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festing that affection is, or is likely to be, inimical to the interests of God and the good of souls committed to our charge, some other method (and available ones are never wanting) may well be preferred. Father Edward may be very fond of his sister Helen and anxious to provide for her comfort and happiness; and yet, if Helen happens to be somewhat older than himself and used to box his ears occasionally when he was a little fellow, he may be pardoned for doubting whether in the long run as his housekeeper her reverence for his priestly character would restrain her tendency to lord it over him, or "boss" him, as she used to do in his youth. In such a case it is quite intelligible that he may prefer committing his household management to some other priest's sister rather than to his own.
We have no intention of minimizing the devotedness shown to their priestly sons or brothers by many a self-sacrificing woman: the records of sacerdotal lives in the past and the example of numerous present-day mothers and sisters who are proving the veritable guardian-angels of good, hard-working priests forbid our making little of their merits and their virtues. It is no more than just, however, to remind the reader that the terms of the decree of the Baltimore Council, already quoted, clearly indicate that in the opinion of the Fathers of that Council there may well exist cases in which the absence of even near relatives from a pastor's house is more desirable than is their presence therein. If the happy personal experience of the reader proves that his own is in no
sense such a case, then we heartily reëcho the advice of the anonymous German author, and bid him thank God for an inestimable favor.1
With the larger number of clerics throughout this country, however, the suitability of relatives for the position of priest's housekeeper is a purely academic question: they have no relatives available for the office, and accordingly must make their choice from among strangers, women who are neither kith nor kin to them. That the choice is not always easy to make, or fortunate when made, needs no telling either to pastors themselves or to their friends. The inexperienced young pastor who sets himself to the task is most frequently taking chances in a lottery.
This difficulty of securing competent women for the management of clerical homes is apparently a cosmopolitan one. Here, for instance, is an editorial paragraph that appeared originally in the Catholic Press, of Sydney, N. S. W., and was quoted, as “fitting the situation to a nicety," by the Catholic Register of Toronto, Canada: "A woman who runs a servants' registry office in the city, talking the other day of the different types of domestics who pass through her hands, said that all the sourfaced old failures who put their names on her books; the women who can neither cook, nor wash, nor sew with any degree of success; who 'can't abear' the sight of a child about the house; who are
1 The New Codex of Canon Law, published since this chapter was written, says (Can. 133, 12): Eisdem [clericis] licet cum illis tantum mulieribus cohabitare in quibus naturale foedus nihil mali permittit suspicari, quales sunt, mater, soror, amita et huiusmodi, aut a quibus spectata morum honestas, cum provectiore aetate coniuncta, omnem suspicionem amoveat.
so cross-grained that anything in the shape of an order is regarded as an insult; and who can't agree with their mistresses on any question remotely connected with work, express the wish to become priests' housekeepers!"
The Canadian editor piously ejaculates, “God help the poor priests!" and, not to be outdone by his Australian confrère, recounts some of his personal experiences. "We know," he writes, "many excellent priests in this country who have difficulty-if they are in the rural districts—in getting a housekeeper at all. The coterie always advertising as priests' housekeepers, or haunting the doors of hostels and presbyteries in the city with the desire to take charge of priests' houses, are certainly what one of our staff calls another class of peculiar persons, 'incongruous comedians.' We have come home after a hard day's work to one of them and have been set down to a 'cabbage salad' as the chief piece of the dinner-when we felt that we could despatch a whole partridge; and this Barmecide feast was put up to us with a sangfroid that was imperturbable. This lady, for so she styled herself, came to us with a half dozen recommendations from priests—and went without
While the paragraphs of both these clerical journalists may seem to savor somewhat of caricature, each suggests so general a likeness to their subjects as to make the latter easily recognizable by any reader of mature years and ordinary experience. There is, it is true, another and entirely different type of priestly housekeepers, a type
which, if not so common as to prove the rule, is yet sufficiently in evidence to constitute a notable number of thoroughly admirable exceptions. We have all met them, either in our own homes (where possibly they have not always been duly appreciated), or in the presbyteries of brother priests whom, it may be, we have envied for the all-round proficiency and unobtrusive excellence of their domestic economy. Good cooks, economical managers, capable laundresses and needlewomen, prompt attendants on door-bell or telephone ring, tidy chambermaids, quick-handed waitresses, neatly dressed, serene in manner, reserved in speech, of inexhaustible patience and well-ordered piety, and knowing their place—such women are to be found in every diocese, and, verily, "far and from the uttermost coasts is the price of them." Happy the cleric who enjoys the ministrations of one of these: he may appropriately sing with David, Funes ceciderunt mihi in praeclaris, "The lines are fallen unto me in goodly places."
As for the less adequately served cleric whose daily domestic worries prompt him to exclaim with St. Paul, "In all things we suffer tribulations," without being able to add the great Apostle's assertion, "but are not distressed," he is assuredly deserving of commiseration, all the more so if his ineffectual remonstrances to a self-willed, domineering, or capricious housekeeper have led him to yield pessimistic assent to the old-time quatrain:
Where is the man who has the power and skill
For if she will, she will, you may depend on't;
And if she won't, she won't; so there's an end on't.
Such pessimism, commonly expressed by the rhetorical interrogation, What's the use? is not to be commended. While a pastor should doubtless show all due consideration to his servants and treat them with the fullest measure of Christian charity and sacerdotal kindness, it is nevertheless incumbent upon him occasionally to make it unmistakably clear to them that, after all, they are servants and that he is the master. As St. Paul wrote to Timothy, “If a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?" If he chances to be of an ascetic temperament, prompt to seize occasions for mortification and self-denial, an incompetent housekeeper will unquestionably afford him ample opportunity to indulge to the full his liking for crosses, vexations, and trials of temper; and by accepting all these as merciful dispensations of Providence, he may clearly acquire considerable merit. The average priest, however, can scarcely be expected to allow his housekeeper to fill the rôle of a living discipline or hair shirt. He probably believes that his ministry furnishes him with a plentiful supply of unavoidable crosses, and that he is entitled to a certain degree of comfort and ease within the walls of his presbytery.
There are some failings of housekeepers, indeed, tolerance of which can be defended on no valid ground, whether of a pastor's forgetfulness of self, or his kindliness of heart, or his spirit of indifference. What concerns himself exclusively he may perhaps meritoriously overlook; what tends injuriously to affect his relations with his