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who were in the institution when the Magdalene entered ever after know who of them in this fourth class has consecrated her virginal innocence to God, or who, after a life of sin, has offered to him her truly contrite heart.
One institution now has over two hundred and fifty such women, many of them having been in the work thirty, forty, and fifty years. If Mary Magdalene by her penitence secured the love of her Master, answer, ye who know the human heart, have not these, her daughters, shown a sorrow entitling them also to sainthood?
To ladies who are engaged in this noble work I say: Be stout of heart. Do not despair of the ultimate success of your efforts for the reclamation of your unfortunate sisters, poor daughters of Mother Eve. There is an element of moral nobility in woman's nature, which man has not, upon which you may rely. The uncharity of the world has almost convinced mankind that, after her sin, there is no hope in heaven or on earth for such a poor, weak woman. Teach her that there is hope; that, if she wills it otherwise, she is not lost. Teach her this, and that moral nobility which God has planted in her will assert itself, and she will help you to lift her up.
Before concluding this summary of the plan of organization and the classification of its subjects, I wish to make it clear that only stainless women are admitted to the sisterhood proper. In the Sisterhood of the Good Shepherd those in charge are what are known as cloistered nuns, who, except when occasionally changed from one house to another, or when on the work of new foundations of the order, from the time they enter as postulants never go beyond their convent limits.
As to the system by which the work of reformation is effected, I may say at the outset that no corporal punishment is ever inflicted upon any inmate. Degraded, depraved, and rebellious though they may be on their admission, the influence of their surroundings and the manifestation of human kindness will soon secure their submission. The system then begins to show its effect in their exterior conduct, and has for disciplinary purposes been found adequate.
The first step toward the work of reform is the removal of the wayward girl from her dangerous environment and the outward occasions of sin. Her entrance and detention in the institution insure this. A regular mode of life, punctuated with regular hours. of work and recreation, with regular meals of plain, nutritious food,
with sufficient and regular sleep, has a composing effect upon both her body and her mind. In many instances this restoration to a somewhat normal, physical condition produces a healthful, restful feeling, long a stranger to its possessor. It produces contentment. In others it begets sober, serious thought, during which the better nature of the individual begins to assert itself, and contrition for her past life becomes immediately manifest.
It is not enough, however, to guard the soul from external occasions of sin; for the assaults of temptation, especially in this class of cases, come from within, and outward conformity to the laws of moral living is not conclusive evidence of reform. It assuredly will be one of the results of it. To help the poor victim successfully to resist depraving sins of thought is the next effort in the work. Supplementing, then, what already has been done, come the morning and evening prayers, with intervals during the day of short silence and meditation. The examination of conscience is made in secret, that the individual may discover and disclose to herself whether she has inadvertently or wilfully cherished an evil thought, or done an evil act, or broken even in desire a binding rule. Then she makes an interior expression of sorrow for her transgressions, and offers a prayer to God for courage to resist future temptation and the renewal of her purpose to amend her life. Into this daily routine the Sisters introduce regular occasions to inculcate a love for virtue and a detestation for vice. The lives of our Saviour and of his saints are held up for their daily contemplation, especially the lives of women like Mary Magdalene, Mary of Egypt, and many others whose amendment of life and repentance lifted them from degradation to sainthood.
Habit plays a great part in this work. And in these cases habits of womanly modesty are most important to be developed. Neither while at work or at recreation (and their recreations are joyous and hearty and innocent), nor at any time, are they to mention the name of any person outside the institution or any circumstance connected with their past life. This rule is designed to prevent themselves or others from recurring to thoughts of persons or scenes to dwell upon which might be harmful to the peace of their souls.
There is too great a variety in all this life for it to become monotonous. There is no idle time. They pray or play or sleep or eat or work (and work they do, for industry is another important
element in the system, changing from one occupation to another by rule). But, whether sleeping or waking, at work or at play, the watchful eye of one of the Sisters is always upon them, silently speaking in approval of a good deed done or in gentle but firm reproof of any infraction of the rule. Many of them become so attached to their benefactresses that they would almost rather die than cause them pain or displeasure by careless or evil conduct. As the influence of each girl's good life acts and reacts on the others, their very companionship becomes reciprocally improving. But this influence, generally sufficient, is not left unsupported by other means. There is still a positive safeguard. A rule of the house makes it a matter of conscience for the girls to quietly report to the Superior, if any of their number so comport herself as to give scandal or to endanger or retard the reformation of the rest by immodesty in word or act. And there are girls whose complete reformation is beyond doubt, whose penitence has been proven by perseverance, who for the love of the good work will spend years in the class without revealing to the others that she is not like themselves, in order that her example and her watchfulness may keep them from evil.
