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Chapter XIV.—Perils to the Virgins Themselves Attendant Upon Not-Veiling.

They report a saying uttered at one time by some one when first this question was mooted, “And how shall we invite the other (virgins) to similar conduct?”  Forsooth, it is their numbers that will make us happy, and not the grace of God and the merits of each individual!  Is it virgins who (adorn or commend) the Church in the sight of God, or the Church which adorns or commends virgins?  (Our objector) has therefore confessed that “glory” lies at the root of the matter.  Well, where glory is, there is solicitation; where solicitation, there compulsion; where compulsion, there necessity; where necessity, there infirmity.  Deservedly, therefore, while they do not cover their head, in order that they may be solicited for the sake of glory, they are forced to cover their bellies by the ruin resulting from infirmity.  For it is emulation, not religion, which impels them.  Sometimes it is that god—36their belly323323    Comp. Phil. iii. 19.—himself; because the brotherhood readily undertakes the maintenance of virgins.  But, moreover, it is not merely that they are ruined, but they draw after them “a long rope of sins.”324324    See Isa. v. 18.  For, after being brought forth into the midst (of the church), and elated by the public appropriation of their property,325325    So Oehler, with Rig., seems to understand “publicato bono suo.”  But it may be doubted whether the use of the singular “bono,” and the sense in which “publicare” and “bonum” have previously occurred in this treatise, do not warrant the rendering, “and elated by the public announcement of their good deed”—in self-devotion.  Comp. “omnis publicatio virginis bonæ” in c. iii., and similar phrases.  Perhaps the two meanings may be intentionally implied. and laden by the brethren with every honour and charitable bounty, so long as they do not fall,—when any sin has been committed, they meditate a deed as disgraceful as the honour was high which they had.  (It is this.)  If an uncovered head is a recognised mark of virginity, (then) if any virgin falls from the grace of virginity, she remains permanently with head uncovered for fear of discovery, and walks about in a garb which then indeed is another’s.  Conscious of a now undoubted womanhood, they have the audacity to draw near to God with head bare.  But the “jealous God and Lord,” who has said, “Nothing covered which shall not be revealed,”326326    Matt. x. 26.  Again apparently a double meaning, in the word “revelabitus” ="unveiled,” which (of course) is the strict sense of “revealed,” i.e., “re-veiled.” brings such in general before the public gaze; for confess they will not, unless betrayed by the cries of their infants themselves.  But, in so far as they are “more numerous,” will you not just have them suspected of the more crimes?  I will say (albeit I would rather not) it is a difficult thing for one to turn woman once for all who fears to do so, and who, when already so turned (in secret), has the power of (still) falsely pretending to be a virgin under the eye of God.  What audacities, again, will (such an one) venture on with regard to her womb, for fear of being detected in being a mother as well!  God knows how many infants He has helped to perfection and through gestation till they were born sound and whole, after being long fought against by their mothers!  Such virgins ever conceive with the readiest facility, and have the happiest deliveries, and children indeed most like to their fathers!

These crimes does a forced and unwilling virginity incur.  The very concupiscence of non-concealment is not modest:  it experiences somewhat which is no mark of a virgin,—the study of pleasing, of course, ay, and (of pleasing) men.  Let her strive as much as you please with an honest mind; she must necessarily be imperilled by the public exhibition327327    Comp. the note above on “publicato bono suo.” of herself, while she is penetrated by the gaze of untrustworthy and multitudinous’ eyes, while she is tickled by pointing fingers, while she is too well loved, while she feels a warmth creep over her amid assiduous embraces and kisses.  Thus the forehead hardens; thus the sense of shame wears away; thus it relaxes; thus is learned the desire of pleasing in another way!


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