Rebecca Theresa Reed.

Six months in a convent, or, The narrative of Rebecca Theresa Reed, who was under the influence of the Roman Catholics about two years, and an inmate of the Ursuline Convent on Mount Benedict, Charles online

. (page 11 of 12)
Online LibraryRebecca Theresa ReedSix months in a convent, or, The narrative of Rebecca Theresa Reed, who was under the influence of the Roman Catholics about two years, and an inmate of the Ursuline Convent on Mount Benedict, Charles → online text (page 11 of 12)
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Francis' name* Meanwhile I endeavored
to com pose myself, and wrote to Miss Mary
Francis, agreeably to my promise, inform-
ing her of my afflictions, and of my re-
luctance to return to the bustle of the
world. I proposed to her some questions,
and requested her advice. 1 wrote that I
could not think otherwise than that the

• This book I brought awaj- because Mary Francis had pricked
hers and her father's real name out in it, and I wished to refer to
it, in order to write her. I took it from my writing desk, and
slipped it into my pocket.


Superior and Bishop were very wicked.
I did not write much, thinking her con-
fessor might advise her not to answer it,
as it was probable that the Superior would
write to him; and I was anxious to con-
vince Mrs. G. that Mary Francis thought
as I did, for Mrs. G. would not permit me
to say one word against the Superior or
Bishop; and I was resolved to ascertain if
Mary Francis was living and happy.
When Mrs. G. returned from the Convent
she sa ; i the Superior had too exalted an
opinion of me to think I would say any
thing against the institution, and she had
sent me a present, as she still considered
me one of her flock ; and if I had gone
astray, she should do every thing she
could for me, in a temporal as well as in
a spiritual sense, if I would repent. My
words were just these: " I cannot receive
any present from the Superior ; she is a
wicked woman, and I do not believe her
friendship pure." At this moment Priest
B. drove to the door, and desired to see me.
I did not think myself in danger, and


conversed with him ; but I soon found that
he had seen the Superior and Bishop. He
said that as he was my sponsor he con-
sidered it his duty to advise me, and hoped
I was not going to break my vows to God
and expose myself to the world ; because,
if I did, I should be ridiculed and laughed
at. He said he had before conveyed a
Novice to the " Sisters of Charity," and
would convey me to them, or to some
other retired place which I might choose,
and that he was deeply concerned for my
welfare. I told him I could not think of
going anywhere then, as my health would
not allow any exposure to the cold, and
that Mrs. G. thought it best I should re-
main with her until I was better, when I
should visit my father. He then exclaim-
ed, "What letter is this?" taking up and
reading the one I had written to Mary
Francis. After reading it, he appeared
surprised, and desired to know how I
came in possession of her name. He
said he should have seen me at the Con-
vent had he known I was discontented;


and that if the Superior had done wrong,
it was no reason I should do so, by
speaking against the Convent or those
connected with it. He then shook hands
with me, and said he would converse
with me again when I was more com-
posed, and left the house.

I soon began to suspect by Mrs. G.'s
manners that she was not my friend, and
that if she had an opportunity she would
deliver me into the hands of the Catho-
lics ; for I learned from her little daughter
that her mother had given her to the
Catholic Church, because the Superior
had ofTered to educate her, free of ex-
pense: and that her mother was acquaint-
ed with the Superior before I went to the
Convent. Now this I did not know be-
fore, and I began to be more guarded, and
to fear that all belonging to the Romish
Church were alike. When I gave Mrs.
G. the letter to send to the post-office, she
asked if I was afraid she would break it
open ; and at another time afterwards, she
told me I was afraid she would poison me


because I refused to take medicine, which
I thought I did not need. Such thoughts
did not occur to my mind.

In a day or two Priest B. again came,
and after much persuasion from J.Irs. G.
I consented to see him. At first he ap-
peared very pleasant, said he had come to
render me assistance, and begged, as I
valued my religion and reputation, to take
his advice. I told him that I wished none
of his assistance or advice; that I should
goto my brother's, at East Cambridge, as
soon as possible ; that as it respected my
religion, I did not believe in one which
justified its followers in doing wrong; and
that I was not at all concerned that my
reputation would be injured on that ac-
count by returning to the world. He
affected considerable contempt for my
aged parent, and ridiculed many things
which he said he had heard of my father.
And he said,*- " Is it possible that a young
lady wishes to have her name made pub-

* He informed me I should be anathematized publicly if I did
not repent.

