Daily Ceremonies--Jane Ray among the Nuns.

ON Thursday morning, the bell rung at half-past six to awaken us. The old nun who was acting as night-watch immediately spoke aloud:

"Voici le Seigneur qui vient." (Behold the Lord cometh.) The nuns all responded:

"Allons-y devant lui."(Let us go and meet him.)

We then rose immediately, and dressed as expeditiously as possible, stepping into the passage-way at the foot of our beds as soon as we were ready, and taking places each beside her opposite companion. Thus we were soon drawn up in a double row the whole length of the room, with our hands folded across our breasts, and concealed in the broad cuffs of our sleeves. Not a word was uttered. When the signal was given, we all proceeded to the community-room, which is spacious, and took our places in rows facing the entrance, near which the Superior was seated in a vergiere, or large chair.

We first repeated, "Au nom du Père, du Fils, et du Saint Esprit--Ainsi soit il." (In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost--Amen.)

We then kneeled and kissed the floor; then, a still on our knees, we said a very long prayer, beginning : "Divin Jesus, Sauveur de mon âme," (Divine Jesus, Saviour of my soul.) Then came the Lord's prayer, three Hail Marys, four creeds, and five confessions, (confesse à Dieu.)

Next we repeated the ten commandments. Then we repeated the Acts of Faith, and a prayer to the Virgin in Latin, (which, like every thing else in Latin, I never understood a word of.) Next we said the litanies of the holy name of Jesus, in Latin, which was afterward to be repeated several times in the course of the day. Then came the prayer for the beginning of the day; then bending down, we commenced the Orison Mental, (or Mental Orison,) which lasted about an hour and a half.

This exercise was considered peculiarly solemn. We were told in the nunnery that a certain saint was saved by the use of it, as he never omitted it. It consists of several parts: First, the Superior read to us a chapter from a book, which occupied five minutes. Then profound silence prevailed for fifteen minutes, during which we were meditating upon it. Then she read another chapter of equal length, on a different subject, and we meditated upon that another quarter of an hour; and after a third reading and meditation, we finished the exercise with a prayer, called an act of contrition, in which we asked forgiveness for the sins committed during the Orison.

During this hour and a half I became very weary, having before been kneeling for some time, and having then to sit in another position more uncomfortable, with my feet under me, my hands clasped, and my body bent humbly forward, with my head bowed down.

When the Orison was over, we all rose to the upright kneeling posture, and repeated several prayers, and the litanies of the providences, "providence de Dieu," &c.; then followed a number of Latin prayers, which we repeated on the way to mass, for in the nunnery we had mass daily.

When mass was over we proceeded in our usual order to the eating-room to breakfast, practising the same forms which I have described at dinner. Having made our meal in silence, we repeated the litanies of the "holy name of Jesus" as we proceeded to the community-room; and such as had not finished them on their arrival, threw themselves upon their knees, and remained there until they had gone through with them, and then kissing the floor, rose again.

At nine o'clock commenced the lecture, which was read by a nun appointed to perform that duty that day; all the rest of us in the room being engaged in work.

The nuns were at this time distributed in different community-rooms, at different kinds of work, and in each were listening to a lecture. This exercise continued until ten o'clock, when the recreation-bell rang. We still continued our work, but the nuns began to converse with each other, on subjects permitted by the rules, in the hearing of the old nuns, one of whom was seated in each of the groups.

At half-past ten the silence-bell rang, and then conversation instantly ceased, and the recitation of some Latin prayers commenced, which continued half an hour.

At eleven o'clock the dinner-bell rang, and then we proceeded to the dining-room, and went through the forms and ceremonies of the preceding day. We proceeded two by two. The old nun who had the command of us, clapped her hands as the first couple reached the door, when we stopped. The first two dipped their fingers into the font, touched the holy water to the breast, forehead, and each side, thus forming a cross, said, "In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Amen," and then walked on to the dining-room, repeating the litanies. The rest followed their example. On reaching the door the couples divided, and the two rows of nuns marching up, stopped and faced the table against their plates. There we stood, repeating the close of the litany aloud. The old nun then pronounced "BENEDICITE," and we sat down. One of our number began to read a lecture, which continued during the whole meal: she stays to eat after the rest have retired. When we had dined, each of us folded up her napkin, and again folded her hands. The old nun then repeated a short prayer in French, and stepping aside from the head of the table, let us pass out as we came in. Each of us bowed in passing the little chapel near the door, in which is a glass case, containing a waxen figure of the infant Jesus. When we reached the community-room we took our places in rows, and kneeled upon the floor, while a nun read aloud, "Douleurs de notre Sainte Marie," (the sorrows of our holy Mary.) At the end of each verse we responded "Ave Maria." We then repeated again the litanies of the Providences, and the "BENEDICITE", &c.

