The Priests’ Convention
Philadelphia, April 29-30, 1924
From The American Church Monthly, June, 1924, Vol. XV, No. 4.
Edited by Selden Peabody Delany, D.D.
Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Diocese of New York, 2012
THE Christian religion is Christ. Inwardly and outwardly it is Christ. It is a life; but also it is a theory. The life is the life of Christ and the theory is the truth of Christ. Christ is the center of the spiritual universe. The matter is not one of balance, as if a comparison were made of value or necessity between the functions of creation, redemption and sanctification. But the fact is that the renewed contact of the race and of the individual with God is through Christ. Christ's redemption is not a mere permission for men to return to God. It is an access which He has won, an entrée that He has made His own at the price of the Cross; and the individual soul must be brought back to God, so to speak, on the arm of our Lord. Each must be personally conducted. And while that soul is there before God during probation or for eternity its status is that of one whom Christ has brought in and has vouched for; for whom our Lord stands sponsor. "Ye are my friends" says our Lord; even in the bliss of Paradise the redeemed are found singing. "Thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood." We are to pray in His name, as though our petitions are heard and avail because the tones of our Lord's voice can be identified in them. "I will give you rest" He promises. It is the peace of God which passeth understanding; but it is our Lord who will give it. It is the state of being characteristic of God; but it is our Lord who dispenses it.
And as for the Christian life it is begun and continued in our Lord. By union with His sacred humanity in Baptism the soul begins to live with His life; and as the soul develops it does nothing else than to increase its ability to live that life, and to grow more expert in expanding itself into the proportions of it: into "the measure of the stature of the fulness." This it does by varied forms of contact with our Lord through the Holy Sacraments, all of which are effectual and efficient in that they are performed and have their vitality in the risen and ascended [311/312] humanity of our Lord. For thus only can God meet redeemed men and here only can redeemed souls unite with God.
Thus it comes about that whatever is nearest and most like unto Christ in the scheme of Christianity is the most important thing in that philosophy of two worlds: that is, the crucified, risen, ascended and enthroned humanity of our Lord, joined on forever to the Godhead. That alone makes the Christian thinking rational; through that alone it all makes sense and gives rest and comfort to the bewildered human consciousness.
In like manner, and for the same reason, whatever in the Christian system is most like to our Lord is the most important thing in that system. By the word "system" in this connection, one means the sequence of detail of that spiritual living by which the supernatural basis of the life of the Christian soul is continued and developed. And in that system there stands out one thing pre-eminently like unto our Lord—yes even, on the assurance of His own word, identical with our Lord; and that is the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. For He has said "This is my body."
Before discussing this matter let us give a moment to the consideration of a possible objection to the thesis that the Blessed Sacrament is the most important detail in the Christian system. It has been said, and is often implied, that this Sacrament or that is quite as pivotal as the Holy Communion inasmuch as all are necessary to the fulness of Christian life; that the plan of Sacramental Grace is such as to make a complete cycle and that to a cycle every arc is just as important as any other arc. This is of course quite true. But when we consider the whole spiritual history of the race there comes to the mind an irresistable conviction of the supreme importance of the Blessed Sacrament.
Why did God consider redemption through Christ necessary? Because man had separated himself from God through sin. That is the awfulness of sin: that God can not endure it near Him and that whatever is identified with sin is, during the period of that identity, necessarily separated from God. And while God cannot endure the nearness of sin neither will His Love endure separation from creatures whom He has made to love Him and to be loved of Him. And so prompted by love He [312/313] devised the plan of redemption through Christ. Then the object of redemption is nothing else than the reunion of human souls with God. This union, always existing by creation, potentially existing through redemption, must exist also in Sanctification, or the life of the spirit, wherein, under present limitations, man must be assured that he is really in touch with God as he is intended to be, and as he was designed to be. The primitive traditions of the race, when man talked with God in the garden "in the cool of the day" persist and will not down. The memory of mankind is long and holds fast. If the soul of man yearns to be reunited to God and to have contact with Him and assurance of His presence, God will know it and in any plan of reconstruction will provide for it.
