From The Works of the Rt. Rev. Charles C. Grafton
edited by B. Talbot Rogers, New York: Longmans, Green, 1914, pp. 107-131
A Journey Godward
of a Servant of Jesus Christ
transcribed by Ralph Kettell
"He that now goeth on his way weeping, and beareth forth good seed: shall doubtless come again with joy, and bring his sheaves with him."Ps. cxxvi.
ONE object I had in mind in going to England in 1865, was to study the new methods of parochial work. A great change had taken place since the days of the Georges, when the Episcopate was regarded as a place of dignity and worldly comfort. While the clergy of that age were, on the whole, moral men, they had lost much of the sense of their priestly calling. They mixed, like other worldly men, in society, and it was not considered unclerical for them to ride to hounds. An idle Bishop, it is said, has been made an impossibility, and the spiritual character of the clergy has greatly advanced. Never, indeed, had the English clergy sunk to the low level that marked the Church of France before the Revolution, or the Church at Milan in the days of St. Charles Borromeo. For about eighty years no Archbishop of Milan was resident in his diocese. A Roman Catholic biographer of Borromeo says:
"The clergy generally exhibited the most unblushing contempt of the requirements of their sacred order; their immorality being in fact so public and systematic that it is presumed they have lost all sense of the obligations of their state. They dressed like seculars, carried arms after the then fashion, absented themselves from their benefices, and were so totally indifferent to all that concerned the service of God that the churches were abandoned to the most shameful neglect. The common people were especially frequently devoid of the bare knowledge of those truths which are necessary to salvation, and lived and died without even having been taught either the articles of faith or the commandments of God."
Roman Catholic writers have honorably and wisely called attention to the state of things in their Church. In the chronicle of the life of J. Wimpheling, the Prelates imitated and tried to outdo the Pope in forgetfulness of their duties. Instead of keeping residence, they ran out after civil pleasures and led dissipated and vicious lives. The poor secular and rural clergy were treated by the Bishops like helots, and burdened with taxes. We record with deep regret that Wimpheling declares that the clergy could purchase licenses for concubinage, and that parishioners entreated the clergy to obtain them in order to insure the honor of their own wives and daughters.
There was a low tone, as we have said, among the clergy in England of the eighteenth century, but we must not forget that there were holy men like Bishop Wilson, Jones of Nayland, and the great Butler, and that by earnest laymen the great missionary societies were inaugurated.
But the revival in England in the nineteenth century, filled with love of souls, had made the way of working a modem parish as different as a modern mill from the old hand loom. Many of the clergy were living under a strict rule of life and belonged to societies like that of the Holy Cross. Many were living together in clergy houses in community life. Good philanthropic works were springing up on every side. The old-fashioned idea of a clergyman who lived in comparative case had been passing away. There had been a stirring of the dry bones "and a going in the tops of the mulberry trees," and a call to self-sacrifice that never before had been so urgent. I had heard much about the great missionary work of Selwyn, and of that of Lowder in the East of London, and the work of St. Albans, built on the old site of the Thieves Kitchen, which Dickens had described, and I desired to see something of all this.
Among the parishes visited I went to Wantage, which was then under the rectorship of the Rev. W. Butler. He subsequently became Dean of Lincoln. He was a most successful parish priest and was popularly known as "Butler of Wantage." The town had about six thousand inhabitants. There was only one small brick Dissenting chapel in it. It was a Church town. There was a grand old parish church, with its Church schools, and a community of sisters. Butler was a great contrast to Mr. Carter. Carter always impressed one as consciously living perpetually with God. There was a marvellous repose about him which showed itself in every word and action. " While reading a newspaper or on a walk, he was ever with God, and his putting on of his vestments seemed to me like an act of prayer. But Butler was a man of intense activity. He was never restless, but intensely energetic. He had a great organizing power. He had six curates under him and their work was all planned out day by day. They were not, like so many American assistants, left to themselves and their own devices, and greatly wasting their time. All the curates at Wantage assembled together at noon and said Sext together, reported what they had done, and received their orders. Under Butler, Liddon and Father Neale of Oxford and others, noted for their parish work, received their training in work and preaching.
