From The Works of the Rt. Rev. Charles C. Grafton (Volume 7),
edited by B. Talbot Rogers, New York: Longmans, Green, 1914, pp. 89-119
AN AMERICAN RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY
August 15, 1885
It is because some who have authority to speak in the Church have asked me to write something on the formation of an American Community of clergy and laymen, dedicated in the Religious Life, which will aid their brethren having parochial charges, that I send this letter to you. Though having now more than twenty years' experience in this country and in England in connection with Religious Communities of both men and women, I yet feel that one's views on such a subject should be put forth submissively to the greater wisdom of the Church, and as liable to be corrected by it.
It is noticeable that, in any portion of Christendom blest with a priesthood and Sacraments, and thus fully organized for its work, great religious movements are usually accompanied by the formation of societies of persons associated together under various rules of Christian living. The Life of Christ manifests its power in an increased desire of conformity to itself. Souls, as by a heavenly illumination, catch sight of the inner principles of that Divine Life of self-sacrifice and are brought by a divine call together in order the better to make those principles their own. This has been the case in both the Latin and Anglican Churches at various epochs of their history. The freedom allowed to individual action in the Anglican Communion has led to a large number of separate efforts, which, as organizations, have met with various degrees of success. Some, because they neglected the Church's order, or through the mistakes attending all new efforts, or because they were not needed for the Church's present work, have failed to attain permanence. Nevertheless, at no time has the presence of the Holy Spirit more certainly manifested itself than in our own day by the revival of the Religious Life in our midst.
It is said that Cardinal Newman has in the Birmingham oratory a picture of Oxford, crowded as it is with the towers and spires of its numerous churches, and underneath this symbolized representation of the Anglican Communion has written the words: "Can these dry bones live?" Lacordaire declared that the Religious Life was the fairest fruit of the Catholic Church, and only where there was a true priesthood and Sacraments could it be found. And now, after these many years, the answer comes from a hundred houses and a thousand "Religious" that the English Church is indeed a true branch of the Church of Christ, and that the highest developments of Christ's Power and Life are seen within her.
Much has been done in America; the Sisterhoods of St. Mary, St. John Baptist, St. Margaret, St. Barnabas and others, filled as they are with many bright examples of the Life, show how the American women have responded to their Master's call.
As regards orders of men, while something has already been accomplished (for which God be thanked) yet, as the aspirations and counsels of many devout persons show, there is room for a society different from any now working in the Church and one not engaged, save temporarily, in parochial work. In such a society there would be a place for clergy of various talents and also for highly educated and devout laymen. These latter would not occupy the place of lay brothers in the society, but would have on profession the same privileges as the clergy. Such an association wisely formed could do a great work for God by its life of study and prayer and by aiding the bishops and clergy in their missionary and parochial labors. Its life of sacrifice and entire self-consecration would witness to the Church's belief in the unseen world and the power of her Sacramental gifts enabling her sons to reject honors and wealth, and live above nature. It would help to dissipate the spirit of worldliness and self-satisfied respectability which hangs over the Church like a miasma poisoning her life. It would, by its constant intercession, ceasing not day nor night, bring a blessing on many a lonely worker in his labors and make the whole heart of the Church beat quicker with the answered gifts of grace. It would throw open to all the clergy a place for short periods of retirement and prayer for their own spiritual refreshment, and aid them in their parishes by supplying preachers for the Church's seasons of Advent and Lent, by giving retreats, quiet days and missions, and by taking charge temporarily of vacant parishes or missions which the bishops might wish to assist.
And not only within the Church could the influence be felt. In our country the contest between Christianity and unbelief, righteousness and evil, is obviously deepening; and the realization of this makes the spiritually minded of all Christian bodies look somewhat anxiously towards each other. As the net breaks, the toilers beckon to their partners to come and help them. If our Church has anything of value to contribute she must show it, not on paper, but embodied as a life. A Church on paper, like a Christ on paper, will as little affect the world as the surpassing beauty of "that countenance which is fading on the walls of the refectory at Milan." If the Church is possessed, as she claims, with special Sacramental gifts of grace, the Life of the Incarnate Lord within her must show itself in lives specially conformed to His own. A society of sincere, unselfish, humble-minded men, unostentatious in their piety, seeking no honors, giving up all for Christ and laboring for Him alone, would effectually aid the Church to manifest this Life.