182 is.X MONTHS

lie ?" I answered, " You very well know
I should shrink from such a thing, but I
should rather return to the world and ex-
pose myself to its scorn, than remain sub-
ject to the commands of a tyrant."
" Then," said he, " if you are determined
to return to the world, you may go to ru-
in there for all I can do; and rely upon it,
you will shed tears of blood in conse-
quence of the step you have taken, if you
do not repent and confess all at the secret
tribunal of God." I told him I should
confess to none but God, and that my
conscience prompted me to do as I had
done. He asked me if I would go with
him to the Superior, as she wanted to see
me. I replied, ;i No, I will not, for I be-
lieve you or any other Catholic would (if
directed) tike my life, were it in your pow-
er, as truly as I believe I am living, and ]
will not trust myself in your clutches
again." x\t these words he turned pale,
and asked me what I had seen or heard at
the Convent that made me think so. I
r^fu^M to sav nmrp. and retired at his


exclamation that it would be death to me.
Mrs. G. endeavored to console me with
the assurance that he meant right, and
that it would, they feared, be death to my

Mrs. G. afterwards accused me of endea-
voriug, at the time of my escape, to induce
Sister Bernard to leave the Convent. The
Superior sent me some articles of wearing
apparel, which for z. time I was obliged
to accept. My sister called; she had been
at the Convent, and was informed that I
was at Mrs. G.'s. She was overjoyed to
see me, but much grieved because (as
she thought) I had refused to see her
at the Convent. I endeavored to calm
her, and promised to explain all another
time, assuring her my affection was not
diminished, and that I should soon visit
her. I did not then explain to her the
manner of my leaving the Convent. It
being late in the evening, she soon re-
turned home. The Misses K. also called,
and by their conversation I feared they
would inform my father of my situation,


before I should be well and prepared to
see him; and I did not wish to grieve him
with a knowledge of what had taken
place. Mrs. G. said she expected my
father would rave at her for having ad-
vised me as she had done, if he should
find me at her house.

A Catholic lady, who had stood my
sponsor, and who brought a letter from
Mary Francis,^ called, and conveyed me
to her house in Charlestown, where my
father and brother soon found me, and de
sired I would return to my friends, which
I did in the evening. Before leaving,
however, I called on Priest B., and told
him that I could never think of again
attending the Romish Church, giving my
reasons, and adding that I had been de-
ceived in their religion, and in those who
believed it; that I wished to take my
leave of him, with the hope that he
would not think I indulged any wrong
feelings towards them, or that I desired to

• This letter had been broken open.


injure the Romish Church, but sincerely-
hoped they would reform. I told him this
while he sat in the confessional. He re-
mained unmoved, and would not allow
that I had been treated ill. He said that
I could not but know that the step I had
taken would be a great injury to the
Convent. I assured him that it was not
to be charged to me, but to the Superior
and Bishop, who by their conduct had
compelled me to take that step. I also
told him that I believed it had been his
intention to deliver me again into their
hands, but I had broken the chains which
bound me, and felt free; and that I should
always be thankful that I had delivered
myself from the bondage of what I should
consider to be a Romish yoke, rather than
the true cross of Christ.

After 1 had returned to my brother's,
Mrs. G. sent to me by her little daughter
some money, which she said I had given
to the Superior. Five dollars of this sum
and some wearing apparel I considered as


not my own, and sent them back with a
note to Madam St. George, stating that I
declined receiving any thing from them as
presents, but if they would return what
wearing apparel, &c. belonged to me, it
would be properly acknowledged.

And now I have endeavored, to the ex-
tent of my ability, to give a true and
faithful account of what fell under my
observation during my sojourn among the
Catholics, and especially during my resi-
dence at the Monastery on Mount Bene-
dict. And I leave it with the reader to
judge of my motives for becoming a mem-
ber of the Ursuline Community, and for
renouncing it.

If, in consequence of my having for a
time strayed from the true religion, I am
enabled to become an humble instrument
"in the hands of God in warning others of
the errors of Romanism, and preventing
even one from falling into its snares, and
from being shrouded in its delusions, I
shall feel richly rewarded.