Butler had a plan of his own for keeping himself in touch with his people. He divided them up into classes. There were those for ladies, for servant girls and those in shops, the old men and women, the young men, the professional men, Sunday-school teachers, the children-perhaps some ten or twelve classes in all. Now he expected each class to meet him in his study at the rectory once a month, save, perhaps, in the summer season. If they did not come, he looked them up or sent them a note. He arranged for three classes a day and so got through the whole parish in three or four days of a week. They came, say, at two, three, and four oclock in the afternoon. They would crowd the ample study, and I have see the school teachers sitting on the floor. He would give them a half hours practical study on the Church, its doctrine and their life. This left him a half hour, before the next class came, to speak to an personally who tarried behind for that purpose. One can see why there was only one Dissenting chapel, in a parish taught like this.
There was daily service. I think Vespers were chorally rendered, and there was a daily offering of the Holy Sacrifice. Confession, though not made obligatory, was largely used. He was indefatigable in his visits. It was a remarkable work.
Lowder, in the East of London, where I stayed for a time, West at Paddington, Mackonochie at St. Albans, Upton Richards at All Saints, were parish priests with whom I stayed also, and from whom I learned much.
I was greatly aided in Boston by what I had learned in England, and by the very able assistants that I had in the present Bishop of Vermont, and the present Bishop of Springfield, and others. Here let me mention a device of the latterFather Osborne as he was then calledto keep hold of and to exert a personal influence on those under his care. I believe that Bishop Carpenter of Ripon employed a somewhat similar method. Let me describe that of Father Osborne. Take a number of large cards, say twenty-four, about a foot square, unite them by a ribbon at the top, and hang this set somewhere over your writing desk. Let these be ruled with some fifteen lines nearly an inch apart and numbered with the days of the month. Write in small text the names of your Sunday-school children, your confirmees, your penitents, and others. Enter them according to their birthdays, or Baptism and Confirmation days, or when married, or any other day marked especially in their lives. Every day send out a post-card of remembrance and a word of greeting. It will take only a few minutes. It is wonderful what an attachment grows up with such reminders of ones interest, and how falling away is prevented.
Another useful parish method was practised by my now Coadjutor, Bishop Weller, when he was a parish priestand he was a very successful one. Like others he had noticed how many, after being confirmed, fell away from their Communion. It is most important that the confirmed receive special instruction about the Holy Eucharist. They should be taught not only their duty of being present at it every Sunday as the chief act of Christian worship, but the privilege and reverence of receiving fasting. If the young begin in this way, they are not likely to go back from it. Now to help the confirmees to persevere in their Communions, Bishop Weller looked to see what Sunday of the month there was when the fewest Communions were made. Then he would have the class confirmed come and make their Communions on that Sunday. Those who came dropped their cards or names in a box at the door. This would not be necessary if the parish were small. But on Monday mornings he would seek out those who stayed away and find out the reason for it. Another method was to get them to make a special yearly corporate Communion. I have known a case where a hundred men came to Communion in this way.
The problem before me, when I undertook parish work in Boston, was how to build up a congregation, and how to develop the spiritual life of the people. Our church, when the Cowley Fathers took it, was a comparatively empty one. The building was not Churchly or attractive. It was an old Congregational meeting house, with galleries around three sides, which for years had been dosed. Those who came might be called high churchmen, but not, as yet, Catholics. They had all the prejudices of that somewhat narrow class, because it feels it knows everything about the Church and is unwilling to make any further advance.
The church building was situated between the residences of the well-to-do and the poor. I began my aggressive work with the latter. Obtaining the aid of the few more earnest and better instructed to help me, and asking others of the regular congregation who might be led to come chiefly through curiosity, I instituted two weekly meetings, one for men and one for women. I called them my classes. One had to make special efforts at the beginning to make persons attend. I visited the shops, the houses of the poor, the factories. I asked ladies to send their maids or servants. I distributed a leaflet on the subject. I got my parish visitors, too, at work. And having made a beginning, I soon got a nucleus which grew in attendance to about one hundred and fifty.