Never in any age or country was there a greater opportunity to serve Christ. Never a portion of the Church where a few, even without great natural gifts, could do greater things for Him. More clergy are indeed needed everywhere and nothing here said must be taken in disparagement of the Church's wisdom in giving us an Order of married parochial clergy adorned as it is with devoted and noble lives. But the Religious Life is no revival of medievalism. It has always existed in the Christian Church. It is an integral portion of her life. The Church is not fully equipped for her work without it; wherever in any portion of Christendom it has been wanting the Church has suffered. It was instituted by the Lord Himself. Like the work of God, it has been at times greatly perverted and misused, but its perversion is no disproof of its divine origin.
The Master Himself gave the counsels of perfection and said: "He that is able to receive, let him receive it." The counsels unite the soul in a special way to Christ, and the Religious Life becomes an instrumentality for the extension of the divine energy latent in the Life of Christ. It has a power, when in a community form, different from that which comes from organization. The world can make organizations and is ever, in and out of the Church, weaving and unweaving them. A Religious Community is a special work of the Holy Spirit manifesting the Incarnate Lord's triumph over nature, testifying against worldliness, witnessing of the unseen glories of man's coming union with God. Preaching the cross from the cross, it draws men to the Master with an efficacy all its own.
And if ever the constraining force of redeeming love called men to this Life, surely it does so now by the unparalleled splendor of the opportunity for effective service and by the agonies of the Church as she gathers her energies for her last great conflict with evil. Shall we not see a fuller development of this Life in our Church? Will not the prayers and the sufferings and the sacrifices of so many who have waited and labored for this consolation of our Israel find a response?
It is not the hardness of the Life, though far less than that of many of our western missionaries, that will deter Americans from entering into it. The American clergy are not cowards, they are as patient of discipline for any recognized good end as any nation, and are not wanting in devotion to their Lord. What others, what Americans in the Roman Church are doing, what women in our Church are doing, they can do. The sacraments are as full of grace to us as they were to the saints of old. It is an infidelity to our Blessed Lord to say His grace cannot make, or but rarely, Americans "religious," and that they can succeed only when mixed in with a predominating number of another race.
The reasons why those, not held back by worldly-minded considerations or whose position has not been already determined, do not seek this Life are for the most part such as these; men do not realize the importance and value of this Life to the Church, or they have become engaged in some Church work and think they are necessary to it, or they do not know whether they are adapted to the Life and feel they cannot trust themselves, or they have not seen the Life presented in a form which attracts them or commands their confidence.
It may help any really seeking to know God's will, to meditate on the fact that this Life, like that of the priesthood, is the product of a divine call. "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you." This call to "Religion" is the exercise of our Lord's sovereignty calling whom He will, however weak or feeble they may seem to themselves, away from any work in which they may be engaged, however important. The call is at once a warrant and a pledge. A warrant for one to come, and a pledge of help. It is an assurance that God will provide for all He calls us to leave, and that He will give all needed grace to sustain us in the Life. He betroths the soul to Himself in an espousal, taking it "for better, for worse," and will never leave or forsake it even if it should stray from Him, but will seek it out and recover it, and claim it for His own.
As to the character of a society which shall win the confidence of the Church and attract members by its wisdom and unselfishness and by reflecting the love and beauty of Christ's crucified and risen Life, in an article like this only some general principles can be stated.
