Received with Thanks.
By H. A. Wilson.
London and Oxford: A.R. Mowbray, 1940.
Digitized by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Diocese of New York, 2016
As they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. [St. Mark 14, 22-24]
 ON these words, brethren, every church in Christendom has been founded. Because of these words every Catholic Church has been built, and it is to the testimony of the faith in the power of these words and their meaning that every Christian Church is dedicated.
The Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ ought to be the central experience of every Christian’s life, not only the central experience of all our experiences, but such an experience as draws together into one all other experiences that we have in our daily life, bodily, mental, and spiritual; and the weakness of Christendom lies, I think, largely in this, that somehow or other we Christians do not make the Holy Communion quite the centre of all our experiences. We do not, as a matter of fact, bring all the experiences of our life day by day into one, unifying them, explaining them, consecrating them, by the experience of our communion. You will find, for example, a large body of men and [95/96] women, especially men, who have a very rich experience in their daily life, an experience that speaks to them of God, in which they find God in a measure; and yet they are almost indifferent to the Holy Communion. Their eyes are holden: they do not see Jesus. There is also a very large number of people who have a really rich experience of Holy Communion, but who yet seem to be quite apart from it. They are self-centred. And there are with us always those who manage to keep all the experiences of their everyday life in a separate compartment, and their religion in another separate compartment; and end by falling into the confusion of trying to serve two masters.
Now, brethren, why is it that we finally unify all our experiences in communion? I suppose that some people will begin to worry themselves as to why they do not feel more ecstasy in their communions. I beg of you not to do that. It is not a profitable thing to do when your eyes are lifted up to your Father on your Dedication Festival. Give your feelings a holiday. I do not think it is anything deliberate on your part, but I think that we have got into the habit of regarding God as somehow outside ourselves, apart from ourselves, to be adored, to be worshipped, to be feared, God who will on the last day appear in the person of his Son to judge us—yet apart from us; our life is lived here in the sight of God, and yet at a distance from God, sometimes almost in antagonism to God.
Take, for instance, the moral question. Think of the moral questions that are being debated among [96/97] men and women to-day. Discussions on the sexual question leave one with the impression that God “over there,” apart from the human race, has been pleased to create human nature with all its passions and lusts, difficulties and temptations; and here are we men and women, some of us determined to do our level best to fight that which we think is evil in our human nature; and then, when that is dead, we may hope to draw near to the Most Holy, who is so far from us. Others look at the matter in a different way. Because God is so far from us, we will, they say, let the nature that God has made have its way. We will not fight against the lusts and passions; so long as we do not do anybody any real harm, we will let nature take its course; and in the end we will trust to God, who created human nature, somehow to fit us into his eternal purpose. Anyway, they say, it is his responsibility; and if any body of men professes a stern ascetic line, saying “Thou shalt not,” then they are impertinent, interfering with what does not concern them, putting upon us burdens too heavy for man to bear.
As a matter of fact God is not apart from us. God is in human nature with us. “The Word was made flesh.” God has taken upon himself Manhood. God himself personally knows what human nature is, with its passions and lusts. He knows its difficulties, its temptations, its possibilities. He knows the end of it; he knows its purpose. And in the Blessed Sacrament, in the Holy Communion, God is in you. He is in the human race through the Holy Communion, just in order that all those temptations and [97/98] troubles and trials should all be made into one in the very heart of Jesus; and that you should face your daily life, face these moral questions, face the temptations within you, face all the issues of the moral question, in the consciousness that, not only may you one day see God, but that you are now with God and that he is now in you. With that knowledge you face London, you face England, you face most fearlessly the powers of evil. In the consciousness of God in you, of God with you, life is no longer a dark and dreary struggle with this puzzling unexplained human nature, while an angry judge stands somewhere behind the scene: instead it becomes a very joyful warfare, in spite of all its suffering. Through every dark day, and in all bad times, life is a joyful warfare, if it is lived in the company of the Blessed Sacrament. “Take, eat: this is my body.”
Or, brethren, that I may justify my point a little further, take that troublesome question—suffering and pain. Here you get, in the minds of most men, a clean cut between God and this universe. There is God somewhere apart, God who somehow or other has made himself responsible for all the pain, sickness, and suffering that falls upon us; so that to some God is a kind of blind fate who has thrown us into a great movement of pain and suffering, culminating in a grievous and dark death. Many a soul looks up to God and, even in the very effort to be reconciled to suffering, reproaches God because it has come upon him; “Thy will be done,” prays the sufferer.
