AN OPEN LETTER
TO THE RT. REV. F. R. GRAVES, D. D.,
BISHOP OF SHANGHAI, AND BISHOP IN CHARGE OF
THE MISSIONARY DISTRICT OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, SHANGHAI, CHINA.
Jan. 3, 1919
I have received from you the following letter:--
BISHOP'S HOUSE, MANILA, Dec. 2, 1918
To THE CLERGY OF THE MISSIONARY DISTRICT OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS: DEAR BRETHREN:
In visiting the work of the Church in this Missionary District my constant endeavor has been to make as few changes as possible in the methods which are used in the various stations in carrying on the work. There are, however, two things in the services of some of the churches which are so contrary to the rule of worship in our own Church and in the whole Anglican Communion that it is impossible for me to sanction them.
The first is the perpetual reservation of the Blessed Sacrament and the burning of a light before it. Reservation for the purpose of communicating the sick where the Order of the Communion of the Sick cannot be used owing to peculiar and difficult conditions has been recognized and allowed and I have no intention of refusing sanction to such a method of reservation provided it is practised bona fide for the purpose of the Communion of the sick and that no light is burned before the place where it is reserved.
The second is the singing of the Ave Maria together with the burning of candles and offering of flowers before the image of the Virgin. The use of such ceremonies is without warrant in the Book of Common Prayer and I hereby call upon those of you who have introduced these into the public services to discontinue the same. I beg you to believe that before issuing these directions I have patiently and prayerfully considered these matters and that I take this action only because it is my duty in obedience to the promises made at my consecration. And I request you to acknowledge the receipt of this letter and to express the willing-ness to conform to the directions therein contained.
Faithfully yours in Christ,
(Signed) F. R. GRAVES,
Bishop in charge of the Missionary District of the Philippine Islands.
You will have received my reply which was as follows:--
SAGADA, P. I. December 31, 1918
I have to acknowledge, as you request, my receipt on December 21, '18 of a letter which you have sent out dated Manila, December 2, '18, addressed "To the Clergy of the Missionary District of the Philippine Islands."
In regard to your further request that I express "the willingness to conform to the directions therein contained", I have to reply that I cannot conscientiously so conform.
It is my purpose to lay this matter before the Church at large through the medium of an Open Letter, which I will be mailing to you immediately. I fully realize that the Church's verdict must either approve for use in the mission field the methods which have been followed here, or must condemn them. This will have at least as a result that missionaries volunteering will thereafter know where they stand, and whether it will be safe for them to devote the best period of their active life to building up mission undertakings for the Church, which, in a moment, through a change of superiors, may be crippled or swept away.
(Signed) JOHN A. STAUNTON, JR.
No further introduction to what I have here to say will be necessary.
At the outset let me express regret that you have thought best to take up this matter in the way that you have. You wrote me from Manila (October 29, '18):--
"Bishop Brent's leaving here has naturally shaken the Mission a good deal. My aim in the short period in which I shall be connected with this Missionary District is to do my best to help you all to pull the Mission through this critical period until you have a permanent head. I want everybody's help in this".
When, for several days you were with us in Sagada, I spoke to you with the utmost frankness of all our methods, which have been routine for many years. In the course of friendly conversation you, with equal frankness, stated that, while you personally disapproved of some practices, as your care of the Philippine District was only a temporary one, you wished simply to confirm our candidates, to help us in any other way that you could, and then to get back to your own field as quickly as possible. You left us with the impression that you had no intention of suggesting changes. In your courteous letter from Baguto (November 20, 18) you said, "I much enjoyed talking with you and finding so many points on which we agreed and some few in which we did not".
Then, as out of a clear sky, came your mandatory letter of December 2, 18 from Manila, ordering me to abandon methods and practices which have been intimately interwoven into the life of this Mission since its foundation fourteen years ago, which are in exact accord with the course our former Bishop approved for this work, and which represent the conviction of practically the entire Staff. Allow me to say that I think some other course would have been more considerate to me, to Bishop Brent, and to all of us.
In handling other matters pertaining to the working of this Mission you have shown a further lack of consideration to me as the priest in charge. Custom no less than courtesy requires in every department of life that a superior should not take up directly with subordinates matters which fall within the province of the local head; and certainly not without previous consultation with him. Such a course is considered as an act of official discourtesy to an inferior. Noblesse oblige. It is one of those things which, as one may say, are not done. Yet apparently there are exceptions. Without a previous word to me on the subject, you announced your intention, in your letter of November 14, 18, to transfer my assistant priest to another Mission. You acknowledged the receipt of neither the letter nor the telegram which I then sent you in regard to the matter: and left me to find out incidentally through my assistant that you had actually transferred him.
Again: there was a change which you thought desirable affecting another worker in one of my outstations, Besao; and you made it without consulting me by sending from Manila to my assistant Deaconess a mandatory letter addressed to her which I was merely to read and then transmit.
I repeat, such things are not ordinarily done where there is concern to maintain official relations. A regiment would be quickly demoralized if the colonel in command should issue orders to lieutenants or sergeants passing over and ignoring the company commanders. I do not cite these instances merely to draw attention to discourtesy but to show how impossible it would be for any coordinated work to hold together under such treatment. No organization could withstand the demoralizing effects of such methods. You know this as well as I do: and the only interpretation I can find for your course is that which may be inferred from your following letter disapproving of our Sagada traditions and practices and ordering us to abandon them.
The practices which you condemn, as you state them, are:
1. The perpetual reservation of the Blessed Sacrament.
2. The burning of a light before the place where it is reserved.
3. The singing of the Ave Maria.
4. The burning of candles and offering of flowers before the image of the Virgin.
1. Of course it would be simply contrary to fact to say that the perpetual reservation of the Blessed Sacrament with a light in front of It is not permitted in the Episcopal Church, for it obviously is permitted. There are many more than a hundred churches in the most prominent dioceses of the American Church where the Blessed Sacrament is so reserved, and I believe that there are not a few of our Cathedrals in which the sanctuary light is burning. In England, I understand, this custom is even more common than in America.
2. Whether or not a light is kept burning in the church before the place where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved, or in any other place, is a matter obviously within the entire discretion of the priest. As well might a bishop call on a priest "under obedience" to turn out the gas in his own house before going to bed, or not to put up Christmas decorations. I know of nothing in the canons of the Church which gives a bishop authority in these matters. How a priest illuminates his church or decorates it, whether with candles, or oil lamps, or electricity, or evergreens, is a matter at his sole discretion. Whether he puts all lights out, or leaves one burning all night, or all day, in a particular place for a particular purpose, is a matter no one may dictate to him. Thirty years ago individual bishops attacked the use of altar candles by issuing orders similar to yours. The well nigh universal use of candles in our churches to-day proves that they were exceeding their authority.
