisters shall meditate for an hour or at least fifty minutes every morning, except on days when they are present at a second Eucharist. On these days twenty-five minutes will satisfy the Rule. The meditation shall be, as a rule, on some portion of the Bible which shall be appointed from time to time for the whole Community.
Sisters shall spend half an hour daily in spiritual reading. When it can conveniently be done, a book shall be read aloud in Chapel, and may be discussed at the time.
Intercession is the goodly lot and characteristic work of Religious Communities.
Intercession is not words but a life: it is the offering of ourselves, our souls and bodies, to God, that His Will may be done in and through us. It expresses itself in the gold of hard work, the frankincense of prayer, and the myrrh of suffering. We can never be without one of the three; and it is for our Lord to choose which at any time He will accept from us.
Being the highest kind of work, intercession is perforce the humblest. It is only through the Blood of Christ shed for us sinners and for ours sins that we have access to God at all.. It is only as members incorporate in the Body of Christ Who is interceding in heaven that our prayers can work, through the joints and hands of His Mystical Body.
And, as we think, even the Son of God Himself could not have interceded for man if He had not set Himself where He was not, side by side with sinners, making Himself one with us that He might take upon Him our sin as it were His own.
So we in our intercession must set ourselves where we are, alongside of the worst and meanest sinners.
This is the first and plain meaning of voluntary pain, such as fasting, in intercession. It is our humble acknowledgement of the plain truth about ourselves.
Together with and beyond this, it may be the expression of our willingness to suffer any pain which, in ways intelligivel to us or not, may be bound up with the granting of our petition. Or it may be the simple spontaneous expression of a love and sorrow and desire which cannot find utternace in words. But 'all these things are double-edged*/*Archbishop of Canterbury, July 20th, 1898./ and work woe if not handled in the pure truth of humility. They are not for all of us to use, nor at our own pleasure. In any but a rudimentary degree they are too high for some, and for others not natural+/+See Fasting and Mortification./.
What we must all do is to set our will to accept every sort of suffering which God may send us, saying 'we indeed justly; and to desire His Will before our own, if our intercessory prayer is to work rightly. Our Lord needs us each and all, not only to work through but also to suffer in and pray through++/++Colossians 1.24./. And since it is His work, there is no end of its greatness, and no limit to our hope. And since God is His Father and ours, we can ask Him simply and trustfully as children for whatever we want for ourselves or others. And the Holy Spirit by Whom the whole Body is governed and sanctified dwells in us, to teach us what to pray for and to kindle in us fervent desire.
From the first it has been desired that within this Community there might be Houses set apart for intercession and worhip, together with the care of the sick and aged sisters. A House of Prayer has now been vouchsafed us. We all join in its work at the daily Eucharist, in the Office, in our private prayers, and at special times. The Litany shall be said on Litany days. There shall be a paper of thanksgivings and petitions covering a wide range, to be edited weekly and said aloud at least once a week, and another paper of petitions and thanksgivings for private needs, for private and optional use. Ten minutes every day is to be set apart for intercession. On special occasions continuous intercession is to be kept up, or else Sisters shall spend half an hour together in Chapel, as may best be arranged. This is most necessary where there seems to be hurry of work.*/*See Fasts and Festivals./
Besides the general annual Retreat, each Sister shall make a day's Retreat about once a month. Sisters shall make at least two days' Retreat before Clothing, and four days' at Profession, and a month's Retreat at the time of the Renewal of Vows.
Strict silence shall be kept from Compline until after next morning's meditation: not even a written note is to be given without urgent necessity.
Silence is also to be kept for at least two hours in the day, except on Sundays and great Festivals.
There must be no talking in passages or on stairs.
The Angelus is to be said three times a day: and at every hour a collect. When Sisters are together, the senior is to say the Collect aloud, all standing. At the giving out of letters, at the end of Recreation, at going out of the house and at coming in, prayers are to be said. These prayers and the times of silence are to help us to form a habit of recollection. 'He Whom we shall have for our Judge is our ever-present witness+/+Profession Office./' whether we recollect it or not; and there ought to be among us an ever-deepening consciousness of this Presence, our strength and guard and peace. We ought to be like children playing and working together under their mother's eye, and running to her to shew her all that they do. Always to sanctify the Lord God the Holy Ghost in our hearts would be to be always free from evil disquiet.