 But, brethren, consider the truth; which is that God is not apart from the suffering. God does not afflict willingly the children of men. Death does not come from God. By envy of the devil it came into the world. Sickness is not of God, nor does God enjoy the tears of man. The truth is: God is the Crucified, the Crucified is God, God is in you and in me. Through the body that was broken on the Cross, in the virtue of the blood that was shed on Calvary, God is in you: so that suffering is no longer a reaching out to take discipline from the Father—which means a bowing of the head—,but is a reaching out of the hand to clasp the hand of a suffering God, and to move with the God who suffers throughout his kingdom of pain (which men and devils have made painful) until in the power of his love the pain be done away with. That is the suffering life, in which all experiences are unified in the Holy Communion. Bring the bodies that are broken; bring the sick, the halt, the maimed; bring the blind, the weeping eyes, and the broken hearts; and God himself says, “Take, eat: this is my body which was given, broken, crucified for you: this is my blood which was shed.” Life is unified for us in the Holy Communion.
Lastly, brethren, take as another example your political life as a nation; and see how to the ordinary Christian God appears sometimes quite apart. God has planted the seed of political wisdom and of political life, and it is left to men to develop it down the ages. You read how, little by little, nation after nation developed that seed, until at last some hopeful [99/100] sign of a universal brotherhood of man was seen. Then the war came. Everything was put back again. And you said, “Well! After all, God does not interfere very much. Man must be left to work out his own salvation. With political things we must not mix religion.” The result is that some Christians throw themselves into politics, and their religion becomes a shadow; while other Christians give the cold shoulder to politics, with the result that the nation is the poorer. The truth is that God is the Spirit of universal love, the Spirit of universal brotherhood, in Jesus of Nazareth and in the power of the Blessed Sacrament indwelling in the human race just so far as the human race will receive it. God is the Spirit of universal brotherhood, the Spirit of the universal Church; and if only we would be true to him we should be moving on with the full development of national life, which could afford to throw itself further into the universal brotherhood of the Catholic Church. In the power of the Holy Communion gather the nations together, with all their troubles and perplexities, to the word of eternal life, “This is my body”; the universal body, not of a man, but of the Son of Man.
On this your Dedication Festival begin with this simplest of resolutions: that, whatever may be your experiences in the next twelve months—bodily or mental experiences of health, sorrow, sickness, loss, or temptation; political experiences; industrial experiences; experiences with your friends or with those who dislike you; experiences in the privacy of your own soul—you will bring them all into closest [100/101] unity with your spiritual experiences of receiving the body and blood of Christ. Thus your half-hour’s communion at least on Sunday, if not also on many weekdays in the year as well, will place you—whatever may be your personal feelings about it—on a level with God Incarnate, the Crucified Spirit of life. He dwelling in you, his power controlling you, and his love protecting you, will carry you forward to the completion and consummation of that which he desires to find in you; and by your moving forward numbers of people, very likely unknown to you, will be brought forward by your side.
Thank God for his abundant blessings; and consecrate yourselves now for another year of better and more unified experience. “This is my body.” Brethren, “take, eat.”
These were the first words I heard spoken by Bishop Weston of Zanzibar. They were preached in St. Matthew’s Church, Westminster, during its Feast of Dedication in the summer of 1920; and were delivered without a note of any kind. They were taken down in shorthand, and have not previously been printed, except in the moderately inadequate pages of St. Matthew’s parish paper.
That was the preacher whom Atlay bade me imitate!
As I listened to him I could believe it true that, when he had been home on furlough some years previously and conducted The Three Hours’ Service on Good Friday in St. Matthew’s, he had kept the congregation on its knees for twenty minutes while [101/102] he spoke about our Lord’s last words on the Cross, and nobody had given a thought to the length of time.
I am not greatly given to hero-worshipping.
In the days of my youth there were only two on whom I gazed with awe and wonder, for whom I would have walked through fire and water or laid down my life without a moment’s hesitation. One was the gentleman who played full-back for the long-since defunct Croydon Rugby Football Club: he never even spoke to me, or was so much as aware of my existence; but I was content to save my few weekly pence to pay the admission-fee to the ground in order that I might stand on the touch-line and worship from afar. The other was the fast bowler in the cricket eleven of my public school; though I regret to state that his god-like qualities deteriorated in my opinion during his last summer at school, for the reason that I then became the wicket-keeper of the first eleven.