I. Such a society must not be an imitation or attempted reproduction of anything in the past.
This has been a source of failure in some cases. One clergyman in England tried to revive the Franciscan Order; another has tried to reproduce the Benedictine. In neither case did any of the clergy unite themselves to them. It was suggested by an able writer in your paper not long since that a type would be better found in the Oratorians. This was Dr. Pusey's advice to the writer some twenty years ago. There is much to be said in favor of such an idea as relates to the interior life and discipline; but, so far as the general government is concerned, it is a bad model for us to follow. A society formed of independent houses, without a central novitiate, would among us soon develop great diversities of practice and life. No! To succeed in the America of our day the foundation of a society must be the work of the Holy Spirit working in our Church and producing that which is needed for our own times. It will not be an imitation but an original work. It will not be the work of good men enthusiastically experimenting with holy things and so sure to fail, but of those called of God to the work of founding a society, and through whom He will speak. He will speak and His word will endure. For "His word shall not return unto Him void but shall accomplish that whereto he sends it."
II. The society must be an American one.
The Religious Life does indeed lift us above all nationalities unto Oneness in Christ. In any society there might therefore be found men of all countries and kindreds working harmoniously together. But the Religious Life does not lift any above the Church's order or make any superior to its law of jurisdiction. It has been said that the religious vows are superior to a priest's ordination vows; but such a theory would, I hope, be almost universally rejected. A society in our Church, therefore, cannot legitimately have its head in another Church, whether Greek, English, or Roman; if it does, the inherent disregard of the Church's order will eventually show itself in some disaster.
III. Again, if a society is to succeed, it must grow out of the real wants of the Church and be able to meet them.
Now there are several departments of service requiring associated clerical labor. Such a work is needed in our large towns in attacking the sin and destitution found therein in certain localities. It is needed in certain missionary districts in the country for the extension and planting of the Church. It is perhaps needed in the special work our Church is now being called to do among the colored people at the South. These useful labors do not, however, necessarily require that the workers should be organized or dedicated as "Religious." The work can be done as well by clergy simply associated temporarily together in clergy houses. This fact, so far as city needs are concerned, is clearly seen by the efficient work done in London, at All Saints', St. Alban's, St. Peter's in the East, and many other places. It would be a help for all such clergy to be under some rule of life as the associates of some Religious Order, but not to be full or professed members. For it may seriously be questioned whether the experiment of trying to combine the needed discipline, hours, study, poverty, recitation of the many Offices, etc., of a Religious house, with the care of modern parishes or with city missionary work is not a mistake. But let this be as it may, there is a clearly recognized need of a society removed from the daily care of parochial charges, whose members shall give themselves to study and prayer and to the assistance of their brother clergy. Some of the ways in which such a society could afford assistance have been previously stated. The point here we would insist upon is, that such work needs an Order of "Religious" and can be well done by them alone. It needs men unharassed with parochial care, and so able to live in their own house undistractedly their life with God and free to go out at the call of others.
IV. Further, a society formed for such work should have Episcopal approval.
When clergy combine under rule and obedience, and form a society, they become a power in the Church, and the Church has a right, if it sees fit, to legislate concerning such societies. Apart, however, from the question of legislation, if such a society wishes to be established in a Churchly way it must seek Episcopal approval. In the Roman Church, as is well known, any tentative effort may be begun with the approval of the diocesan authorities; but to obtain further recognition it must receive the approval of the Holy See, which is only obtained after a long and patient examination of its proposed constitution and rules by a body of clergy whose special business it is to have charge of all matters relating to Religious Orders. If approved, the society is first allowed the rights pertaining to a "congregation," and is so-called. After many years it may obtain the further privileges of an "Order." In the first case, though approved by the Church, yet any Bishop may decline to allow its entrance into his diocese. Without being in some way established by the Church, the society is a merely human one, and the authority of its Superiors is such only as may be granted them by election. In our own communion there has been, to speak with loving plainness, an unwillingness on the part of some of the advanced school to trust the Bishops. This arose partly from a feeling that the Bishops were out of sympathy with everything Catholic and would persistently confound it with Romanism; and partly from the natural self-will of the reforming spirit that wants to give a lesson to its brethren in poverty, chastity and obedience, but does not propose to begin the lesson by giving up its own will. So the difficulty of a Superior not having any Churchly-derived authority has sometimes been met by saying that he is directly called by God and so should be obeyed, in all things not obviously sinful, as God's voice. There is involved in this, the danger pointed out by our Lord of following some man and calling him Master; and which led to the rise under ascetic and devout men of Arianism, Calvinism, Wesleyanism, Irvingism, Swedenborgianism, etc.