3. The singing of the Ave Maria is likewise obviously permitted in the Episcopal Church. It was constantly sung in public services in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, New York, twenty-five years ago when I was a curate there. It was sung in each of the churches of which I was rector. It may be heard from Maine to California. Even churches which do not represent advanced churchmanship put Ave Marias by Gounod, Schubert, Mascagni among their musical numbers. But perhaps this may be considered permissible since love of music rather than love of the Mother dictates the selection. Perhaps, too, a highly trained and paid choir might be permitted to sing the Ave Maria; while a congregation of Igorots might not, lest they should put some devotional feeling into it.
4. I plead guilty to the offense of, perhaps sentimentally, occasionally putting a rose bud before the image of Our Lord's Mother and mine. It serves to keep the memory of Mary's pure loveliness fresh in my heart; and I am always better for the act. But I deny any right of yours to prevent me from so doing. And as to candles, on Sundays and great feast days we light all the candles in the church, and I certainly would be unable to explain to my people why the candles which illumine the Mother's statue should be made an exception. As to singing the Ave Maria to or before the statue, I do not recollect that we have ever done this, as yet; but, of course, we might come to the grossest idolatry in time if these things were allowed to go unchecked. Nevertheless, in an increasing number of "Anglican" churches both in England and America the Incarnation is becoming better understood through honor paid to Mary in picture, statue and shrine.
The doctrinal considerations which prevent me from complying with your requirements I will not discuss, as these have been argued again and again; the material is available, and the arguments adduced are familiar to us both. No conclusive or "exclusive" result can be reached in this direction while the Episcopal Church leaves open and undefined, as it obviously does, the doctrine of Our Lord's presence in the Blessed Sacrament, and of Mary's place in the scheme of redemption.
But I propose to state briefly some other considerations which make it impossible for me to conform to your directions. And I do so as an accredited agent whom the Episcopal Church has sent into this far field to do a particular and a difficult piece of work.
The matter of a priest's canonical obedience to his bishop, first, naturally, presents itself. I promised at my ordination to obey the godly admonitions and the godly judgments of the bishop who, according to the canons of the Church should be over me. I have no hesitation whatever in denying categorically that the admonitions and judgments contained in your letter are covered by the terms of a priest's canonical obedience. To make my meaning perfectly plain I will go so far as to say that I regard those requirements as stated in your letter not only as not godly, but definitely, as applied to this work, ungodly. The Living Church addresses itself to the principle involved in an editorial in its issue of June 8, 18, which I will quote:--
"Both in the grant of authority to the bishop and in the promise of obedience by the priest, are definite limitations. The grant of authority to the bishop and the promise of obedience by the priest must be read together. The bishop acquires no right to rule except 'by the authority of God's Word and by the order of this Church'; the priest makes no promise to obey except 'according to the canons of the Church'. The priest no more places his liberty in the hands of his bishop than the bishop acquires an unlimited authority over the priest. The bishop can order the priest to do only what is explicitly required by the canons; the priest promises only to obey in connection with that limitation. 'Admonitions' requiring priests to obey the bishop in matters not thus explicitly set down in the law of the Church are anything but 'godly'. The priest, and not the bishop, is to determine what the priest shall do wherever and whenever he is not bound by explicit law such as binds equally the bishop and the priest. A whole host of misunderstandings and bitterness would have been avoided during the history of this Church if this distinction had been perfectly clear."
A priest who is the rector of a parish is placed by the Church in an impregnable position to resist encroachments on rights which are his inherently. I will quote again from the same editorial:--
"The rector--not the bishop--is charged with the exercise of all the discretion that there may be as to how the services of the Church shall be rendered. Choristers, organists, Servers, ceremonial, are in his hands. 'Every Act of sacerdotal Function'--a very sweeping grant of authority--is absolutely
vested by the bishop, the chief ordinary, in the rector, the ordinary of the parish, in the words of the Institution office, subject to explicit limitation: 'You continuing in communion with us, and complying with the rubrics and canons of the Church, and with such lawful directions as you shall at any time receive from us'. The 'lawful directions' must naturally, be those which are based on the law of the Church, going back again to the authority vested in the bishop; they cannot extend to preferences of the bishop not explicitly required by law. 'The control of the worship and the spiritual jurisdiction of the parish are vested in the rector, subject to the Rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer, the Canons of the Church, and the godly counsel' (not the dictation) 'of the bishop' (Canon 16)."
I know, of course, that a bishop has a peculiar power to coerce a priest who occupies a mission station in his Jurisdiction: but I note well that this power arises not from any extra-canonical obedience which a Mission Priest owes to a Missionary Bishop; but from the circumstances under which the Mission Priest has been appointed and is paid his stipend. It arises solely from the fact that a Missionary Bishop can, in most cases, by representations, get a Mission priest recalled and his salary stopped: and a priest so treated in our Church has no protection or redress. I quite understand this aspect of the present situation and, though I had hoped to end my life at the Mission which has been more than a child to me, I am prepared to face it.
For, supposing that I, allowing the principle underlying your ruling, could conscientiously conform on the issues which you raise; what guarantee is there that I would not presently be told by a new bishop to apply the same principle to other matters which you indeed would allow to be legitimate but which your successor would condemn? How about servers in the sanctuary, recently condemned by the Bishop of Alabama? How about altar lights, not so long ago condemned by Bishop Coxe? How about the use of the crucifix? I can remember when an American bishop shook his fist at one hanging in the church. How about confessions? We hear hundreds of confessions in Sagada: in fact everyone who makes his communion comes to confession in the course of the year. You, personally, think confession is good medicine; but suppose the new bishop who is coming, disapproving of this practice, should order me to cease hearing confessions: what, then, for me, if I should now allow the principle underlying your ruling?