More than others must Sisters, living in so close a fellowshio, take heed that they offend not in their gontue*/*Psalm 39.1/. Particularly in the matter of their three vows. It is one of the worst sins in Community to speak unnecessarily against other Sisters or against the Rule and its administration, grumbling about such things as work, food, and household arrangements.+/+See Obedience, and Health./ We should remember that in talking on these subjects at all, we are on dangerous ground, particularly if we have any rebellious, unloving, or discontented feelings. It is better to avoid conversations in which we are likely to be thus tempted: and we ought to check disloyal speech in others. A Sister's safety-valve is Prayer, whereby evil is turned into good.
The recollection which we gain in prayer and silence, we are to practise in speech. So doing, our speech may always be seasoned with salt ++/++Colossians 4.6./, in loyalty, cheerfulness, and gravity, ministering grace to the hearers~/~Ephesians 4.29./.
Community matters are private to the Community, and must not be told or discussed outside, without leave.
Sisters are under a special obligation not to speak against other Communities, their ways, or their members. Also to discourage silly talk about ecclesiastical matters and persons.
FASTING AND MORTIFICATION
All days of fasting or abstinence are to be kept by abstinence from meat.
On ordinary Fridays there is to be porridge and dry bread for breakfast, dry bread for tea, and only one course for dinner and supper. Dinner is to be in silence. On Ember Days, tea is to be later, ten minutes before tea being spent in Chapel, in intercession. So also every weekday in Advent and Lent: and in Lent there shall be dry bread for tea.
But Sisters must not feel it enough to keep the common Rule. It is never healthy nor safe for anyone, rich or poor, sick or sound, to live up to the limits of comfort allowed by his circumstances. Much less could it be right for Sisters. They must find opportunities of daily self-denial in small unnoticed ordinary ways, each mortifying her own special faults and likings*/*See Poverty./.
But no physical mortifications which in any way go beyond this are to be used without the Superior's leave. Self-chosen penances, even if not dangerous to health, may be so to humility.
Interior mortifications are safer and more efficacious. We must thankfully embrace them when given to us: and we can be ready to do this only through habitually seeking them for ourselves, as aforesaid, in matters concerning our affections, mind, and will.
It must not be forgotten that mortifications have no value in themselves, but only as a means to true mortification of spirit; and this in turn means dying to self only in order to be set free to live to God.
The Community's alms are to be given, generally speaking, not through Societies but directly, and chiefly to people whose need is unapparent, such as poor teachers or friends of the Sisters. Hospitality is an excellent form of alms: and (when not economically wrong) so is teaching*/*See Citizenship./.
We must not trust that the many humiliations of Community life will of themselves secure us against pride. Conceit, vanity, and haughtiness, when beaten down, readily rise again as forms of spiritual pride: and this is by far the worst pride, because it is the abuse of the gifts which are nearest to God Himself+/+Corruptio optimi pessima./.
We are not to be puffed up for our own Community as against others; nor for Sisters as against those who are 'living in the world'. On the contrary, it ought perpetucally to humble us to think of our many and great privileges and helps, seeing how poor our lives are, even with all this advantage.
Sisters are to behave to all Visitors as to their betters, lowly and reverently, curtseying to them, opening the door for them, and waiting on them as handmaids of the Lord's handmaids.
OPENNESS AND SIMPLICITY
Openness and simplicity are a growing joy of Community life. Being all of one heart and of one mind, we are able simply to acknowledge our desire for the love and service of God and also our onw failures. The spirit of the whole of our common life ought to be of a piece with the openness and simplicity of our common prayers and mutual intercessions and saying of Faults. So, while not always necessary, it is yet natural and helpful to speak one to another of spiritual things, as occasion arises, with all modesty and reverence. Also we ought to be always ready meekly to acknowledge our faults. Also we ought, as may serve for edification, boldly and humbly to confess our own faults and to tell other Sisters of theirs*/*Matthew 18.15./, whether against oursevles or others or the community. Thus evil may be cut off immediately, and charity will grow.
But if this best method should fail or be impossible, Sisters must not allow any serious wrong to go unchecked, but must tell those in authority. There is no absolutely binding secrecy between Sisters; but any Sister, if she feels bound in conscience to do so, may tell the Mother, Chaplain, or Chaplain Genenral, anything that has been said to her by Mother, Sisters, or Postulants.
Sisters, being almost cut off from the society of men, must, as St. Theresa says, the more endeavour to be like strong men themselves*/*Way of Perfection, Chapter 7.7. 1 Corinthians 16.13./, practising masculine virtues and avoiding feminine foibles. They must take care not be over-personal and over-anxious about personal relations, not jealous, emotional, fussy, making mountains out of molehills. They must beware of the periculum adhaesionis. They must strive for quietness, a sense of proportion, broad and dispassionate judgement, evenmindedness, interest in large and impersonal matters.
