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. 316-323

A Journey Godward
of a Servant of Jesus Christ


WHEN the late Bishop Grafton passed to his rest, his body was interred in the local cemetery at Fond du Lac, where it remained for one year. In the meantime there was erected in the Cathedral, as the gift of Elbridge T. Gerry, Esq. of Newport, a tomb to become the final resting place of the Bishop's body. An arch was cut between the transept chapel and a small chapel that was formerly an organ chamber, and the tomb erected under the arch. It is of handsome red Numidian marble with white marble floor and carved Carrara top. On one end of the sarcophagus is the seal of the Diocese of Fond du Lac in brass, and on the reverse end the seal of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, of which Bishop Grafton had been superior for a number of years and until his death. A recumbent figure of the late Bishop, which was carved in Italy, is affixed to the top of the tomb. The smaller chapel of the two that are now connected by the arch and by the tomb has been somewhat enlarged and an altar placed within it.

The service of entombment was held on Wednesday morning, September 3d. The casket, taken from the cemetery, was opened, with only the glass slab over the remains, and it was found, to the surprise of the observers, that the Bishop's features and hands were as natural as on the day he died. The mitre was somewhat discolored and the chalice which he grasped in his hand was tarnished, but the body itself showed no indications of decay.

The casket was removed to the Cathedral, where it was met at the entrance to the nave by a procession headed by crucifer, thurifer, choir, and clergy, while the Bishop of the diocese and a number of his clergy had accompanied the body from the cemetery. The procession then re-formed and moved through the nave to the tomb, the Litany being sung in procession, intoned by Archdeacon Rogers. Slowly the casket was deposited in the tomb and covered with a marble slab as the singing of the Litany drew to a close, after which the Holy Communion was celebrated by the Bishop. The sermon was preached by the Rev. J. G. H. Barry, D.D., rector of the church of St. Mary the Virgin, New York, and a former Canon of the Cathedral at Fond du Lac. Most of the diocesan clergy, and also some from beyond, were in the procession.

The following epitaph is engrossed and hung on the wall at the tomb:

"To the Bishop and Chapter of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin:

"I desire to present to the Cathedral, a Memorial Sarcophagus Tomb to receive and preserve the mortal remains of our beloved friend and late Bishop of Fond du Lac, the Right Reverend CHARLES CHAPMAN GRAFTON, S.T.D., LL.D., with the chief and express object of thereby forcibly and unmistakably emphasizing his splendid legacy to our Whole Church in his dying charge to your council in regard to the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.

"Two months before he entered the Life Eternal, he said in this final message:

"'I am unable to be with you in person, but you know my earnest desire is for the spiritual growth of the diocese.

"'There has been, I believe, a growing spirituality, especially amongst the men. It is by more earnest devotion to the BLESSED SACRAMENT it can be increased. May I lovingly urge you, dear brethren, to greater belief, trust, and love of our dear LORD in that wonderful mystery? Do not argue about it, but believe in it. Honor our Lord's Presence there by music, lights, flowers, and incense. He will honor those who love Him. He dwells in His Church. He veils His Presence but will unveil it in glory. To believe in His Presence is a test of true faith.'

"By the courtesy and with the approval of your present Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Reginald Heber Weller, and the coöperation of the Canon of your Cathedral, Ven. B. Talbot Rogers, the tomb has been constructed and put in place in a special receptacle prepared therefor in the Cathedral. At the time of his departure, Bishop Grafton was Superior General of the American Branch of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, as the inscription on the tomb states. The replica represents him as 'Asleep in Jesus,' after having celebrated his last Mass — indicated by his chasuble — and blessed his people, crozier in hand. The design of the replica was to recall unmistakably his dying words as Bishop and Superior General of the Confraternity. The inscriptions of the tomb, while brief, are explicit and speak for themselves.

"It only remains for me to request its acceptance and to unite in the prayer incised in the marble at the base of the recumbent figure which everyone utters who reads it: 'Eternal rest grant him, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon him!'

"I remain, with great respect,

"Yours in the Catholick Faith,


August 30, 1913.

A portion of the sermon was as follows:

I. CORINTHIANS 15:46. — "Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual."

In this chapter of the Corinthians which the Church has chosen for the burial lesson, St. Paul enunciates a truth of far-reaching significance. He enunciates it, but only partially applies it. He needs but a partial application of it for the purpose of his argument. It is thus that in Holy Scripture truths are often set forth, and we are left to make further application of them as we may.