My scheme or course of proceeding was this: I held the class in a large room, in the basement of the church. I did not put on a surplice, but wire my cassock. I had no service at the beginning of the evening. I told the curates when subsequently they took the class to avoid, in their teaching, exhortation. They were not to deliver sermons, but it was to be purely an instruction and not more than half an hour in length. It was to be arranged in an orderly manner, clear and dogmatic. The instruction for a winter would take up one general subject. It might be on the Church, or the Sacraments, or the Churchs worship and ritual, or confession, or the Church of Englands history, or on the Catholic Movement. The instruction began at 7: 30. From 8 to 8: 45 we had a "social." I had scattered my helpers throughout the congregation to speak to those present, and as I passed from one to another I entered the names of newcomers in a book. In order to give a social aspect to the meeting and to get the people to know one another, I arranged for the distribution of some slight refreshment. Tea, coffee, and cake were passed round. It is wonderful, too, what a kindly feeling this sociability engendered in those who partook of it.
Then, too, we had a small library, and this, under the care of some helpers, was the means of much usefulness. At 8:45 a bell was rung and we all filed into a side chapel. The altar was brightly lighted up. There were no seats. Everyone had to kneel down on the floor. We sang the litany of the Blessed Sacrament, or some other metrical litany, or said a short Compline office. Then I stood at the door and said good night. There was to be no tarrying among them for idle conversation. There was by this arrangement a combination of sociability, instruction, and devotion. It was all over in an hour and a half. The attendants got back early to their homes. The social element was especially prized. The class became very popular. Persons began to be pleased or proud to be invited to it.
In order to reach the rich and intellectual, I adopted another plan. I called on some of the society ladies to lend me their parlors for, say, a course of six lectures. We agreed who should be invited, and they were, by note or personal call. We invited, not only our own parishioners, but, especially, those not connected with our Church. Persons who would never enter an Episcopal church would be willing to come to an address made in a parlor, which they regarded as a sort of literary lecture. Father Hall, now Bishop of Vermont, gave most valuable courses on the Old Testament and on St. johns Gospel. One advantage of this method was that it brought us into contact with an outside religious world, and enabled the lecturer to speak to individuals present, or make arrangements for further intercourse.
I had also felt that we of the clergy often failed to get at the people by our sermons. They were sometimes moved, greatly moved, by what they heard, but nothing practical came of it. The problem was how to bridge over the gulf between the pulpit and the pew; how, having hooked, to land the fish. In Advent and Lent it became my custom to give notice that at the end of the service I would give a five minutes instruction on some topic then likely to attract their attention. I took up such questions as why we knelt at the Incarnation; why lights on the altar; why priests wore vestments at the Eucharist; why priests made the sign of the Cross; why the Lords table was called an altar; what was the meaning of Apostolic Succession; were our clergy priests; how to go to confession; why be a sister. Thus while the choir was going out, I put off my surplice and took my stand at the end of the aisle, and said in a distinct tone: "Now I am going to give my five minutes instruction. Let as many as can, stay." A good many would stay.
The instruction had to be thoroughly and well prepared. It had to be short, sharp, and incisive. It closed with acts of faith and love. Then as the people were going out I added: "Ive a tract here on the subject which I shall be glad to give away to any who may want it." Some would come forward, quite a good many sometimes; and here I got hold of the individual fish. I had a sister or some of the special workers standing round about me, and as they came up I asked their names rapidly; introduced them to some of the workers, who asked them to come and visit them, or made appointments to talk it out with the rector. It was through the Sisters of the Holy Nativity that this work was so successful.
Let me say a word about my parish work amongst children. He who neglects the children of his parish is bound to have a decaying church. One great difficulty I had in the city I was in, was in obtaining persons willing to be, and capable of being, Sunday School teachers. Yet what a noble calling and blessed work it is. Our clergy need to press this duty and high privilege on their people. It belongs to the exercise of the priesthood of the laity, which is too much forgotten, certainly not realized. But does not Confirmation, the scaling of the Spirit, unite the laymen with the offices of Christ, as, in a higher degree, the ordination of the priest? Does not the layman go to his work of teaching, not of his own motion or of his own strength, but as called and sent by the Lord?
