Project Canterbury

On Prayers to the Dead.
By J.G.H. Barry, D.D.

New York: Edwin S. Gorham, 1919.

When we turn over the pages of the New Testament with a view to ascertaining the meaning the word Church conveyed to its writers and their readers, we have no difficulty in concluding that the word hears a double meaning, and that what meaning is to be attributed to it in a given case must be determined by the context. In the first place, the word Church is used to designate those congregations of Christians which, during the century in which the New Testament was being written, were rapidly growing in number as the result of the Apostolic preaching. These little groups of converts, wherever they may be, each with sufficient organization to enable it to administer the sacraments and to direct and minister to the spiritual life of its members, are known as a church, though it is obvious from the way in which they are spoken of that they have some sort of relation to and dependence upon one another. Having in mind simply those passages of Holy Scripture in which churches are spoken of as communities of Christians in this or that place, no attentive reader would infer from this that each church was a self-sufficient entity, entitled to go its own way and manage its own affairs, and capable of perpetuating itself with?out reference to any other community.

But the emphasis in those passages which are geographically descriptive is on external position and not on essential nature. We read, for instance, that after the persecution in which Saul of Tarsus was the chief actor had died down in consequence of his conversion, "Then had the churches rest throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied." Later, when St. Paul separated from St. Barnabas and, with St. Silas, started on a new mis?sionary journey, "He went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches." The local Christian community is usually addressed as the Church in such and such a place: "The Church of God which is at Corinth." This community is sometimes designated from its meeting place: "The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house." Even when St. Paul is speaking of the churches from the point of view of his oversight of them, he still speaks of them in the plural. In summing up his labors he says: "Be?sides those things which are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches."

When, however, the church is viewed with reference, not to its extension but to its essential nature, the terms of its descrip?tion change. We no longer think of Chris?tians assembled in one place, or as having external relations to one another, but we think of Christians as having acquired a cer?tain character through the very act whereby they were made Christians. What is made prominent in the Christian life is its newness. The Christian is not one who has accepted a new system of belief or a new code of morality or who is united with others to form a new society. The new Christian is one who has passed through a supernatural experience; he has been "born again," re?generated; he is the outcome of a special creative act of God. "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation." He is this because through the creative action of God the Holy Ghost a new relation to God in Christ has been achieved. The Incarnate Nature of our blessed Lord has been extended to him and through participation in that he has also acquired a new relation to God the Blessed Trinity. "According to his divine power he hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature." St. Paul's phrase for expressing the fact of our union with God in Christ is that we are "in Christ." As the meaning of this phrase is central to any un?derstanding of the essential nature of the spiritual life, it would be well to make one's self thoroughly familiar with all the passages of St. Paul's writings that embody this con?ception. But for our present purpose it is enough to illustrate the point with one or two citations. We have already referred to the statement that, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation." We may add the teaching that all spiritual blessings are the result of being in Christ; "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual bless?ings in heavenly places in Christ." a Chris?tians are commonly addressed as those who are in Christ. So St. Paul writing to the Colossians: "To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse." The union of the Christian with Christ is so central a fact that the reality of his life is where Christ is; this world is really of small importance, he is already dead to that: "For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." Sometimes the method of expressing this spiritual fact is reversed, as when St. Paul interprets the "Mystery" of the Incarnation he says: "To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gen?tiles; which is Christ in you the hope of glory."

This thought of the Christian in Christ and Christ in the Christian leads up to the conception of the totality which results from the incorporation of all Christians in Christ. The New Testament word for describing this totality is body?Christ and those who are in Him constitute One Body. The na?ture of the Body is stressed because it needed and needs to be made plain that the Church is not a society, nor an organization, the re?sult of the agreement in belief and practice of certain individuals who associate them?selves the more effectively to propagate their beliefs and practices. There is nothing in the New Testament even to suggest that the Church springs out of a common agreement or the desire of those who cherish certain ideals to make their action more efficient. The conception of the Body is chosen to ex?press the fact of the inner nature of the Christian Church rather than as descriptive of an institution, because the notion em?bodied emphasizes the organic character of the fact to be described. An institution, a society, grows through association; and a body grows through the extending life of its original germ; it is built up by virtue of the central life communicating itself, and what is added to the body is truly made living by contact with the central life.

When, then, we try to understand the na?ture of the Church as a totality in contrast with the notion of churches as scattered communities of Christians, we are met by this notion of the Church as an organic whole: the assumption of humanity to the divine Person of the Son of God in the In?carnation. Incarnate God is the manifesta?tion of God on earth, the kingdom of God, the Church. The kingdom of God, the Church, grows with the expansion of the Incarnate Body through the regeneration of human souls, through the extension to them of the Incarnate Life by participation in which they likewise become partakers of the divine nature. The actual upbuilding of the Church, the edification of the Body of Christ, is an organic growth, the development of a living body. This is the point of view from which the Church as a whole, in con?trast with the scattered congregations which are its external manifestation, is presented in the New Testament.

Christ the Head, we the members?Christ first, we made one with Him by the impartation to us of His life?that is the New Testament conception of the Body. Such a Body is, of necessity one; it is im?possible to conceive it otherwise. This unity is the essential unity of a shared life, not the federated unity of a voluntary agreement. "He is the head of the body, the church." God "hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all." In this Body of which all the baptized are members, the pur?poses of the central life are fulfilled through a diversity of operation in the members. There is distinction of function within the unity of this spiritual body which is the Church as there is in the natural body of man. There is no need to follow out in de?tail the wonderful exposition of this theme in the First Epistle to the Corinthians. St. Paul's summing up will be sufficient for our purpose: "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. . . . Now ye are the body of Christ, and severally members thereof." The intimacy of this personal union with Christ is further emphasized in the Epistle to the Ephesians: "For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones."

It is to the growth of the body that St. Paul looks for that final conquest of the world by the kingdom of God, when at length all shall have been gathered into the unity of Christ and all differences shall in consequence pass away. All men who are saved will ultimately become members of the Body, and whatever was ideal when he wrote will become actual. It is to this end that gifts have been bestowed upon the body by the operation of the Holy Spirit within it. They have been given "For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the building of the body of Christ: till we all come into the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a complete man, unto the measure of the stature of the completion of Christ." St. Paul has already expressed this conception a little earlier in the epistle where he de?scribes the Church as the "Completeness of him who all in all is being completed."

It is through the progress of this unity that all diversities will ultimately be banished. Not that diversity of function within the body which is the manifold mani?festation and application of the One Life, but that diversity between men which has within it the seeds of hostility. In the "Completeness" when all things shall have become obedient to Christ, and presently, so far as obedience to Christ is found, the diversity which is hostility is done away. "In the fellowship of the Church, or, as St. Paul would prefer to put it, in Jesus Christ, the deepest of all divisions based on religious faith becomes negligible; there is neither Jew nor Gentile; the deepest of all divisions based on culture and civilization becomes negligible; there is neither Greek nor Scy?thian: the deepest of all social divisions be?come negligible; there is neither bond nor free, servant nor master; even that division of sex on which the whole social fabric rests becomes negligible, there is neither male nor female; but what? One man in Christ Jesus?the whole human race governed by one purpose, and that the purpose of Christ. The same truth is reiterated in the Epistle to the Colossians: "And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that cre?ated him: where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Bar?barian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all."