At this point enters the difficulty caused by the Fall of the race of men and their consequent separation from God: a separation which, so far as we can see or have reason to believe, will continue while the conditions of life in this world continue. And for the reason that the fall carries along with it certain temporal penalties and disabilities which because they are temporal and can be supported by men, must be so supported in God's justice. First among these is the consciousness of this separated state. Man even by the use of natural reason knows that God exists and that He is man's first and final cause. This is enough to set up desire; but man in his fallen nature is not able to gratify this desire. And at this point God's plan of applied redemption enters. That plan is sacramental. A new thing, new that is to fallen man, is brought to light—the supernatural gift of Faith. Faith is that quality latent in the race, though in abeyance in consequence of the Fall, by which man is able to believe God and to act upon God's assurance within the sphere of the spirit. By faith man is able to move among things unseen and to conduct himself as one to whom they are real and objective. By Faith man is enabled really to know God's control of phenomena and to see and experience God under such guise as God has assured him He will assume. Thus is the gulf bridged; and while man must continue to endure such disabilities as arise from the fall the love of God eases his shoulder to the burden and ameliorates his condition by these very real and genuine comforts whereby two purposes are served, to wit—[313/314] the Divine Love is solaced by mutually conscious contact between the creature and the Creator and the yearning of man is contented, his lot made endurable and, in the words of our antiphon, "a pledge of future glory is given unto" him.
Thus we see the purpose of redemption accomplished. Even in this life man is conscious of reunion with God through the Sacraments. When we consider that nothing but what is constant will satisfy this desire, either from God's side or man's, we see at once that the Sacrament of the Altar must be the most important thing in the Christian system. And for the reason that in all other Sacraments God touches man and man touches God for a purpose momentarily. It is quite true that these contacts are meant to leave behind them abiding results and to change the soul so that it will never be the same again. But through it all runs that need of men to have constant recourse to that which will assure him and convince him that he is not without God in the world.
We must not be misunderstood: without Baptism this whole state of things is impossible to man. Without the Laying-on of hands that gift of faith by which all this is to be apprehended is not to be had. Without Penance man can have no assurance that interruptions of his rapport with God can be and are done away. But the Blessed Sacrament is Divine Society, it is the company of Christ our Savior, it is the rescue from loneliness and solitariness of the soul. Elsewhere the soul meets with our Lord on great occasions, at crucial moments, formally, statedly. But the Blessed Sacrament is an abiding refuge to which man can run at odd times, frightened, lonely, bewildered, perplexed. By this Holy Ordinance God has gone to the very limit of man's possibility in his fallen state, in restoring to man the sense of abiding reunion with his Creator. Certainly the Eucharist is the center of the Christian System, of the life of the spirit. It is impossible, to be sure, without the rest—it can not stand alone. But given the system it is seen in its application and use to be the point round which all the reconstructed spirituality of man rotates.
Now this place and function of the Eucharist is only a fact because of the truth of our Lord's assurance that He Himself is [314/315] really and truly present in the consecrated elements of the Sacrament. Let us agree at once upon the truth that our Lord's assurance in this matter is either to be received or rejected. It is not a matter in which there can be degrees of acceptation and belief. Christ is either really present in the Blessed Sacrament or else He is not present at all. There are no degrees in identity. A thing is the thing it is or it is something else. Our Lord has said "This is my body." He has identified the elements of the Eucharist with Himself. Under these forms our Lord is present, with all that He is of Divinity and humanity, or else He is not there at all. It is a staggering thing, like the Incarnation Itself. It can be believed upon assurance without being understood. It is, no doubt, a legitimate state of mind also not to believe it. Like the rest of the Christian thesis God has proposed it to the mind of man for him either to take or leave. But if man takes it, he must take it all; and this not only because a limited faith in our Lord's credibility is no faith at all, but also because the human mind can not rest in anything less than complete acceptance.
