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Deaconesses in Europe and their Lessons for Americ

Deaconesses are no Catholic institution


"Not what we give, but what we share, For the gift without the giver is bare; Who gives himself with his alms feeds three:-- Himself, his hungry neighbor, and Me."

It is for such ministrations that we need deaconesses in every evangelical church of the United States; may the women that are ready to "publish the tidings" be "a great host."

[90] _Der Diakonissenberuf nach seiner Vergangenheit und Gegenwart._ Emil Wacker, Guetersloh, 1888, p. 196. [91] McClintock and Strong's _Cyclopedia_, vol. iv, art. "Hospitals." The editors give as authority for this statement, Augustine, _De Civit. Dei_, i, xxii, c. 8. [92] Theodor Fliedner, _Kurzer Abriss seines Lebens_. Kaiserswerth, 1886, p. 60. [93] _The Bitter Cry of Outcast London_, pp. 3-10. [94] _Modern Cities_, by S. L. Loomis, New York, 1887, pp. 88, 89.

CHAPTER XV.

OBJECTIONS MET AND SUGGESTIONS OFFERED.

"Success and glory are the children of hard work and God's favor," is the inscription upon the tablet erected in Christ's Hospital, London, to the memory of Sir Henry Maine.

Upon these two elements depends the future of the deaconess cause in America. We are assured of the one; will the other be forthcoming? Will the individual members of the Church give this cause their hearty support? Surely the facts that have been stated must have convinced the judgment, but perhaps there are certain prejudices to be overcome. "I fear that deaconesses too closely resemble Catholic nuns for Protestants to accept them," says one. No; these helpful Christian women are thoroughly Protestant. Deaconesses are no Catholic institution. Wherever they have appeared they have been met by open antagonism from the Catholic Church. Witness the calumnies with which the papers of that capital have constantly assailed the deaconess home of Paris.

There is good in the Catholic sisterhoods, but mingled with much that we disapprove. The deaconess institutions have the good features, but have avoided the ill. Much of the success of the Catholic Church in winning the poor and in retaining its influence over the lowly is due to the power exerted by the sisters who go about from house to house among the poor, and are received as friends.

There is a great army of Catholic sisters. It is calculated that there are about 28,000 Sisters of Vincent de Paul, 22,000 Franciscan Sisters caring for the sick, 6,000 Sisters of the Holy Cross, 5,000 Sisters of Charles, making a total of about 60,000 sisters of various orders belonging to the Catholic Church[95] who are occupied with works of mercy. The sisters engaged in education are often well-trained and accomplished. The order of Charles will not accept widows, orphans without property, girls from asylums, or those that have served as maids. As a rule, those that join it must make some contribution of money to the order when they are received. This order is small, but one of the most active and aggressive of any. The great number of the sisters, however, are women of few advantages, taken from poor homes and lives of toil. There is wisdom in this course, for a great deal of the work to be done depends upon qualities that can be developed by training, while the exceptional education and talents are employed in the exceptional places.

A contemplation of these facts just recorded causes us better to understand the importance that the co-operation of women has for the Catholic Church. It causes us, too, to appreciate better the opening before the Protestant women of all evangelical churches, so wide, so all-embracing that every variety of talent can find a place.


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