Since those halcyon days I have had, and still have, only two heroes.
One was that bishop who was revered, as I think has been no other churchman of his generation, by white Catholics of this land and by black Catholics of Africa; of brilliant intellect, outstanding personality, and great powers of oratory; a born leader of men, who gave all that he had—and “he had great possessions”—to the coloured children of the Poor Man of Nazareth, and lay down to die in a bishop’s palace that was little more than a native [102/103] hut in East Africa; of whom a modern poet [A. S. Cripps] wrote:
Whence was his Faith? A rushing mighty Wind
First hurled her fierce infections among men.
Why flamed she thus? Faith had her flame-tongues then
At Pentecost to rouse the deaf and blind:
But we, inoculating heart and mind
With spilth of pulpit and with spray of pen,
Shiver, immune from Faith’s contagion, when
Serving the Son of Man we serve mankind.
Not so he served. For him Emmanuel glow’d
In gleaming Hosts: in faces dark and wild
The Burning Babe of Bethlehem on him smil’d:
The Christ, Faith hides from us, to him she shew’d—
To him converted, him become a child—
A Black Christ bowed beneath a Heart-Break load.
It is of his mother that I think first.
With such a mother Faith in womankind
Beats with his blood, and trust in all things high
Comes easy to him.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson. The Princess.
“Like mother, like son,” is the saying so true,
The world will judge largely of “Mother” by you.
Margaret Graffim. To my son.
An old widow, far from well, in her house at Brighton that made me think of Queen Victoria, when I first went to see her at his request, she was endowed with her son’s great gift of God, laughter; and delighted in nothing more than in talking, and hearing, about her Frank.
In the days when he had been Trevelyan’s curate in Westminster there had arisen yet another crisis in the Church of England. An important meeting of Catholic priests met [103/104] in St. Matthew’s clergy-house, but to it St. Matthew’s curates were not invited. The tale is told that, throughout the meeting, Weston stood in the small quadrangle that lies between the house and the church, and, by means of yards of cord surreptitiously attached, pulled the chain of the essential apparatus in what has been not inaptly described as “the most important room in any house” every five minutes: with the result that, after the meeting, an eminent divine took Trevelyan aside and said that he thought that the health of his staff must be in a serious condition.
In Trevelyan’s first years as vicar he insisted that non-parishioners attending St. Matthew’s church must sit in the pews behind the font, as the church belonged primarily to those who lived in the parish. However, more and more people came to it from other parts of London—which was scarcely surprising—; and eventually, to the indignation of the curates, the rule was relaxed to such an extent that it became difficult for the parish-people to find accommodation. The curates remonstrated to the vicar without effect: but then the vicar had a birthday. One of his gifts was a hamper from the Army and Navy Stores, which was carried up to his room. Trevelyan opened it. Out fluttered a large and broody hen, to a leg of which was attached a label that bore the inscription, “With love from your curates.” Trevelyan had no great sense of humour; and, it is said, for some time seriously contemplated discharging his staff as a result of the practical joke.
Frank’s mother had not previously heard these anecdotes of her son’s more youthful occasional [104/105] activities. When I told them to her, she was seized with such gusts of laughter as to make her quite helpless for a time. Had I known then that she suffered with angina pectoris I should have been more alarmed than I was.
When Frank was eleven, she was left a widow with seven young children. He frequently said that, under God, he owed his religion to her. When he was a bishop, he often talked to African women about their duty towards their children, and illustrated his instructions with anecdotes of what his mother, far away in England, had been and still was to him. I am sure that they understood him; for motherhood is the same all the world over; and there is only Christ, and only one Mother of Christ, for all Christians anywhere.
I think, too, of his brother William, Major in a distinguished regiment, coming home on leave from France during the 1914-1918 war; reading in a newspaper that his brother—also home on leave from his diocese—was to preach that evening in a London church; going to hear him.
The sermon had begun when he reached the church. The door was unfamiliar, and strongly sprung. It caught and crushed two of his fingers in the jamb. “I am going to faint,” thought William; “I must not here, I might put Frank off.” With his whole hand he quietly reopened the door, lifted the broken fingers, closed the door behind him, sat down and fainted in the porch.
After Frank’s death William resigned his army [105/106] career, and—at an age when most men who have led active lives think of retiring—offered himself for ordination as a deacon, in order that the Church on earth might not be one man short.