What is the history of acceptation of this assurance? The Apostles who heard Him took Him at His word. The group of persons who heard but to reject took Him at His word also, in the sense that their rejection was based upon the evident bona fides of His assurance. The Church began to function upon the basis of the truth of His assurance and has continued to do so from that day to this. And not until the beginning of the sixteenth century did any Christians use the ordinance of Communion with any other understanding than that in the same is received the Body and Blood of Christ.
The only branch of the Holy Catholic Church in which there has been a practical wavering in straight belief in this matter is our own. Yet even here it is impossible to show any formal repudiation of the Catholic doctrine. Periods of unbelief can be pointed to and long seasons of appalling laxity and debased practice. But the formularies of the Anglican Communion have remained unchanged, both as to worship and instruction; and all requisites needful for proper practice have been preserved and continued. The attitude of clergy and laity can readily be understood from the history of the English Church from 1500 on. [315/316] Near neighbor to the Continental Reformation, its territory a refuge for the persecuted reformers from the Continent, the constant tumult of its political situation resulting from the personnel of its changing dynasties, the upheaval of the Commonwealth and the ensuing effort to make peace among violently differing elements; with all this is it any wonder that the people of the Church of England should become hazy and doubtful in belief as well as corrupt and relaxed in practice! Yet through it all God was not left without witness. From odd corners of the Anglican Communion comes evidence in every age of stray priests and stray communicants, isolated groups of faithful souls comporting themselves toward the Sacrament of the Altar as those whose belief is orthodox; showing thereby that the will to teach and the power to believe and practice still abode in the Anglican communion. When ninety years ago the Catholic Revival began it displayed itself against the background of the doctrine, discipline and polity of the Church of England not as something imported from without, exotic and foreign, but very evidently as growing out of the reserve and forgotten power and life of the Church itself; and in no case more markedly so than in that of the Blessed Sacrament. All that had been out of conformity with the right faith in this respect had been the ignorance or the indifference of priests and people. Given a restoration in this matter and the whole machinery of theory and practice, private and official, is rediscovered in the Church and begins to function normally. The language of our liturgical formularies, the rubrical directions of our worship, fell into their proper place and surroundings as soon as priests and people began to resume that attitude toward the Eucharist which is proper and normal to Catholic Christians.
And as the Catholic Revival spreads and develops a right attitude toward the Blessed Sacrament is it not that attitude which ends itself most completely at home in the household of the American Church? Is it not a fact that Catholics get on most peacefully with the rubrics? Is it not a fact that Catholics are content with the Book of Common Prayer as it stands; and while they could do with some enrichment of it are perfectly well able to function as they wish within its limits? in a word, it is impossible to prove against [316/317] the Anglican Communion more than a long and sad period of defection and neglect by most of its people and most of its clergy from the Catholic Faith in the Blessed Sacrament. And all this is in the past. In the last half century we have seen a right belief returning rapidly; an immense and widespread reversion to reverent and seemly behavior toward the Sacrament developing, and along with it that vigorous and active spiritual life which is never found in its most robust state apart from the right use and esteem of the Eucharist.
We may conclude then that the whole Catholic Church, of which the Anglican Communion is a part, continues to regard the Blessed Sacrament in the light of Christ's institution of the same and stands committed to the belief that under the forms of bread and wine there is truly and in complete reality the Body and Blood of Christ.