This Apostolic conception of the Incarnate Life as progressively subjecting all things to, and incorporating, all things in itself, is the conception of a rebellious world brought back to submission to the Divine will. It is the conception of hostile diversity converted to diversified unity. It is not man alone but the whole creation which will experience this unifying process. Man who is immediately redeemed by Christ stands first; but in conse?quence of his return to God in Christ the creation will follow: "For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corrup?tion into the liberty of the glory of the chil?dren of God." It is obvious that the re?lation of the-individual man to this process which includes the universe in its scope, and also to that special part of the process which is the Church Militant here on earth, is a strictly subordinate and dependent relation. The one thing that would seem to be abso?lutely excluded in any the most elementary view of the action of the Church would be individualism. There is room in the Body of Christ for endless diversity of function, for the development to the very uttermost of our special endowments. One of the wonders of the development of Christian character under the discipline of the Church has been its striking diversity of detail in association with a perfect unity of purpose. But there can be no place in the Church for the morbid egoism which is bent before all things on the assertion of self and the real?ization of certain assumed rights. There can be in the Body no independent action; all action has relation to the actions of others and to the purposes of the Body as a whole. The religious individualist who will have nothing between his soul and God is attempt?ing the impossible task of being a universe by himself. He in fact isolates himself much more from his brother man than the much-despised hermit who still considers himself a member of the Church of God with all the obligations of such membership. He at least is attempting to realize the Com?munion of Saints which the individualist, in practice, denies. " In true religion limited individualism is an impossibility. The individual can only attain to his highest in the life of the community alike here and hereafter."


This biblical teaching of the union of all Christians in Christ and, through their union in Christ, with one another, was in due time formulated and inserted in the Creed as the article, "I believe in the Communion of Saints." It is almost the latest article of the Faith to gain entrance to the Creed. The clause appears in a creed which was cir?culated under the name of St. Jerome, which ends with the words: "I believe in the re?mission of sins, in the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, the Resurrection of the Flesh unto Life everlasting." Early in the fifth century, before the death of Jerome, the clause is found in a commentary on the Creed by Niceta, Bishop of Remesiana. From the East it traveled gradually westward until it had obtained universal recognition in the Church.

It was during the centuries which preceded and immediately followed the adoption of the Communion of Saints as an article of the Faith that the Church was chiefly engaged in that process of theological formulation which resulted in the dogmatic decrees of the Ecumenical Councils. I think we best understand this process when we see in it the mind of the Church engaged in thinking out the meaning of the revelation committed to it. The nature of that revelation, as con?veying to man so much as he can know of the meaning of God and of God's will for him, of the mode of God's appeal to him in the Incarnation and all that follows from it, is so stupendous as to make it impossible that it should be at once grasped in its entirety. Our Lord had warned His followers against any assumption that all that was needed was to know "the simple words of Christ." He made plain to them the need of guidance to the understanding of His teaching and to the fact that the Holy Spirit, Whom He was to send as His Vicar to abide with men for?ever, would take up the work of unfolding the meaning of His revelation and lead them into all the truth: "When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all the truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will show you things to come." The result of this guiding action of the Holy Spirit is seen in the slowly growing appre?hension of the meaning and implications of our Lord's teaching by the mind of the Church. We can see this process in the struggle between that conception of the Church which would have made it a sect of modified Judeaism, Judeaism plus a Messiah Judeaistically conceived, and the conception championed by St. Paul of a Church embracing humanity because of the universal nature of the humanity assumed by our Lord. You can see it in the early heresies concerning the Person of our Lord which were essentially failures to grasp the notion of God incarnate, failure to think deep enough into the facts of the Gospel. We feel that even to-day there is much failure to think out the meaning of the Christian revelation. The Church has never succeeded in at all adequately pre?senting the kingdom of God as a transform?ing social force: the possible relations of the Church to the social order are still unreal?ized, with the result of a growing antagonism between the aims of the Church and the aims of secular society. We all know the difficulty that we have in grasping the teachings of the Christian religion in other than a fragmentary way, in attaining anything that we can consider as at all a well rounded spiritual development. It is, therefore, easy to grasp the fact that the apprehension of the Gospel by the first generations of the Church must have been a growing apprehen?sion and the formulation of its conclusions gradual. What the first centuries of the Christian era presented to us is the spectacle of the Church thinking?thinking its way into the meaning of its spiritual trust, think?ing what each item of it meant in itself and in relation to all the other items, and how best these truths committed to it could be brought to bear on human lives so as to stimulate them to response to the demands of God upon them.

So rich are the meanings which are packed into this clause of the Creed?I believe in the Communion of Saints?that it is small wonder that the Church was slow in actually appropriating them. To be knit into one body with Christ and all our brethren, to be partakers of a common life and co-workers in a common action, and that action the bringing of all men to the obedience of God in Christ, is so tremendous a thing and so complex, that the reactions on life must be manifold. How could this communion, this fellowship, even begin to be realized? How am I to act upon it? We get a very early expression of it in the opening of the Acts of the Apostles: "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fel?lowship, and in the breaking of the bread and in the prayers?continuing daily with one accord in the Temple, and breaking bread at home, did eat their meat with gladness." Here are various modes of exercising the common life. I think we shall not be wrong in assuming that they would have found their earliest experience of their union with our Lord and with one another in their daily Eucharist. This is the sacrament of union?of union with our Lord and of one another in Him. The congregations of the early Church as they met for the celebration of the Supper must have felt this acutely be?cause by the very terms of their Christian living they were a people apart. This separateness would increase as time went on and the exercise of their religion raised up against them the hostility of the state whether Jewish or Roman. Modern Chris?tians have so universally abandoned the strictness of the Christian life and so lapsed to a life of compromise and conformity to the world, that they have lost almost entirely the sense of communion with one another, the sense of a common membership in Christ; and therefore they have lost one of the readiest keys to open the mystery of wor?ship. For Christian worship is essentially the act of a community. The sacrament that we partake together is a communion, the sharing in common of the thing partaken, the humanity of Christ. Through our partak?ing of Him we are brought together. " For we being many are one loaf, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one loaf."


Here we are in the very heart of the mean?ing of our clause because here heaven and earth meet. The worship of the Eucharist is the worship of the whole Church; it is not merely an affair of the Church Militant. The worship that we offer is identical with the worship of heaven. In this sacrifice of the earthly and the heavenly altars the Priest and the Victim are the same. We lift up our hearts above this world unto the Lord and join in the united worship of earth and heaven where not only redeemed humanity, but angels and archangels and all the com?pany of heaven are partakers. Intelligent participation in the Eucharistic worship of the Church takes us a long way toward the comprehension of the Communion of Saints. And because the Eucharistic worship of the Church has been so thrown into the back?ground in the Churches of the Anglican Rite, one road to the realization of the mean?ing of the Communion of Saints has been blocked. The average parish of to-day offers to its members an early communion once a week. It is inevitable that those who attend should come with the thought prom?inent, although unanalyzed, of seeking a gift for themselves in an act of individual com?munion. It is difficult to see how it can be otherwise when in a parish of, say, one hun?dred and fifty communicants, some dozen or fifteen will represent the average attendance at an early Mass. In the few parishes where the late service is indeed the Lord's service it has been found desirable to discourage late communions because of the lack of observance of the Church rule of fasting. But certainly we must recognize that the func?tion of the Eucharist to interpret and actualize the Communion of Saints is obscured under present conditions and will so remain until something like corporate communions become a part of our parochial life. We have such at Christmas and Easter?at least in the present habit of parochial communions at Christmas and Easter we have the opportunity of emphasizing the corporate nature of the act. It would probably not be difficult to increase the number of such parochial communions; indeed, this is often done by adding to Christmas and Easter, Whit-Sunday and All Saints, and, perhaps, a dedication or patronal festival. A community which has caught the meaning of communion as communion not only with our Lord but with one another, will have no difficulty in carrying the same intention into acts of communion which are only representative of the whole body?as indeed all communions must be in degree.