Finally, when these forces have almost imperceptibly done their work, when time and growing spirituality have deadened the feverish impulses of other days, she realizes what has been done for her. She watches the gentle nuns, from early morning till late at night at work to elevate her and those like her, slaving and praying almost from girlhood to the grave, resigning home and kindred, perhaps wealth and station in the world, immuring themselves within the convent walls, all for her; and she sees the noble examples of the Magdalenes, most of whom had an experience like hers, and who now by years of penance and usefulness are making atonement for their sins. Oh, then she recognizes that there is a balm in Gilead; and over her comes a calm, a holy peace. She feels that her courage has grown; but, in humility and conscious of her frailty, she determines to fly from the first degrading thought. She has acquired a greater victory than any subjugator of armies: she has won a victory over herself and her depraved nature. Perhaps in many a silent meditation she imagines she sees the face and hears the voice of Him who, bending over a sin-stained woman nearly two thousand years ago, said: "Have none condemned thee? Then neither shall I. Arise, and sin no more."
I know that people commonly regard as patriots the soldier fighting for his country or the statesman earnestly engaged in making laws that will bring happiness to every home; and they are patriots, indeed. But, oh, let us not deny to those who are engaged in the noble work of making, out of bad material, good men and women for their God and their country, the full meed of a patriot's honor.
HABITS OF THRIFT.
ABSTRACT OF PAPER BY MRS. M. E. FAIRBANK, MIDDLETOWN, CONN..
We cultivate thrift while the boys and girls are with us in the school, in work, study, and play, by the careful and economical use of all that comes into their lives. They are taught by precept and example. The school is their place for experiment and failure, for success, sympathy, and encouragement, quite as much as for discipline.
It is well to learn early in life the value of money. As long as they spend what some one else has earned, they do not realize what it is worth. The time soon comes when they find out how much hard labor a dollar represents. A silver dollar represents a day's work of the laborer. If it is given to a boy, he has no idea of what it has cost or what it is worth. He would be as likely to give a dollar as a dime for a top. But, if the boy has learned to earn his dimes and dollars by the sweat of his face, he knows the difference. Hard work is a measure of values that can never be rubbed out of his mind. Let him learn by experience that a hundred dollars means a hundred weary days' labor, and it seems a great sum of money. thousand dollars is almost inconceivable, for it is far more than he ever expects to possess. When he has earned a dollar, he thinks. twice before he spends it.
Some of the principal elements that enter into thrift are energy, frugality, persistency, stability, together with a definite purpose in life. In order, however, that any of these may be successfully cultivated, it is important that the laws of health should be observed.
The man who wins is he with the firmest nerve, the strongest muscle,. the best blood; for out of these come the grit which is bound to conquer or die.
So in our schools, when we by calisthenic exercises, military drills or physical culture in any of its phases, render the bodies of our scholars most vigorous, establish their health, we are laying the foundation for a life of thrift and prosperity, which could not result with physical disability. If they have such bodies, we may then expect to see spiritual energy developed, under the right and proper training of the mind.
We may never expect to develop thrift, in any great degree, in those who are not persistent in their efforts to succeed, who easily become weary in well-doing, who tire in the harness.
Thrift, in its truest development, is found with those who recognize that "a man's best friends are his ten fingers."
The great hindrances we have to contend with are a lack of application and instability of mind and purpose. Whatever means. may be employed, we may not hope to succeed if we fail to arouse an interest which shall lead the children into a life big with purpose and a determination to master circumstances and fulfil opportunities.
Chauncey M. Depew at a dinner said that the great moving forces in the life of the metropolis were not the sons of wealthy families, with the highest advantages of culture, travel, and personal influence, but the boys that come in from the farms, the villages, of New England, New York, and the West. Why? Because the latter, in working for the fulfilment of ambitious plans, developed the strength that wins. The former did not have the needed motive. Just here is the basic principle of thrift,— the needed motive.
Woman's thrift must enter largely into every hospitable home As a rule, the husband earns the money, and the wife expends it. "If she puts as much thought in her expenditure as he puts in his earning, each dollar will be doubled in the expending."
Hand in hand with thrift, taste must be cultivated with fidelity. The home of a thrifty woman of taste has a charm whose subtle influence will ever be felt for good.