MY WELL-BELOVED PRESBYTERS AND MEMBERS OF THE LAITY:
In the controlling providence of God, which brings to pass His own predestinated purpose, has brought us together in the highest and most sacred relation known in the Church. Through your loving instrumentality God saw fit to call me to be over you in spiritual things, as your overseer, your Bishop, an Angel of the Church, an Apostle of the Lord. The good will and primitive order, and the harmonious action seen in your special conventions, tell of your own high estimate of the Church's inheritance, and of the reverence and brotherly charity by which it is preserved. The studied care and unstinted service with which you prepared the manifold details of the solemn consecration service came from hearts which had made the glory of God their highest aim and held as most dear the Catholic faith.
On the feast of S. Mark, April 25, here in this your Cathedral, according to our Church's order, I "sacerdos vere indignus" was gathered by apostolic hands into Apostolic Fellowship.
The relation of the Bishop and Diocese was then established between us. You, dear brethren, have become my care; your interests are mine, your advancing holiness my concern. I must watch over you, as you of the Clergy, for them under you, as one who must give account. The responsibility to which your love has called me is made simple by His grace, to whom alone I look, and will be bearable, I doubt not, through your loyalty and prayers.
Ere we consider our common future, I would follow your example when on the day of election you resorted to the resting-place of my predecessor, in prayerful remembrance of himself and his work. It is well to unite ourselves with those who have gone before. He was well skilled in theology, and an earnest upholder of the Church's sacramental system. He was an excellent administrator and a faithful and wise Bishop. He was of high spiritual attainment and one who taught by the most persuasive of all eloquence, that of example. It is especially animating to have been called to succeed one so true, of such undaunted faith, of such patient wisdom, so untiring in labor, so tenderly considerate of others' welfare, so heroically forgetful of himself. Others have spoken of him with better eloquence than belongs to me. Wreaths of fairer beauty have been laid upon his tomb. But none with opportunities like my own could have valued him more or learned more greatly to love him, or more truly call him friend. There are words of his, of counsel and encouraging sympathy, and which were almost prophetic, which I can never forget. I succeed one who laid grand and broad foundations, and my best hope is to build somewhat thereon. History is crowded with the names of the great. The world builds its pyramids and monuments, and erects its statues to its heroes; with magnificent pomp it bears them to their burial. It celebrates with clangor of bells and roll of drums their natal days, or marks their centennials. But the saints are hidden. They die and angels form their cortege. Lovingly they are gathered to their rest. Death does not separate us, rather it unites. They plead with God on our behalf. Their works live after them, even as this Cathedral rises beside the resting-place of your first Bishop, and forms the headstone of his grave.
The strength of a Diocese lies in the way its parish work is done. The agencies and methods of developing a parish are now as different from those of a past generation as modern machinery in our factories and the architecture and furniture of our modern households differ from the factories and homes of our forefathers. One and unchangeable indeed is the Catholic faith. The Church has received it from the beginning. She cannot alter it; she cannot detract from or add to it; but she has ever been ready to adapt herself in her administrations to the needs of the times and invent methods and machinery, if she did not possess them, to win souls to God. I believe my Clergy are fully alive to the requirements of our age; and I will not enter into details concerning parish work, or the Church's worship. I would only impress upon them that success is the daughter, not of genius, but of systematized labor; that we of the Clergy are bound to be as regular and painstaking in our daily duties as the lawyer, the banker or the mechanic; and that you of the laity are failing in your high privilege if, in addition to your offerings, you do not further the Church's work by your personal co-operation. Let us so provoke one another to good works that it shall be a note of the Diocese that its Clergy are conspicuously working Clergy, and its laymen self-sacrificing and devoted Churchmen.