I do not feel that any good would come of even the enumeration in this discussion, of the various theories of the manner of our Lord's presence in the Sacrament. There is a type of mind, recurring from time to time in positions of intellectual leadership in the Church, which is satisfied by these rather academic and speculative conjectures. There was an age in which the thing was more common than it is now. But that we have not outlived the tendency is proved by the publication in the last decade of a book by one of our own presbyters in which this subject is again opened; and one can not but feel the discussion to have been without valuable result to Christians. After all, the appeal of such queries is to the mind. The Faith by which we accept our Lord's assurance is a matter of the will. If Christ is present it can not matter how. There is but one Christ. Wherever we find Him we find Himself. He has but one relation and purpose toward mankind. Wherever He is He is there for that one purpose. By an ever-repeated spiritual miracle He puts at the disposal of mankind that species of locality which must apply to His glorified humanity. He distinguishes between it and that omnipresence which pertains to Himself as the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, by virtue of which He is everywhere at once, or more correctly perhaps, all places and things exist in Him and are embraced by His Essence. To this He adds that localization made possible through His glorified [317/318] humanity by a concession which He makes to the weakness of mankind who can never be supra-local and must ever connect every sort of presence with time and place.
The Eucharistic Controversies have left the Roman Church tied to a term, intended to be descriptive of the manner of our Lord's presence in the Eucharist, which is more or less blown upon in the Anglican estimation and the popular misconception of which is condemned by the quasi-Official authority of the Articles of Religion. The Eastern Church, though untouched by the controversies, has adopted a term the bearing of which is almost identical with the Roman symbol. I can not feel that these things matter in the least. Our concern is not to quarrel with an obsolete philosophy nor with the etymology of oriental theological language. These differences, so far as they are differences, take place within the limits of the basic assurance of our Lord that He is Present in the Eucharist. To this the whole Catholic Church, including ourselves, is committed. Our Lord gave no explanations. No part of His Church can be made responsible for the furnishing of such. To teach and practice what our Lord taught, no more and no less, is the limit of obligation for His Church.
The two great purposes of Christ's presence in the Eucharist, that is the communication of Himself to souls for the nourishment and support of that life which has been begun in them by Baptism, and for the continual pleading of the merits of His death and Passion before the Blessed Trinity, have been ably and adequately dealt with in the foregoing papers. Let us go on at once to certain needful implications of the fact of Christ's presence in the Eucharist.
The validity of any Sacrament depends upon the presence in its administration of the proper minister, form and matter. In this case a properly ordained Priest must execute an adequate form of consecration, with sufficient intention, in connection with proper bread and proper wine. Remembering that our Lord at the Institution of the Eucharist used the present tense, saying simply, "This is my Body" and "This is my Blood" it follows that so long as the elements of the consummated Sacrament [318/319] retain their chemical integrity (that is so long as they continue to be proper matter) the Presence of our Lord is connected with them and they continue to be the means of communicating the same to the faithful. In consequence, while the act of Oblation is an act and being done is done and over, the possibility of the use of the Sacrament for the communicating of what it is intended to communicate continues with the Consecrated Elements while they themselves continue. Very early in the life of the Church the practice of carrying the Sacrament to those who by illness or other sufficient cause were prevented from receiving the same at the celebration of the Eucharist came into use and is historically to be found and identified. The practice has persisted throughout the Church except among Anglicans, but that during a period in which both faith in and the use of the Sacrament of the Altar were at their lowest level. It is not sensible to expect that in an age when the Holy Communion would be celebrated quarterly the sense of the need of the Sacrament would be such as to lead priests or people the one to provide and the other to demand arrangements making possible or easy the communion of such persons as could not present themselves at the rare times of its celebration. We find however that as belief in the Sacrament of the Altar revives there revives along with it the sense of the great necessity of this sacrament where it may be had: and a demand makes itself evident that adequate arrangements be made to the end that such emergencies as arise in the ordinary living of men may be provided against and that no soul may go to its Maker unsupported by the Sacrament of which our Lord has said that "Except ye eat . . . ye have no life in you." This provision is called "Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament" and its progress into restoration among us generates more or less friction. Let us understand this and take away from it needless misapprehension and dangerous misconception of its bearing.