I may well quote here a paragraph of Bishop Brent's final Report, from the Spirit of Missions for March 1918:--
"A bishop as I conceive of his responsibilities, is bound to sink his own tastes and preferences in such matters and not put himself in the position of trying to impose his personal interpretations and conclusions upon his clergy. He must secure for them their legitimate freedom, while retaining his own. He can authorize only that which he himself has in the fullest interpretation of his prerogatives liberty to authorize. But only those of us who have been put in the position of having to apply, without freedom of adaptation, an Anglo-Saxon liturgical use to the need of a primitive and oriental people, can appreciate the strain that conformity entails. The pain that comes from trying to be real when adherence to one's own conception of things or the traditional law of the Church means artificiality, ranks high in the category of suffering, and forces one to the conclusion that the provincialisms of our Church hamper her missionary effectiveness. The principles that I have advocated have been to keep the structure of the sacramental offices inviolate (which has not always been scrupulously done) and to distinguish between the authorized services of the Church and the popular devotions of the people. For instance, while it may be the custom of the people to gather in the church to say the Rosary, I have no right to license it in its traditional form, and give it a place by the side of the Litany as an office to be led by the priest. Neither do I believe it to be within my province to forbid a service which has in it so much that is quite in accord with our own religious position."
It would be useless for me to attempt to justify our practices to you, but I may say something as to how you happened to find a work so unfamiliar at our mountain mission stations.
It would be futile to attempt mission work among any peculiar people without taking into account their personal characteristics and the conditions under which they live. Especially, all writers agree that to know the Malay character requires acute observation during a long period of close association.
With Bishop Brent's sanction I spent my first year in the Philippine Islands (1902) in a secular position which gave me unrivalled opportunities to study Malay character and life. In the capacity of Deputy Superintendent of Schools, it not being generally known that I was a priest and missionary, I travelled back and forth through the Island of Cebu, staying with Spanish and Filipino priests in conventos and in private homes, till I knew every padre and presidente in the Island and had become well acquainted with native life, temperament and customs. I lived with the people day in day out. At the end of the year I was sent into the mountains of Luzon to apply what I had learned and if possible to convert the Igorots to Christianity.
A casual visitor coming for the first time into the Philippines, or into Igorot land, can get but a superficial idea of the situation. If he comes, as you did, from some mission definitely organized on another basis, among an entirely different race of people, he will be apt to bring all of his new and hurried observations to the touchstone of preconceptions formed in that other field. Xo an extent a background of such experience will partially inhibit him from seeing things as they really are.
An antecedent prejudice will also inhibit sympathetic understanding and handling. This you certainly have shown. On the trail, a day before you arrived in Sagada, you received from me the following letter: --
SAGADA, P. I. November 2, 1918
DEAR BISHOP GRAVES:
I shall hope to see you soon. If the weather is good we may some of us go out on the trail to meet you. It has been customary at Sagada when the Bishop comes to greet him by ringing the church bells, tooting horns, and otherwise making a barbaric noise. I warn you beforehand as this noise is not altogether pleasant to the ear, also some of the people who may wish to shake your hand in the hopes of receiving a blessing will not be over clean. Do not mind this: we are simple folk.
Bishop Brent's custom was to go first of all on arrival to the church and, after kneeling before the altar while a few prayers were being said, to put on his cope and mitre, go up to the altar and give the people his episcopal blessing. I do not know whether you will wish to follow this course, but it will help us if you do. We have one of the Bishop's mitres here, which he left just for such occasions, and we also have a pastoral staff which the Bishop ordered made in China.
I shall hope to hear from you that you have had a good trip. The weather so far has been perfect here.
(Signed) JOHN A. STAUNTON, JR.
Your reply to me, when I went out with my people to welcome you at the entrance to the Mission, was that I might make any explanation I liked to them, but that you would not go to the church for the accustomed reception and blessing.
Later you refused to use at any time the mitre and pastoral staff which Bishop Brent kept in the mountains for use on episcopal visitations, or to adopt the attitude which these people have always been accustomed to associate with the office of a bishop. These matters, naturally, were noted and commented on: "Why doesn't he wear the dress of a bishop?" was a question put by an Igorot. As a result, our people are now wondering and questioning whether we are really Catholics, as we claim to be; or only "make believe" Catholics, as, years ago, they were told we were. Would it not have been far better had you felt compelled conscientiously to stay away, rather than thus to come here and by non-conformity to introduce doubt and distress among a simple people who have no background of intellectual life enabling them to understand and ignore such variations?
It is usual for one who makes changes in a long continued administration, to make a study of conditions first: but, so far as I know, you did not even make pertinent inquiries as to the conditions of Igorot life. In fact you showed a disinclination even to visit our out-stations, where you might have seen something of how our people lived. "I've seen mission stations before", was your remark.
The Christian Filipinos, or the pagan Igorots of Luzon, both differ widely from the Chinese. Their background, habits, and their mentality are all different. As for the Igorots, they represent a pagan remnant in the midst of a Malay population which has been Christian for centuries. Methods for the Christianization of the Igorots must take this fact into account.
To swing the whole Filipino people, most of them Roman Catholics, to Episcopalianism, even were this desirable, would be a task of a magnitude which the Episcopal Church has neither men nor resources to undertake. As Bishop Brent says in his final Report, (Spirit of Missions, March 1918): --
"The responsibility before God and men for the spiritual condition and progress of the Filipinos rests and will continue to rest mainly with the venerable Church which for nearly four hundred years has claimed and, until recently, maintained exclusive and jealous jurisdiction over them".
"I could not from conviction undertake or promote that attack on the Roman Catholic Church which, directly or indirectly, seems to be necessary for success. The raising of altar against altar is a process of which I am temperamentally incapable. My theory has been that constructive presentation of the truth as God has made it known to us would win those who ought to be won. Even those doctrines in another communion which I cannot accept, I am unable to condemn. It is for a united Church to reset the norm in doctrine, discipline and worship."
Yet a mission like other enterprises must have a definite aim and purpose, and not be merely desultory and objectless. It would have been sheer folly and waste had the work of Bishop Brent resulted merely in adding a few feeble Episcopalian mission stations to the numerous sects now striving for possession of the Filipino's soul. But Bishop Brent had a larger ideal. He placed the emphasis of his work for natives on the as yet unChristianized remnant, and chiefly on the Igorot.
And the methods which he approved for his missions among the Igorots were determined by the place the Igorots occupied with respect to the great bulk of the Philippine population. The Filipinos were Catholics. Their religious ties were strongly social. The Igorots would eventually take their place in the general civilization. To bring about a political unity was the constant endeavor of our American Government. Political unity ought to have religious unity as its background and safeguard. The only religious unity within the realm of possibility for the Filipinos was that which existed already in the Catholic Church. Therefore, Bishop Brent's work sought so to present Christianity to the Igorots that converts would not by the very fact of their embracing Christianity be thereby cut off from the common Christian life of the great bulk of their own race.
