Secret Instructions of the Jesuits - Diego Laynez

Chapter XV:
Treatment of Nuns and Devotees

Concerning the treatment of nuns and devotees.

I. The confessors and preachers should be extremely careful not to offend nuns, nor tempt them from their vocation, but on the contrary by conciliating the affection, especially of the superiors, they should bring it about, that at least the principal confessions will be heard, and discourses delivered by themselves, receiving in return the gratitude of the nuns; for noble and rich abbesses can render great service to the society, both personally and through their parents and friends, so that by the aid of the principal monasteries, they may, by degrees obtain the favor and friendship of almost the whole city where they reside.

II. On the other hand, our devotees should be forbidden to frequent nunneries, lest they become too fond of that manner of life, and our society be, in that way, cheated of its expectation, of obtaining all their property: but, let them be induced to perform the vow of chastity and obedience, under the guidance of their confessor, having instructed them that this is the true method agreeably to the practice of the primitive church, rather to let their light shine through the house, than to hide it under a bushel, useless to our neighbor and barren of good to souls: imitating those holy widows who ministered to Christ, let them bestow their goods on his companions: in short, let every thing prejudicial to a cloistered life be told, and urged against it; but such instructions as these must be given under the seal of secrecy, lest they come to the knowledge of other orders.