The Catholic Revival is entirely a matter of the personal equation. The revival is in the individual consciousness, which is developed by information and intellectual grasp, both of the proper position of this Church and of the place of the individual in it. Only in its final stage, along this line or that, does it become corporate. When the popular mind and heart have become [319/320] awakened to one or another detail of the theory or life of the Church regarded as Catholic, then legislation, either disciplinary or liturgical follows. The revival, in a word, begins at the bottom and not at the top. It is evident then that its progress can not be regular either as to territory or as to proportion. Every sort of accident of birth, environment, local circumstance, affects it. "Two women shall be grinding in one mill, the one shall be taken and the other left." So also in this case. Two parishes, side by side develop unevenly. Two people with the same training and instruction vary as to their progress into spiritual acceptance. This is inevitable. And in so vital a matter as the Blessed Sacrament it is but natural to anticipate that this variation will be most pronounced, involving as it does, not only variation in theory but wide divergence in practice. A priest has progressed beyond his Bishop or a Bishop beyond his clergy. A rector may have outstripped his congregation or vice versa. Misunderstanding and friction must inevitably develop out of these circumstances. There is to be considered also that the Blessed Sacrament involves, in proportion, more of the outward and visible sign than do other Christian ordinances. A change of attitude toward the Eucharist necessitates changes in behavior, ceremonial, furniture, language, practice. It is very far-reaching. And such is human nature that a mere change of mind is more easily accomplished than a change of habit.
In a word, while the process of readjustment goes on and the movement toward leveling up of Church consciousness with regard to the Blessed Sacrament progresses, we must not take too seriously such controversy as develops. It may not be fundamental; and it should be borne with patience and charity and with entire confidence that the cycle of the swing of popular belief back to Catholic orthodoxy will complete itself and uniformity of belief and practice eventually supervene.
We have said that early in the life of the Church the practice of reserving the Blessed Sacrament in order to communicate persons unable to be present at Mass, came into use and has continued uninterruptedly from that time to this save in the Anglican Communion. The legalistic aspect of the matter would be a needless effort in this paper. At the last General Convention [320/321] a committee, having deliberated for three years, reported to the House of Bishops that Reservation is probably of doubtful legality in this Church. The report was received and no action was taken. It is the evident intention of the Bishops not to incept legislative action in this matter, but to continue to act under the determination of the Convention of 1895 whereby Bishops were encouraged to license reservation in their dioceses. Even this is negative, for nothing is said regarding their power to prevent or stop the practice. And, as a fact, the practice has gone on and has grown, usually upon the initiative of parish clergy to whom the need of it has been immediately apparent. Judged by this manifest need and the tremendous growth and spread of the practice in the last two decades it is safe to say that Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament for the communion of the sick and dying has come to stay in the American Church.
Now let us face squarely the difficulty in this matter. It arises from the fact that where people believe that Christ is present in the Blessed Sacrament it is impossible to prevent their conducting themselves toward the Sacrament with that worshipful reverence appropriate to our Lord's Presence. The friction is made by people in whom faith in the real presence of our Lord is not fully developed. There can be no conceivable presence of God which is not entitled to adoring devotion. If the union of natures in our Lord is an abiding one, and if He is present at all in the Eucharist, then His Sacred Humanity and His Eternal Godhead are there and any one that loves and fears God will worship God where he finds Him. We can not state the situation more aptly than by quoting from a recent novel a conversation between two Priests of neighboring, rural, English parishes.
"Are your people responsive?" asked George.
"Responsive to what?"
"Oh, not at all."
"Then how do you get them to come to church?"
"I don't—Our Lord does."
"They come to church because they know they'll always find Him there—in spite of me."
 George could not keep back the remark that Reservation was theologically indefensible.
"Is it?" Father Luce did not seem much interested. "But I don't keep the Blessed Sacrament in my church for purposes of theology, but for practical use. Suppose you were to die tonight—where would you get your last Communion from if not from my tabernacle?"
"This is the only church in the rural deanery where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved and the holy oils are kept. The number of people who die without the sacraments must be appalling."
George had never been appalled by it.
"But why do you reserve publicly? he asked—"That's not primitive or catholic—to reserve for purposes of worship."
"I don't reserve for purposes of worship—I reserve for Communion. But I can't prevent people from worshiping Our Lord. Nobody could—not all the Deans of all the cathedrals in England."