Then we kissed the floor, and rising, took our work, with leave to converse on permitted subjects; this is what is called recreation till one o'clock. We then began to repeat litanies, one at a time in succession, still engaged at sewing, for an hour.

At two o'clock commenced the afternoon lectures, which lasted till near three. At that hour one of the nuns stood up in the middle of the room, and asked each of us a question out of the catechism; and such as were unable to answer correctly, were obliged to kneel down, until that exercise was concluded, upon as many dry peas as there were verses in the chapter out of which they were questioned. This seems like a penance of no great importance; but I have sometimes kneeled on peas until I suffered great inconvenience, and even pain. It soon makes one feel as if needles were running through the skin: whoever thinks it a trifle, had better try it.

At four o'clock recreation commenced, when we were allowed, as usual, to speak to each other, while at work.

At half-past four we began to repeat prayers in Latin, while we worked, and concluded about five o'clock, when we commenced repeating the "prayers for the examination of conscience," the "prayer after confession," the "prayer before sacrament," and the "prayer after sacrament." Thus we continued our work until dark, when we laid it aside, and began to go over the same prayers which we had repeated in the morning, with the exception of the orison mental; instead of that long exercise, we examined our consciences, to determine whether we had performed the resolution we had made in the morning; and such as had kept it, repeated an "acte de joie," or expression of gratitude; while such as had not, said an "acte de contrition."

When the prayers were concluded, any nun who had been disobedient in the day, knelt and asked pardon of the Superior and her companions, "for the scandal she had caused them;" and then requested the Superior to give her a penance to perform. When all the penances had been imposed, we all proceeded to the eating-room to supper, repeating litanies on the way.

At supper the ceremonies were the same as at dinner, except that there was no lecture read. We ate in silence, and went out bowing to the chapelle, and repeating litanies. Returning to the community-room which we had left, we had more prayers to repeat, which are called La couronne, (crown,) which consists of the following parts:

1st, Four Paters,

2nd, Four Ave Marias,

3d, Four Gloria Patris,

4th, Benedicites, &c.

At the close of these we kissed the floor; after which we had recreation till half-past eight o'clock, being allowed to converse on permitted subjects, but closely watched, and not allowed to sit in corners.

At half past eight a bell was rung, and a chapter was read to us, in a book of meditations, to employ our minds upon during our waking hours at night.

Standing near the door, we dipped our fingers in the holy water, crossed and blessed ourselves, and proceeded up to the sleeping-room, in the usual order, two by two. When we had got into bed, we repeated a prayer beginning with:

"Mon Dieu, je vous donne mon coeur," "My God, I give you my heart;"

and then an old nun, bringing some holy water, sprinkled it on our beds to drive away the devil, while we took some and crossed ourselves again.

At nine o'clock the bell rung, and all who were awake repeated a prayer, called the offrande; those who were asleep, were considered as excused.

After my admission among the nuns, I had more opportunity than before, to observe the conduct of mad Jane Ray. She behaved quite differently from the rest, and with a degree of levity irreconcilable with the rules. She was, as I have described her, a large woman, with nothing beautiful or attractive in her face, form, or manners; careless in her dress, and of a restless disposition, which prevented her from steadily applying herself to any thing for any length of time, and kept her roving about, and almost perpetually talking to somebody or other. It would be very difficult to give an accurate description of this singular woman; dressed in the plain garments of the nuns, bound by the same vows, and accustomed to the same life, resembling them in nothing else, and frequently interrupting all their employments. She was apparently almost always studying or pursuing some odd fancy; now rising from sewing, to walk up and down, or straying in from another apartment, looking about, addressing some of us, and passing out again, or saying something to make us laugh, in periods of the most profound silence. But what showed that she was no novelty, was the little attention paid to her, and the levity with which she was treated by the old nun; even the Superior every day passed over irregularities in this singular person, which she would have punished with penances, or at least have met with reprimands, in any other. From what I saw of her, I soon perceived that she betrayed two distinct traits of character; a kind disposition towards such as she chose to prefer, and a pleasure in teasing those she disliked, or such as had offended her.

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