Now the Episcopate is a divine order, and to it especially the government of the Church has been intrusted. The divisions of Christendom do not make the voice of any Bishop of less authority who honestly seeks to express the faith and practice of the United States and the law of his own communion. If God trusts the government of His Church to the Bishops, we also ought to trust them, and a society in its various stages of formation should seek their counsel and approval. Until the latter has formally been obtained the society is not formed and established. The answer to the question what should be submitted for such approval and what such approval is to cover, is: all that by virtue of the rules and practices of the society is of obligation on its members. No Bishop can give his official sanction to a society simply because he approves generally of its life, purpose, and work. His recognition must mean more than this to be of value, and all that it covers should be submitted to him.
V. It is not for the sake of gaining any, the least, favor from those who are opposed to the Religious Life as such and the doctrines of Sacramental grace connected with it, but because an open and honest avowal of felt dangers is the best way for their removal, that I would state the next principle to be that the society in its teaching should be loyal to the Church.
There should be no other standards of doctrine than those of our own communion, and these should be recognized as such in the constitution of the society. This is necessary, not only to command the confidence of the Church, but for the protection of the society itself. The Church should feel assured that the society has no occult objects, political or ecclesiastical; is not seeking to bring in a foreign theology or to undo, if that were possible, the work of the Reformation. The priests of the society should feel that they were not to be committed by the extravagant utterances of individual members, and also were free from the dangers of being moulded by some one powerful mind to peculiar views and so become the vehicle of a new theology. Seeking to present Christ as the power of God unto salvation, delivering the sinner from condemnation by the merits of His precious blood, and saving him from his sins and raising him to holiness by His life, the doctrinal statements of the Book of Common Prayer and the Sacraments are sufficient for the purpose. To such a society, loyal to the Church, broad in its sympathies, true in its life, practical in its teaching, the doors of churches of various schools would be thrown open, because their Rectors would feel that their parishes would not be upset by peculiarities, or galvanized into spasmodic activity by sensationalism, but the presence of such missioners could not but bring a permanent blessing.
VI. If they are to be men of such a character, it is obvious that the society should have its own definite spirit.
A Religious Society is not an agglomeration of Christians, each pursuing his own spiritual fancies, but one having, as part of its own divine call and foundation, its own religious spirit. For societies differ from societies, and Orders from Orders, and in nothing more are they seen to differ than this: their vows and the spirit of devotion they embody. In the Roman Church some societies have only simple, and under certain conditions, terminable vows; others allow of vows of a mixed character, vows of profession intentionally for life on the part of the offerer, but without agreed permanent acceptance on the part of the society; in others, the vows are solemn with a stipulated power of dispensation reserved to the authorities of the society, or remaining with such stipulation of power only in the Pope.
In some a further vow "of stability" is taken, which binds the member not only to the Life, but to the Life in that society only. In some the support of the interests of the Holy See forms another vow. They differ also greatly in the emphasis put on the separate vowsone making poverty the chief feature, like the Franciscans; another, like the Jesuits, emphasizing obedience. Now as to vows in our own Church, without stating here more fully the provisions and conditions under which they might be taken, yet, as in every case in the Roman communion, it should be under the implied condition of a power lodged somewhere whereby for grave cause one might be wholly or partially relieved from his obligations.
