Project Canterbury

From The Works of the Rt. Rev. Charles C. Grafton (Volume 4),
edited by B. Talbot Rogers, New York: Longmans, Green, 1914, pp. 310-313

A Journey Godward
of a Servant of Jesus Christ


GREAT men are wont to crystallize into a sentence the ruling motive, object, and purpose of their lives. The Right Reverend Doctor Grafton had a habit of bidding farewell to the many clergy who called upon him, both from inside and outside his Diocese, not with the formal "Good-bye" or other ordinary expression, but almost universally with "Press on the Kingdom!"

He was a man of intense industry. Even in the last days of his life here, when the infirmities of age and disease were painfully apparent to those of us who were near him, he was saying his "offices" or studying or dictating letters or planning some fresh effort to "press on the Kingdom!"

The Kingdom to him was always a very definite thing — the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church — the institution which was in the Eternal Mind when He created the heavens and the earth. Temporal things have only one reason for existence, viz: that we might "press on the Kingdom." So he planned and built churches, rectories, and altars, and adorned them. So he preached and taught and wrote that men might accept in its entirety the Catholic faith and worship. He never grew despondent, he had a wonderful gift of hope. All things must work together for good to them that love God.



IT is a natural and instinctive saying that death hides one's friends from one in the grave. It is true; but there is a deeper truth. Death conceals, but, also, it reveals. For as a man passes from time into eternity, all about him that is merely temporal and accidental, the familiar surroundings of his life, his position, his outward associations, fall away, and the man himself, his personal character, stands out stark and distinct, like a building from which the scaffolding has just been stripped. And if the character has had its own motif, its definite unity, then it may happen that the man begins to be really known in the hour when his body is laid in the ground. "I never knew him till I lost him" — how many have felt that!

And when he who has gone hence was not only a man but a leader of men, when he was one to whom we ourselves looked as the representative of a cause which claims our innermost allegiance, then we have no right to hurry on, heedless and forgetful; then it has something of the baseness of desertion if we do not stop and ask: "What was the meaning and significance of his life? What does that life demand of me?"

In the case of Bishop Grafton the answer is not far to seek. No argument is needed, for none will contradict the statement it is ours to make.

First of all, the Bishop loved his Saviour and Redeemer with a direct and personal devotion. Behind all the activities of his life, behind all the varied relations in which he stood to others whether in his Diocese or beyond its borders, behind his unflagging enthusiasm in interests that were dear to him, there burned a passionate loyalty to his Divine Master. One supreme test of that loyalty he was never called to meet. Yet, had he been called, as many a Bishop in old time was, he would have met the test without hesitation or debate. Charles Grafton would have died for Jesus Christ. Men half-consciously believed that while the Bishop was here; when he had gone hence they knew it.

But further, Bishop Grafton looked to Christ with a sense of profound, of unlimited need. It was in this consciousness of utter need that he turned with intensity of devotion to the Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament of His Body and Blood. In the Holy Eucharist he found the continuation, as day was added to day, of the great Act of Love in which Jesus offers Himself to the Father as the Atonement for the sins of the whole world. On that Atonement he rested all his hope, in life and in death. The one desire that remained with him through his last six months of increasing weakness, and the pain, as was known afterward, of a broken shoulder-blade, was that he might stand once again at the altar and offer the tremendous sacrifice for himself and his people.

In the Holy Eucharist, too, he found Jesus as his Food, his Strength, and his Stay. The Blessed Sacrament was the Object of his adoring love. All that he did to enlarge and beautify his Cathedral — and he was always planning some fresh adornment — was that it might be a more fitting shrine for the Eucharistic Presence of the Incarnate God.

Once more, Bishop Grafton believed in the Church, in which he ministered as one of its chief pastors, as a part of the mystical body of Christ. He knew her failings and defects, and he grieved over them. But he never despaired of her, never doubted that God was with her, never forgot that to her, as to his spiritual mother, he owed his birth into the family of God, and all the richest blessings of his life. In the Church he found the Communion of Saints, the blessed company of all faithful people, the one abode in which all men might, if they but knew it, find their home, for time and for eternity. To the last, as one or another of his clergy after an interview said Farewell, he would send them out with the words ringing in their ears, "Press on the Kingdom"; and the kingdom was for all mankind.

This, in briefest compass, is the answer to the question, "What was the meaning and significance of Bishop Grafton's life?" The other question, "What does that life demand of me?" must be answered by each one who holds his memory dear — answered not in words on a printed page, but in deeds yet to be done, sufferings yet to be borne, a victory yet to be achieved by the grace that never failed him, and to which he made such brave response.


Transcribed by David Donnell, A.D. 2001

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