In respect of their instruction, and so fitness, so far as I could, I endeavored to remedy the defects of our present system. I modified and adapted that of the Dupanloup system, as it is called, to our Church and its needs. It is now so familiarly known that I need not describe it. But my own plan was in addition, on a week-day evening, to have Sunday School teachers meet me and go over with them the general lesson of the Sunday, explaining and enlarging and illustrating it. And I drew up for them a catechism, or series of instructions, which brought out the great doctrine of the Incarnation and the Sacraments.
Besides the children at Sunday school there are the very young ones, under seven, at home. Mothers, sometimes perplexed, asked me what would be the best way to teach them. Now most catechisms in
my day began with the statement about God, and that He was the Maker of all things. Then the catechism goes on as the next doctrine to be considered: "Who is the first man" and "the first woman?" It also gave to some extent the Bible account as if it were actual history. Then came the apple story and the serpents talk, and the Fall and the story of a ruined race, and the Redeemer After that we had several chapters on the Law, the history of the Israelites, and their wickedness, an so on up to Calvary. The awful sufferings of Chris were described, and a child was taught to believe on Him and so be saved. The doctrine was sometime taught in this form:
"Child, hast thou trusted Jesus?
Canst thou believe and say
He loved me, He died to save me, He has borne my sins away?
For my sins were laid upon Jesus;
In my stead, for my guilt He died?
Then, Child, fall down and adore Him,
Thou art whiter than all beside."
I know some childrens nervous systems have been prostrated by terrible accounts of the agonies of the Crucifixion. How many have been puzzled with the theological questions involved! Ho many have kept it all to themselves and cried them selves to sleep over the question whether they savingly trusted in Christ or not! How often this system lays the foundation of unbelief, when Bible stories, by the mature mind, are relegated to the level of Kris Kringle and fairy tales.
Now there is a better way to begin with little children. Tell them there is a bright, good, happy God, Who made all things. What has He made? Angels and men. Begin thus with teaching about the angels and ones Guardian Angel. You lay thus in a childs mind a belief in the supernatural which can never be destroyed. Tell the child about fairies and he finds out there are no such beings. But tell him about the angelsand Holy Scripture is full of beautiful stories of their workand his own experience will eventually confirm the truth of their existence. They are appointed to watch over him and guard and protect him. And many a time he will be able to say: "God has given His angels charge over me, to keep me in all my ways."
The child should be taught the names of some of the angels, something about their different ranks and works, of their beautiful and joyous lives, of the interest they take in us. Teach the older children always to say the collect for St. Michaels Day on leaving for a long journey or going from home to school. And lastly, also tell the little one, "God made man." He placed him in a beautiful world. For what did He make him? He made him to attain a blessed state of joy and happiness in a glorious heaven. The present state of things in which there is much of trouble and sorrow and pain is only a temporary schooling time, where one is educated for our real home, where we shall be happy and blessed. How shall we get there? the child naturally asks. The answer is: "By grace." Then explain how grace is given; how our Lord gives it through the Sacraments; what Baptism is and what Confirmation is yet to be to him; how by prayer we gain from Him other gifts of grace; how by grace we can become good and be what God loves us to be. Make religion thus something practical, useful, bright, and happy-making. He loves to go to church and will begin to love God.
In order to develop the spiritual life I had once in each week, in a chapel, a celebration of the Holy Eucharist with hymns. The Mass was read; no part of it intoned or sung. I regard this as a most important direction. The only singing was with hymns. I had no choir present, but the people were taught to join in the hymns, which were printed on a card. The hymns were not given out, but people took them up of themselves. I usually gave a short address of five or six minutes, not longer, on the Blessed Sacrament or our growth in holiness The whole service was rigidly kept within three quarters of an hour, even if we sang six short hymns One was sung as an Introit, one as a Sequence after the Gospel, one at the Offertory, one before and after the Canon, one in the place of the Gloria in Excelsis. To this Mass the more devout of the people came.
