From The Works of the Rt. Rev. Charles C. Grafton (Volume 7),
edited by B. Talbot Rogers, New York: Longmans, Green, 1914, pp. 296-300
Addresses to the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament
THE ADDRESS OF THE SUPERIOR GENERAL, (1910)
REV. AND DEAR FATHERS AND ASSOCIATES OF THE C. B. S.:
RECEIVE my loving greetings in the Lord and fellowship in the Catholic Faith.
As we look back for a large number of years, we have much to be thankful for. There has been a great growth in our own Communion in the knowledge of the Catholic Faith, and especially of belief in the objective presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
When I was a young man there was scarcely a parish where the Holy Sacrifice was offered every Sunday. Now, through the larger part of our country, the offering of it is the rule rather than the exception. The general principles concerning the worship have become almost universal. The use of proper Eucharistic vestments and lights, which were once unknown, have largely been adopted. The Eastward position is most continually taken, and there are now few, if any, objections to the use of wafer bread.
While there is yet much to be gained, yet the attitude of our Church toward the Blessed Sacrament has greatly improved in reverence and devotion. What we should earnestly strive for is that the offering of the Sacrifice should be made a permanent Sunday service. It cannot in all parishes be introduced at once, and our people have to be prepared for it. Our clergy must use their own discretion in the manner of its introduction.
It appears to me that we are to train our people in the art of devotion. If we can teach them to realize our Lord's presence, and to accompany the Mass with special petitions of their own, they will come to love it. But we have in some cases to go slowly. We may all of us remember the remark St. Aidan made, when a missionary from his monastery was sent to convert the Angles, and returned with the news that they were so hard and barbarous he could make nothing of them. Aidan remarked that he had evidently expected too much at first, and that he must remember the injunction of St. Paul that the uninstructed must be fed first with milk before they received the meat of the full Word. It requires an enthusiastic patience to deal with our uninstructed, or especially with old-fashioned high church people. These latter think they know all, and are as unwilling to take further instruction as the bigoted low churchmen, with their cry of "Romanism."
Where it is possible, will not all the clerical members of the Confraternity offer the Eucharist daily?
I have advised in my own diocese that they should take a small chapel or sacristy, if need be, and put in a small altar, where the service might be held.
The development of a priest's inner life depends so much upon this, and in no other way can he bring such a blessing upon the parish or the Church at large.
We must march round the walls of the worldly Jericho, sounding our trumpet, bearing the Ark of the Covenant, and wait on God's time for the walls to fall down.
If ever there was a need of special intercessions, I think it is now. A worldly spirit has arisen in our Church, more anxious for its numerical growth than for the deepening of its piety.
We must all be thankful for an aroused missionary zeal amongst the laity. In every way we can we should take advantage of it, but we cannot be too careful to guard our beloved Church from yielding any principle of the inherited Faith. We must love all who call themselves Christians, and in matters in which principle is not involved, unite ourselves with them. But a Church which has received the great treasure of Apostolic Succession must not compromise her position by an allowed open pulpit.
This has not yet been granted, and we pray it never may be. It would be no kindness to our sectarian friends, and would not bring God's blessing on ourselves. Let us be faithful to the trust we have received, and let nothing drive us from our posts.
The Church is Christ's, and He who has protected our Communion through the last three centuries in a most wonderful manner, will not desert us. If he did not desert the Church in the coldness of the eighteenth century, He will not desert her, as Dr. Pusey said, now that she is on her knees.
May I humbly and respectfully make a caution?
There will probably be an effort made to legislate on the subject of the Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament. Legislation was checked at the last General Convention, but we are informed that it is likely to be renewed at the coming one. I have endeavored to set forth in an article in the Living Church, of the 27th inst., the legal argument in favor of it.
I believe that the honest and legal construction of the Rubric at the end of the Service does not forbid it. Reservation for the sick in no way contradicts the teaching of the Prayer Book or the Articles. If it is reserved, proper reverence and devotion necessarily are paid to the person of our Blessed Lord, shrined within His gifts. But in these arguments the objection is made that the Blessed Sacrament is used for purposes other than its institution. It is brought up against us that in some places the office of Benediction is used. Whilst I can see nothing myself in this beautiful service which is theologically incorrect, its introduction gives a handle to those who object to every kind of Reservation. Instances of this service, and also of carrying the Blessed Sacrament in procession, are brought up to arouse the prejudice of party spirit that is opposed to belief in the Real Objective Presence. It is, therefore, my judgment, poor as it may be, that it would be wise to cease these two forms of devotion. We cannot claim for Benediction that it was a pre-Reformation service, to which we have inherited a right, and there is no legal ground on which to stand in favor of its introduction. What may happen at the coming General Convention we do not know, but we earnestly ask all to offer constantly the daily Sacrifice, that God would so overrule its action that no harm should be done to the inherited Catholic Faith.
My dear brethren, we must look forward with heroic courage and conquering faith, and enflamed love, and trusting in the Great Head of our Church, stand firm and immovable in our positions, and go forward. I believe we are the most true and loyal expounders of our Book of Common Prayer, and that a great work has been committed to us by the Divine Head in our portion of the Catholic Church.
And in forwarding this blessed and glorious mission, let me commend to my clerical brethren the privilege of speaking on behalf of the religious lifeboth for men and for women. It is the highest life of noble Christian sacrifice. Sometimes when it looks dark, and the worldly spirit seems increasing in the legislative bodies of our Communion, it is a comfort and joy to think of the lives of self-sacrifice so many noble priests and women are living.
I hope the old slogan may still be true: "The broad Church has money, but the Catholic party has the spirit of sacrifice." We can live for God and Christ. We can, we must, sometimes suffer. Blessed is it if we lay down our lives for Him.
With my loving greetings and blessing in the Lord,
Yours very faithfully in Him,
C. C. FOND DU LAC.