I do not at all mean in what I have said above to imply that I think late Masses with?out communions from the congregation are unjustifiable or imperfect. It is no doubt of somewhat late development in the history of the Church, but I cannot assent to that interpretation of things ecclesiastical which makes late a synonym of wrong or impermissible. The Church did not think about the revelation committed to it for a certain num?ber of years and then say, "I have thought it all out and henceforth have need to think no more." There are obvious objections to a Church which does not think, and which does not produce things new as well as old out of its treasure. And in fact the Church was not long in seeing that in the complex act of the Eucharist, communion and worship are separable elements in the spiritual experience of the individual member of the Body; and that the fact that a Christian is not prepared on a certain occasion to make his communion does not exclude him from the corporate worship of the congregation. The offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice is the act of the whole Body of Christ in a given place, and within that Eucharistic act there is the distribution of the sacred Body and Blood to such as are prepared to receive them. But if an individual is not so pre?pared he is surely not cut off from the worshiping Body?not to be prepared to receive the communion at any given time is not the equivalent of excommunication. The central act of worship of the Christian con?gregation is offered without reference to the preparation of this or that individual person to make his communion. What the Mass without communions implies is that cither the members of the congregation have made their communions at some other Mass but now wish to join in the offering of the sacri?fice as an act of worship?the great corporate act of the parish for the day?or that they are at that time for some reason unprepared to make their communion. There is, of course, the danger, I think at present rather remote, of the habitual sub?stitution of participation in sacrificial wor?ship for the reception of the sacrifice. The perception of a danger means that we are on our guard against it. At present I think it will be found that communions are more fre?quent in parishes where the late Mass with?out communions is celebrated than in others.


The realization of our union with our Lord and with one another in the Holy Eu?charist is only one form of this spiritual experience of the Communion of Saints: there are many others, for from the very nature of this communion it must lie back of and interpenetrate all Christian action. "None of us liveth to himself." "We are members one of another." By participation in the sacrifice of our Lord we have reached the highest form of prayer but we have not exhausted the modes of prayer. Wherever there is prayer that has reference to others, whether those others are its objects or whether they are those who cooperate in our asking, the Communion of Saints is ener?getic. Prayer, indeed, is one of the most fruitful ways of fulfilling the obligations to others which grow out of our union with them. Prayer annihilates time and space; it enables us to throw the help of our intercession to those whom we have never seen and from whom half the world separates us. The ceaseless intercession that goes up about the altars of the earthly Church and from the hidden places of solitary intercessors is the means?one of the greatest?of the release of the spiritual energy of the Incarna?tion. It is not only the worshipers at the Sunday service, perhaps not chiefly those, whom we think of when we think of the energy of prayer which is being constantly brought to bear upon the world. We think of the religious houses where is the constant presentation of the Divine Office; we think of the multitudes kneeling daily before the Tabernacles of Christendom; we think of the silent forms we see in churches, of those who have paused in their work to seek some quiet place where they may lay their heart before God, of those whose lips are moving and whose hearts are burning as in the midst of the distracting business of this world they lift up their spirits to God on behalf of their brethren. The tides of prayer flow con?stantly from earth to heaven; the answers to prayer flow back to earth. How much we know of that; and how little of the whole fact is the much we know! We know of missions carried on, of institutions sup?ported, of souls and bodies healed, of the constant performance of spiritual miracles, in answer to prayer. And yet we know only in part, fragmentarily. We know just enough to encourage us and to guide us on our way, to sustain us in the weariness of our pilgrimage; but what we see sends us on our way light-hearted, filled with the con?fidence and joy of those who have found the meaning of union with God.


This silent fellowship in prayer must be supplemented whenever God sends the opportunity?and when does He not send it??by the fellowship of service We are members one of another, the bond of broth?erhood in Christ unites us. Here, perhaps, more than anywhere else the word failure is written large across the history of the Christian Church. No doubt if we choose to fasten our attention upon what has been done it will seem large in amount; especially will it seem so if we choose to put it in con?trast with the failure of others. Those who write books on the results of Christian ac?tivity or on the fruits of missions, and who bring into contrast the works of the heathen and of the Christian, have a wonderful story to tell. But it is not the story of the Chris?tian Church as a social force; it only gives a catalogue of selected phenomena. The his?tory of the attempt of the Christian Church to transform human society into the king?dom of God, to convert and to spiritualize the world, is the history hitherto of tremen?dous failure?failure not because the in?struments and energies at the disposal of the Church were incompetent to the task, hut failure because the Church as a whole has not really attempted the task lint abandoned the ideals of the Gospel for the methods of worldliness. The "Called out" soon went back to the soft clothing of the Kings' Houses they were supposed to have abandoned for the leather and locusts of the desert. So we have the spectacle, not of a Church vibrant with spiritual energy and a converted world, but of an unconverted world now at length turning contemptuously upon a Church which has sacrificed its voca?tion to men-pleasing! One can conceive no greater example of spiritual incompetence than the life of the ordinary member of the Church considered as an attempt to translate the Gospel life into terms of contemporary living.

But no time has called louder for that understanding of the Communion of Saints which is the realization of the Church as a brotherhood than the time in which we live. We thought we had got rid of classes in get?ting rid of a recognized aristocracy. Now it turns out that within the democratic state it is possible to have social classes as sharply accented as any in the societies of the past. If to-day class distinctions are rather vague, at least class hatred is distinct enough. The Church which in the nature of things is socially conservative more and more incurs the hatred of the radical and, as they think themselves, the progressive. The Christian com?munity tends more and more to be limited, not by its own withdrawal from the world, or by its enforcement of such spiritual dis?cipline as would exclude merely nominal ad?herents, but by the withdrawal of multitudes who see in the Church an instrument of n hostile class or an institution which is utterly indifferent to what they feel to be their vital interest. If the Church is to make bead-way against growing opposition and revolt, if it is to survive at all in the slate of the future, it must set itself to realize the Com?munion of Saints. It cannot do tin's by the patronage of social service. It must vindi?cate its right to be called a brotherhood, not by fussy charity or incompetent attempts to direct social movements, but by the demonstration that the existing membership of the Church is in reality a brotherhood?a brotherhood in Christ. When one can see that the membership of our parishes is plainly being unified on the ground of mem?bership in Christ, when silly social distinc?tions break down because we have found an underlying bond of union, when love of the brethren rules all social relations, then it may be possible for us to go to the world with a demonstration of the reality of our religion that it will be unable to resist, as when in the first centuries of the life of the Church the impression produced upon the heathen was, "See how these Christians love one an?other!" Until those days return, until we can present to the world the aspect of a com?munion of saints, it is not likely that our propaganda will be very effective.


We have hitherto thought of the Com?munion of Saints as the Church Militant here on Earth. But the frontiers of the Church Militant are not the frontiers of the Body of Christ, and therefore not of the Communion of Saints. The Church Militant is that part of the whole Church with which we are particularly concerned, it is said; and that no doubt is true, if we remem?ber that it is a part that we are concerned with, and that a part cannot adequately be understood or dealt with except we have constantly in view its relation to the whole. The colony of a state has no doubt its own local interests which are important and are necessarily in the foreground of its legislation, but it cannot therefore neglect the fact that it is a colony and that its relations to the mother country are vital. Each member of the Body has its own individual office, but it could not fulfill that office except it were connected with the central life. The vine branch puts forth its blossoms and bears its fruit, but only on condition that it abides in the vine. So the Church Militant exists at all only through its inherence in the mys?tical Body as a whole. If, conceivably, it were to forget its relation to the whole Body it must die.

The Communion of Saints comprises not only the Church Militant but the Church Expectant and the Church Triumphant. In comparison with the total life and activity of the Body of Christ the Church Militant appears as an outlying province of the king?dom of God. We are apt to think and speak as though the unseen provinces of the Church were rather unimportant outlying dependencies of the Church on earth. This thought needs to be reversed. The Church on earth at any time is numerically insignificant com?pared with the totality of the Body of Christ, and its failure will not be the failure of the whole Body, but the failure of certain mem?bers to realize their vocation. Our Lord recognized failure as well as success as enter?ing into the experience of His Church on earth. There would be dead branches to be removed and tares to be gathered up and burned, which surely implies not simply the individual failure with which we are wont to identify it, but that failure of a whole local church which has occurred over and over again in the history of Christendom. But the Body of Christ which has sought to express itself in this or that place and has failed because of the lack of human co?operation renews the attempt elsewhere.

