The Catholic Revival and the Kingdom of God
Addresses and Papers Delivered at the Sixth Catholic Congress of the Episcopal Church, Philadelphia, October 22 to 26, 1933
Milwaukee: Morehouse; London: A.R. Mowbray, 1933.
Tents; Courts; House
Sermon at the Congress Requiem
THE REVEREND WILLIAM BREWSTER STOSKOPF
Rector of the Church of the Ascension, Chicago
"O how amiable are thy dwellings, thou Lord of Hosts! My soul hath a desire and longing to enter into the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God. Blessed are they that dwell in thy house; they will be alway praising thee."—PSALM 84: 1, 2, 4.
WE ARE HERE THIS MORNING to take our part in offering up to God the Holy Trinity, but especially to God the Father, the great propitiatory and piacular Sacrifice which, in union with His Cross, God the Son has commanded us to make. Its benediction extends to all the faithful departed but the intention of this Mass is especially for the repose of the souls of those worthies, well known or little known, who have consecrated their lives to the revival of Catholic faith and practice in that great movement whose centenary this Congress keeps. As we thank God and take courage for our recent fathers in the faith we are glad that our centennial coincides with the mightier nineteenth centenary of Calvary and the Resurrection, the Ascension of our Lord and King, and the Descent upon the Church of God the Holy Ghost. So, gazing at the altar subdued but burning with the light of faith, we faint with love and longing admiration to enter into this abode of the Presence of the Lord.
What a contrast, this loving flock looking to its Good Shepherd with the world outside as organized in hostility toward or in forgetfulness of God. War, crime, graft, vice, luxury, selfishness, and militant unbelief. Yet "God so loved [147/148] the world that He gave His only begotten Son" and we know that the Sole Begotten, the mighty Conqueror, the Son of God and the Son of Mary, the Leader of the hosts of God is not alone the only Saviour but the only Salvation of this weary, depressed, wicked, dying, lost old world.
"STRONG Son of God, immortal Love,
Whom we, that have not seen thy face,
By faith, and faith alone, embrace,
Believing where we cannot prove;
"Thine are these orbs of light and shade;
Thou madest Life in man and brute;
Thou madest Death; and to, thy foot
Is on the skull which thou hast made."
This Catholic religion of Salvation which the gates of hell cannot withstand, we know with our godly forbears in the Anglican communion is ours today, a Catholicism neither Papal nor Protestant but constitutional and apostolic. With Keble, Pusey, and Neale; with Seabury, Hobart, and de Koven we sing, "How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel." And as we pray God's mercy on the souls of all that noble army, both priests and people, who have not yet reached heaven, here at God's altar the priests seem especially near.
"Their own great introibo they have said,
Upon the altar stairs we feel their tread,
They live and serve in light, they are not dead."
O Keble, speak to us as thou didst preach a hundred years ago: "Sooner or later ours will be the winning side and the Victory will be complete, universal and eternal."
How then can we, through God's help, fulfil this glorious prophecy? How can we make the Church in fact as in foundation the American Catholic Church? By appealing to the good will and loyal hearts of our fellow countrymen. The Catholic religion is faith in God first but faith in man next. [148/149] And if we have faith in them and in our cause we must show them every treasure of the good and perfect way. No treasure of the Catholic faith is more appealing than, "I believe in the Communion of Saints."
1. Here in the tents, the Church Militant, our religion must be complete. That is the meaning of the fight for the recovery of every teaching and practice that is Catholic so as to fulfil a true Reformation by doing away with all the destructive and harmful elements of the Reformation of the sixteenth century. The Catholic religion is complete. It has all the truth of God for all the need of man. We have every teaching of the faith in all its implications. We use every sacrament according to our walk in life. The use of ritual flourishes and its ceremonial setting is esteemed. In imitation of the angels we are bidden to worship first and then to serve. In this our pilgrimage here, dwelling in tents, we are in the warring Church with enemies all about. The servants of the Crucified are challenged: "Who follows in His train" "A glorious army" must respond in the coming century as in the past. No movement, not even the Catholic Movement, moves of its own momentum unless it is going down hill. The golden age of paganism is the past. The Catholic looks to the golden age of the future. With Dr. Pusey, "Expect anything, fear nothing, hope for everything, for the battle is not ours but God's."