{condensed from a boston paper.]

I am told that it will be of no use to write letters to you, be-
cause so mar»y of you cannot read. But there, are also many of
you who can read. I write to them ,• and I hope they will read my
letters to the rest.

But why have you not been taught to read? You and your
forefathers have had Roman Catholic Priests for a thousand yeara.
What have they beep, doing ? Why have they not taught you, or
taken #are to have you taught by others ? What have they dona
with all the money which you and your fathers have paid them ?
They have built splendid churches at Rome, and bought rich dresses
for the Pope and Cardinals to wear, and gilded coaches for them
to ride in. They have built, and are building, expensive colleges
and schools, to instruct the children of rich Protestants, hoping to
make Catholic Priests of them. Meanwhile, your children, and
your father's children, and your grandfather's children, and your
ether ancestors, have been left to get a little learning as you could,
or grow up in ignorance.

Is not this all true ? Only think how much money you have
paid them yourselves. Do you know what they have done with
it ? When a Protestant has given a man a dollar for some re-
ligious purpose, he must show what he has done with it, or he will
never get another. Is it so with you ? Do you know what your
Priests do with all the money they receive from you? Have not
you and your Catholic neighbors paid Vl 'em so much, that they
might have taught you, and your neighbor,, and your children, to
read ? If you and your ancestors, for five hundred years past,
or two hundred years past, had been Protestant you would have
been taught.

Now, my friends, think, a little while, whether PrWs who have
so shamefully neglected their duty are worthy of your Oafidence.
You and your fathers have tried them for hundreds en' years.
Have you not tried them long enough? Is it not time for you to


say your children shall be taught to read ? Is it not time for you
to choose such schools for them as you find to be best 1 This is a
free country. The Priests have no right to control you in the edu-
cation of your children.

Some of you do send your children to our public schools. The
teachers tell me that they behave as well, and learn as fast, as
any children under their care. I am glad to hear it. Your
children, thus educated, will be intelligent and respectable. Some
of them will be among our great men in another generation. If
the Priests will furnish schools for your children which are as good
as the public schools, you have a perfect right to send your
children to which you please. But see to it that they go to good
schools, — schools where they learn well. If you are determined
to send them to such schools, probably the Priests will not object,
for they know they cannot help themselves. Perhaps they will
even encourage you. But whether they do or not, see to it that
yotr children are well educated.

Your Priests tell you, that the Roman Catholic Church is infalli-
ble. Suppose it is so. How do you know what that church
teaches ? Some three weeks ago a part of the doings of the Council
of Trent, sanctioned by the Pope's Bull, were published. It w,n
copied from a book published by Roman Catholics, and sanctioned
by the Roman Catholic authorities in church and state. Yet the
Catholic Sentinel calls it a " Protestant slander." Now, if such
documents, so published, are not tote depended upon, how are we
to know, or how can you know, what the Roman Catholic Church
really teaches ? Especially, how do those of you who cannot read
know what the church teaches ?

Do you say, that your Priests tell you what the church teaches 7
How do you know that they tell you truly ? How do you know
that they do not deceive you ? How do you know that the PriesU
themselves know what the doctrines of the church are 1 Do you
believe that every Priest is infallible ? Martin Luther was once
a Roman Catholic Priest. Was he infallible? Caivin, too, was
once a Roman Catholic Priest. Was he infallible ? Mr. Samuel
B. Smith, who is now publishing a newspaper, called '' The
Downfall of Babylon," was a Roman Catholic Priest only some
two years ago. Was he infallible ? If they were infallible, then
they did right to leave the Roman Catholic Church.

But you may be told, that these men were apostates — they left
%he church, and became Protestants. True, they became Protes-
tants. But if th«\ Roman Catholic Church had been right, and they
when Priests had been infallible, they could not have left it. And
then, think of Archbishop Fenelon. He did not leave the church.
Yet he published a book, which the Pope condemned, and he con-
fessed that it contained erroneous doctrines. Was ho infallible
when he wrote that book? And was the Pope infallible \r*wn be
condemned it ? And was Fenelon still infallible when Yt * *• ««i
»he Pope in condemning it 1


No, your Priests are not infallible. They may mistake. How
do you know that those of them who teach you do not mistake ?
How do you know that what they teach is the true doctrine of
the church ? How can you know, unless you read the Bible for
yourselves, and find that the Bible teaches the same doctrines ?