The societies of the Roman Church, especially the modern Orders, differ still more in their devotions. One Order will be devoted to the cultus of the Sacred Heart; another, to the Passion; another, to the Blessed Virgin, and they are named after these devotions. In the English Church some of this tendency may be seen. Now in respect to the spirit of devotion, what it comes to me to submit to the kindly judgment of those Bishops and clergy who may sympathize with any effort for the establishment of a community, is this: it seems fitting that the spirit of a society which, like our Lord's Life, would be in its labors both contemplative and active, and which should go out not only to win souls to Christ, but to build them up in Him, should take as its special devotion, and seek a special conformity to, the interior Life of our Lord. Not to any one portion of His Life, but the whole Life, hidden, public, suffering, and risen. It seems wiser and safer to look to Jesus alone, to Jesus only, to Jesus entirely, to Jesus wholly, to let the loving and divine Heart be the source of all our grace, the inspiration of our actions, and the model of our own. This will give an interpretation to those counsels, upon which the life of all Religious Communities is based, peculiarly its own. We are called not only to follow Christ laboring and suffering and winning His way to the establishment of His Kingdom, but have by the Holy Spirit been incorporated into union with a risen and triumphant Lord, whose victories participating in we extend. The society in every part of its rule will not only have the cross inwrought into it as a principle of life, but will be possessed with the gladness and peace of the Resurrection and the brightness and joy reflected from the Glorified Lord. The Life will not be one of that depressing asceticism which seeks to attain Heaven by its own holiness, or its members be trained to become corpses, dead to everything but the will of a Superior.
If the Life unites us to His Spirit of chastity, Who on the Cross cared for His Blessed Mother, it cannot be such a spirit as would make us dead to all human affection. We cannot learn to love God more by loving man, for whom He died, less. The purity God delights in subdues nature by grace, casts out selfishness, purifies the motives, makes the inward eye single, inflames the heart with a supreme, obedient, effectual love to Himself. It binds the "Religious" in a wedded bond of union to the Lord as her spouse.
If the Life joins us to the Master's poverty, Who not only was born in the poverty of the manger and the carpenter's low estate, but Who voluntarily abandoned home and family and had no place whereon to lay His Head, yet the poverty need not array itself in dirt or neglect the laws of health, or be any more ostentatious than His own. The practice of Religious poverty must indeed be true and real though different from that that was practicable in simpler and ruder times. There will also be a real hatred of worldliness in all its forms;the seeking to gain its wealth or influence by the accommodations of Christian conduct to its standards, or that transplanted worldliness which gives up personal ownerships but seeks to acquire wealth and power for one's society. If poverty is true, its motive will be the love of Jesus. Jesus poor, Jesus scorned, Jesus destitute of earthly power, Jesus rejecting an earthly kingdom, Jesus triumphed over by His enemies. It will be a love which will bind us to His self-abandoning repose on His Father's care and protection. It will be an extension of the victory of His choice of the cross over all the proffered glories of the kingdoms of the world.
If the Religious Life binds us to Christ, Who, from infancy to His cross, was bound by the swaddling bands of the Father's will revealed through human instruments and the written Word and the Spirit's leadings, it is not such an obedience as will on principle seek to "crush the inward mind and judgment." Wherever a Superior orders that which is obviously morally wrong or is against the Church's law, he thereby terminates his own authority. The Superior should represent the Church, and govern by a rule She has approved. He should be aided in the determination in all the important matters by the advice of a council chosen by the brethren, and he, whose lot it is to bear rule, should be among them "as he that serveth." When the heart is emptied of self, Jesus will be recognized as standing in the midst, and in His heart as in their true Centre all wills will be as one.
CHARLES C. GRAFTON.
Jan. 16, 1886
To THE EDITOR OP THE BOSTON POST:
SIR, Justice to others interested compels me to ask you to insert a further correction to some remarks made lately in your paper in which my name was mentioned. It is true I am no longer associated with the clergy who were formerly my assistants, and who are known as the Cowley Fathers, or the Society of St. John, and who are now holding services in the building on Bowdoin Street as a private chapel. It is due to all parties to state that the separation between the clergy, formerly working together, took place, not from any personal difference whatever, but came from a difference of principle between myself, along with all the other then professed American fathers, and Father Benson, of Cowley, the English superior.
It is to be noted that no society had then been formed by the adoption of a constitution or authoritatively established by the Church's approval. In this condition of affairs Father Benson had come to claim and exercise such power in our Church as our bishops informed us invaded their rights, and which for many other reasons was such as no loyal American clergyman, in obedience to his ordination vows, could conscientiously give.