In methods Bishop Brent has repeatedly, and at his last visit to us particularly, expressed approval of the policy of so approximating our "use" to the Roman as to make our services and ministrations present the same general impression to the people. And this, not for the purpose of deceiving them as to our position, but to familiarize them with that form of religion which will most help them to continue as good Christians when they remove beyond the reach of our own ministrations. You may find Bishop Brent's opinions on this subject in his printed utterances. I quote again from his final Report:--
"For a double reason I feel that a mission of our Church in a Latin country like the Philippines can best do its work among the natives by advanced ritual. It is the obvious mode of approach to the child and the childlike. But further than that, we ought to avoid raising among them questions involving disputations, controversies and all that weary process of doctrinal hairsplitting which is the bane of the Christian Church. The saving truths of the Christian religion have never been and never will be those of doubtful and disputable substance. I believe it to be our duty in such circumstances as are under consideration, to avoid as far as we conscientiously and legitimately can, any emphasis on the differences between ourselves and our Roman Catholic brethren, and to lay stress on our points of contact, conforming where we can to the established traditions of the country".
Again, addressing the Board of Missions in New York on May 10, 1916, Bishop Brent said:--
"He [Fr. Staunton] has put us .............. into such a relation with the Belgian clergy of that district that, though officially the Roman Catholic clergy may feel it necessary to present something of an opposition, really and personally they feel that after all the Church of God is one, and that the work we are doing is part of the great work of the Catholic Church. Let me tell you I am as proud of that relation to that great, venerable Roman Catholic Church, as I am of our relationship with the clergy and the various missions of the Protestant communions".
In any rapprochement of friendliness which I may have been instrumental in establishing between ourselves and the Roman clergy, I have known that I had the encouragement of Bishop Brent.
When we first established ourselves in Sagada in 1904 it seemed unlikely that the Roman Catholic mission, which had not been a success in Spanish times, would ever be reopened. Later, however, in 1909, a Roman priest was sent here to "fight" us, and remained for a year and a half. It was perfectly clear to the people that the two missions were not identical, for we told them so, and they could see for themselves that we were not in communion. But we made it equally clear that our Mission was Catholic; emphasizing the identity of our Creeds, Sacraments, Scriptures and Ministry: our services showed no marked dissimilarity; and we built up what was practically an identical devotional life, in which love for Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and love for Our Lord's Mother, Mary, were prominent.
After a year and a half in Sagada the Roman priest was moved away. There was practically nothing here for him to do. He had no following. Scarcely a dozen of old time Catholics remained in Sagada; and practically all the new converts from paganism, numbering hundreds, were being baptized by us. Later the Roman Catholic buildings consisting of convento and church were a taken down and moved away. Best of all, when Father------, now Superior of his Order in the Philippines, departed, he went away as my friend. I wish to put on record that Father------'s simple and devoted life have always been an inspiration to me. I believe that I have profited by his prayers ever since.
In organizing and carrying on our work along Catholic lines, I, equally, have received encouragement from Bishop Brent; more especially of late years, since he has seen more clearly its bearing and effect. At the opening of the Sagada Mission it was Bishop Brent himself who provided the money to purchase the large copy in color of Murillo's "Immaculate Conception" which for thirteen years has been our altarpiece. Bishop Brent gave our first metal altar candlesticks. Later, when Baguio filled up with boys and young men who had received their preliminary training in Bontoc and Sagada, it was Bishop Brent who saw to it that a regular mass was celebrated for them there and who provided the colored chasuble (Roman shape) to be used by the priest in charge of the Baguio work. He has contributed towards erecting the Stations of the Cross in our new church. It was from Bishop Brent that I hold the valuable "watch case" pix which I constantly use in carrying the Blessed Sacrament from the tabernacle to the sick. From the beginning of the Mission the Blessed Sacrament has been reserved on the main altar in a tabernacle where It is the center of our people's devotions. A letter written by Bishop Brent in the early days of the Sagada Mission rejoiced over the way the Igorots brought mountain lilies to decorate our shrine. Even in those early days the picture of Mary was in place over our altar and a light was burning before it. From the first this church has been a shrine of Mary in whose honor the Mission was named, and from the first the Ave Maria, or Angelus, has been rung from our bell tower three times a day.
The evening Angelus (see form printed below) is what you heard and objected to. Coming as it does at six o'clock, immediately after the conclusion of our daily vesper service, it is sung together in dialect by members of the Mission staff, school children and workmen who gather in the church for this evening salutation before they disperse for the night. It is the simple and universally used memorial of the Incarnation: and you condemn it because it contains the Ave Maria. Yet the Angelus has the power to teach simple people that Jesus our God is Son of Mary as nothing else can; and more than one visitor, hearing our people sing it, has been moved to tears.
When Dr. Lloyd, President of the Board of Missions, and now Bishop, visited Sagada in 1906 he heard the Angelus sung, and if he objected to this practice he certainly did not so express himself to me. We are still blessing him for his instrumentality in leaving with us at that time the first large contribution which the Mission had received, enabling us to pipe spring water from the mountain, and so making the growth of the Mission possible.
In 1913 Bishop Gilbert White of Carpentaria, Australia, spent several days with us in Sagada during the season of Lent. On Fridays during Lent we are accustomed to sing the Stations of the Cross in the church, stopping at each of the fourteen stations to sing the Lord's Prayer, the Ave Maria, and other devotions. Bishop White took part in this service, and after his return to Australia expressed himself as follows in his diocesan magazine. I am obliged to condense.
"About eleven years ago, on the arrival of Bishop Brent at Manila, a mission was established at Sagada, which lies in a fairly open valley 5000 feet above the sea. A Roman Catholic mission had been sent to Sagada some twenty years before, but had been abandoned as a failure, and the only trace left of it was that the people had learned and remembered how to sing the 'Ave Maria'.
"It was thought well that the mission should, as far as possible, be conducted on lines not differing too much in outward appearances from those which they had already learned to associate with Christianity, and the lines on which the Mission is run are of a somewhat advanced and ritualistic type, appealing especially to the eye, although I saw nothing that was disloyal to or inconsistent with the Prayer Book teaching. Although I could not personally agree with everything that was done, I am bound to admit that the results seemed to be excellent, and the church seemed to have a most remarkable spiritual grip, not only on the converts but upon the white officials and residents in Bontoc and elsewhere.