2. "My soul hath a desire and longing to enter into the Courts of the Lord."
"Loose sands and all things sinking
Hark, the murmur of the sea.
Saviour, it is intensely dark,
Is it near Eternity?
"Can I fall from Thee, even now?
Both hands, dear Lord, both hands.
Why dost thou lie so low, so deep,
Thou shore of the happy lands?
"O death is very, very wide
A land terrible and dry,
If Thou, dear Saviour, hadst not died
Who would have dared to die?"
 Let the thought of the great realities—life, death, Eternity, God—be used as a missionary motive to press on the Kingdom. The Church is universal, a little segment here on earth, the most gone on. How dreadful to be lost in the universe, and still more dreadful to lose without hope our dearest and our best. How reasonable and full of comfort is the Church's teaching in regard to the Courts of the Lord—Purgatory. If one dies in God's friendship, perhaps, alas, just within His friendship, then he is safe after life's voyage is over, like Neale's old ship in harbor at last.
"Safe home, safe home in port!
Rent cordage, shattered deck,
Torn sails, provisions short,
And only not a wreck;
But O the joy upon the shore
To tell our voyage—perils o'er!"
Dante's Purgatorio is the great classic thirteenth century guidebook to the waiting Church. Fire, storm, darkness are but the figures of the means of cleansing. Who would not gladly go to school or to the hospital for his own good, how much more in submission to the holy will of God. And so St. Catherine of Genoa tells us, "No words can express the submission with which they are filled as they approach in union with God's holy will."
"O God, to know that Thou art just
Gives hope and peace within,
We could not in a mercy trust
Which takes no count of sin."
We call them holy souls not because they are yet perfect, for then they would no longer be in Purgatory but in Paradise; but because they are destined for Paradise, their probation over, [150/151] their temptations ended, their salvation achieved. They are holy because inviolate, dedicate, consecrate to God.
We can press on the Catholic religion by teaching men the comfort of the faith. The mourner, now a Catholic, adds to his cry:
"O, for the touch of a vanished hand
And the sound of a voice that is still."
"'Tis here I feel that thou art near,
Thy face I almost see,
When in the Eucharist I touch
The Hand that toucheth thee."
and the Praise—
"Thank God the Shepherd is so sweet!
Praise God the country is so fair!—
We could not hold them from His feet,
We can but haste to meet them there."
Every Catholic is the true Siegfried who seeks his beloved upon the rocks surrounded by fire and amid the cries of the Valkyries rushes through the flames to the Reunion of the Eternal morning.
Our God is a consuming fire. He tries every man's work but He Himself "shall be saved yet so as by fire." Thus the God of mercy and of love has devised a way to bring His banished Home.
3. "Blessed are they that dwell in Thy House, they will be alway praising Thee." The Church Triumphant in the Eternal Heaven. Our victory is not only complete and universal but eternal.
The fight has been won, thank God, for prayers and Masses for the dead. After years of struggling and waiting the whole principle is enshrined in the Book of Common Prayer. May I, as an officer of the Guild of All Souls, remind you what an important part that guild has played in [151/152] this achievement. May I suggest that you support the guild as it goes on to greater things. Without ceasing its charity for the holy souls, let it press upon the Church the claims of the saints reigning with Christ in heaven. Tabernacles, the Church Militant on earth; Courts, the Church Expectant in Purgatory; House, the Church Triumphant in Paradise. "Blessed are they that dwell in Thy House." Let us lift up our eyes to our immaculate Lady Saint Mary and the Whole Company of Heaven. As they are our intercessors there above, let us be their champions here below. One hundred and twenty men and women led by twelve faithful priests 1900 years ago enkindled and burned up the world for Jesus Christ. We thousands here assembled in this Congress can under God restore in this Church the veneration of the saints.
O Blessed Mary, Queen of Heaven and Lady of the World, pray for us that we may have grace so to present our religion, which is Jesus Christ our Lord, to the American people that our fellow countrymen may learn His Power and His Love shining in His Tents, His Courts, His House. Then will this republic, Christian and Catholic, at last, be transfigured into a land of happy pilgrims traveling home to God. Amen.