Our English brethren, knowing our reasons to be conscientious, proposed that we should withdraw, and we felt obliged to submit this proposal to Father Benson. Father Benson released us (not from our obligations as religious, but) from any obedience due to himself, writing us that in going out to form our new society he "hoped God's blessing would be on us as on St. Bernard when he went out to found Clairvaux."
The American fathers, leaving their English connection, maintain as before their religious status, and, although prevented thus far by poverty and other circumstances from living together in a common home, continue to act and work together as religious, and were lately engaged as such in the Advent Mission in NewYork.
C. C. GRAFTON.
PLANS FOR A NEW ORDER
To FATHER PRESCOTT:
I think perhaps with the statement below he (the Bishop) would allow the word "promise." He made use of an expression that showed he was willing they should be as strong as the ordination vows; but has an idea that a vow implies a form of oath. There are vows and vows.
The third matter was the release from the society. I pointed out Art. V., which allowed the Bishops to come in. He would like, without seeming to suggest to the professed, the matter of leaving, yet to provide it, more carefully. At the end he expressed himself as generally pleased with the tenor of the constitution, etc.
To-day the Bishop has returned to me the constitution with his suggested emendations. If we assent to them, we shall have his indorsement, and I think he also will say so publicly in his address, which will also be condemnatory of theirs.
His emendations as I have looked over them are of two kinds: I. Verbal ones. 2. Then those which affect the subject matter. The verbal ones, on the whole, are excellent, and decided improvements in some places. The other relates to the points I have mentioned. When you consider his attitude, I think you will saythough one cannot like everythingthat this is for Bishop Paddock something wonderful.
C. C. G.
I will copy all those parts of the Constitution which have any proposed changes in them and send it to Gardner. It is a three days' mail between you and him; so we two are a little nearer to each other. I hope you will write him, and if by God's grace you can see your way to accept the proposed emendations, we shall be in a right position before the country and before the church and God. A position of great influence for good. We shall have really done what for years we have been trying to do. What has never been done before in the Anglican Communion. We shall have established an order of this church.
MY DEAR FATHER PRESCOTT:
This morning I returned from New York, where I went Monday night to preach to the students at the Gen. Theo. Seminary in the chapel at evening prayer, with the permission of the Dean. Dr. Buel received me and read prayers. The Doctor made his allusion to some events which occurred a few years ago.
I find yours of the 20th of December and of January 9th, and hope this will find you and Father Gardner together. His letter on the subject of our proposed communication to the S. S. J. E. was a strong and sensible one, and I enjoyed it. And he pointed out some things which ought to be guarded against if we write, as I am inclined to think it would be well to do.
It is and has been on my mind that I told you what F. H. said to me of poor Jardine. It is difficult for any one to erase the unfavorable impression made by hearing such a statement as Father made. I wrote out to Sister M. about it and have discovered the source from which Father derived his information. Sister M. spoke of the person as a "semi-idiot" and wondered how a sensible man like Father could have put any reliance on her statements, etc. Another person said the same. It is a matter now of no account, but it should not be assumed that Jardine was guilty of the charges made against him, in all particulars at least and to the extent alleged because his end has been so tragic. His conduct and conversation when with me a few days ago was most edifying in every way.
I have got through writing a book on "Sisterhoods," which I began in August and have put it into Young's hands for publication. It was begun with the intent to write a book which would answer the questions often made me about our Sisterhood of the Nativity and how one entered it. Having got on some way, at the request of the Mother, I altered its character, and made it general in its application with no reference to ourselves; so it came to be a book on Sisterhoods, their organization and government, work, rules, life and with special reference to the matter of vocation. It is written for the benefit of aspirants, parents, clergy and those outside, telling them some of the details of the life, and answering the usual questions exteriors ask. It has been written with much care and I think is very interesting, and the best thing I have been allowed to do for the church. It will be a book of about 170 pages, I think. There is to be an English Edition, and Masters' name will be on the title page. I suppose it will be out by the first of Lent. I look forward to your reading and liking it, as to a happy day and encouragement.