"I was at the Mission on a Friday in Lent, and at 5 p. m. there was a service of the Stations of the Cross. I do not know whether or no the devotion is as a general rule a desirable one, but there could be no doubt that the congregation was thoroughly in earnest. In addition to the children, there were about forty adults, of whom a majority were men just come in from work from the adjoining native village. There was no address, the service, which lasted a full hour, consisting of a procession with prayers and hymns only; but there was no sign of flagging attention or interest. Certainly it was the most democratic service I ever attended, as men, women, and children, bishops and priests, Igorots, Ilocanos, Americans, English, Canadians, Spanish, and Mestizos were all mixed up in a dense crowd and it was impossible to doubt that the people were there because Our Lord's Passion was a reality to them and they wanted to be there to commemorate His sufferings.
"The Superintendent [is] Father Staunton............Curiously enough the assistant priest [the Rev. Robb White, Jr.] is a man of totally different ecclesiastical views, being a convinced Evangelical, and his testimony to the spiritual results of Father Staunton's work is therefore the more remarkable. Happily the American Church seems largely free from that bitter party feeling which has not been unknown in Australia and it is recognized that men may differ in their ecclesiastical views, and yet work together honestly and amicably for God's glory and the extension of His Kingdom".
On the feasts of Mary our practice is to carry our Lord's statue in an out-of-doors procession; after the Filipinos' custom which I learned during that year which I spent in Cebu; and Bishop Brent when visiting us has taken part in these solemnities not grudgingly, but with enthusiasm. He has entered into the spirit of it, and helped to "swing" it. One of the enclosed pictures will show you our late Bishop in the act of administering Confirmation in our church. On one side may be seen, though not plainly in this picture, the statue of Mary surrounded with lights and flowers, the practice you now order us to abandon. Other pictures show the statue of Mary as carried in procession on our patronal feasts. In his own Manila Cathedral Bishop Brent has preached on the honor due to Mary; and in an article which was printed two years ago in the Living Church he commended a book of verse put out to make Mary better known and loved ("A Posie from a Royal Garden").
There have been some few minor theological points bearing on the conduct of the Mission as to which Bishop Brent and I have not always been in perfect accord; but they are not the points which you criticize in your letter. And I think it will be fair, under the circumstances, though perhaps not quite modest of me, to quote what Bishop Brent said before the Board of Missions on May 10, 1916:--
"There were times when I thought that I could teach Fr. Staunton better ways of doing his work than those he has learned from God Himself. I have ceased to interject my own theories into the life of a man who has proved by his work that he knows how to bring simple minded people into close and intimate touch with God as revealed in Jesus Christ".
The two practices which you condemn have been followed not only in Sagadabut in Bontoc with Bishop Brent's expressed approval. The priest in charge of the services at Bontoc, whom you now so easily rebuke, was invited into this Jurisdiction by Bishop Brent because in Australia he had practiced and taught the very two points which you condemn, till he was forced to resign a marvelously successful work there by a bishop whose sympathies were Protestant. In giving this priest (whose honesty and integrity even his opponents acknowledged), an asylum from persecution, Bishop Brent, cognisant of all the facts of the case from those who were on the court which tried him, wrote to him as follows:--
''Your churchmanship is the sort I desire."
"The position you hold, so far from being an embarrassment to us, is the reverse."
As to Sagada: not only did our Bishop approve of the way in which this work was conducted, but he sent a Filipino deacon into residence here so that he might learn our ways and methods for use in Manila after he should be priested.
All very well, you might say, so far as you were working under a Bishop who sympathized with your methods; but you are under a very different management now. And to this I might reply: that if an incoming bishop pro tem may suddenly reverse the carefully worked out and continuously applied missionary policy of his predecessors, to the utter demoralization of the stations that have been built up on that policy, then, the quicker the Episcopal Church abandons this mission field, at least, to the exclusive ministrations of the Roman Church the better for these people.
I think I have said enough to establish the fact that I have had all the episcopal authorization that was necessary for what has been done in Sagada. But a contention of your letter--or, at least, a legitimate inference from it--is that I do not represent the Church.
Let me go back, then, and consider my "rating", so to speak, before I came to the Philippines. I wish it to be clear that the Church in sending me to the Philippines in 1901 as one of its accredited representatives did so fully knowing who and what I was, and therefore stood back of me in what I would supposedly do.
I volunteered and was accepted because I was a "Catholic Churchman", though I doubt I would have been considered as a member of "the Catholic party". Men of Catholic churchmanship were being urged to volunteer for our new possessions because of the peculiar conditions of the field. It was largely because of my churchmanship that the late Bishop Henry C. Potter of New York encouraged me to go and indorsed my appointment. He had heard me argue for Catholic ceremonial and practice at the St. Paul Church Congress and had there taken occasion to commend the position I took. I made it plain at the Missions House what I was, and indeed could not have concealed it had I wished. My past was well known. I had been connected with the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, New York, altogether for thirteen years; including six years as a priest, at a time when that church was marked out (as happily it is not now) , by the bitter controversies of the period. I had been rector of two parishes, St. James", Cleveland, Ohio, and St. Peter's, Springfield, Massachusetts, in each of which the Blessed Sacrament was publicly reserved and the Hail Mary used in public services, without disturbing the pleasant relations which existed between myself and my bishops.
If now, after seventeen years of hard work, I am to be discredited for continuing to be what I was known to be when I was originally sent out, the application papers of missionaries should hereafter be headed in red ink: "Missionaries who volunteer must be prepared to surrender their convictions and their personalities to their bishop pro tern: in the event of a change in the Episcopate they must be prepared immediately to adjust their beliefs and practices accordingly, or to expect to be recalled and see their labor go for naught". For nothing less than complete destruction would come to this work should the teaching by which it has been built up during these fourteen years be denounced and reversed.
I utter no threat, but I am bound to give you warning, based on my intimate knowledge of the people among whom we work, a 1 of the temperaments of the loyal band of missionary workers at Bontoc and Sagada who were wisely selected for this district because they were in sympathy with the way things are done here. I have made no canvass of the situation, but I may hazard a guess that should the Church insist that the customs of the Sagada and Bontoc Missions be reversed as outlined in your letter, our Church would lose, to another Christian body, practically all of the Christian Igorots of this district (numbering upwards of three thousand); and that the mission field would lose by retirement as soon as it could be conveniently arranged nearly all of our white workers. For even should these workers wish to stay, they would not be able to handle the situation after such a fiasco.
And the fall of the Mission at Sagada will mean the fall of the town itself, back into a dirty and unprogressive Igorot settlement; for Sagada was put on the map of the Philippines by the Mission of St. Mary the Virgin, and is kept alive by our Mission industries. Already under changed conditions, procrastination, and an utter lack of constructive policy, Bishop Brent's work in the Philippines is melting away. Must this work go too, through forgetfulness that this is the Twentieth and not the Sixteenth Century?