In the missionary field of the Diocese--if any part can be called so where all is missionary--we find presented all the great religious problems of our day. I do not intend to discuss or theorize about them. I want to go to work and I ask you to help me. Let us begin in a practical way. In the selection of Clergy to add to our number I shall aim at getting the best. I have already refused to admit some as candidates for Holy Orders, and have rejected the proffered aid of some in them. Our missions may have to wait a little longer than we would like for Clergy, but I am sure you will agree with me that efficient work will more than compensate delay. In regard to the support of the missions I mean to act on the business principle of not promising what I am not able to provide for. "We have a certain income, viz.: A certain sum entrusted us by the general Church, and know what we may reasonably, from other sources, expect to raise. I do not intend to go, in my plan of work, beyond what this will provide for. 'This is not to be wanting in faith. We have a very rich Father who will give us all we ask for when we fulfil the conditions He has revealed of successful prayer. These conditions are the seeking first His glory, and not our own; union with the oblation of our crucified Lord by our own acts of self-sacrifice, by trustful submission of our wills to Him; so exercising our faith He will give us all that He knows we need; and what He trusts us with we can check upon. The laity may therefore trust me not to embark upon a sea of uncertain enterprises. While I ask the Clergy to be conspicuous examples of diligence, it is not too much to ask an honorable laity to be prompt and businesslike in the payment to their Clergy of their hard-earned dues, and generous in sustaining the well-tried servants of their Lord.
I am glad to announce to you that by liberal efforts outside the Diocese, provision has been made this year for the service of a general missionary for the Diocese. I need not ask for him and his your kindly and considerate welcome and assistance in the discharge of his duties upon his missionary journeyings. In planning out the work of the missions, which I expect to do with the aid of the Missionary Board, I would respectfully ask the assistance of my Clergy. I want to meet you after the session of Council by way of conference, that I may profit by the information you can give me of the mission districts lying about your various parishes, so that the general plan of Operation may be the result of our united counsel, and our interest deepened in the general Diocesan work.
In addition to the visitation of the parishes, which falls to the work of the Bishop, I desire also to aid you, as far as my time and strength will allow, in holding special services for prayer, and giving spiritual instruction--such services as have come to be known in our communion as keeping quiet days or days of prayer. I know of no better way of building up, as it is called, a parish or a Diocese. I have not come among you with any schemes or plans respecting the building up of Diocesan institutions. My first great desire is to deepen the spiritual life of my people, assured that if we are growing in holiness we are doing the work most pleasing to our Lord. It is not by the extent of spiritual work or the number of souls reached by preaching that its value is to be reckoned, but rather by its intensity; it is the detached and saintly souls who have ear with God, who have power with God, and who bring down blessings from Him.
There is one alteration in the order of our Council's business, which, borrowed from the experience of other Dioceses, I would bring before you for consideration. It would save much time for the Council and enable it to enter earlier in the first day upon its work, if by rule it was called to order at nine o'clock or half past nine A.M. The calling of the names of the clerical members, the appointment of a Committee on Credentials, the presentation of their certificates by the lay delegates, might be the first business. The celebration of Holy Communion would then follow, during which the Committee on Credentials would perform its work, so that immediately after the Communion, say at half past ten or eleven, the Council could proceed to its deliberations. It would not be unlikely by such a change of rule that we should be enabled to complete the whole, or nearly all the important work of the Council in one day.
I have not spoken to you of matters external to the Diocese or upon any religious question of the day. The first thought of my heart and yours, is the tie which has been formed between us and the work we have here by God's grace come to do. In you of the Clergy, I know I shall find loyal and loving supporters and coworkers in things of the Lord. Let us, dear brothers, remember that the secret of spiritual success as revealed to us by our Lord lies in this: An oblation of self to God, in union with Christ's great self-sacrifice, a mind enriched and molded by His holy word and the teaching of the Church and a life of prayer.
In you of the laity the Master has many lives as dear and as consecrated to Him as my own. Through much tribulation and distress and trial and sacrifice the Diocese has been brought on by your assistance to its present prosperity. Be not discouraged by any apparent difficulties. Difficulties are only incentives to noble minds; they are sources of increasing faith to humble souls. Take an interest in the growth of the Diocese as a whole. Put the two mites of your body and soul into the treasury of the sacred heart of your Lord, and work for His interests in the spirit of an entire consecration. Listen to a parable. Beside the hillside's barren, rocky waste, the Great Teacher walked with His disciples. Their hearts were heavy with disappointed expectation. "Is it not three months," so came the words, "and then cometh harvest? lift up your eyes and see." The natural man, the natural eye as it gazed around, beheld only the barren plain. But to the dimly illuminated eye of faith, that rocky, stubborn field was already white unto the harvest. In reliance on His word the Apostles went forth, putting their sickles into air, and so gathering the mighty harvest in.