The foundation expression of the Com?munion of Saints, that we are members one of another and all of Christ, holds neces?sarily for all the members of the Body. There is nothing that one can see in death that can destroy spiritual relationship or spiritual activity. The members of the Body do not rejoice and suffer together because they are in a certain place but. because they are members one of another. The modes of the activity of the members one toward another no doubt change through the change in their outer and material relationship; but change does not mean cessation, nor does the cessation of certain activities mean the abolition of the possibility of all activity. There is no way of conceiving the various states of the Church?Militant, Expectant, Triumphant?as remaining in relation one to another except as we conceive their activ?ity as being exercised through reciprocal of?fices. The Communion of Saints is no longer a communion of the whole Body of Christ except as that communion is made effective through the influence of life upon life. It will not do to say that all members of the Church are influenced and acted upon by the one Head of the Body, and in their turn respond directly to His influence and action. That is not the Biblical doctrine of the Communion of Saints: that doctrine is that there is a relation of member with member because of their participation in the Incarnate life. A graphic figure of the Communion of Saints would represent it, not as an infinite number of points each connected by a line with a common center; it would rather be the figure of a net in which all points are connected one with another as well as with the common center. The movements of the planets in a solar sys?tem are regulated not only by the pull of the central sun, but by the total system of forces resulting from the several pulls of the planets on one another.


If we are to think in terms of Biblical teaching and Catholic theology we are bound to think of the Communion of Saints as the totality of those in Christ in the constant exercise of spiritual activities toward one another. All these we must conceive as be?ing profoundly interested in one another. And from the nature of the Body as a sys?tem of inter-acting members we should cer?tainly infer some sort of action of mem?ber upon member. But we are not left to inference. This world and "the other World? as we call it, are nowhere in Scrip?ture represented to us as so separated one from another that intercommunication is im?possible. Naturally, when it is a question of the Communion of Saints the Old Testament is not available we must wait for evidence of that sort until the ascending Christ leads His troop of captives through the lifted gates of heaven. But as to the fact of constant and ready communication of a sort between the two worlds, we have but to think of the angelic ministries, the accounts of which are so outstanding fea?tures in the history of God's dealings with Israel under the old covenant. Angels are of the same kingdom as we, and their offices in relation to that Body and their constant ministrations to its members are continually brought home to us as we follow the narratives of the Gospels and the writing of the first pages of Church history in the Acts and in the Epistles. We need only our Lord's teaching to assure us of the ministry of angels in behalf of men. He Himself ex?perienced their ministry in two great crises of His life. When the devil left Him, de?feated in his attempt to seduce Him from the severities of His mission, "Angels came and ministered unto Him." When the end of that tragedy which was His life drew near and He was passing through the bitter agony of the Garden and had offered Him?self wholly to His Father's will then, as so often happens when God declines to grant our will, He sends strength to carry out His will; "And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him."? It was but a little later that He declared the entire willingness of His death in that it was even now avoidable did He will to call for heavenly rescue, when He rebuked the rash resistence of St. Peter; "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels." That we too have a share in the ministrations of heaven He declared when He taught us of our Guardian Angels; "I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Fa?ther which is in heaven." The ministry of angels to men is the familiar experience of the Apostolic Church. The angels know what is taking place in the Church and are interested in it; "For I think that God hath set forth the Apostles last, as it were ap?pointed to death: for we are made a spec?tacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men." But specially are they interested in the mystery of God's purpose unfolded in the Incarnation; "Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory." St. Peter reports the Gospel as preached by the Apostles as "things which the angels desire to look into." They are part of the heavenly environment of the earthly Church; "Ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumer?able company of angels." Their relation to us is one of continual ministry;" Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to do service for them who shall be the heirs of sal?vation." They are filled with rejoicing at the triumphs of God's grace; "I say unto you, that there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth."


The question we are tempted to raise, why, if there are also ministries of the saints of any sort to their brethren on the earth, we do not find the fullness of allusion to them that we do to the ministry of angels, almost an?swers itself. The saint is a product of the Incarnation, and heaven became populous with saints only as the harvest of sanctity sown by the Incarnate Word was gathered in after the Ascension of our Lord and the work of His Spirit in the Body of His In?carnation. Its knowledge of the ministry of angels the Church inherited from the revelation of the old covenant, and had only to confirm and enrich by its own ever-widening experience. A knowledge of its relation to the saints with God had to be experienced and thought out as more and more of the brotherhood passed to be "with Christ"; and especially as the hosts of the martyrs thronged the ascent of heaven. Then the heart of the Church followed those it loved, and the busy thought and glowing prayers that were called out by the new aspect that death had acquired through the transform?ing power of our Lord's death and resur?rection led them to try to make clear the mutual obligations and privileges growing out of the fact that all?both quick and dead?live unto God as the members of His dear Son.

There was never any doubt at all in the mind of the Church as to its own obligation, or rather its own blessed privilege, to pray for those who had passed through the grave and gate of death to a nearer and more clearly realized union with our Lord. As was the case with the knowledge of the min?istry of angels, so the duty and privilege of praying for the dead came to the Church by inheritance from the old covenant. The earliest Christian graves we know bear on them inscriptions which embody prayers for the loved ones whose mortal bodies had been laid within them. The earliest Liturgies which have come to us contain prayers for all the holy dead. The writings of the early Christians raise no doubt in the matter. For centuries there was no pause in the ceaseless stream of prayers that flowed from the Church on earth through the gates of heaven. Nor was there any doubt in the Church on earth that these ascending prayers met and mingled with the prayers of the ever-increas?ing multitudes of the pure ones who sing about the throne of God and of the Lamb and who follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. Nor was there any doubt of the right of those who were still here in the pil?grim state?in via?to cry to the saints who are with God for the aid of their inter?cessions?no more doubt than there was of their right to ask the aid of the prayers of the neighbor who knelt beside them at the early Mass. Then the Reformation came, and an awful, heart-chilling silence fell over large parts of the world that still professed the Name of Christ.


Such is the doctrine of the Communion of Saints as it has grown to expression through the age-long experience of the Cath?olic Church. It was out of these various elements of Christian thought and experience that this article of the Creed grew. We must remember that any article of the Creed or of Catholic theology has a history, and can only be understood in relation to that history. An article of the Creed cannot mean anything that we may happen to want it to mean to-day; we cannot empty it of a good part of its content and still go on flattering ourselves that we are holding the Faith. The Faith is a thing committed, and what has been actually committed we learn from a study of the past. The Communion of Saints, we recall, was inserted in the Creed and became an article of faith of universal obligation, early in the fifth century: its actual content, therefore, is the content of the Christian thought about the Communion of Saints at that time. By that time, as we shall see later on, the meaning of the Apostolic teaching about the Body of Christ and of the relations of the members of that Body one to another, had been worked out by a Christian experience of four centuries. Christians had long been praying for the dead, invoking the prayers of the dead, and experiencing the blessings that came to them through the intercessions of their brethren who were "with Christ." The only doubt that was ever raised as to the right and the utility of invoking the intercessions of the dead came now and again from a strayed heretic who was promptly repudiated by the Catholic mind and whose errors only served to put in a clearer light the mind of the Church in consequence of the utterances of Christian doctors called out in refutation of his error. When the article, "I believe in the Communion of Saints," went into the Creed, it connoted the fully de?veloped doctrine of the fifth century and it must connote that doctrine to-day.