No religious movement that is simply theological it should be noticed, makes progress. The time h gone by when persons are aroused by pure dogmatic Most necessary it is for our clergy to learn how teach. Most sermons fail in doing this, and an instruction should be something having a marked character of its own, both in matter and delivery. The great religious movements which have aroused the world have all had a spiritual and devotional side. Wesley, and Whitfield, and Moody appealed especially to the imagination and hearts of the people. The divine fire was not so much kindled by their eloquence as aroused by the earnestness of their prayers and prayer meetings.
So the Catholic Movement must have not only its preachers, but its great devotion. It has it in a wonderful way in the Holy Eucharist. The Eucharist presents Christ, though veiled, abiding with us. He has not gone away to a distant star, but lives in His holy Temple of the Church. If we could visit the Holy Land, as some desire to do, we should only be seeing places where the Christ nineteen centuries ago had been. We should not be brought thereby any nearer to Him. But in the Eucharist He is verily and indeed present. And we, as truly as did the Magdalene, may come to His Blessed Feet. No St. John may lay his head more truly on Christs breast than do we, reposing in the Sacrament of His Blood. Our relation to Christ is far closer and dearer than that of the Apostles when He was visible among them. They could follow Him, but did not receive Him into themselves as we do. He comes to enfold us in His own life, to communicate to us His own virtue. By an act most tender, loving, and sweet, He feeds us with His own Body and Blood, and gives us of the grace of His soul, and strengthens us with His divine Nature. Here love breaks out to us and claims us for His own. Around the altar, though unseen, are the angel choirs. They come not to receive, but by their presence to do honor to, and worship the Blessed Lord. The Eucharist is an extension to them of that night when they sang that Gloria in Excelsis over the Babe of Bethlehem. The great Memorial Sacrifice of the altar moves the Heart of God with its ever fresh offering. Here is set forth and pleaded, with the consecrated Broken Bread and outpoured Blood, the effectual Sacrifice of Calvary. Here we ask God to behold our Defender, and to look upon the face o His Anointed. Here the heavy laden, and the rejoicing souls bring their needs and petitions, and the are united to the great offering. God answers every Eucharistic sacrifice with new gifts of His protecting love. To the devout communicant this world change its aspect as a thing of desire, and heaven become permanent to his illuminated vision.
How poverty stricken spiritually are those priests and those people who look upon their communion as a matter of mere duty, and a profession of their Christian state, or as a mere representation of an absent Lord. But once let the Catholic doctrine o the Real Presence be realized, the world become changed, the soul lays aside its sorrows, and it is filled with joy and brightness, and up the Gold Stairway the soul mounts to God.
I have always been in favor of having a celebration of the Eucharist especially for children. Why not? Why not, on Saturdays, when the children have their holiday, let them meet for a nine oclock Mass? Did not our Lord say: "Suffer little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not? "Was that merely an invitation to those then present, or for all time? If we churchmen apply the text to Baptism, why not to the Eucharist, where Christ is specially present? There their little receptive minds can perhaps better realize Christs presence than do adults, disturbed by their unsubdued reason. If He took little children up in His arms, and, though they had little knowledge of His Person, blessed them, can He not give them a blessing now? Persons who object to any being present, save receivers, may consistently object to the presence of little children. As the Eastern Church allows of the Communion being given at a very early age, it may not be unwise for some parents to allow their little ones to receive. But, be this as it may, and opinions will rightly differ, children and angels have a right to be present though they do not partake of -the sacramental gift.
The training of the spiritual nature is being neglected, and so the world is falling away from Christ. Begin by teaching children, as we have said, about the angels and our Lords veiled presence in the Eucharist, and they are fortified in their belief in God and the supernatural. Devout followers come to the Eucharist to make some reparation to Christ for the insults offered to Him in His Passion and the neglect and the indifference so common to-day.