If they do this, then feminine virtues, which men have to strive for, will take care of themselves.
Good Christians ought to be good citizens: and the Community must study and carefully fulfil its social obligations. 'In investment and spending of money, it shall have regard to the moral character of the investment and to the social conditions of the work for which it pays+/+S.H.F. Rule./'. It must neither be in debt nor allow others to incur any burdensome debt towards it; and it must be perfectly business-like and exact in all money matters++/++See Property in Constitution./
All and every kind of work done for the Community, unless it is a free gift, shall be paid for at fair rates. So, as a rule, shall work done for others by the Community; but the Council may exercise a discretion in special cases.
Sisters must be very careful to provide things honest in the sight of all men. They must be equally true and just in all their dealings, with poor and rich, with individuals and societies. They must religiously keep engagements, though to their own hindrance.
What Sisters are is far more important than what they do: their life comes first and their work second. Yet as their life ought to be very good, so ought their work which springs out of it and reacts upon it, and which is its outward-shewing fruit. Especially is this so in Education, which deals with the whole of human life. Our aim in this Community is that the Sisters themselves shall carry out every part of the education of our pupils which is consistent with wearing the habit. And 'we shall be content to aim at nothing below the highest standards of the time in all our work for our pupils.'*/ *Memorial to the Archbishop of York. /
Therefore, 'The Rule must be such as to provide for making and keeping the Sisters thoroughly efficient as teachers and mistresses.'+/+Ibid./ It must allow the largest liberty possible in all necessary studies; and it must foster the spirit of a liberal education by giving time and opportunities and means for enlarging our discourse.
It follows: (a) that, for the life's sake first, but also for the sake of the work, the Community must learn to be stern with itself in refusing new openings for work; ( b ) that it must accept no large proportion of Novices of narrow education and understanding, and no Professed Sister of character and religion too weak to 'gather up these manifold attachments into the single love of God alone.'*/*Profession Office./
Each Professed Sister ought, so far as practicable, to be set to the work which she can do best: and ought to find her needful spiritual discipline in that.
But while as regards life the Sister is the unit, as regards work the unit is the Community; and each Sister must cheerfully do whatever portion of the Community's work is assigned her.
The most hidden, low, and uninviting work is what we shall naturally covet if we truly aspire to be handmaids of the Lord; for He took upon Him the form of a servant. Hard work, religiously and humbly done in the Name of Jesus of Nazareth is a true intercession for sins.
Every Sister ought to be so systematically studying at least one subject that she makes real progress from month to month: and the Community must aim at securing this. Generally speaking, each Sister ought to go on studying the subjects in which she has specialised.
It is greatly to be desired that the C.H.F. may become a home of real learning and art by receiving and by educating student and artist Sisters.
Sins against beauty, albeit negligences or ignorances, are yet really sins, and more harmful than sins concerning merely physical wellbeing, inasmuch as the spiritual is higher than the material: for true beauty, moral and sensible, comes from God and leads to God, Who Himself is the Eternal Loveliness*/*St Augustine, Confessions , Book X, Chapter 27./ So we shall lovingly and reverently study to make and keep our surroundings beautiful with the seemliness appropriate to each part, from Chapel downwards.
Means to secure this shall be embodied in the Customary for each House of the Community.
The love of beauty is only superficially and not really opposed to the love of poverty, but the union of the two produces a peculiarly clean and attractive type of Christian character and work+/+See Chastity, 'Let thy mind's sweetness, etc.', Poverty , 'Sisters ought to make, etc.', The Office./. And we should aspire to have our pupils enrich and purify the world with this salt.
As regards work, the very purpose of our foundation is to give good education, and it would be absurd if we forgot this. In our schools, then, the first aim is not what is called success, in popularity, numbers, or income, but the good of the pupils, all and singly. And in this good, the training of character, through the Sisters' and especially the Head Mistress's loving, reverent, firm, and patient care, is the most important element.
These principles must be carefully kept in sight in all school questions, especially in regard to Scholarships examinations and Divinity teaching.
RECREATION AND REST
Our calling in this world is to warfare and service: and our rest and our amusement should be so much and of such a kind as best to renew our strength for glorifying God in body and spirit.
Sisters shall spend at least seven hours in bed every night.