It cannot be said that the theologians of the Anglican Church since the Reformation have shown much understanding, or pointed the way to much practical use, of the Communion of Saints. I shall later take up the subject of the action of the Anglican Church at the period of the Reformation; but what?ever was done at that time, it is certain that all cultus of the Saints disappeared not only from the Anglican formularies of worship but from Anglican belief and practice. We may perhaps take Bishop Pearson as a per?fectly representative theologian of the Stuart period?Dr. Sweete calls him "the Aquinas of the Anglican Communion." Pearson is not a victim of that high Anglican insularity which holds that none of the Saints are in heaven: "All those," he says, "which were spoken of as saints then in earth, if truly such and departed so, are now, and shall forever continue, saints in heaven." He goes on to state the doctrine of the Commun?ion of Saints in very clear and unmistakable terms: "The Saints of God living in the Church of Christ, are in communion with all the saints departed out of this life, and admitted to the presence of God. Indeed the Communion of Saints in the Church of Christ with those which are departed is demonstrated by their communion with the saints alive. For if I have communion with a saint of God, as such, while he liveth here, I must still have communion with him when he is departed hence; because the foundation of that communion cannot be removed by death. The mystical union between Christ and His Church, the spiritual conjunction of the members to the Head, is the true foundation of that communion which one member hath with another, all members liv?ing and increasing by the same influence which they receive from Him. But death, which is nothing else but the separation of the soul from the body, maketh no separa?tion in the mystical union, no breach of the spiritual conjunction; consequently there must continue the same communion, because there remaineth the same foundation. In?deed, the saint departed, before his death, had some communion with the hypocrite, as hearing the Word, professing the faith, receiving the Sacraments together; which being in things only external, as they were common to them both, and all such external action ceasing in the person dead, the hypocrite remaining loseth all communion with the saint departed, and the saint surviving ceases to have farther fellowship with the hypocrite dying. But being the true and unfeigned holiness of man, wrought by the powerful influence of the Spirit of God, not only remaineth, but also is improved after death; being the correspondence of the in?ternal holiness was the true communion be?tween their persons in their life, they cannot be said to be divided by death, which has no power over that sanctity by which they were first conjoined." But when it comes to the actual working out of any practical application of this doctrine there is an inex?plicable failure.

We may, perhaps, take Dr. Sweete as representative of the conservative Anglican?ism of to-day, which aims to preserve the Caroline tradition. He is however weaker than Pearson in that he seems to hold that the Saints have not yet been admitted to heaven. This and other Anglican failures to grasp the fullness of Catholic doctrine is due to an over-emphasis on the value of the utterances of the primitive Fathers. The primitive Church has no peculiar authority; whatever authority it has is not because it is primitive but because it is Church. In some ways the utterances of the writers of the second century which have come down to us, represent a tentative and immature attempt to think out the data of the Christian revela?tion. No one, for example, would care to assent to all that they say about our Lord or about the Holy Spirit. We do not think that their utterances are heretical because some of them fall quite short of the later dogmatic formularies of the Church; but we think that they represent an immature stage of thought as compared with the stage of the great theologians of the fourth century. Thus some of their utterances in regard to the state of the dead show, in the light of later Christian conclusions, that they had not thought out their premises. This weakness, which is quite easy to understand in the case of such writers as St. Justin Martyr for example, ought not to lead astray a stu?dent like Dr. Sweete. He says: "Were the spirits of believers received at death into heaven? Or did they await the resurrection in an intermediate state? This was the first question that demanded an answer; and the answer was given by the Church of the second century with no uncertain voice. An immediate reception into heaven seemed to carry with it the abandonment of belief in the resurrection of the body, and it gave to the disciple an advantage which the Master had not claimed; for did not Christ himself descend into Hades before He ascended into heaven? Catholic Christians, therefore, from the time of Justin and Irenaeus thought of the souls of the departed as in an expect?ant attitude which was neither heaven nor hell; but while all awaited the final Judg?ment, the godly awaited it in a better place, and the unrighteous in a worse."

But even were it true that the saints are not yet in heaven?a belief quite contrary to the theology of the Catholic Church, an?cient and modern, Eastern and Western?I fail to see that that fact has any vital bear?ing on the belief in the validity of the In?vocation of Saints. In whatever part of the universe we may conceive the Saints to be they are still living members of the Body of Christ?they still live unto God and unto their brethren. Their separation from us and our ignorance of their exact state, as Dr. Sweete himself sees, constitute no ob?stacle to communion; and his objection that our ignorance of the conditions under which they live is such an obstacle would seem to have no weight. My prayers for others, and my desire for their prayers for me, is not conditioned on knowledge of intimate detail of our lives: the prayer we are thinking of is essentially the expression of our love one to another. I may know nothing about my dead friend but that he exists and is, I be?lieve, with Christ. But I still love him and want to express my love. Prayer is the out?let for my love under present circumstances. I know that my friend still loves me and that prayer will be the available means of his spiritual approach to me also. It is not in either case necessary that details of life should be known?though I am not pre?pared to admit that they are not known in some degree.

In fact one feels that back of this con?servative Anglican teaching there is not a solidly thought out theology, but a refusal to think beyond a certain point because of a kind of timidity as to consequences. Dr. Sweete says: "The intercession of the saints at rest is a legitimate and necessary consequence of the fellowship in prayer that unites the whole Body of Christ. The in?vocation of departed saints is a practice based upon this truth, which is neither primi?tive nor universal, and which has been found to be dangerous. It is earnestly to be hoped that no false sentiment may lead members of the English Church who realize the need of closer communion with the holy dead to fall back upon so precarious a way of obtaining it." Again, it is quite illegitimate to iso?late the teaching of the Church for a couple of centuries, and those the centuries when it was just beginning the process of formulat?ing the truths committed to it?just begun to talk, as it were?and set them in oppo?sition to all the rest of Christian teaching. That is not the appeal of the Anglican com?munion as we shall see later.


If we now turn back to the history of the Church and inquire as to the develop?ment of the practice of the Invocation of the Saints?what was the ground for ask?ing for the prayers of the dead?we are met by the naked denial on the part of certain writers that praying to the dead is in any way involved in the Church's faith in the Communion of Saints, but rather that it is a practice taken over bodily from Paganism: that the cultus of Pagan divinities was sim?ply transferred to the Church. That in many places, as a matter of fact, the Saint is simply the local Pagan deity renamed. This of course was the contention of many Protestants at the time of the Reformation and since. From their point of view one of the great achievements of the Reformation was the cleansing of the Church from Pagan?ism. It is also the contention of many mod?ern Rationalist writers, especially the writ?ers upon comparative religion. It is an as?sertion which, unfortunately, is taken up by a certain number of Anglican students. Dr. Bigg will serve as an example. In his de?lightful Wayside Sketches in Ecclesiastical History he says: "These kindly Saints who take their people as they find them and do not ask too much, have stepped into the va?cant place of the good little household gods, the Lares and Penates, who love the poor, and allowed themselves to be beaten when things went wrong. We see also something of the methods of the first missionaries. They did not pitch their expectations too high. People brought cattle and sacrificed them before the church of Felix, just as they had done before the temple of Venus. There would be a difference in the ritual and the flesh was distributed among the poor pilgrims, but the Campanian peasant would see little change."

This is a little too facile to be convincing. There was no doubt, especially in the early Middle Ages, a certain amount of borrow?ing from Pagan sources and adaptation of Pagan rites. It may have happened now and again that a Christian Saint slipped quietly into the place of a Pagan god. There may have been blunders by which the two were confused. But such things will have been quite exceptional in the life of the Church and not in any time or place the rule of its action. I do not know that any one has had the temerity to assert outright that the practice of asking the prayers of the Departed has no root in Christianity but is purely a Pagan graft. But the impression produced by the citing of what has the ap?pearance of borrowing from Pagan worship is that there was and would have been no Invocation of Saints in the Church had it not been for Pagan influences.

There are several facts that seem to me decisively to counter that. The practice of asking for the prayers of the Dead grew up in the Church without any noticeable op?position. Any one at all familiar with early Christian history knows that the temper of the leaders of the Church was not one that was easily imposed upon by extra-Christian innovations. The most outstanding feature of the great Christian theologians of the first six centuries was their jealousy of all incroachments upon or false interpretations of the faith they believed themselves to have received from the Apostles. The reproach that is usually thrown at them is that they were a set of narrow-minded bigots, whose thought was constantly occupied with heresy hunting. And if there was any one fact on which they were particularly sensitive to error it was upon the uniqueness of God. Their first great battle was to prevent that particular inroad of Paganism which would have reduced our Lord to the rank of a demi?god. The whole history of the Conciliar period is the history of a battle for the full Deity of Christ in the background of which was the profound conviction that there is only one God. And yet we are asked to believe that during this same period these same Church leaders were good-naturedly tolerating, if not cooperating in, a move?ment which was rapidly bringing back into the worship of the Church that degradation of the notion of God which they were, in their character as champions of Orthodoxy, spending their lives to oppose.