They come as soldiers come to a dress parade, to -do honor to Christ as soldiers, and to salute the nations flag. They come to prepare themselves by worship for the adoration paid to our Lord in Glory. Here, stooping to our weakness, He veils His splendor, at which, could we behold it, we would fall, like St. John, at His feet, as dead.
Our God is a hidden God. He hides Himself in nature, in His providences, in the Incarnation. He veils Himself in the Eucharist. Abiding in His Church as the sun does in the solar system, He can make Himself manifest in any and every part of it at His will. When He ascended, the cloud, which may have been a group of angels, received Him out of the Apostles sight; so now He abides with us, veiled under the consecrated Elements. Here, one way, He fulfils His promise: "Lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."
The time will be when at His second Coming His unveiling will take place, and then, as the lightning shineth forth from the east to the west, by one continuous action, illuminating the whole heavens Jesus Christ will appear. Worship of Him, then at the Eucharist is a most effective preparation for that blessed development and consummation, when creation will pass into its higher stage of existence all evil and sin be done away, and glorified so remain with Christ forever.
In my parochial work I found help occasionally with a number of years interval, in having a parochial mission. Parochial missions have now become common. When Fathers Benson and Lowder first introduced them into England, we of the Cowley Fathers were sometimes called Methodists. Our spiritual opponents were found chiefly amongst the oldfashioned high churchmen, who disliked all enthusiasm, excitement, and the need of conversion. One wrote me complainingly, saying there was no authority for it in the Prayer Book. I cited the Conversion of St. Paul and the prayer in the office for the Visitation of Prisoners, where Christ is appealed to as "accepting the conversion of sinners on the Cross," and a prayer is made for the person, that he "being converted and reconciled to Thee, may depart in peace." Evangelicals agreed with us as to the necessity of conversion, but did not accept our teaching on confession.
After a number of missions had been given in England it was thought wise to hold a conference of mission preachers and others. So about twenty came together at the invitation of the Father Superior of Cowley, assembling at Oxford. I remember that Dr. Maclagan, afterwards the Archbishop of York; Dr. Wilkinson, who became the Bishop of St. Andrews and Primate of Scotland; Dr. Bright, Professor of Ecclesiastical History; and, I think, Lowder, and many others were present.
The whole day was taken up in the conference. Questions relating to missions having been carefully analyzed and put forth on paper, were discussed one by one. Each person was requested to give his opinion. Dr. Maclagan was the scribe who noted what was important and the general principles arrived at. In reply to the question, "In what churches should missions be given?" it was held that those should be avoided where the chief object sought by the rector was merely to revive decaying work. The mission was not to resuscitate or galvanize dead parishes into life, but to build up souls in Christ. It should be given in a parish where the rector himself, being a spiritual man, would carry on the work of spiritual guidance. The mission was to be a preparation for future work. A careful preparation also was necessary. The people should be made to understand it was their mission, and success depended upon their efforts. If they were not willing to throw themselves into it with their efforts, it had better not be held. They were to agree to lay aside all other duties, and agree to a daily attendance at the services. They were to say a daily prayer for the mission, and make their Communion for its success.
I cannot here dwell upon the various means to be adopted to secure a congregation and especially to bring in outsiders. In factories permission may be obtained to address the employees at their noon hour. A hymn may be sung, along with a short address. I remember being with Father ONeil when, standing on a chair in an East End London square, he began by shouting out: "Good people, an auction! A soul for sale!" Then he described the different offers Satan and Christ would make for it.
Beside the special mission sermon in the evening there would, of course, be the daily Eucharist and meditation for the devout, and perhaps a series of services for children. The mission sermon should not be too long. I have known congregations dissipated by its length. Some of the most effective of Mr. Moodys addresses were only twenty-five minutes long. A peculiarity of the mission sermon was that it was followed by an "after meeting." The method of conducting it varied with the general method and abilities of the mission preacher. Sometimes it took the form of an old-fashioned prayer meeting. Sometimes the men and women were divided into classes and separately addressed. Sometimes there was an intercession service in church, accompanied by acts of faith and penitence, which all made together. Sometimes the mission priest would go amongst the people and speak to individuals, and pray with them.
