Inside the CPPS Archives – Prayers from the past

This column showcases different artifacts or documents from the CPPS Archives in each issue of Sharing & Caring.

In 1889, the Sisters’ Constitution noted a “Daily Program for Mission Houses.” This schedule is a modified version for the Sisters who lived away from the Motherhouse in Maria Stein and other larger convents, such as the Sisters in Tennessee or Arizona. Because there were fewer Sisters at these Mission Houses, their prayer schedule started later and included ways to pray individually if praying together was impossible due to when the Sisters ministered. In general, the Sisters rose at 5 a.m. and had prayers in common, including the Angelus, a Morning Prayer, the Litany of the Name of Jesus, the Seven Offerings of the Precious Blood, and the Little Chaplet of the Precious Blood. After their morning work, they engaged in the Examination of Conscience (then called Particular Examen). After lunch, they said a Rosary, the Litany of the Name of Jesus, and the Office of the Immaculate Conception. Then supper and recreation, time for study, evening prayer and bedtime.

This regimented prayer schedule was not the only way the Sisters prayed at the turn of the 20th century. In the early 1900s, Mother Emma Nunlist was the president of the Sisters of the Precious Blood. Her job was not easy; she oversaw the convents in Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee and Arizona, making sure Sisters had their needs met in their ministries of teaching, nursing, missionary work, housekeeping, cooking, caring for orphans and more. But she knew she was appreciated because the Sisters prayed for her often. She received this prayer from the Sisters at the convent in Thompson, Ohio (now Bellevue), written in German.

The prayer speaks of plucking a heavenly bouquet for Mother Emma made of “crimson roses and lilies, equal in number,” as well as making “Mary’s roses into a bouquet of wisdom.” The prayer says, we “write our love to you in the Heavenly Mother’s praise: we pray rosaries diligently for you four times seven and thirty.”

Formal and informal ways of praying were essential to the Sisters’ spiritual lives. These traditions continue today with prayer services, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, daily Mass, and the modification of the early prayers such as a version of the Seven Offerings of the Precious Blood for timely world events such as a national election.

Story by Sarah Aisenbrey; photos from the CPPS Archives collection.

Top, copy of 1889 Constitution detailing “Daily Program for Mission Houses.” Bottom, prayer for Mother Emma from the Sisters at the convent in Thompson (Bellevue), Ohio, ca. 1900.

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