Do your Priests ever tell you to pray to the Virgin Mary, the
mother of our Lord Jesus Christ ? I suppose they do. You know
whether they tell you so or not. How do you know that this is a
doctrine of the true Catholic Church ? Do you say, that all Catho-
lics practise it ? You mean, all Catholics with whom you are
acquainted. Perhaps there are other Catholics who do not pray
to her. How do you know ? Do your Priests tell you ? How do
your Priests know ? And how do you know that they tell the
truth ?

I suppose that all Roman Catholics do pray to the Virgin Mary ;
though I do not see how either you or I can know it infallibly. But
I suppose that you pray to her here in Boston, and some of your
friends pray to her in New York, and others in Pennsylvania, and
others in Ohio, and others in Ireland, all at once. Now stop and
think for a moment ; — can she hear you all at once ? When you
pray to God, he can hear you, because he is an infinite Spirit, and
is everywhere at the same time ; but Mary is not God. She is
not everywhere at the same time. She cannot listen at once to
a million of people, some here, and some three thousand, and some
ten thousand miles off. When several people speak to you at
once, you cannot listen to them all, and understand them all. And
do you believe that Mary can listen to a million, who are all speak-
ing at once, in different parts of the world, so as to know what they
all say ? Do you say the infallible church teaches that she can hear
them all ? How do you know that the church teaches it ? How do
you know that your Priests tell the truth when they say the church
teaches it? And how do you know that the church is infallible 1
You have only the word of the Priests for it, and perhaps they mis-
take. And if the true church is infallible, how do you know that the
Church of Rome is the true church ? The Priests tell you so ; but
they may be wrong. And besides, do you not see that Mary
cannot listen to a million of prayers at once, so as to understand
them all ? Do you not see that this must be an error ? Do you
not see that, if the Church of Rome teaches this, it teaches what is
not true ?

If your Priests teach you to pray to Mary, they teach you
wrong. God says, that " whoever shall call upon the name of the
Lord shall be saved." Romans x. 13. He does not say that who-
ever shall call on the name of Mary shall be saved. God teaches
one thing, and your Priests teach another.

I must say a few words to you about images. In the second of
the ten commandments, God says, " Thou shalt not bow down
unto them." Do you bow down unto them? If you do, you


disobey God. If your Priests teach you to bow down unto them,
they teach you to break God's commandment.

I could quote to you what Roman Catholic councils have de-
creed, and what Popes have said on this subject; for I can read
Latin as well as your Priests. But when I quote what Popes and
councils say, the Sentinel calls it " ProtestaDt slander." Your
infallible church has no infallible books, in which any one can infal-
libly learn its doctrines ; at least, I cannot find any, which your
Priests and editors will allow to be infallible. But no matter. I
am writing to you, and you know whether they teach you to bow
down to images or not. If they do, they teach you to do wickedly ;
and if you follow such teaching, you offend God.

Perhaps the Priests will tell you, that you do not worship the
image, but only worship God by means, of the image. But take
notice, God says, " Thou shalt not bow down unto them." Now,
suppose you bow down unto an image for the purpose of worship-
ping God ; still you break God's commandment ; for he says, " Thou
shalt not bow down unto them." When God tells you that you
must not do a thing, lie never sends Priests to tell you that you
must do it. If any Priest tells you to bow down before an image,
you must know by that that God did not send him. I have been
told that Bishop Cheverus some years ago said, in one of his ser-
mons, that you must have images, because you are so ignorant that
you cannot worship without them ; and I have read the words of
soma Popes and Bishops who speak in the same way. But is this
true ? Did not God know whether you ought to have images or
not. when he said, " Thou shait not bow down unto them ?"