We must guard ourselves carefully from permitting a chronological separation in these two movements?one towards strenuous Orthodoxy and the other toward a toleration of Paganism. It is not that the rigid orthodoxy of the Church relaxed after a time and that then Paganism began its insidious entry almost unnoticed, in the guise of the Invocation of the Dead. The fact is, as we shall demonstrate later, that precisely the same great Doctors of the Church who fought the tremendous battle for the integrity of the Christian notion of God the Blessed Trinity and of the Incarnation are those in whose writings we find our evidence for the legitimacy of the practice of invok?ing the prayers of the Departed.

And further: these great Christian leaders, especially in the earlier stage of the conflict, were not only engaged in safe-guarding the Christian notion of God, but they were at the same time engaged in a life and death struggle with Paganism. Is it to be believed that the men who stood the whole shock of the Pagan state, who offered their lives freely for the defense of Christian belief and the upholding of Christian morals, were at the same time taking over, or countenancing the taking over, of one great section of Pagan cultus? It will take much more evidence than that of local or occasional lapses into Paganism through ignorance or blunder?ing to convince us that the very Saints whom the Universal Church honors at its altars were guilty of such action.

And again: we are not ignorant of the history of Christian missions from the time of St. Paul on. Is it true that they are characterized by a facile eclecticism? Is it true that they attempted to win their victories by a process of easy compromise with Paganism? Is it not true, rather, that the books of all the Rationalists are filled with denunciations of Christian missionaries because of their alleged iconoclasm?their needless destruction of things good and beautiful?their narrow and ignorant dealing with the culture of the nations they were converting? Are not the annals of missions filled with accounts of the destruction of Pagan temples and deities, and the Canons of Christian Councils with the denunciation of Pagan practices and rites? And in the face of all this we are asked to believe that the worship of Paganism was taken over and engrafted upon the Church!

It is obvious that none of the converts to Christianity would come to their new re?ligion with an unoccupied mind: all would come out of an environment of religious ideas and prepossessions which would have to be wholly eradicated to make way for the new faith, or be modified and refashioned to fit it. When old and new were essen?tially alike there would be required nothing more than a redirection of activity. For ex?ample, Jew and Pagan alike came to Chris?tianity with traditions of fasting: they would simply need to be taught the round of Christian fasts. Both alike would be fa?miliar with the practice of praying for the dead, and would find their ancestral practice quite harmonious with their new religion. In the case of both Jew arid Pagan there were broad frontiers of contact with Chris?tianity which would accelerate the transition from old to new. There were also sharp contrasts and oppositions where wrenching and painful sacrifices would be required as the condition of obedience to Christ. Where would the practice of asking for the help of the dead fall?

There is no doubt that the Pagan world was quite accustomed to the practice of in?voking the dead. Ancestor worship was widespread. When the better Pagan minds thought this out and tried to find a rational basis for their religious cultus, they thought to the conclusion of a single divine essence which, however, was divisible and communi?cable. Of this essence were the gods of their pantheon and also the souls of heroes and virtuous men. Of this immortal and divine essence was the genius which sur?vived them after their death and which took its place in the circle of "the Immortals. This was the object of their cultus. Each family would hold that its own ancestors had their place among the Immortals and would make them the object of a special cult.42 " There was no recognized system of canon?ization; the family would create its own appropriate hero, and the mere fact of death, the passage from earth into the unseen, con?stituted a claim to reverence and worship. Countless inscriptions belonging to the pe?riod with which we are concerned bear wit?ness to the belief in the general power of the departed to assist the living. Parents invoke the souls of their children, children the souls of their parents, wives and hus?bands, brothers and sisters, turn each to the other, the living to the dead, for help and protection." Unless the convert from Paganism found something in Christianity which denied the possibility of reaching his dead by his prayers; unless he found that his new religion raised an impassable barrier be?tween him and the souls of the departed; he would quite simply go on doing much as he had done. But in fact, he would find the situation even cleared for him; that in the case, at least, of those of his loved ones who died in the Lord, he was not to be sorry as men without hope because he was as?sured that they were safe in Christ. He would find that prayers for those who died in the Lord were uninterrupted by the fact of death. Would he find that a prohibition had been formulated against his asking for the prayers of those for whom he prayed?against his understanding of the Communion of Saints as looking both ways?

I do not know of any ground for thinking that he would. No such prohibition any?where appears, and consequently the prac?tice of invocation would have gone on, so far as the Pagan convert was concerned. The practice would fit in quite naturally with his new faith, there would be no break with the past in this respect. There would no doubt at the early period we are contemplat?ing be no formal doctrine of Invocation.

But formal doctrines follow, not precede, practice. The history of dogmatic development is the history of seeking formal ground for the justification of that which already exists. The Church did not wait for the action of the Council of Nicaea before it began to worship our Lord. There would have been no Council of Nicaea if the Church had not already been worshiping our Lord as God. This worship of the Church began from the day of its origin, and it settled the questions which subtle minds raised about that worship as they arose.

These words of Dr. Goudge put the matter plainly. "There is always a great difference between the mind of the theologian and that of the great body of the faithful, and the advantage is not necessarily all on one side. Is it for a moment likely that the thousands of simple minded converts from heathenism at once abandoned the attitude which they had adopted toward their dead? The converts in Japan to-day, I understand, are not at all disposed to do so.... Why should the converts of the early Church have done so? So far from Christianity destroy?ing the basis on which their practice had rested, it would rather have strengthened it. It would have made their sense of union with the departed deeper than it had been before; it would have afforded a stronger rather than a weaker support to belief in the activity of the dead in the unseen world. If they had hoped for help from the dead before, we may be sure that they continued to hope for it; if they had paid honors to the heroes of the heathen world, we may be sure that they would pay them to the heroes of the Faith."

It need not be denied that the process indicated would have its dangers. But the early Christian community had not that fear of the dangers of religion which has become so marked a characteristic of the churches of the Anglican rite. As the Pagan stream flowed into the Church it brought with it certain crudities of thought and action which tended to lower the ideals of the Christian standards. There has been prevalent at every age of the Church's progress a cer?tain amount of superstition. What the Church is trying to do is to take the crude material and refashion it and convert it to its own use. This takes time. The Church took in the heathen on the basis of a posi?tive instruction for Baptism which differed in amount and thoroughness from time to time and from place to place. If some heathen thoughts and practices lingered in the life of the newly converted that is not strange; nor is it unparalleled in our own contemporary experience. The Church to?day takes in great numbers of Protestants and leaves them very much untouched as to their religious ideas. There are many Pro?testant parishes in the Church which are using a Prayer Book which they do not at all understand and upon which they are impos?ing an interpretation drawn from their an?cestral Protestantism. It is no doubt true that the popular mind has in times and places misunderstood the use of invocation and has prayed to the Saints as though they had original power. But are we to revise our religion on the basis of leaving out every?thing that has been or can be abused? Is it not true that many people in the Church misconceive the doctrine of the Blessed Trin?ity? Do they not in fact pray to the three Sacred Persons as though they were three separate gods? In particular do they not in the light of their understanding or mis?understanding of our Lord's mediatorial office plead with Him to stand between them and an angry God, very much as the Italian peasant is alleged to plead with the Blessed Virgin for protection? Are we to give up the doctrine of the Trinity, or are we to try to enlighten people as to the meaning of that dogma of our religion? It would seem that we are to blame, not the peasant, but the Roman authorities which allow the use of forms that are misleading. But I do not see why, either because of the error of the Ro?man authorities or of the peasant, I should deny the practice of Invocation.