Still, you may further ask, "Does the Church at home know what you have been doing at Sagada all these years?" I reply that, if it does not, this is certainly not my fault. At St. Louis in 1916, in an address to the Alumni of the General Theological Seminary, in the presence of the Presiding Bishop, I told the story of Sagada, without reticence as to methods used. Indeed, I particularly emphasized those practices which might possibly have been disapproved. I heard nothing but commendation afterwards from this representative body of priests of all schools of churchmanship.
Literature which we have issued has been frankly outspoken as to our methods. Colored lantern slides showing the interior of our church, and our out-of-doors ceremonial (including pictures herewith enclosed), have been shown in many cities including St. Louis at the time of the last General Convention. A set of these slides purchased by the Missions House has been widely used by mission study classes. The probability is that Sagada's methods are unknown only to those churchmen who take slight interest in missions.
And I have been scrupulous to a fault to use in my printed reports to the Bishop, which have had wide circulation, a terminology which could not be misunderstood. (See extracts from Reports, below). For example: the device at the heading of this letter was adopted not simply for local strategic reasons, but to insure that there should bs no misunderstanding, on the part those who should contribute to us, of what the Mission stands for.
A narrowly "Broad Churchman"--for there are a few such of the Poughkeepsie Chronicle school--once said to me while I was in the States that apparently we were running a Roman Catholic mission with Protestant money. It was intimated that the funds with which the Sagada Mission has been developed come chiefly from persons who were not in sympathy with the methods here employed. I believe that opinion to be quite untrue: and that by far the greater number of those who have specially contributed to Sagada have, whatever their "school", actively sympathized with the work as conducted here. Contributors of very diverse shades of churchmanship--Broad Churchmen included--have written me to that effect. Among the multitude of American visitors to Sagada during all these years, excepting only one lay Presbyterian, one lay Roman Catholic, and one fanatical minister of an obscure Protestant sect, all of whom vigorously protested--although they did not scruple to accept my hospitality--I recall only words of commendation for the methods on which this mission is run. It is true that funds allowed to us by appropriation come from churches representing all schools of thought; but, if assessments are to be levied generally on parishes without regard to churchmanship, disbursements to the field must necessarily be made, as they have been, without partisan discrimination. In this respect we have constantly been treated with perfect fairness by the Board.
And it may give you a new idea, if you will pardon me for mentioning it, to know that I have put upwards of $8,000.00 of my own money--all I have--into this work; and I will not grudge a penny of it unless I am prevented from resting finally among my people in a grave in the Campo Santo on our hillside where I have during even this month laid twenty to rest.
A clear idea of what this Mission has always stood for and its methods, can best be presented by reprinting extracts from the Reports, referred to above, which I rendered to Bishop Brent as early as 1907 and 1912. These Reports, which have been widely read in the States, and others may be found in full in the official annual Journal of this Missionary District on file in the archives of each Diocese. I am italicizing certain paragraphs.
"In concluding the Report I may say that the year 1907 shows no falling off from the former progress of the Mission, but rather a steady gain. As is well known, the work of this Mission has been from the first conducted an 'what are sometimes called 'Catholic lines'. Appeal is made to the eye as well as to the ear. Our services are made as ornate as possible. Every symbol or devotional practice which appeals to these people is freely made use of. At times when public service is not going on Christian Igorots are allowed and encouraged to use the church for such popular devotions as appeal to them, conducted in the native language and by their own leaders. They are encouraged to be their own missionaries, and most of our converts have been brought to baptism through the agency of other Igorot Christians. On the other hand it must not be thought that our work is conducted with a narrow ecclesiasticism. We aim not to make Christians only, but to develop our Christians in every way possible. Better houses, better clothes, better food, better customs, better instruction, better methods of work, better health, better lives,--all are included in our plans for these people. They know that we have their best interests constantly in mind, and as a result they trust us.
"Material development is a necessity of true spiritual progress among any primitive people. It is one thing for the highest and deepest natures to revert to the simple or the monastic life for the sake of religion; it is quite another thing for the savage to retain his primitive simplicity. In the former case the simple life is an abandonment of the artificialities of modern civilization in the interest of a closer union with God: in the latter it is a retention of brutish characteristics which civilization no less than religion has the power to eliminate. The first is a true imitation of Christ, the latter is an imitation of the soulless life of the lower animals.
"The savage in his 'gee-string' or loin cloth may indeed be a sincere Christian, but his aspiration will then neccessarily include material development. There is no hope for the Christianized savage who has no discontent with his former surroundings; who does not want to be cleaner in body, better clothed, better fed, better housed, better educated, more industrious, and to push his children upward by giving them advantages which were denied to him. It is not the absolute value of soap over dirt; beef over dog-flesh; board houses over those made of grass; reading, writing and figuring over illiteracy; the use of saws and planes instead of the primitive axe, that is important: but it is the tendency of these things, and the aspirations which they represent. There is no absolute standard of civilization, or education, or enlightenment; these things are relative; but there is an absolute direction which a man must follow if he is ascending. It is unthinkable that a man should be ascending to Christ while at the same time he is degenerating as a social being.
"There are two natures in every human being, and there are two influences which should be incessantly and simultaneously at work in every mission station. We aim in Sagada to make devotion and industry go hand in hand. The center of all our activities is the altar where dwells the crucified, risen, and ascended Christ. At the ringing of the Angelus, three times a day we turn there in recognition of the Incarnation; twice daily we gather there, as for our family prayers; we visit the church for private or common prayers at other than the set limes of service; special prayers are made there, special offerings made, special vows taken.
"With all our talk of the material progress and prosperity of the Mission it must not be thought that the spiritual side of our work is underestimated or neglected. This is the real work for which a mission exists, and it would be a poor sort of a missionary who would be content to see material development only. With 1124 baptisms on our own Registers, and with many who have been baptized elsewhere looking to us for ministrations, it will be realized how impossible it would be for even half a dozen priests to exhaust the work which might be done.
"The matter of systematic instruction of converts offers special difficulties. While the general processes of thought are the same in all human beings, in the Malay mind the content of thought is fundamentally different from that in our own. The Malay's outlook on life is radically different. My endeavor has not been to occidentalize, still less to Anglicize, the native; but, taking him at his own estimate of himself, to add to his makeup those elevating influences which he is able to assimilate. To this end parrot-like recitations of dignified formulas and catechisms which have done honorable service among Anglo-Saxon Christians are of little or no value. Even translated into the native dialects these formularies will be but so much inert material hindering rather than otherwise the spiritual digestion. After trying many experiments, I have found that leading ideas based on the cardinal doctrines of the Faith as found in the Creeds, expressed in the extremest of unconventional language make the strongest appeal and are the most effective means of imparting religious knowledge. Instruction of this kind is given to at least two hundred persons each week at the regular services, and in our daily intercourse with people religion is a frequent and a natural topic.