There is a little matter also of parish news which will interest you and F. G. The communicants of the Advent have started a petition to the Corporation. It is very calmly and ably written. I have not a copy of the petition, or I would send it to you. It states the wish of the communicants for some representation in the governing body of their parish. There are now five or six vacancies in their body, which when full consists of twenty members. The communicants request that they may be allowed by vote to fill the vacancies, and put in five members, and so fill the corporation. If allowed so to do, they will go on and finish their church which in the present state of things, and without representation, etc., they cannot be expected to do. If their petition is granted, they pledge themselves to the corporation to raise $6000 in thirty days to complete the Tower and Baptistry. I have not put the matter as it is written, but I am told it is admirably stated. It will put the opposition in a difficult dilemma. If they refuse, there will be a good ground to go to the Legislature; if they accept, and five new men are put in the corporation, a revolution is accomplished and their day of power is over. I believe the petition will be signed by all the get-at-able communicants.
With my love to Father Gardner and yourself,
C. C. G.
BOSTON, May 19, '87
MY DEAR FATHER PRESCOTT:
I write on a venture, not knowing where you are or how to get at you.
Father Gardner told me yesterday he was going back to the East the last of June. The idea that we are not going on together, or not seemingly so, is a hard blow to the Mother, a hard blow to her faith in our church.
I am willing to resign here to-morrow if by so doing we can become organized, and you and Gardner think I ought to do it. Father Gardner thinks he can wait as well out West as here, and it is very trying for him to be here.
I have written to a clergyman to come for July, etc.
What I shall do in the autumn if you are not coming back, I do not know. Everything regarding the future of the Sisterhood is most bright, and the two societies might grow up strong and be a help to each other.
I am going to Augusta, Me., to-morrow (Saturday) for Sunday, and do some work there at St. Catherine's School, and shall be back here the middle of next week. With loving regards,
C. C. GRAFTON.
Wednesday, June 1, '87
MY DEAR FATHER PRESCOTT:
Let us fear nothing, hope for everything. I believe God will let us carry out our Religious life to the profit of His Church yet. Though everything fails; and it is the fourth watch of the night, He won't fail us., My heart grows stronger with increasing difficulties, for the impossible is God's best opportunity.
I have had very little talk with Father G., but gave him your letter to read. I think he had got an idea that you were not coming back. It would be well to let him clearly understand you did intend this place to be your spiritual anchorage, until we could all sail westward together.
I thought we were all willing to wait here for a time, next spring being in our mind. I am quite ready to make a move, for I have no attachment to the Parish which holds me. Only duty has kept me here, and that duty of waiting has a limit. I am not to make a Providence of myself to the parish. If in a reasonable time things do not change, I must act, on the grounds that the Religious Life is the first consideration: but I want to tell you what the master proposes.
I hope to get to Chicago next week, as I wrote you.
C. C. GRAFTON.
BOSTON, Saturday, June 18, '87
MY DEAR FATHER PRESCOTT:
Having considered the matter of duty, which you and Father G.'s action has raised, I make this final proposition to you and him.
If you are willing to organize by this autumn, I will come out to Fond du Lac, and we can all take our vows publicly in the Cathedral and assume the name of the Society.
According to our Constitution, I can be allowed to remain here, by your and Father G.'s consent, until we agree that the changed condition of affairs allow of a termination of the relation.
So with Father G.'s newly undertaken work at Plymouth, we can agree that he take it.
It will be necessary that you and I should be together, as I wrote you. You to come by the Ist of September, and remain till July or at the least till January Ist.
We can then together get up our Rule and prepare for western work. You can return to take charge of the associated Mission there, while I give myself more especially to the Sisterhood.
I have to be in St. Louis for a long time in November with Father Gardner, who has consented to take part with me in that Mission.
If this plan fails, you force me to act on my own account; you and Gardner having made arrangements and left me.
I must not longer remain in my present condition and must either join or start a society. I sent this to New Haven as well as Fond du Lac. Hoping you, having received the remittance, will come on to your nephew's wedding.
If you accept the plan, then (I suppose you are referring to the autumn), let the deacon and other persons come on here. Act as you think best, if you want to bring them soon.