I remember a jolly lunch—chiefly of eggs and bacon, since I descended upon him without warning —in his humble curate’s lodgings at Burgess Hill in Sussex; when we laughed together most of the time, and talked about Frank.
I think of these three, the mother and her sons, living together on the other side of death in the glory of God. I have no doubt that there “her children rise up, and call her blessed.”
I look at Frank’s photograph in its frame on my pseudo-antique writing-table.
Above his neat signature I see a spare athletic figure clad in the purple cassock and biretta of a Prince of the Church; pectoral cross and episcopal ring; brown, lean, clean-shaven face; clear wise eyes behind gold-rimmed spectacles; firm jaw; strong hands; and, playing round the determined thin-lipped mouth, the same suggestion of a smile on the point of breaking into laughter that I find in all who really understand and practise that essentially happy creed, the Catholic Faith.
It was through reading the life of Alexander Heriot Mackonochie that he first heard the call to ordination—that Fr. Mackonochie who frequently visited Haggerston, in whose confessional I now sit in St. Augustine’s Church, whose name is written [106/107] above the main door of St. Saviour’s Priory beneath the figures of the two dogs who found him dead in the snows of Scotland.
After serving his title in Stratford (more in East London, than on the Avon), Frank went to
St. Matthew’s, Westminster, to be one of Trevelyan’s curates. There, in 1898, he heard for the second time the call of Africa; and on this occasion was accepted by the doctors for service in that fine Catholic Mission, the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa. He took from England a mental picture of the church in Great Peter Street as being the ideal of what a parish church could, and should, be; as has at least one other priest, though at the moment he has travelled no further eastwards than Hackney Road. Of the more than thirty ensuing years in Africa I have no intention to write; for it has been most adequately done by Canon H. Maynard Smith. [ Frank, Bishop of Zanzibar. Published by S.P.C.K.]
I did not know him well until 1923; when, again as congress secretary, I invited him to be President of The Second Anglo-Catholic Congress of that year, and he accepted the invitation.
Your cable has just come. I read it to mean that you will have one and the same chairman for all sessions of the congress. There I think you are wise. To choose me for the job is not what I call wisdom. But the decision rests with two of my priests who are fairly near at hand; they will answer me to-morrow. Frankly, it is very difficult, because half the staff is going on furlough; but it is even more awkward as it means shifting an ordination. But I feel that the [107/108] congress has a claim on us all, and a claim that is not to be set aside unless other claims cannot be met in any way at all. So we’ll leave it at that till the morning.
11/1/23. Douglas and Palmer say that on the whole they think I ought to go. It remains to consult my Vicar-General, and he is up in the hills. A runner is just off to him. So we wait perhaps thirty-six hours for his reply. He is concerned, for all my responsibility falls on him when I go.
13/1/23. Archdeacon Mackay says “go.” So I am now cabling to say I will come and take the chair—a mighty long way! More anon.
In my stuffy and noisy office in Victoria Street, he gave, with the utmost courtesy and good humour, an interview to a number of press-reporters.
A few of their questions were perhaps a little irritating, and some of them unnecessary, and, in any case, the combined interview was an ordeal, especially in that trying atmosphere. But the abiding impression of the incident is the bishop’s courtesy, his good humour, his willingness to answer every question which was put to him, whatever its nature. None who came in contact with him failed to realize that beneath his firmness of character and perfect self-composure, there were tremendous depths of spiritual humility and grace. “I may not kiss your ring, my lord,” said a Roman Catholic priest to him, as he rose to go; “but there is one thing I should like far more to do: I should like to kiss the hem of your garment.” [ The Green Quarterly. January, 1925]
Before the congress began he sent, at my suggestion and request, a circular letter to its members. [108/109] I quote from it at some length; because it reveals his mind, and because it seems to me that “he, being dead, yet speaketh” to us Catholics of the present day.
We are to come together to listen to papers teaching us about our Lord, and to discover what it is our Lord desires us to do that his kingdom may be more firmly and widely established, and our own souls more truly sanctified. We must not say, “Sirs, let us show you Jesus”; but “Lord Jesus, show us thyself.”
Secondly, it is necessary to bear in mind that, if God means to use our congress, we must allow him to dominate it. It is no sort of good trying to impose our methods on him. We must be ready to accept his. Otherwise our Movement will cease to move onwards, we shall just drop out of the advance with Christ.