We shall not expect to find invocations of the dead in the Old Testament because the Communion of Saints in the sense of the Creed was impossible until the Incarnation and work of our Lord had opened heaven to all believers. Neither had the Old Testament worked out a consistent eschatology. The revelation of the Old Testament and the work of its heroes and prophets was primarily concerned with the kingdom of God on earth, which was the present sphere of God's manifestation and the treasury of the promises which illumined the future. In this national vocation of Israel the world be?yond the grave played no part. And yet it cannot be that human beings anywhere are without interest in that world. What?ever may be man's primary interest and what?ever his beliefs, he cannot stand beside the graves of those whom he has loved without questionings as to the future arising in his mind. And although the revealed religion of Israel concerned itself with the fortunes of the kingdom in the world and of the Is?raelites' relation to that; and held them firm in their devotion to it by faith in the prom?ises of the coming of God with power to rescue Israel from the hands of its enemies; and closed its vision of the future, now with the song of triumph floating over the field of Israel's victory, and now with the terrifying catastrophe of the Day of the Lord, which is only darkness and not light; yet here and there in the record of Israel's thought we catch glimpses of its belief in a life following death, and also some hints of what the current conceptions of that life were. It was from this background of be?liefs in the unseen world beyond that the Jewish convert would emerge to take up the revelation of the Gospel and begin the process of the readjustment of old and new.

The outstanding feature of the Old Testament, its insistence that all religion is revelation, that the very minutiae of its laws were enacted by God, carries with it a keen sense of the interest of heaven in earth. The Israelites' conception of the heavenly world, so far as it went, was dear enough. It was not the world of philosophy, vacant save for the presence of a god vaguely conceived; it was a populous world, filled with angelic presences, and their constant action on behalf of men. The angels were the ordinary executants of the will of God, of whose ministries the Fathers had had constant experience. Hardly a striking event in Israel's history was unattended by angelic appearances and ministries. It is needless to labor this point. But was there any human interest in the beyond? This constant tide of souls which poured out from human life?were they conscious and interested? The Fathers, the national heroes, the great prophets, the psalmists, had they passed into silence and away from all thought and care for those for whom in their life time they had so passionately labored? Was it to be conceived that the interests of the Covenant which were so dear to the heart of God, and which had called out on the part of His servants such unlimited self-sacrifice that they had willingly poured out their lives unto death, had now ceased to in?terest them at all? God's interest in Israel went on; and was it to be conceived that the interest of an Abraham, a Moses, an Isaiah had ceased? Or was it to be conceived that they had passed out of relation to God's present work and filled their lives with new interests? What we should look for in the Old Testament is some indication of the continual interest of the dead in what had been the object of their devotion before death, and whether it was conceived that there was or could be any activity appropriate to this interest.

In the earliest conceptions of Israel as to the effect of death we find that death was not regarded as making any real breach in the family. The family was a unit and the fact that certain members of it had died does not seem to have been understood as wholly removing them from the family. The common synonym for death, that a man was gathered to his people or his fathers, meant that he had gone to join that part of his family which was assembled elsewhere. This place of meeting came to he known as Sheol, the common dwelling-place of the dead. Those in Sheol were not conceived as without influence on those members of the family who were still on earth, and they themselves were influenced by the fortunes of their living descendants.

This background of the continued inter?est of the dead and of their active interest as intercessors for their brethren, is not infre?quently indicated in the Old Testament. When God is called upon to "remember" His servants as the basis of an appeal of some sort made to Him, the clear implica?tion is of a world in which these same servants were active and the friends of God; the force of this inference is increased when we recall our Lord's exposition of the title of God, as the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, as implying their continued existence because God is not a God of the dead but of the living. It is in the light of this general principle that we must read Moses' passionate appeal to God in his in?tercession for Israel after the sin of the Golden Calf. "Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swearest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it forever." Through the prophet Jeremiah God protests that be' cause of the sins of Israel He would not spare them even at the intercession of His greatest saints. " Then said the Lord unto me, though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth." The same thought is in God's protest through Ezekiel. "Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, yet they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, said the Lord GOD." Again, Isaiah's appeal to God is enforced by what is to all intents an appeal to the intercession of Israel ances?tors who are almost reproached for their forgetfulness of their children. "Doubt?less thou art our father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not." The same thought of the in?terest of the dead is found in the Psalms. "Lord, remember David, in all his afflictions . . . for thy servant David's sake turn not away the face of thine anointed." "And of king Abijah it is said that "Nevertheless for David's sake did the Lord his God give him a lamp in Jerusalem, to set up his son after him, and to establish Jerusalem." A fuller expression of this belief in the continued interest of the holy men of Israel in the fortunes of their descendants is found in the Second Book of Maccabees where Judas sees in vision Jeremiah the Prophet praying for Israel. "And this was his vision: that Onias who had been high priest, a virtuous and a good man, reverent in bearing, gentle in manner, well spoken also and exercised from a child in all points of virtue, holding up his hands prayed for the whole body of the Jews. This done, in like manner there appeared a man with gray hairs, and exceeding glorious, who was of a wonderful and excellent majesty. Then Onias answered, saying, this is a lover of the brethren, who prayeth much for the people, and for the holy city, Jeremiah the prophet of God." Finally, this state of the dead, from which we shall certainly be able to infer the fact of their interest in and intercession for their brethren is marvelously de?picted in a well known passage in the book of Wisdom. " But the souls of the righteous are in the hands of God, and there shall no torment touch them. In the sight of the unwise they seem to die: and their departure is taken for misery; and their going from us to be utter destruction: but they are in peace. For though they be punished in the sight of men, yet is their hope full of immortality. And having been a little chastised, they shall be greatly rewarded: for God proved them, and found them worthy of Himself. As the gold in the furnace hath He tried them, and received them as a burnt offering. And in the time of their visitation they shall shine, and shall run to and fro like sparks among the stubble. They shall judge the nations, and have dominion over the peoples, and the Lord shall reign over them for ever and ever."

With these prepossessions the Jew would come to the Gospel. And what would he find there? Would he be told that his thought was erroneous, and that the dead of his nation had ceased to take or to ex?press any interest in it; that those of his family whom he had buried were dead to him and to the world, and that the best that he could do would be to forget them? Not at all. He would rather find a clearing up of his vague notion of immortality, and an ex?plication of the real ground henceforth of the relation of the living and the dead on the basis of their union in Christ. Whatever practices he may have been accustomed to as a mode of expressing his relation to the dead were, for the time being, so far as we can see, left untouched, awaiting the action of the mature thought of the Church upon them. This background then of a be?lief in the existence of the blessed dead "with God"; a belief that the living should pray for the dead; a belief in the continued interest of the dead in the living and of their intercession for them; a belief that in our prayers to God we may appeal to Him on the basis of the intercessions of the dead?all this constitutes the not inconsiderable data from which the early Jewish convert to Christianity set out to shape his belief in the Communion of Saints with the aid of the added data furnished by the new revelation in Christ.

What the convert would learn of the dead from his new religion is that they were "liv?ing unto God," and that they are "in Christ," and that therefore he was not to sorrow for them "as others who have no hope," and that, far from having passed into a state in which they had no relation to their friends on earth they are still of the same Body. This would be quite a suffi?cient basis for continuing their practice of asking for the prayers of their beloved dead. That they did go on doing so is admitted. The evidence that they did so is conclusive. Such prayers seem to Dr. Sweete only to express "the natural and innocent desire of simple people to be re?membered in the prayers of their nearest and dearest, whom they believed to be with Christ." If I understand Dr. Sweete he means us to infer that while such desires are innocent and natural they have no reality corresponding to them. But simple Chris?tians at least found enough comfort in them to lead them to continue so praying until the present day.


It is necessary to be clear about the prim?itive character of these simple invocations of the dead as there is a tendency to confuse them with the "Invocation of Saints," tech?nically so called, and therefore to regard all prayers to the dead as lacking in an entirely primitive character. "The cult of the Saints, we recall," says Tixeront, "was at the beginning but the cult of the Martyrs, comprehending that of the Apostles. Those alone, among the faithful of Christ, received the homage of the community, who had imi?tated their divine Master to the death and had rendered witness to Him by the outpour?ing of their blood." This is no doubt quite true; but it concerns the formal cult of the Martyrs at the altars of the Church and is not to be confused with the invocation of the dead by the faithful. The cult of the Martyrs came, and could come, only when persecution had given Martyrs to the Church and the Church had realized the value of the gift. The asking of the prayers of the Christian dead began as soon as there were any Christian dead. The evidence of this is in the inscriptions on their graves. Here are a few of them.







