From The Works of the Rt. Rev. Charles C. Grafton (Volume 7),165-175
edited by B. Talbot Rogers, New York: Longmans, Green, 1914, pp.
LETTERS TO AN ASPIRANT
January 11, 1905
MY DEAR DAUGHTER IN CHRIST:
God has led you to a special degree of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and to do a work for him among the poor, the children, and in hospitals. It is the kind of work our sisters do.
The question iswhether He is not calling you to a further union with Himself in the Religious life. That life is a special union with our Lord, wrought out by the keeping of the three counsels, and cannot be attained outside of a community. God has tested your faithfulness by these years of devotion and now has so freed you from home duties that you could enter on such a life.
The fact that you are deeply interested in your children, and hospital work, and are doing good, is no sign that you are not called to leave it for a season. God, when He calls persons to religion, does not pick out idlers. He calls from duties to other duties. He calls on us to make ventures of faith and to leave our work in His hands. He calls us to leave all and follow Him. Not to have the trust in Him, comes from self, and we may be as selfish in spiritual things as in others.
I could not but smile when you wrote about your having your window open and thought you might not have that privilege in a community. One of our sisters does.
But in a community, the care of others and the blessing that comes from self-abnegation and obedience, brings a greater blessing than having our own, though spiritual, ways. But this is a diversion.
The question you must consider is, whether the past providences of God, in freeing you from home duties, are not a sign together with your devotion that you may have a vocation to the Religious life. It is the highest honor our Lord can bestow on any one for it means such a consecrated and mysterious union with Him as shall last throughout eternity. You have now what any person not so consecrated may have, and there God may leave you. But He may be calling you to more. One other sign is this: It has all been so easy up to now. This would require the giving up of what to you would be the hardest, and require the most self-sacrifice, would call for at your age, for the greatest discipline, that of obedience. The call to be under persons as our Lord Himself was, when He went down to Nazareth.
I do not know whether God is calling you to that more intimate and lasting union.
But I do know this, that if He has any design for the extension of the devotion to the Blessed Sacrament in our Church it can only be carried out by and in a Religious community.
Concerning Religious communities, I do not believe that you or any person should try and form one, without having had some years of training in one. The result could only injure the cause it was desired to promote.
If you are called to do something for the Church in the way we have spoken of, it is through some Religious Order; and where one exists which has an especial devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, is it not rather rash to start another?
Do not misunderstand me. I have no wish to dictate. God in His love has led you to where you are. He may, I cannot say more, call you to the further privileged union. All I want is to help you to be so detached as to be ready to respond if He calls. If he calls you, make a venture of faith and come to Him on the waters. He has done so much for you. I want you, if it is His will, to do all you can for Him. By giving oneself to the Religious life, a woman can do more for Christ in our day and in our Church, than in any other way or by any other work. A Religious by the mere fact of being a Religious, bears a greater witness for Christ to the Catholic Church, than all the works of all the Philanthropists put together.
And so I leave the matter to Him. When He calls you, be ready to say, Here am I.
With my prayers and Blessing,
C. C. FOND DU LAC.
January 16, 1905
MY DEAR DAUGHTER:
Thank you for so letting me see your heart and Our Lord's dealings with you.
I have no doubt that it has been His work with you and that He has called and protected you in a special life of devotion to Himself.
Saints are joined both in the technically religious life and out of it, and persons are called to union with our Lord in different ways. I do not doubt but you may be as closely united to our Lord as any Religious may be.
But then, a Religious lives her union and her special union with our Lord which is wrought out by keeping the three counsels, and that of obedience cannot be practised in the same way out of a Religious Community as in it.
I do not say, one may not be as closely united with our Lord, or be as truly a saint indeed, or have as many hardships, or practise obedience in other waysall this is true, only souls are called by different ways to a union with Him, and that in Religion is one way and that out of it is another.
In your own case, it seems to you that He has called you out of it, and not called you in that way. I, believing that it is safe for you to follow His guiding, have nothing further on that point to say. Go as you believe God leads you.
But if our Lord does design to develop the worship to the Blessed Sacrament, by allowing this Church of ours to have perpetual adoration, it is evident that it can only be done by a Community. It is this I feel I am called to and am working for in the Holy Nativity.
I could not advise you or any one to start a Sisterhood without going through a long novitiate in some Sisterhood. A holy priest is going to begin a Benedictine house in my diocese. I have known and loved him for over twenty years. He has been with me when I was a Cowley father. But neither does he nor I think it well to begin, until he has gone over to England and passed his novitiate there. It is a great loss to me, but I give him up thus to God. So I should say to any drawn to devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, if called, to forward the movement in our Church other than by one's own personal life, and devotion, by all means do it through a community. Of course you feel also the work for souls, and this should be connected with it. If there is no such community, go into one and get trainedstart one. If there is one, seek to carry out God's calling through it. But unless one is distinctly called to do this, go on as you are; you are His and He is yours.
With all my Blessings on all you do for Him,
Yours in Christ,
C. C. FOND DU LAC.
P.S. I think I made it clear that a Sisterhood could consider a proposition to take aspirants from a parish with the agreement to establish a branch house in it.
October 27th, 1906
MY DEAR DAUGHTER:
There was never a greater need for united prayer among Catholics than now.
The Church and the State in Europe are not only dividing but are being opposed to each other. We are reverting to the times before Constantine and persecution.
The State in Europe, in Italy, France, England, is fighting the Church of Christ.