Again, if we would prepare aright to be guided by God the Holy Spirit, we must put away all party spirit. It has taken us many years to escape from the spirit of party that is characteristic of British religion. We now stand for the Catholic Faith common to East and West. We are not concerned with the shibboleths of low Church, high Church, broad Church, liberal, modernist, or even the new “nonparty” party. We stand or fall with Christ’s Church, catholic and apostolic. And we wait patiently till the Holy Father and the Orthodox Patriarchs recognize us as of their own stock. We are not a party: we are those in the Anglican Communion who refuse to be limited by party rules and party creeds. Our appeal is to the Catholic Creed, to Catholic worship, and to Catholic practice.
What we need is a large-hearted readiness to work with others for the common cause. Uniformity within the unity of the Church is not essential [109/110] to Catholicism: in fact, it dates as an ideal from an age that was concerned to overcome schism by schismatic methods.
At the same time we Anglo-Catholics have need to stiffen our backs, lest, with an eye to an easy victory, we bow our heads in modern houses of Rimmon. We must not sacrifice Catholic truth to success. Nor must we lean on their patronage and sympathy who in their hearts are opposed to our ultimate aim. We are definitely called by God to end party spirit in the Anglican Communion and to lead British Christians to love the Catholic Church. We shall never do this by compromise of the truth: brotherly charity does not require the betrayal of principle.
More than fourteen thousand tickets for that congress did I sell. [To be precise; 1,976 to priests, and 12,926 to lay-people.] Authority looked more kindly upon us than it had done three years before. The congress began with High Mass of the Holy Spirit in St. Paul’s Cathedral, at which were present a number of coped and mitred bishops and a patriarch of the Orthodox Church: the whole space beneath the dome was reserved for, and filled by, surpliced and cassocked priests; and the immense congregation filled the enormous building. For the first time for, surely, many years boards bearing the statement CHURCH FULL stood outside the doors of London’s cathedral on a weekday morning. (Also for the first time my father stood self-accused of stealing the collection! He was a steward: by the time that he had collected the alms from the section of the congregation allotted to him it was too late for him to take them to the altar: he put the bag in his pocket, and forgot it until he and I were having a drink that evening [110/111] in one of the Albert Hall bars.) The precentor and two minor canons officiated: the Bishop of Willesden gave the absolution and the blessing: the Book of Common Prayer was used throughout, without omissions. My mother and I stood and knelt in the small gallery above the west doors; after the Mass was over she squeezed my hand, and said nothing. There was, indeed, nothing to say but a silent Gloria.
The Bishop of London (A. F. Winnington-Ingram) attended the opening session in the Albert Hall, and gave an address. Over every one of the morning, afternoon, and night sessions in the heat of the packed and ill-ventilated Victorian building Frank presided. Not once did he fail to hold the vast, and frequently excited, audiences in the hollow of his hand. He had but to rise, and silence fell. A movement of his hand checked applause instantly. When he smiled, every one laughed: when he prayed, you could feel thousands praying too. One morning, before the session began, he stood at the foot of the more than life-size figure on the great cross that dominated the platform, and made a meditation that was as simple as it was both spontaneous and unforgettable. He pictured to us Christ in his manhood, dying on the cross as Man; and he pictured to us the same Christ of to-day, hurt and limited and bound by us, in the bodies and lives of the poor, the down-trodden, the sweated, and the black.
In the official hand-book was a congress-hymn in honour of our Lady. The Bishop of the diocese had privately expressed his dislike of one or two of its words. I know some who would have had it [111/112] sung in defiance. Frank was a gentleman, overflowing with that chivalry and politeness which surely are flowers of Catholicism. This is what he said. “Let us who reverence our Lady Mary, remember that she is the queen of courtesy; and, out of courtesy to the bishop of this diocese, deny ourselves the joy of singing this hymn.”
One afternoon, when the three of us escaped from the Albert Hall, sat on the grass under a tree in Kensington Gardens, and had a picnic tea, my mother gave him a pair of socks which she herself had knitted. He thanked her as if her offering had been one of untold gold.
I can almost hear him now, reading to us in the Albert Hall the moving letter from the Bishop of Chelmsford, both a stalwart Evangelical, a devout Christian, and a gallant gentleman:
July 2, 1923.
MY DEAR MR. WILSON,
I had hoped to be present at some of the sessions of the congress, but this cannot be, for I expect to undergo an operation on the very day on which it meets (July 10). [The Rt. Rev. J. E. Watts-Ditchfield, Bishop of Chelmsford, died on July 14, 1923.] I am, however, venturing to assure you that you will be in my thoughts and prayers.