"In the schools, of course, catechetical instruction is given, and, so far as mere repetition is concerned, our children can compete with the children at home, for they can repeat parrotlike the Church Catechism and the Holy Cross Catechism by heart: but the hymns sung, Bible stories read, pictures looked at, the casual conversation and example of the missionaries, and above all the frequent receiving of the Holy Communion after due preparation are the real influences which make over the lives of our children. It is difficult to bring adults under all of these influences, but we are alert for opportunities; and among our people a talk about God is as natural as any other conversation.
"The foregoing considerations have a direct bearing on the work of our Mission in Sagada. We are given advice by every theorist who comes over the trail. 'Why don't you do this?' 'Why don't you do that?' One says--he was a professor from Chicago--that native races should be left untouched; another that they should be developed materially, but left to their native beliefs--this was a physician's opinion; another that they should be taught the Gospel, but that no attempt should be made to civilize them-- it was a missionary who said this: one says that they are capable of any development, another that they can never be advanced. In the midst of this clamor of discordant advice from people who give it and pass on, the Mission of St. Mary the Virgin has been approving itself to those who stay by producing results based upon the theory that the two sides of a man's nature must be developed at the same time, in the same direction, and at approximately the same rate of speed, if results are to be produced which are lasting and worth while.
"The forced product of a mission school is in some respects worse than an untouched native. That mission product, the native girl in the mountains of Thibet, who made love to Kim is a type which it does not need the penetration of a Kipling to discover. Little religious prigs and hypocrites are many who can stand up and 'repeat the Lord's Prayer for the gentleman' well enough, but whose veneer of artificial and exotic religion splits off and leaves them scaly under the first rain of adversity. Parasites these children become without resources or character. They are forced products which cannot stand the actual conditions of their inevitable future environment. No forced development should be permitted in any mission school, and the worst forcing of all is that which crowds religious knowledge or information upon either children or adults beyond their capacity to absorb and appropriate it.
"There is only one right way, and it is also the psychological way, to feed either side of a man's nature; and that is, to create in the individual such an appetite for the food supplied that he will seek it with eagerness himself. Whether the man--we all know him--who says, 'I had religion so pumped into me in my youth that as soon as I was free I dropped it all', has a valid excuse for his irreligion or not, he certainly represents a class that is very numerous. He is the product of the ill-advised effort of well-meaning persons. We are producing no such product in Sagada. Pass our school building of an evening and one may hear our boys singing hymns, or reciting the Creed, or reading Bible stories, or saying common prayers with the greatest enjoyment. A few days ago a group of our girls at work were observed to stop, kneel down on the floor, make the sign of the Cross, put their hands together, say a prayer in unison, then get up and resume their duties with a healthy unconsciousness that they had done anything remarkable. No one had taught them to do this, the action was spontaneous, yet they had unconsciously placed prayer where it belongs in its natural relation to daily life, and this as a result of the unartificial influences of the daily life of the Mission.
"No material inducements should ever be made to bring the natives to accept Christianity. It is psychologically wrong even to be urging incessantly the claims of our religious system. Rather it would be better for the zealous missionary to feign an indifference which he does not really feel. The drawing to Christ should come from within the individual, if the practical blessings of the Christian system are obviously in evidence; when it so comes it will hold the convert to the Faith with the strongest of chains, a personal interest discovered by himself. He has found the pearl of great price, he will sell all to get it; and he will fight the devil to keep it.
"A convert should be allowed to discover the material and the spiritual advantages of Christianity at the same time. A change of heart and a change of life should come together, and there should be no officious meddling on the part of the minister of baptism as to how these motives interlock: in the first place, because the priest is given no power of God to judge motives; and in the second, because it is not evil if temporarily one motive looms higher in the mind of the ignorant native than another. The acceptance of Christ as God and Saviour may not be accompanied with spasms of religious ecstacy, yet if under the influence of the Christian life accepted there begins a life in which repentance and prayer and the use of the sacraments becomes a regular feature, who shall say that the convert shall be debarred from these influences because his faith is not as well balanced as our own?
"We produce, I believe, in the Mission at Sagada, some Igorot Christians who are true saints of God; but the character we seek to develop is not that of the religious devotee but of the normal Christian. Devotion is encouraged, but hardly more so than industry and thrift. United development of both sides of a man's nature is what we aim at, and what, to a surprising extent, we achieve. To this end the industries which have centered in the Mission since its first beginning have contributed. Sagada from a dirty Igorot settlement has become as progressive an Igorot community as there is in the Mountain Province: though I would not have it thought that there is not still great room for improvement.
''The Sagada Mission is frankly an experiment, but one based on faith and common sense: a novelty, perhaps, in the mission field, but a novelty thoroughly loyal to the Church; for hundreds of parishes at home have for years employed the same ecclesiastical methods, been recognized as thoroughly loyal, and their help sought in support of general mission work. We pray God that He will grant during the coming year continuous peace and progress".
If these extracts from our publicity matter have not sufficiently revealed to churchmen the whole of it and the worst of it, then I gladly offer the hospitality of my home to an investigating committee.
But let me even more explicitly define some of our methods, and our reasons for adopting them; for I cannot believe that had you rightly appraised the situation here you could have written that letter.
Our problem is to Christianize an ignorant, superstitious, conservative, and until recently savage people("head-hunters"). Shortly before the Mission was opened eighty heads were taken right here on this spot, and forty more, half an hour from here, in the town of Balugan where we now have many Christians. Any methods which will bring this generation of people into even a semblance of Christianity would be justified. Should the use of rosaries, or even scapulars--which we do not use, by the way--be refused on purist grounds? We are not trying to make our appeal to refined, well educated, or smug Episcopalians; but to erstwhile head-hunting savages, who cannot read and write, and in the civilized sense cannot think; who have no educational background except such as we have given them.
This whole missionary enterprise has been put through by both bishop and clergy in this part of the mountains, not by attempting to explain to these simple people that the "Anglican" Church is a welter of theological parties; but by assuming that the Anglican Church is Catholic in doctrine and practice as a matter of course, and never letting the people know that there is any other side to the matter. If one seeks to influence children or simple people, one must be definite in one's teaching and let them take everything for granted. To have attempted to tell these people that the sum total of permitted heresy spells Catholicism would have been likely to confuse them.