But can you not think of God when you do not see an image ?
You know that you can. You can remember how kind he has
been to you, in preserving your lives; in giving you food to eat,
and raiment to put on ; and in giving his Son to die for you, that
your sins may be pardoned. You can feel thankful to him for all
his goodness. You can say, heartily, "O God, I thank thee for
all thy goodness to me." You can wish him to continue to take
care of you, and supply your wants, and forgive your sins, and
help you to keep his commandments. You can think of God, and
ask him to do all these things, without having an image to look at.
You know you can. Do it, and that will be worshipping God
without the use of an image. You know you can do it. 'You are
not such great dunces as your Priests and Bishops pretend to think
you are. You can worship God without an image ; and you can
learn to worship him still better than you now can.

Pe.aaps some of your Priests will tell you, that God has given
no sucn commandment in respect to images. In some of their
books, in which they pretend to give the whole of the ten com-
mandments, th a y have left out the second, and divided the tenth
into two, so as to make out the number. When the Protestants
fgund it out, and told the public of it, the Priests had other editions
of the same books published, with all the commandments in them,


S3 they should be. These they show, to prove that the story about
their leaving out the second commandment is a " Protestant
slander." Books of both kinds are still in circulation. I do not
know which you have, or which your Catholic neighbors have. I
mention it, that you may not be deceived if you happen to have
one of the false books, or if you have a false Priest, who tells you
there is no such commandment.

Think seriously of these things. Pwemember God's command-
ment, which forbids you to bow down before images. Worship
him in your minds, by thinking of him and expressing your
thoughts. Speak to him. Thank him for his goodness, and ask
him for what you need. He will understand you. If yon mean
honestly, he will know it, and will be pleased with your worship.

You know whether your Priests tell you any thing about pur-
gatory. You know whether you ever gave them any money to
pray, or say mass, for the souls of your friends, who, you sup-
posed, might be in purgatory. You know whether you ever gave
them any money to pray or say mass for your own souls, when
you are dead. You know, too, whether they ever told you to give
money for such purposes. You know about these things. I do
not ; but I suppose they teach you that there is such a place as

Now, how do they know that there is any such place? How
did they find it out ? There is not one word about it in the whole
Bible. God, in the Bible, has not told them that there is any such
place. How, then, do they know that there is any purgatory ?
Do they say, the church has decided it? How do you know thai
the church has decided it? How do you know that it was not
some false Pope, or some wicked, heretical council, that made
that decision ? Do the Priests tell you J The Priests are not in-
fallible. Perhaps they misinke. But if the church did make
such a decision, how did the church know ? God did not tell them.
We have all Gad's word in the Bible, and it says not one word about

How, then, do the Prieets know that there is a purgatory ? Have
any of them ever been there ? No. Did they ever see any body
that had been there ? I think they will not pretend that they have.
The truth is, that there Is no such place.

Do you ask me why they tell such a story ? You have a better
opportunity to know than 1 have. You know whether they get
any of your money by telling it. If they do, it may be that they
tell it for the sake of getting your money. What would you think
of any body else who should get away your money by telling you
what is not true ?

I do not mean to say that all your Priests know that there is no
such place as purgatory. Perhaps some of them believe it; for
some of them are very ignorant. After all the noise ihey make
about their learning, some of them have only a littte Latin, which
they have learned by heart without understanding it, and cannot

192 LETTER, &C

read a word of Greek or Hebrew. But if such ignorant Priests
do believe it, that does not make it true. Our Savior tells you not
to follow such blind guides, lest you both fall into the ditch.

Perhaps you say you are a sinner, and unfit for heaven ; and
ask what you shall do, if there is no purgatory, where you can
suffer what yeu deserve, unless the Priest procures your release
by saying mass for you. I will tell you. Go into your closet. Go
into any place where you can be alone. There think of Christ.
Remember the words of the holy Apostle, written in the Holy
Scriptures, " the blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin." Think
of Christ, who died for your sins. Believe that God is there, and
can hear you. Think of your sins. Confess them, honestly, to
God. Ask him to forgive you, for Christ's sake. Do not pray to
Mary, or some other Saint. Do not ask any of them to intercede
with God for you. Speak to God yourself. Tell him that you arc
a sinner. Tell him all the truth about yourself. Ask him to
forgive your sins. Believe that he is ready and willing to hear

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Online LibraryRebecca Theresa ReedSix months in a convent, or, The narrative of Rebecca Theresa Reed, who was under the influence of the Roman Catholics about two years, and an inmate of the Ursuline Convent on Mount Benedict, Charles → online text (page 11 of 12)