I should be false to you and to myself if I did not say frankly that, on some points, there is a great gulf between us, and concerning which I am in no small anxiety. I am a convinced Evangelical, but on my sick-bed I am striving to look at you (may I say it without presumption?) as my Blessed Lord is [112/113] looking at you, and to view you with His Mind and in His Spirit. I believe that I see in the Albert Hall a band of men and women whose hearts are full of devotion to their Saviour, and who in their lives show forth the fruits of His Redemption and who yearn for Him to reign on the earth. By His grace, the spiritual life of the whole Church has been enriched by you—of this there can be no doubt. The Cross is the centre of your Faith and Message, and therein lies your strength.
Forgive my adding this. Let your congress turn to the deep things of God which are the inheritance of all God’s children. Leave in these perilous days all secondary matters alone—they can wait. The King Himself has waited far too long for the wholehearted consecration of His disciples to His great work.
With all my heart I send, with loving affection, a real “God bless you.” May the Presence of the Blessed Master be realized by you all. May the Holy Spirit fill you all, and may the Triune God bless you so mightily that from your congress you may emerge, as a great army, with one objective, and one only, to make the kingdoms of this world the kingdom of our Lord and His Christ. God indeed be with you all.
I shall greatly value your prayers for myself and my wife.
Ever affectionately yours in Christ,
J. E. CHELMSFORD.
The general subject of the congress, “The Gospel of God,” was divided into three sections, “God above us,” “God with us,” “God in us.” The speakers included the Rev. Fr. Waggett, S.S.J.E.; the Rev. Fr. Huntington, Superior of the Order of the Holy Cross, New York; [113/114] Bishop Gore; the Rev. K. E. Kirk; the Rev. Canon Lacey; the Rev. M. R. Carpenter-Garnier; Mr. H. H. Slesser; Bishop Chandler; the Rev. Fr. Frere, C.R.; the Rev. Fr. How, Superior of the Oratory of the Good Shepherd, Cambridge; Dr. Mary Scharlieb; the Rev. G. A. Studdert Kennedy; the Bishop of Salisbury (Dr. Donaldson); and the Bishop of St. Albans (Dr. Michael Furse). During the three days £27,000 was given to the work of the Church at home, and £1,600 to foreign missions. The climax came, appropriately, with the last speech on the last night; when Frank spoke on “Our present duty.”
His words were almost the last that he spoke in England. It was a speech that will live long in the hearts of those who heard it, and which still has words for those who read it now. It was prepared, as I have reason to know, in Fr. Deakin’s South Kensington vicarage, after a cool bath an hour or so before it was delivered; it was spoken, as I also have reason to know, without a note. But it was his whole life that was really its preparation; and, I think, his mother’s life too. For through it shone his goodness, humility, courage, passionate zeal for God, consuming love of human souls; and hers.
The great building was crammed to capacity on the hot July night. Fervour was at fever-pitch: there has never yet been such an Anglo-Catholic Congress as that second one. The beloved bishop, for whom many on that night besides myself would have done anything he asked, stood—thin, obviously very tired, clearly supremely happy, smiling now [114/115] and then at us all—at the foot of the dominating crucifix. Over the ten thousand, as he began to speak, fell a silence that was complete.
To put it quite clearly, our present duty as Anglo-Catholics is to make a far deeper surrender to our Lord Christ, and to make it over a far wider area than ever before. We are to make such a surrender of self to him over the whole area of our life that, were he to choose to come on earth to reign in his own person, neither you nor I would find it necessary to alter the principles upon which we conduct our work, our prayer, our worship. That is the point. Were he to come, our principles would not require to be altered.
First, he called upon us to contemplate the Christ of Bethlehem.
I want you to listen to him as he leaps from the Father’s throne across the gulf that separates the Creator from creation, across the gulf that separates holiness from sin. Listen to him as he leaps that gulf, and appears in human form amongst us men. Listen to him as he speaks to you: By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one for another.
