« AnteriorContinuar »
reference is made to the matter in any of the subsequent forty volumes of the Review, and Father Jenkins went into the house of his eternity without seeing any practical realization of his cherished hopes for a Martha Institute.
And yet, nearly two decades before the Kentucky cleric agitated the question, there was founded in the neighboring Dominion a religious institute destined to solve in many places both in Canada and this country just such a problem as he had in mind-the Little Sisters of the Holy Family.1 Established primarily to attend to the domestic economy or household work of colleges conducted by the Fathers of Holy Cross, the institute has widened its scope with successive years until its members are at present found charged with the housekeeping not only of various colleges and seminaries, but of archiepiscopal and episcopal residences, and of rectories sufficiently important to require the services of several of the Sisters. When the late Cardinal Falconio, as first Apostolic Delegate to Canada, resided in Ottawa, his housekeepers were members of this community; and he was ever afterwards a warm eulogist of their efficiency, religious simplicity, and common sense. On the occasion of one of his visits to Notre Dame during his term of office as Apostolic Delegate to this country, he was asked by the present writer whether the Little Sisters had charge of his residence in Washington. "No," he replied, “and I
1 Founded at Memramcook, New Brunswick, by Father Camille Lefebvre, C. S. C., and Sister Mary Leonie, of the Sisters of Holy Cross, Notre Dame, Indiana. Approved by Bishop La Rocque, of Sherbrooke, P. Q., the community now has its Motherhouse and Novitiate in that prelate's episcopal see.
miss them very much. My domestic affairs were never looked after so satisfactorily as while I lived in Ottawa."
Similar religious institutes, founded on this side of the Atlantic or imported from European countries, are rendering much the same services, at least as regards seminaries and colleges, in more than one diocese in Canada and the United States; and the employment of their members in such rectories or parish houses as need the services of three or four women would seem to be as near an approach to the ideal solution of the priests' housekeeping problem as is likely to be discovered. In so far as the overwhelming majority of American pastors are concerned, however, such a solution is of course impracticable. What the average priest in this country needs is, in reality, not a housekeeper proper, a superintendent of several domestic servants, but rather a maid of all work-not the counterpart of fine old Mrs. Rouncewell in "Bleak House," but that of the more or less delectable Mrs. Darcy in "My New Curate." One woman, with a possible assistant, can render about all the service he requires-and, nowadays especially, is likely to deplete his purse of about all the wages he can afford to pay. Obviously, no religious community would allow its Sisters to fill such positions, entailing their living separately instead of in bands of several together; so our average priest must look elsewhere for the supply of his needs. As one of the prevalent hobbies, or fads, of our day is vocational training, perhaps the project of the Kentucky priest whom we have men
tioned may be revived, and result in the organization of a quasi-religious society, a modified Third Order of some kind, that will furnish to the parochial clergy in both urban and rural districts such competent, economical, discreet "valiant women" as are desirable in all priestly homes.
In the meantime, the cleric who has been promoted from a curacy to a pastorate, and blithely prepares to set up housekeeping on his own account, must fain make the best of conditions as he finds them, take what he can get rather than what he would prefer in the matter of a feminine auxiliary, and trust to Providence that his selection may prove at least tolerable. It ought to be axiomatic that his choice should conform, so far as is at all possible, to the disciplinary regulations of the Church, the requirements of Canon Law, or, what comes to the same thing, the prescriptions of national ecclesiastical councils and the synods of his own diocese. It will simplify our summary rather than exhaustive treatment of the subject, and lend some adventitious importance to that treatment, if we transcribe forthwith the particular decree of the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore that deals with our specific topic:
Quia satis non est nullum in clero admittere crimen, sed vel levissimam criminis suspicionem procul arcere omnio oportet, Episcopos in Domino monemus, ut decreti Praedecessorum Nostrorum de clericorum cum mulieribus consortio executioni sedulo firmiterque invigilent. "Volumus igitur imprimis, ut saecularium mulierum, ne suis quidem
exceptis, consortio et familiaritate nimia ne.
A study of the foregoing prescriptions, both as to the mature age of housekeepers and the question of having as inmates of a priest's house bloodrelations or other kindred, may perhaps create, in the minds of experienced clerics familiar with the conditions actually prevailing in many an American presbytery, a doubt whether this particular decree is not "more honored in the breach than in the observance." As with another prescription of the Third Plenary Council, however-that calling for the establishing of a parish school within two years of the promulgation of the decree rela
tive thereto major difficulties in the way of entire conformity to its provisions have doubtless led Ordinaries to overlook some violations of the letter of the law. For that matter, many priests could probably plead with truth as an excuse or justification for such violation Shakespeare's saying, "Nature must obey necessity," or Rabelais' variation thereof, "Necessity knows no law."
The custom of having relatives, near or remote, as their housekeepers, or at least as inmates of their homes, is not only followed in practice by many of the American clergy, but is approved in theory by some accredited authors of clerical handbooks. Father Müller, for instance, in part ii, volume 1, of "The Catholic Priesthood" says: "Many good priests keep their relatives in the house with them. This custom no one can blame. A good mother or sister in the house is often an excellent safeguard." He adds, it is true, a caution: "The good priest should take care, however, that they are not domineering; that they are not tattlers or scandal-mongers; and especially that they do not give scandal." A rather obvious comment on this advice is, that if the priest, presumably cognizant of his relatives' characters and tendencies, foresees the danger of any such action on their part, he will best consult the interests of his parish, and his own as well, by seeing to it that they reside elsewhere than in the presbytery. It will prove much easier to keep mischief-making relations out of his house in the first instance than to remedy their mischief or rid himself of their presence when once their footing in the house has been established.