Article XXV states with perfect truth "The Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon or to be carried about, but that we should duly use them." This is utterly true. It is also true that the Incarnation did not take place chiefly to give Mary Magdalene opportunity to anoint our Lord's feet and to wipe them with her hair. When she was criticised for this deed our Lord said "Let her alone." In His passage through His earthly life on His long road to Calvary the devotion of discerning and loving souls was as welcome to Him as it was natural in the persons. The worship of our Lord in His Sacramental presence is incidental to the purpose of that Presence.
We are told there is danger of superstition on the part of the faithful promoted by Reservation. This is not easy to understand. What can there be of superstition in worshiping our Lord? What can be so safe as taking our Lord at His word? Where can the mind and heart be so surely anchored and delivered from the peril of error as in the assurance of His own promises? If this objection means that reservation might encourage belief in the theory of transubstantiation it is proper to say that the danger is no greater than in that offered by the [322/323] words of the liturgy or of the catechism. There is no emphasis in either upon the theory of His presence but upon the fact of it. The only reason the Lord has given us for the use of the Holy Communion is that it is His Body. The continued use of the Sacrament can be justified upon no other grounds. The elements are the outward and visible sign of the place and time of His Presence. The use of the Sacrament and the reservation of the same for the communion of the sick began many centuries before the scholastic mind exercised itself in the philosophy of the method of His Presence.
We are told, also, there is danger in Reservation, of irreverence. Very likely. The whole Incarnation courts that danger also. Not everyone treated our Lord even politely. The great adventure of God in which our Lord learned obedience by the things that He suffered involves just this sort of thing. For the sake of the result and the end the Lord is apparently willing to chance the means. There are perils but He knew them in advance. Evidently He considered the devotion of some properly purchased at the price of the neglect and abuse of the many. It is the policy of God in the Incarnation. We can be no less daring than He since what we do is to further and spread the scope of His adventure—we are extending the Incarnation.
There is, in a word, an inevitable sequence of ideas as follows: If we teach our people the Real Presence we are but emphasizing the great necessity of the receiving of the Holy Communion as well by the sick and dying as by those able to present themselves at the Altar. If we meet this demand we must do so by reserving the Blessed Sacrament for the regular communions of shut-ins and for the emergencies of sudden illness and death. If we do so reserve the Sacrament we can not prevent intelligent Christians from paying their devotions to our Lord's presence except at the price of stultifying all our previous teaching. This last step, it must be remembered, is not a matter superinduced by parish priests but is no more than the act of the people in taking the Church at her word, and is the logical sequence of the Church taking the Lord at His. And it may be asked also that since a parish priest is licensed to perform every act of sacerdotal function is it not his duty to his people to make such provision, so far as he can do so in reason [323/324] and having regard to his local circumstances, as will minimize almost to the point of elimination the chance of any soul being hurriedly called out of this world unfortified by the Bread of Life.
Now what people do as individuals in their approach to our Lord they may do in concert. If one may kneel before the Tabernacle and pay his devotions at odd times a hundred men may do so at stated times. And so we find that this matter has taken definite shape in the Western Church and that recognized and standardized offices of devotion to our Lord's Sacramental Presence are in general use. Called by different names they do not differ in anything but details which are of no essential consequence. Benediction, Adoration, Exposition are all intended to accomplish the same end and to satisfy the same desire. At least one English Bishop has made a distinction in letting it be known that he will allow Adoration in his diocese but will not allow Benediction. There is ample precedent for this distinction as a matter of practice: in France Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament can only be given under episcopal license and in most rural parishes in that country one finds Adoration, that is, a devotion in which the tabernacle door is opened but the Sacrament is not touched or exposed. I believe, however, that there is no theological difference in these matters. Whether or not the Blessed Sacrament is moved or exposed in an ostensorium can not matter, except subjectively. That is to say, that any such ceremony is no more than a variety in the form of the challenge to the devout soul of our Lord's presence; and there can be no reason for desiring one above another beyond the experience that one gives a more satisfying reaction than another, and this will vary in different groups and different places. What helps souls is the opportunity for the outpouring of devotion, and the form of this opportunity, so far as it is related to the Altar and the Priest, cannot be of grave consequence.