I recall you to the Christ of Bethlehem. I suggest to you, as I suggest to myself, that it is our present duty to return to our own parishes and dioceses, and see whether it is not possible to work out there the problems in the solving of which we seem to lose our love and to care only for ourselves. There where you have the problem of the rich and the poor, the problem of the educated and the uneducated, the problem of the master and the man, the problem of the employer and the employed—there set yourselves, brethren, to work out the problem of fellowship. [115/116] See if it be not possible that some of us may be called by our Lord to make a leap after the manner, however great a distance apart, of his; that we should come out of that in which we were born and make for ourselves a new life, if in any way we can help to build the fellowship of man with man in Christ.
I recall you to Jesus of Bethlehem. I challenge you to look up to Jesus of Bethlehem, and to summon him to move in and around your parishes from altar to altar, from church to church. I challenge you to summon him. You dare not. I dare not. When he comes, we cry, “Lord, have mercy.” We are ashamed.
When shall we be able to stand for him, as a family, round the parish altar with hearts and voices all in union, and all raised to him? That is your problem. That is the first problem of the Anglo-Catholic Congress. But, if God leapt a gulf for you, I suppose that it is possible for you to leap gulfs for God.
He went on to recall us to the Christ of Calvary; to remind us that the reality behind the Catholic Movement in the Church to-day, the reality that is the very foundation of the Church throughout the ages, is the Christ of the crucifix.
I remind you that the hope of your salvation, and the justification of your claim to attention from the world, is just the naked Christ of Nazareth; and to him I recall you. The Anglo-Catholic—a man, a woman—following after Jesus along the old Catholic path. Nothing more than that. The path is Catholic, but do not boast about it. Fix your eyes upon him who goes before you: Jesus, the naked Christ.
I recall you in his name to the imitation of his Passion in a degree that has become foreign to most of us. Set yourselves, brethren, here in the midst of London to show people that it is perfectly possible [116/117] to lead a happy, a wholesome, a healthy life, developing your true manhood, your true womanhood, without in any way forsaking the simplicity which goes with the cross of the Christ of Nazareth. Live simple lives, fight against luxury, encourage the rich to set a limit to the amount of money that they use upon themselves, not under pressure from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but simply out of personal devotion to the Lord Jesus.
He reminded us priests, and we knew that none had a better right to speak than he, that “the priesthood of which we Anglo-Catholics talk a very great deal implies a strictness and a sternness in the following of Christ that is sometimes sadly to seek.” He turned to youth:
Young men, boys, young women, girls; for whom life is opening out. What has the Christ of Calvary to say to you? We want, he wants, the young men in the priesthood, if God calls them: we want, he wants, the women in the Religious Life, in the work of teaching for the Church: we want, he wants, men and women, priests and other workers abroad in the foreign mission fields. Where are they? Why do they not come? Because we are not yet recalled to the Christ of Calvary: there is no other reason.
He continued: And I put it to you who are parents, and to you who hope to be parents—what has the Christ of Calvary to say to you? Nothing?
Do you remember how he reached his cross? Do you forget whom it was he left that he might climb his cross? Do you forget how his mother was bidden to be content to live with the beloved disciple? [117/118] Cannot you, fathers and mothers, give to Jesus some of what he has given to you? Dedicate them; rejoice that they should go into the Religious Life. Look at the Catholics in Ireland: five or six of the family in the priesthood and in Religion. Look at the numbers in a French household in the priesthood and in Religion. Then look at your English homes.
I recall you to the Christ of Calvary: listen to him, brethren.
He passed, naturally, to the obedience of the cross.
Ideally, as I step out to go to the altar of God, I go in definite obedience to Holy Church to offer the sacrifice of Christ’s obedience. I ask you, in the ordinary Anglo-Catholic Church how much obedience is there? Mark you, I am not asking for obedience to a bishop: I ask for obedience to the bishops in so far as they themselves obey the Catholic Church. I want you to get nearer to those English bishops who do understand a little, and I want you to make it clear to them that it is becoming intolerable to you that your daily and Sunday Masses should be without that consecrating sense of obedience lying heavy on the priest from the moment he begins to vest until he has completed the Mass and said his thanksgiving. . . I would never ask a priest to obey the dicta of a bishop. I have been a bishop for fifteen years, and I do not think that I have ever asked a priest simply to obey my opinion. But I always beg of them—and they listen—that when we are agreed that this is Catholic, and this is useful, and this is what is needed, then they obey. Even if they do not always agree, they obey.
And you lay people, what about confession? Are you going to obey about that? How long are you [118/119] going to hold back before you make your confessions to God in God’s Church in the presence of God’s priests? How long are you going to hold back from acknowledging your corporate guilt and your responsibility to the Church?
