The following verses were suggested by a touching ceremony which lately took place in the chapel of the Congregation Convent, Notre Dame, Montreal, the beloved Institution in which the happy days of my girlhood were passed. The ceremony in question was the renewal of her vows by the Venerable Mother Superior, just fifty years from the date of her first profession, which was made at the early age of fifteen. In the world, in the few rare instances in which both bride and bridegroom live to witness the fiftieth anniversary of their union, the "golden wedding," as it is usually called, is generally celebrated with great pomp and rejoicing; tis but just, then, that in religion, the faithful spouses of the Saviour should welcome with equal satisfaction the anniversary of the epoch which witnessed the mystical union contracted with their Heavenly Bridegroom.
Montreal, Sept. 28, 1859.
On a golden autumn morning,
Just fifty years ago,
When harvests ripe lay smiling
In the sunshine's yellow glow,
A pious group was standing
Round the lighted altar's flame
In the humble convent chapel
Of the Nuns of Notre Dame.
A girl of fifteen summers,
With gentle, serious air,
In novice garb of purple,
Was humbly kneeling there;
Uttering the vows so binding
Whose magic power sufficed
To make that child-like maiden
The well-loved Bride of Christ.
No troubled, anxious shadow
O'er-clouded that young brow,
As with look and voice unfaltering
She breathed her solemn vow:
No regretful glances cast she
On the pomps that she had spurned,
Nor the dream of love and pleasure
From which she had coldly turned.
* * * * *
Fifty years of joy and sorrow
Since that day have o'er her flown -
Years of words and deeds of mercy,
Living but for God alone -
And again a group is standing,
By this holy scene enticed,
To renew the golden bridal
Of this faithful spouse of Christ.
True, her brow has lost the smoothness
And her cheek the fresh young glow
That adorned them on that autumn
Morning - fifty years ago;
But, oh! think not that her Bridegroom
Loves her anything the less;
He sees but the inward beauty
And the spirit's loveliness.
Cloister honors long have fallen
Ceaseless, constant, to her lot,
But, like cloister honors falling,
Unto one who sought them not;
Daughter meek of the great Foundress
Of thy honored house and name,
Worthy art thou to be Abbess
Of the nuns of Notre Dame!