With affection, as ever,
July 28, '87
MY DEAR FATHER PRESCOTT:
This is just to acknowledge yours and say I am glad to hear you are in Boston, as Mr. F tells me you now are.
I am giving Meditations and Instruction on the Rule and Constitution to the sisters who are keeping their Rule here and are in a semi-retreat. The Mother is gaining in health.
Our chapel (it is in an old farmhouse) is a low room and the altar is small, but the sisters make it bright with wild flowers, and show their cleverness and ingenuity by many household contrivances.
Father sent me a post card the other day, and a friendly greeting. He has his Father's Rectory. Says he may come out next year. His address is, Coningham Rectory, Stanford-Le-Hope, England.
C. C. G.
P.S. Mr. C has written a letter, to-day received, that he is not coming back.
MY DEAR FATHER PRESCOTT:
Arrived here Friday night. Feel anxious about you and the Bishop (J. H. H. Brown). May God preserve him to the Church. May He have you in His dear keeping and in all you do.
I am not yet quite over my cold. Miss M. writes me that Father Luke Rivington three Sundays before his reception is said to have preached very strongly against Mariolatry. I don't think in sincerity. I can understand how in a state of questioning, sometimes our clergy speak more strongly against Rome, to try and reassure themselves.
The mad criticism thrown against him, is that he had become secular by the life he lived at Cannes and his visits to the Aristocracy.
I think if one loses sight of the unseen portion of the Church of Christ, and His saints and the nineteen centuries of believers with whom we are one, and looks only at the little tiny portion of the Catholic Church which happens to be on earth and its divisions, he may be carried away, one side or the other, by the "Lo here, and the Lo there" arguments.
Father Benson seems "quite crushed and seems to have been so astonished and taken aback." He spoke of it last Saturday at a meeting of the All Saints Bombay Association, and a lady tells me, "He certainly did not make light of the sin and, poor man, warned us against worldliness." The Pope honored him by giving him the Blessed Sacrament. His brother and Mrs. Frank Rivington rushed off to Rome to try and stop him, but it was too late. "Father Benson could hardly be heard to speak on Maundy Thursday he was so crushed."
I saw the Reverend Superior of St. Mary's in Baltimore, who gave me two hours most courteously, going over all the Rule, hours, books, food, house, etc., and letters to one of the Superiors of another house, etc.
Yours in haste,
C. C. GRAFTON.
January I, 1894
MY DEAR FATHER PRESCOTT:
It is a very blessed work you have undertaken. Gardner and myself were talking about it the other day at Nashotah. We never meet but we speak of you. We know you would so enjoy the sight of the new buildings along the Bluff of the lake, with the stone cloister 226 feet long, and opening into the chapel, which adds to the vista; yet we have often said, if Father Oliver was here, his suggestions would have been invaluable. Nevertheless, you would be able to appreciate in spite of any deficiencies the wonderful transformation. It is like a new place, with the old spirit back in it. The Professors live together and with the students. It is about the only place where Ritualism is not talked about. There is a spirit of reality, order, devotion, and study about the House. I have thirteen and Bishop N. fifteen candidates together. Wisconsin is the fourth for its number of candidates.
The enclosed I send with sincere regret. But it is only an outward severance. May God bind us all together in the bonds that cannot be broken. With my prayers for your new work,
Very faithfully yours in Christ,
C. C. G.
April 26, '97
MY DEAR FATHER PRESCOTT:
I send you my Easter greetings and my best wishes for yourself and your work.
I did not intend going to the Lambeth, but I received a notification from the Archbishop of Canterbury that I had been appointed as one of the four speakers on "The Relation of Religious Orders to the Episcopate." I felt after that, that I ought to go.
But I was also requested to consult with others interested in the subject, and so among others I very naturally ask you to give me the help of your wisdom and wide experience. I wish I could help to better relations between these orders and the Bishops, but there must be a spirit of accommodation, and is there not a difference between Clerical orders and those like Sisterhoods? And how about clergy and different National churches, etc.?
I shall be glad if you will write me, both for its value and also as coming from yourself. With my regards and good-will,
Your old friend,
C. C. FOND DU LAC.