And here I notice a method adopted by Father ONeil. In a place where people could only come out quite late, or were able to stay on late in the evening, he held what he called a Crusade. He invited his hearers to join with him in a twelve days effort against sin. They simply pledged themselves to come to the meeting every evening, and he desired them to say one short prayer for themselves and others. Presently, in his evening instructions, he got on to the subject of sin and its varieties and our temptations. The Crusade was for men, and men only. After he had made an address and a warm exhortation, he would announce that now Father Grafton would make a few remarks, while he retired into the vestry. As he went thither he touched the man nearest the door and beckoned him in. in this way he began his individual work. He would ask some kindly questions about the state of the persons soul, etc. He would probably make an appointment with this person to come and see him at some other time. I have known, such was the necessity of the case, of his making an appointment as early as three oclock in the morning. On the mans leaving he would tell him to send the person sitting next to him into the room, as he wanted to see him.
During the service cards would be given out, having on them such statements as: "I want to be baptized," or "confirmed," or "to see the mission priest." These might be dropped in a box at the door. There would be also another box in which questions relating to religious matters or Church doctrine might be placed, and which the mission priest or some other might answer before the sermon.
Again, persons would be invited to make special resolutions in conference with the mission priest. At the end of the mission those who had been benefited by it were requested to show their thanksgiving to God by a public renewal of their baptismal or confirmation vows. The mission would end with a thanksgiving service and perhaps, also, in some cases, with a procession, each bearing a lighted candle. The conference at Oxford led to the publishing of a little book on missions, and not long after the first great London mission was given. Rightly used, and not too frequently, missions may be a source of much spiritual power and blessing to a parish.
Along with missions, retreats began to be given in the English Church. A modified or shortened form of retreat is to be found in the parish Quiet Day. These have quite a distinct ethos from those of a mission. In the mission the Church is making an aggressive effort to win souls to Christ. It is a St. John the Baptist work and-a call to repentance. In the retreat God calls us to receive a Gift. He says perhaps to the weary: " Come ye apart into a desert place and rest awhile." To the soul reaching out for a higher life and asking "Where dwellest Thou?" He says: "Come and see." The spirit of a retreat is that of solitude, contemplation, communion with God. At a mission we are called to repent, to break with the world, to be indeed converted. In the retreat Christ gathers us by His own visitation into a fuller incorporation with His own life.
Retreats are a law of Gods dealing with us. The great gifts of God to men have mostly been given to retreatants. Christ entered into His work after a retreat of forty days in the Wilderness. St. John the Baptist was prepared for his by his long novitiate in the desert. The Apostles kept theirs with a ten days prayer previous to the gift of Pentecost. It is to St. John at Patmos that the great vision of the Church is given.
The power of the retreat lies largely in its solitude. The soul goes apart to the dear and only God. It rigidly shuts out the world, ones duties and ones res. It is in solitude that Christ speaks to the soul, one cannot tell when or how. It may be by some text, or word of a conductor, or interior inspiration. As it is the still lake that reflects the heavens, so it is the still soul that is receptive of Gods inspiration. Therefore those retreats given to clergy in which the idea of a conference is mingled, fail of their intended effect. All conversation amongst the clergy should cease during the retreat. Discussion of any matter, especially theological matter, disturbs the soul. The soul should hold itself in loving stillness and expectancy, waiting upon the Lords action.
It is the same with a Quiet Day. A priest can do much for his people by giving them such a day, perhaps several times a year. They can come, say, at nine, and beginning with a devotional Eucharist remain till some four or five oclock in the afternoon. This will enable the conductor to give them two meditations, an instruction, and perhaps a short praise meeting. The retreatants should be provided with religious books. Luncheon should be provided by Church workers. Silence should be kept.
Two or three Quiet Days may be held advantageously in a parish; one in Lent and one in Advent. The object of the exercise is to develop a more warm loving, and personal union with our Lord. What a beautiful motto that is: "Jesus only, Jesus always, all for Jesus."
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