We must jealously guard Sunday, our Christian Sabbath and the Lord's Day, as a day of rest and spiritual refreshment; putting away our weekday work, and taking care to secure quiet spaces for Communion with God.
Each Sister is primarily responsible for the care of her own health. If she is seriously ailing, or if she thinks that she needs anything for her health, it is her duty to tell the Infirmarian or the Superior*/*See Obedience./ If need be, she must tell them more than once.
But we must all remember, (1) that sickness is our one precious opportunity of really feeling the pinch of a physical want; (2) that, for women, self-forgetfulness is the best physician in ordinary.
The sick are to be cared for charitably and sensibly; and the doctor's recommendations carried out according to the Community's best ability.
The Community in which we have vowed ourselves to the Lord is our common home and family, and has the first claim on our love and duty. After this and subject to this, each Sister's old ties of home and friendship still hold and are to be kept up: the community at its discretion permitting and encouraging Sisters to go home for their holidays and when needed at other times, and to see their friends in moderation at convenient times.
Visitors are not to be admitted to see Sisters on Sunday.
When away from home, Sisters may keep their ordinary rule for Confession and Communion, or lessen it according to opportunity and their own judgement, taking advice on it.
They must read the Bible daily, besides their reading for meditation. They must say Compline daily, and make up the other Hours. They must meditate for at least ten minutes each day, and not less than two hours a week. They must keep days of abstinence and especially Fridays not only be abstaining from meat, but also by some special devotions and mortifcation, however little. Once a week they shall examine themselves carefully by 1 Corinthians 13, remembering that just so far as they fulfil the other functions of charity will they not behave themselves unseemly, but to edification.
Sisters may be in their own cell whenever they please; but they must not go into each other's without leave.
Cells shall be furnished only with the barest necessaries, to leave room for a little of the joy of poverty. If when we go to our cell, we remember the son of Man Who had not where to lay His head, we shall covet the worst cell and the poorest furniture.
The habit shall be blue mulled with white, as like as can be to the first habits, but it may be thicker. The girdle shall be of the same colour. A blue-grey cotton habit may be worn for coolness or for work under certain conditions. The veil black, not doubled and not too long, carried on a hood. The cap, band and wimple all in one with holes for the ears. The collar of soft cambric, made like a cape. The cross to bear a crowned and dressed figure of our Lord, standing. A small black cape may be worn for warmth under the collar. Out of doors a round black cloak may be worn. Fully Professed Sisters shall wear a silver ring.
Novices shall wear a white veil, smaller and carried on a smaller hood, a stiff round collar, a plain wooden cross, and a belt of the same stuff as the habit. Out of doors a small black veil and straw hood; and they may wear a round black cloak.
Sisters shall be buried in their ordinary dress, except that Professed Sisters shall wear their old Novice's cross on a red cord.
Food shall be sufficient and good of its kind, and well cooked, and suited, so far as may be, to the needs of each Sister. But it shall be plain and common, so that little time or money may be spent on it.
Wine and other intoxicants shall be taken only as medicine, with leave of the Superior or Infirmarian.
There shall be no tablecloths, but clean scrubbed tales; and mugs shall be used.
There shall be silence during breakfast and supper; at the other meals conversation. At one meal the Old Testament Lessons shall be read, and at another the Psalms which are not said in any Office, so that all be read through in a month.
FASTS AND FESTIVALS
Advent is not a lesser Lent, but has its own character. It looks not within but without, not back but forwards. Its special grace is Hope, and its special work common intercession for the coming of our Lord's Kingdom.
There shall be few formal obligation to mortification or retirement; but Sisters shall voluntarily, each as god enables her, cut off needless amusements and conversations and throw a serious heart and will into the time thus gained for intercession 'buying up the opportunity'*/*Ephesians 5.15, Revised Version margin./
Continuous intercession shall be made on two days in the week.
Christmas, being our great Community Feast, is to be much observed. Compline is to be sung on the Eve, and Antiphons doubled through the Octave, and Alleluias said with the Community Memorial till the Purification. The Professed Sisters are to spend the week following Christmas Day all together at home.
In Lent Sisters do not see their friends, even in Visitors' hours, if it can be helped. They write letters only on Refreshment Sunday and on one day in the third week; but they may write to parents as usual, and business letters. There are to be longer hours of silence. Continuous intercession shall be made on at least two days in the week.
Lent is not a time of spiritual enjoyment. It is a time for self-examination and fighting against our sins as Christ's faithful soldiers and servants; and we must not be surprised if it is hard and dull and weary, and seems long at the beginning. When it is over, we shall find it was none too long for its work.