Even only from a pragmatic point of view, if statues and rosaries and sweet smelling incense will keep a man from killing his neighbor, I will use all these means and more. I would be a fool or a knave to sit down here ineffectively and meticulously saying Prayer Book offices in an empty church while opportunity passed by. Our Christians come to mass, but they have also been taught to say their prayers by counting them off on a home-made string of beads, which they wear on their wrists, as they go to their work in rice field or mountain. They know few prayers, but among those which appeal to them are the Lord's Prayer and the Hail Mary, those two forms most used by our Christian and Catholic ancestors in the ages of faith. Our endeavor for years has been to reduce Christian belief and methods to such simple terms as an Igorot could apprehend, accept and use. Sacraments with their analogies to natural life, are as the play of children. Twenty times during the last fortnight I have been called upon to take the Blessed Sacrament from our altar to the sick: are not such requests, in such a community, sufficiently significant?
As to general results, I will simply add to what has already been said elsewhere in this letter, that there have been nearly three thousand baptisms credited to Sagada since the Mission was opened; that you confirmed 332 candidates when you were here, fifteen months since Bishop Brent's last visit; and that our statistics for one year as they appeared in my last annual report were as follows:
Baptisms 629 Confirmations 180 Marriages 10 Burials 32
Communicants (Numbers of different individuals who have received during the year, not counting visitors) 756
And as to missionary strategic in general: The Episcopal Church, attempting to hold the loyalty of men of opposite convictions, has elected to leave certain important questions open and undefined. When, therefore, she enters the mission field, one of two methods of strategy are forced upon her. Either she can send to any given station workers whose ideals, convictions, and methods are bound to clash, thereby creating a little cosmos of all her home dissentions, as a spectacle for converts,--if there are any; or she can send like-minded workers exclusively to the same culture area, giving them full opportunity to present the best that is in them, though this may represent the Church on only one side of her life. As between these two methods can any broad-minded man hesitate?
Does the Church really wish to see her missionaries destroy each other by wrangling over undefined details in the face of a common foe? Does she wish her constructive work to be represented merely by a greatest common divisor of our diversities? Or does she not rather wish that it be represented by the least common multiple of all our opportunities? And why should we attempt to confine our strategy to a middle-of-the-road-Episcopalianism; in which it is not permitted to pluck beautiful flowers which grow in fields beyond the ditch? Is it not best to let children get a background of faith before they are initiated into the muddle of sectarian antagonisms? And should not the same principle apply equally to the mission field? It is not for me to criticize the way work may be done in Virginia or in Liberia. May God bless His own, whatever means they may employ to bring men to Him.
During the last ten years innumerable calls have been made by churchmen that we should rise above partisanship in the mission field for the sake of winning the world to Christ; but let that man beware who attempts to win even an Igorot to Christ by missionary methods which are unusual. If the Episcopal Church wishes to do effective work in the mission field she will have to penalize that inane cry--"Stop him! he's doing something!"
Your appeal is to "the rule of worship in our own Church and in the whole Anglican Communion", and "to warrant in the Book of Common Prayer". Is this quite fair? Is it not true that this same appeal has been made again and again in the last fifty years against a multitude of doctrines, practices and ceremonies which are now incorporated, with satisfaction even to bishops, into our devotional life? Have not bishops urged this plea successively against the real presence, auricular confession, prayers for the dead, non-communicating attendance, surpliced choirs, eucharistic hymns, servers, flowers and altar candles, wafer bread, incense, crucifixes and even altar crosses? Have not all of these things come steadily into use in spite of the episcopal plea that they were contrary to some intangible, unwritten, rule of Anglican worship? Are we not all, now, for the most part, glad that these aids to worship have been revived? Did not a General Convention go on what might be called a pilgrimage of reparation to the tomb of DeKoven, who was tried and punished because he kept the Faith? Was not even the extremist Father Stanton of St. Alban's, Holborn, offered a stall in St. Paul's Cathedral, by way of reparation, towards the end of his life? Mark well the decorated tombstones of priests whom our Fathers in God condemned. Is this thing to continue forever? Is the Episcopal Church till the end of time going to scourge those of her children who try to make her the vehicle of a more spiritual life?
Before the Oxford Movement there was stagnation: since that Movement, it may frankly be admitted there has been chaos. But, wisely as it appears to many, after years of prosecutions and persecutions the Church has tacitly determined not to attempt an impossible coercion, but to let the worship of the future be evolved as was the worship of the past by the devotional requirements of the times. In the face of the actual facts of our recent history can it be denied, then, that the Prayer Book presents only a minimum, and that the maximum is not defined? We ought to apply to the Prayer Book the principle which we have long since applied to the Bible: Doctrines are not true because they are in it, but are in it because they are true.
And there is one other aspect of this matter which is more important still. Our children's children will soon be woshipping sun, moon and stars again unless we can rehabilitate the Christian Faith: and many of us believe that the only Christian Faith which can grip the multitude to-day is the old Catholicism, whether Roman or non-Roman. Mere drab survivals raked from Reformation scrap heaps are not even treated nowadays with contempt. Does any sane man think that a via media Anglicanism can ever win the world for Christ? Sects of every name are dying; but new religions are being born and growing in our very midst. Eddyism, Theosophy, Spiritualism, and even Mormonism--each having the characteristics of a religion--are rapidly making false prophets even of our own children. The world craves and will have a religion, true or false, with its superlative assertions, its stupendous miracles, and its sacrificial demands. As such a religion, the Saints whom we reverence once propagated Christianity. Why not try it again?
And now, at a time when every review and literary magazine is calling attention to new books by Anglican clergymen who deny the virginity of Mary and the virgin-birth of her Son, is it a time for Christians to hesitate to call Mary blessed, or to give visible, and audible, evidences that they mean it? This is the real significance not only of the rapidly growing custom of reciting the Angelus, but of the statues of Mary which are being set up in so many of our churches. You can no more stop this movement than you can, without it, turn back the tide which now sets so heavily towards unbelief. It is amazing that you should wish to do so. This is no time to silence Ave Marias or to quench sacrament lights; but to adventure for God.
And so, I end as I began by appealing from you to the Church which you, and I no less, though in a more humble sphere, represent. This work must either be approved or condemned; that hereafter our missionaries may know what awaits them in the field.
Faithfully yours in Christ,
JOHN A. STAUNTON, JR.