Secret Instructions of the Jesuits - Diego Laynez

Chapter VIII:
Sons of Widows

What must be done that the sons and daughters of widows may embrace a religious or devoted life.

I. As the mothers are to act firmly, so we must act mildly in this matter: let the mothers be certainly instructed that by reproofs, chastisements, etc., they may be severe to their children from infancy, and when the daughters especially become more advanced, let them deny them female ornaments and dress; and by often desiring and praying God to incline them to the ecclesiastical state, and by promising some remarkable gift if they would become nuns: let them often explain the difficulties which are common to all in matrimony, and those which they themselves have particularly experienced, by lamenting that they had not preferred a single life to marriage; and finally let them continually so act that their daughters especially, disgusted with the tedium of a life passed in such a manner with their mothers, might think of a religious state.

II. Let our members converse familiarly with their sons, or if any should appear adapted for our society, let them be introduced occasionally into the college, and let those things be shown and explained to them which may be in any manner pleasant; and that the invitations to join our society may be accepted, let such things as gardens, vineyards, country seats, and estates, where we amuse ourselves, be shown them; let our travels to different kingdoms, our intercourse with the rulers of the world, and whatsoever may delight young persons be told them; let them see the external neatness of our refectories and bed-rooms; the cheerful intercourse among ourselves, the ease of our government to which is yet promised the glory of God; and finally the pre-eminence of our order above all others, and let our conversations mix what is pleasant with what is grave.

III. Let them be exhorted sometimes, as if by inspiration, to religion in general; and then let the perfection and excellence of our society be cautiously insinuated; let them also know, both in public exhortations and private conversations, how great a sin it is to spurn the divine call; and finally let them be persuaded to perform such spiritual exercises as will strengthen their preference for such a life.

IV. We should take care to have instructors attached to our society, who may constantly watch and exhort such youth; but if they should be reluctant abridge their privileges somewhat now and then, that they by such monotony of life may be made submissive. Let the mother explain the difficulties of the family. At last if it cannot thus be properly affected, that of their own choice they would move their minds to the society, let them be sent under the pretext of their studies to remote institutions of the society; and while on the part of the mother few comforts are allowed to be administered, on the part of the society let strong allurements be shown that their affections may be transferred to us.