Do you fast? Do you know what it means really to fast? We have not learned it yet in England. There is a sort of air of softness about us; and Jesus calls you. What does it matter if you get a headache when you are representing Calvary before the Father? Would you want to feel especially well and buoyant as you came from the contemplation of the Christ of Calvary? Brethren, you know you would not.
Finally he spoke of the Christ of the Blessed Sacrament.
I beg you, brethren, not to yield one inch to those who would, for any reason or specious excuse, deprive you of your tabernacles. I beg you, do not yield. Remember when you struggle, or when you fight for the Church—remember that the Church is the body of Christ, and you fight in the presence of Christ. Do not forget that. I want you to make your stand for the Tabernacle, not for your own sakes but for the sake of truth first, and in the second place for the sake of reunion hereafter. For the truth; because the one great thing that England needs to learn is that Christ is found in and amid matter—Spirit through matter—God in flesh, God in the sacrament.
But I say to you, and I say it with all the earnestness that I have, that if you are prepared to fight for the right of adoring Jesus in his blessed sacrament, then you have got to come out from before your tabernacle and walk, with Christ mystically present in you, out into the streets of this country, and find [119/120] the same Jesus in the people of your cities and your villages. You cannot claim to worship Jesus in the tabernacle, if you do not pity Jesus in the slum. Mark that: that is the Gospel truth.
If you are prepared to say that the Anglo-Catholic is at perfect liberty to rake in all the money he can get, no matter what are the wages that are paid, no matter what the conditions are under which people work; if you are prepared to say that the Anglo-Catholic has a right to hold his peace while his fellow-citizens are living in hovels below the levels of the streets: then I say to you that you do not yet know the Lord Jesus in his sacrament. You have begun with the Christ of Bethlehem; you have gone on to know something of the Christ of Calvary—but the Christ of the Sacrament, not yet.
O brethren! if only you listen to-night your Movement is going to sweep England. I am not talking economics, I do not understand them. I am not talking politics, I do not understand them. I am talking the Gospel. And I say to you this. If you are Christians, then your Jesus is one and the same: Jesus on the throne of his glory, Jesus in the blessed sacrament, Jesus received into your hearts in communion, Jesus mystically with you as you pray, and Jesus enthroned in the hearts and bodies of his brothers and sisters up and down this country. And it is folly—it is madness—to suppose that you can worship Jesus in the sacrament and Jesus on the throne of glory, when you are sweating him in the souls and bodies of his children.
He concluded with the often-quoted words, that cannot be repeated too frequently by and to Christians:
You have got your Mass, you have got your Altar, you have begun to get your Tabernacle. Now go out [120/121] into the highways and hedges. Go out and look for Jesus in the ragged, in the naked, in the oppressed and sweated, in those who have lost hope, in those who are struggling to make good. Look for Jesus. And when you see him, gird yourselves with his towel and try to wash their feet.
It is understandable that, as the First Anglo-Catholic Congress should have come to be remembered as “Atlay’s,” the second should be known as “Weston’s.” Professor C. H. Turner, looking back on its last night, said at a meeting in Oxford after Frank’s death: “I think the Bishop of Zanzibar was the greatest man I ever met. I know that he was the greatest orator I ever heard.” None who were in the Albert Hall in July, 1923, would be disposed to disagree with him.
On All Souls’ Day, sixteen months later, aged fifty-three, he passed from his beloved Africa into the nearer and immediate presence of the Christ who never seemed far from him, whom he saw and served in a measure which is not given to us little and ordinary Christians,
One who never turned his back but marched breast forward,
Never doubted clouds would break,
Never dreamt though right were worsted, wrong could triumph,
Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better,
Sleep to wake.
[ Asolando. Epilogue, Stanza 3. Robert Browning’s last volume of verses, the proof-sheets of which he corrected a few days before his death.]
 The Church in this world is still the poorer for the loss of him, and the richer for the loan of him; though it seems as impossible to think that he has forgotten it, as to suppose that were he to return and speak to us his message would be different.
As I say Mass at the Altar of the Holy Souls in my present St. Augustine’s Church, and never fail to have him in mind when I commemorate departed bishops and priests, I think of him sitting in pyjamas in my armchair in St. Matthew’s Clergy House, Westminster, an hour after the 1923 congress ended, having a last drink before midnight; and the last words of his last speech still ring in my mind. I am glad that in Haggerston I have not far to look for him whom he bade me seek.