In Passiontide and Holy Week we are to look off from ourselves to our Lord, and follow Him in thought day by day.
In order that Holy Week may be spent quietly, the Lent Term shall end not later than Friday in Passion Week, and from Saturday to Saturday visitors are not to be admitted to see Sisters. The week is to be kept as a sort of Retreat, each Professed Sister being free to use it to her own good, subject only to charity and our customs. Silence is to be kept at dinner, and all through the day there is to be no talking except for necessity, piety or charity. A watch shall be kept in Chapel from Vespers on Thursday to Prime on Good Friday: and there shall be absolute silence from Thursday Vespers till the end of meditation on Saturday.
On Sundays and Festivals and all through the Great Forty Days, there shall be no afternoon silence.
Trinity Sunday is the one day set apart for the worship of God, not in his relations to us, by as He is in Himself; and we must not let slip so high a privilege.
What is required of the Mother is set down in the Installation Office, which she must often read with shame and sorrow for her failures and her sins against the grace of office.
The same is true, in its measure, for all Sisters in Charge.
The Assistant Superior must above all be self-forgetting, loyal and tactful.
The Novice Mistress must have a strong love of souls and sense of responsibility to God for those entrusted to her care; she must have spiritual insight and common sense: and from these will spring the patience and faith and all else that her work requires.
She must teach the Novices to understand and practise and love the Rule: so that they may be good Sisters not to please her but God.
Since as Professed Sisters they will have a large liberty, she must lay a deep and strong foundation for it by teaching them most thoroughly the spirit and practice of obedience and mortification.
At her discretion she may temporarily dispense any of them from any part of their religious duties, reporting it to the Chaplain and Mother.
As a rule, Novices are to have half an hour's meditation in the morning, and another half hour in Chapel later, to use as they think best.
It is above all required in a Housekeeper that she be found trustworthy*/*1 Corinthians 4.2./ She must be punctual, diligent, equally thoughtful for Sisters, children, servants and visitors, and careful of the Community's goods.
It must be her joy to think that she is literally a steward for Christ's poor, and so every pot in the house will be to her like an altar bowl.+/+Zechariah 14.20-21./
The Infirmarian must be++/++Romans 12.8./ cheerful and full of strong loving-kindness, using neither softness nor harshness. She must religiously and punctually keep her word.
The Guest Mistress must be filled with the spirit of holy fear*/*Rule of St Benet, Chapter 53./, remembering that more than she knows may hang on a short visit and the sample she shews of the Religious Life; and that it is her part not only to serve her guests humbly and willingly, caring for their comfort, but also so to instruct and guide them that they may profit by their stay in our house.
The Sacristan, Librarian, and the Workroom Sister must be methodical and orderly, not making other people's carelessness an excuse, but rectifying it with patient tidiness. The Sacristan must be discreet.
The Doorkeeper must be courteous and sensible.
The Head Mistress shall be largeminded and generous, open to suggestions from Sisters or others, keen about education and always seeking to improve her methods, magnifying her office and sinking herself.
The Boarders' Mistress, besides the qualifications necessary for bringing up children, must be full of Community spirit.
BRANCH HOUSES ABROAD
In Branch Houses abroad, the Rule may be modified, with consent of the Chapter, in details of timetable, food, dress, etc.
There shall be a Chapter of Faults daily, in Chapel, when Sisters shall report their breaches of the timetable and of engagements and other matters specified as 'Faults'.
The saying of Faults is primarily for the sake of openness. It is to be presumed that the faults were made of necessity or in the exercise of a reasonable and conscientious discretion.
On the other hand, each Sister must remember that it is always prima facie wrong to break the Rule; and so must be careful not to break it without a clear conviction that, in this case, the breach is according to the Community's mind.
There shall be no fixed penances for breaches of Rule.
DIFFERENTIA OF C.H.F. RULE
There are two hedges which enclose all Communities, but women's more than men's: the one outward, of not giving scandal; the other inward, of cherishing recollection. These two run not always but for the most part together. Neither is to be broken except for some weighty reason.
We, in our Community, having a large liberty in reading, talking, going out, seeing friends, and the like, must each of us be the more careful to use our liberty as the servants of God, giving no needless offence,*/*2 Corinthians 6.3./ and to shun every danger of distraction, in a more jealous faithfulness to our Lord Jesus Christ.
JULIAN OF NORWICH, HER SHOWING OF LOVE
AND ITS CONTEXTS ©1997-2019 JULIA BOLTON HOLLOWAY
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