The world-spirit disbelieves in and hates Catholicity. It is full of cynical unbelief and hatred. Satan has raised up a number of false religions, especially in our country, and helped them with supernatural gifts. Mormonism, Spiritualism, Doweism, Eddyism, are some of these. There is an uncatholic and human spirit of Philanthropy most subtle, of Socialism, etc., and of so-called (and it probably is) Reform, all of which is not based on Christ, but on human progress. Its leaders are great men and seemingly good, temperate, pure, etc., full of schemes for the people's advancement.
But they are false and counterfeit Christs. Signs of the latter age. We are living in a time and country wherein Satan and his fallen angels are having a tremendous power. It is their day and time. I call it "the age of Satan." America or the United States is the field of the great final conflict.
But the Church cannot be crushed out of existence. The "Two Witnesses" of the Word and the Sacraments will rise and stand on their feet again. They are doing it now. Hidden from the world there will be a great spiritual movement, and souls will be drawn to Christ, and saints will be made, and the predestinated number of the elect will be made up, and then Christ will come. He will destroy the Kingdom of this world, and the wickedness of man will cease.
Every prayer helps on the grand consummation. Pray for the Religious life in our church. Upon it its salvation, I think, depends.
All things are in turmoil. The Church needs to be aroused. The prayers of the faithful can save it.
With all Blessings to you and the little Band,
Yours, in Jesus and for Jesus and His Kingdom,
C. C. FOND DU LAC.
P.S. I will send you my tract on the Real Presence, and give a copy to each of the members.
FOND DU LAC, WISCONSIN, April 24th, 1911
Thank you for your breath of sweetness from the woods. They are quite a type, in contrast to garden flowers, of the hidden saints of God. The human eyes overlook the vast numbers of earth's little floral offerings to God, but the dear Blessed God, Who made man, sees them, and knows each one, even as He knows each little simple-minded infant-like child of God.
I love to think I am tucked away in some little corner of His great Heart, and He hears my breathing, and knows my desires to be of holiness, and in union with Himself.
May God bless you, my daughter, in your sweet rest on Him.
Pray for me, that entering into the twenty-third year of my Episcopate, I may be a more effective instrument for the building up of His Kingdom. With my love and Christian benediction,
C. C. FOND DU LAC.
Monday Evening, December 7
MY DEAR DAUGHTER:
We have had a delightful day so far as the weather is concerned, while near by at Racine and a little farther on at Chicago there has been a heavy fall of snow. We got no storm, while up and down the Eastern coast we read of them. I think Fond du Lac must in some way be sheltered. Let us hope it lies out of the storm trackspolitical, financial, and ecclesiastical as well.
Every now and then the Milwaukee papers try to stir up some confusion, but fail to produce any effect by their sensational head lines. In this respect the western papers are worse than those in the east. Church matters should be kept out of the secular press. A great deal of harm is done to religion by the covert attacks made by the newspapers, under the mask of news.
I gave a long address to the Nashotah students on Catechising, on my last visit, and hope here at the Cathedral to establish with fuller details the system I began at the Advent years ago and which was a sort of contraction of the French and English methods in Sunday School work. The children are such an important factor in Church work. Never have I felt it so much as now, and the other day when thinking over the matter I saw, as never before, the fuller meaning of our Lord's actions in respect of the children. His ministration to children follows the sacramental line, of provision and care. I can only write a little of what is in my mind. But He bids them come to Him and blames those who would have kept them from Him. Our Church has put her sanction on His act of taking them up in His arms and blessing them as Symbols of Holy Baptism. Perhaps it sets forth, in the coming, and in the Blessing, Confirmation as well, as in His tabernacle. When He thanks His heavenly Father that He has revealed these things to babes, He sets forth that further enlightenment and fortifying grace which confirmation brings. He gives them, or recognizes, their special Angels, and did you ever notice too, how when He had fed the great multitude, it is said "so many thousand . . . besides the children"? They are to be brought about Him the Living Bread, and I am glad to say we are to begin our children's mass next Sunday. A celebration which they will follow with hymns. I will send you a paper containing them. And our Lord also delivers childhood. It too comes under the sway of the evil one, and after the Transfiguration He comes down and casts out the devil from the Child. What a type of absolution and its power. The child needs help in its sickness, and Christ must visit it. See Him coming to the daughter. He, the true Resurrection, leads her by the hand; she is restored to life. So the child is set in the midst as a type of Holy orders and of the Ministerial office and power. Whoso receiveth this little child in My Name, receiveth Me. Here is the whole doctrine of the Priesthood. There is the example of active service. He accepts the Bread and fishes from His altar boy ere he blesses the loaves and multiplies them. The little one is a type of union with Himself, which in the adults is symbolized by marriage. This too is the type of perfection. The child the babe, the suckling the fruit of marriage, resting on the heart of God. Whoso will be greatest among you, let him become as the little child. Oh, how could this and more be brought out to children? If I had a children's Chapel, as Bishop Dupanloup advised all his clergy to have, I could have an Altar with these pictures over it, worked into window or reredos. The center panel, Christ sleeping on the straw, while above is seen the chalice and Host, and above His sorrow in Calvary. On either side should be representations of Christ in the workshop and Christ in the Temple.
And around the walls in plain designs, these pictures of our Lord's dealings with children. If we are to win the next generation of churchmen, let us begin now and draw the children, in the Eucharist, and in their lives, about the Feet of their own Saviour and Master and Lord and King.
I did not mean to write all this. My sermon is in print. I pray it may do good to many.
How are you getting on? I hope, dear daughter, you are well. Let nothing ever worry you. I fear you may have had some troublesome work or duty of late. I am so glad you have C. M. near at hand. There is so much more to say, but I must stop.
With my love and blessings,
Ever yours in Christ,
C. C. G.