I do not think that Christian thought has as yet made the application of this truth in any very broad way. We, no doubt, recognize the primacy of the natural, but have not really found out what is implied as to the development of the spiritual. We are become accustomed to interpret the physical universe in the terms of evolution. We see in its development the unfolding of the mind and purpose of God; we learn to see the presence of God in the orderly sequences of the physical world. We no longer try to find an intimation of God in the exceptional rather than in the rule. We no longer read the providence of God in the appearance of comets, but in the majestic procession of the fixed stars. God is one and omnipresent, and the development of the universe is the revelation of His presence.

But the truth we need to bring home to ourselves is that as the organic arises out of the inorganic, and the intelligent out of the organic, so the further step in the divine purpose is the emergence of the spiritual. The spiritual man, the man who is utterly under the control of spiritual ideals, is still in the process of becoming. The spiritual order of the Kingdom of God is still a promise rather than an accomplishment. The Kingdom of God is still in the making. The spiritual man has appeared, but not conquered. We still look for the new heaven and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. We see the new man in Christ Jesus struggling to grow up to the measure of the fulness of His stature, but we do not see him yet prevailing in the world. We see Jesus, but we do not yet see all things put under His feet.

But as we look out in the world in which the spiritual order is growing, in which its ultimate triumph is guaranteed by the Incarnation, we look at it with eyes full of hope. We do not feel that we stand somewhere near the end of a decaying order, but somewhere near the beginning of a triumphant work. Many of us no doubt were brought up to think of the primitive Church as the perfect creation of God, and to think of the succeeding ages as ages of continuous deterioration from the ideal, till we have reached a state of things of which we may well despair; that is, the way of pessimism and unfaith. There never has been a perfect and complete Church, but we are on the way toward it. The purpose of God working through the ages will one day triumph in a spiritual society, in the revelation of the city of God.

It has been the task of the Church through the centuries to work for the establishment of the spiritual order. With what imperfectness it has done its work, how the times have lingered through our sloth and infidelity, we need not say. What is important for us is to feel that progress has been made and that the Kingdom comes nearer day by day. There have been times when the cause has seemed to fail; when the Church has seemed to go backward. There have been times of notable advance. One such time of advance dawned now nearly a century ago when the Oxford Movement roused that branch of the Catholic Church of which we are members; when it seemed that accidentally, out of the circumstances of English life, there came that awakening to the spiritual significance of religion which gave a renewed life to the Anglican communion; that roused it from the routine of religious moralism to the appreciation of spiritual power.

It was into the second generation of the Oxford Movement that he whom to-day we commemorate with all thankfulness, Charles Chapman Grafton, Bishop, was born. Those who knew him, knew that never for a moment after his escape from the spiritual desert in which his early years were passed did he falter in his allegiance to the principles of that spiritual Christianity, the expression of which he found in the Oxford Movement. He was a man of the type of Pusey, of strong patience, of deep hopefulness, of untiring energy. He gave himself without stint to the Church of his love. Perfect he never thought her; divine he always thought her — the sphere of our Lord's self-revelation. The hope of her increasing Catholicity never left him. Her ultimate triumph he never doubted. All his life belonged to her and he never spared it. I saw him for the last time but a few days before his death. He said to me then: "The General Convention will meet next year in New York. Would you like me to preach at St. Mary's?" With his last breath he was still thinking of work for the Church of God.

His life was closely associated with many important works in the American Church. As one of the originators of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, as founder of the Sisterhood of the Holy Nativity, he exercised a wide influence on the life of the Church. No one more than he was devoted to the development of the spiritual life of clergy and laity in the work of missions, retreats, and quiet days. He realized that it was not a logically consistent system or perfect order that was the first need of the Church, but a deepening and growing spiritual life; that the Church is sent to express the life of our incarnate Master, that she must grow to be like Him; that her origin is in God-made-Man, her end in man-made-God.

That is the great lesson of his life upon which we do well to ponder. There are times when clouds drift in and hide the vision of the city of God, but,

"Ever and anon a trumpet sounds,
From the head battlements of eternity,
Those shaken mists a space unsettled
Then round the half glimpsed turrets
Slowly wash again."

When once we have had the vision we cannot doubt of it, or of the purpose of God. We know that we are part of a developing spiritual order, and we regather our energies and regird our loins and fare forward, — "on to the city of God." We who have worked long years in the cause, strain our eyes to the future and toil on in the hope of seeing the vision unveiled.

"Lo! as some venturer from his stars, receiving
     Promise and presage of sublime emprise,
Bears evermore the seal of his believing
     Deep in the dark of solitary eyes.
So even I, and with a faith more burning,
     So even I, [and] with a hope more sweet,
Long for the hour, O Christ, of Thy returning,
     Faint for the flaming of Thine advent feet."

Transcribed by David Donnell, A.D. 2001

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