What should be the attitude of Priests toward this matter? If it helps souls should it not be furthered and encouraged? That it does help souls is beyond gainsaying. That it does so help them is natural and reasonable when we consider the facts. [324/325] Our Anglican restraint is a matter of which we have little reason to be proud. Our religion has developed against the heavy handicap of our complete neglect of the emotions. It is a racial trait and we can not recover from it in a moment. But for the sake of religion we ought to try. Our appeal to the intellect has gone so far as it can go and that is not very far. The Lord has given a few people good minds. But He gives to most people good hearts. It is the heart that prompts devotion. A man worships by willing. But he pays devotion by loving. It is quite demonstrably apparent that approach to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, informal, requiring nothing but the movement of loving desire, makes our Lord real to people in a sense that nothing else will do. We teach the Real Presence and the minds of the faithful accept the belief and acknowledge the fact but do not, in many cases, feel it. In devotions, organized or unorganized, to the Reserved Sacrament we help people to feel it. Any parish priest who has experimented with such devotions will bear witness to the fact that the whole attitude of many people toward the doctrine of the Real Presence has been transformed by this opportunity.
The Mass is an act. It is something that transpires. The Priest celebrates and the acolyte serves and the faithful assist. Everyone does something. His duty is discharged in the doing of it and immense exaltation and thrill go with the doing of it. Our Lord passes across our horizon and enacts again the tremendous drama of His atoning death. It begins and it goes on and it ends. But in devotions to the Blessed Sacrament the soul approaches to our Lord in His moment of privacy. He and the soul are at ease and the time of stress is over. It is personal, intimate. No one is hurried. Our Lord has all the time we need and we have all the time there is. Our stammering tongue can find the words of our most private and dearest petition. Our scattered wits can gather themselves together and concentrate upon what we want to say. The familiar hymns seem to sing themselves, without our effort. There is no sense of keeping anything going. And with it all is that relaxation which is only to be experienced in the intercourse of those who love and trust. If the test of real friendship is the possibility of two persons being silent in each other's company here we have it. Maybe [325/326] the soul has no petition to offer, nothing definite to ask for, no special thing to say. Even so there is the sense of our Lord's sympathetic attention and his complete understanding of the unuttered yearning or wish or thought. Everybody knows about the devout sick child, who being asked by a nurse who had interrupted him in his prayers "what were you saying to our Lord?" replied "I was not saying anything, I was just loving Him." This is what happens in devotions to the Blessed Sacrament.
There has been immense prejudice against what are called extra-liturgical uses of the Reserved Sacrament and doubtless there is still much of it. But it is a thing felt rather than understood and sentiment must inevitably give way to reason. Twenty years ago we should have said that the help of devotions to our Lord's Sacramental Presence was so far in the future that planning for them or hoping for them could have no place in the thinking of practical people. Yet these two decades have seen these devotions spring into use not in the few well known centers of advanced religion but in all sorts of every-day parishes. There can be no doubt that people, in proportion as they grasp the doctrine of the Real Presence, demand greater access to and recognition of our Lord in this relation. It is easy to dismiss the idea on the ground that devotions to the Reserved Sacrament grew up and took form among peoples of a temperament widely different from our own: it is also a mistake to reason from this fact. The Latin races are demonstrative and we suppose ourselves not to be. But we have no difficulty in expressing ourselves when we are moved; and the spread of right faith regarding the Blessed Sacrament is moving more and more of us and everywhere self-expression is seeking outlet. We should not be found impeding this thing nor be slow to see and recognize the need and desire of our people to show their love for our Lord in this homely and human way. Blessed, praised and adored be Jesus Christ on His throne of glory and in the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.