These to me are of very great importance, not only showing that for the Christian death wrought no separation from the dead in Christ, a conviction that we need always if we are not to lose hold on the meaning of the Communion of Saints as embracing all who are in Christ and having thus con?stantly realized relations to one another; and we need it if we are to have a proper appreciation of the meaning of the cult of the Martyrs which was so outstanding a fea?ture of the devotional life of the Church during the centuries of persecution and was then merged in the general cult of the Saints. For if from the midst of a community which had no recognized intercourse with the dead, a spiritual hero was suddenly and exceptionally exalted and services were cele?brated in his honor and multitudes begged for his prayers, we might conceivably see in this the influence of Paganism, the apotheosis of a hero, the recognition of a demigod. But if all this were exceptional only in de?gree, if it were but a larger instance of a common and every day happening, then it will retain its entirely Christian character. The simple Christian, as we have just seen, asked the continued prayers of father or mother, child or friend, when they passed to be in a nearer sense with Christ, he felt that so his family was kept complete, that death had not wrecked it. The same thought is plain in the case of the martyr, only now the family is not the group of a few individuals held together by the sense of a physical blood bond: the family of the martyr is the Church, and the martyr is a distinguished son or daughter whom the family delights to honor, and whose inter?cession it feels will be especially powerful because of the way in which he has identi?fied himself with the life and work of his Master?his passion is so complete a re?flection of his Master's passion that he seems almost to identify himself with Him. So at the beginning, M. Tixeront tells us, "The cult of the Martyrs was more or less con?founded with that of the Saviour. The Martyr par excellence was Christ Himself. His imitators and witnesses but completed in His passion. Master and disciple therefore were united in the commemoration that was made of their death." The service of the Eucharistic sacrifice was felt to be, the high?est mode of commemoration for them. The sacrifice was offered upon the tomb?over the body?of the Martyr. We have, no doubt, an allusion to this practice so early as the Revelation of St. John. "I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the Word of God, and for the testi?mony which they held: and they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth."

This attitude of the Church toward the Martyrs, which subsequently was extended to include all those who gained recognition as Saints in the technical sense, seems suf?ficient to dispose of the theory held by some Anglican theologians that there are as yet no Saints in heaven. That in itself, if it were true, would not negative our right to ask the prayers of departed friends. Inasmuch as we can pray on earth, 1 suppose that those who have come nearer to our Lord's realized presence in the Intermediate State can pray too. Our asking for the prayers of the dead does not depend upon where we conceive them to be, but upon the fact that they are in Christ. But the belief that no human beings are or will be admit?ted to heaven?to the immediate presence of God?until after the general resurrec?tion is contradicted by the whole teaching of the book of Revelation, by the belief of the Church in regard to the Martyrs, and of its later attitude to all whom it calls Saints. Such belief in the exclusion of the Saints from heaven seems to rest, in the first place, on passages from the earlier Fathers which were only possible before the Church had thought its way to a consistent doctrine on this point; and in the second place, to a theory that the presence of the Saints in heaven now would make the general judg?ment at the end of the world meaningless. "But to lay the great stress, which so many of our Communion lay, upon the difference between the present condition of even the greatest Saints and the glory of the future kingdom is surely as little in accordance with the Scripture as it is with the general mind of the Church." That the Saints are now in heaven does not imply that there can be no increase in their beatitude after the Resur?rection. It no more counters the teaching of the general Judgment than belief in a particular Judgment at death does.


We have reached the point now where we can take up the Patristic testimony as the Invocation of Saints as distinguished from the general right of anybody to ask for the intercessions of the holy dead on his behalf. The practice of the Invocation of Saints from the age of the Martyrs on had the widest possible currency and affected the de?votional life of the Church in manifold ways. Then, for us Anglicans, came the Reforma?tion, and a barrier was raised between us and the world beyond. Prayers for the Dead and Invocation of the Saints alike passed from the devotional formularies of the Church. The Communion of Saints shriveled up and became to all intents and purposes, and still remains for the average Anglican, a dead letter. Why and how did this happen? Ought it to have happened? I am not concerned here with prayers for the Dead; they, happily, have been restored in wide practice if not as yet in the authorized services of the Churches of the Anglican communion. As to the Invocation of Saints, I am concerned to show that on its own principles the Anglican Church had no right to reject them, and that the current supposition that it has, in fact, formally rejected them is quite mistaken.

The appeal of the Anglican Church was to antiquity. It did not base its Reformation position upon the Bible interpreted by private judgment, as did the Protestant churches; but it based its claim upon an ap?peal to the Holy Scriptures as interpreted by the Church of the Fathers. The claim of the Churches of the Anglican Rite to be of the Holy Catholic Church stands or falls by that appeal. If that appeal fails us I do not see that we have any justification for our separate position?we should either unite with the Protestants or submit to Rome. But clearly the Anglican Church at the Reformation had no doubt of the soundness of its position or of the results of its appeal. At the risk of needless repetition let us be perfectly clear as to what this appeal is. It is not an appeal to Scripture as against the Church, or as against the current teach?ing of the Church at that time. It is not an appeal to the Primitive Church; I have already pointed out the fallacy of such an appeal. It is an appeal to the Church in the period of its unity before East and West had been unhappily divided, to the period of the Church when its teaching had all the weight of a united Christendom. This, too, is the period when the Church, having emerged from the era of persecution, was free to devote its energies to the explicit statement of the content of its Faith. It had had time to think its way into, and to appreciate in detail, the meaning and ap?plication of the revelation committed to it. Moreover, it was compelled to make its un?derstanding of revelation clear, because after the external assaults upon the kingdom of God had failed through its endurance of hardness in the time of persecution, the forces of evil concentrated their energies upon the corruption of the Faith that they had not been able to overcome by force. The appeal of the Anglican Church is an ap?peal to this united Church of the Conciliar era, the era of the full statement of the Faith against heretical attacks, the era when the needs of the Church for defenders called to her aid that wonderful group of men, un?paralleled in the later history of the Church, whom the Anglican documents know as the old Catholic Fathers and ancient Bishops.

This then is the appeal. The Ten Arti?cles of 1536 declare that the Christian faith is "comprehended in the whole body and Canon of the Bible, and also in the three Creeds"; and that these are to be interpreted according to the mind of "holy and approved Doctors of the Church"; and that those opinions are to be utterly refused and rejected "which were of long time past condemned in the four holy Councils." These state?ments are repeated in the Bishops' Book of 1537 and in the King's Book of 1543.

An act of Parliament of 1558 declares that "Nothing is to be adjudged heresy but that which heretofore has been adjudged by the authority of the canonical Scriptures or the first four General Councils, or some other General Council."

The Canons of 1571 direct Preachers to see to it, "that they never teach anything in a sermon that they intend to be religiously held and believed by the people, save what is agreeable to the doctrine of the Old and New Testaments, and what the Catholic Fathers and ancient Bishops have collected from the same doctrine."

That the Church of England had no in?tention of creating a schism or departing from the unity of the Church, but intended in all things to adhere to the Apostolic po?sition of the Early Church appears from Canon XXX of the Canons of 1603 which reads: "Nay, so far was it from the pur?pose of the Church of England to forsake and reject the churches of Italy, France, Spain, Germany, or any such like churches, in all things which they held and practiced, that ... it doth with reverence retain those ceremonies, which do neither endamage the Church of God, nor offend the minds of sober men; and only departed from them in those particular points wherein they were fal?len both from themselves and their ancient integrity, and from the Apostolic churches which were their first founders."

This being the nature of the appeal of the Anglican Church we have to apply the test to the practice of asking for the aid of the prayers of the Dead, and, to the prac?tice of invoking certain of the Dead who are recognized as Saints in the technical sense.


But before I begin the citation of passages from the Fathers, I again want to make clear what it is I am attempting. I am not at?tempting a collection of all the passages from the documents of the Early Church which have any bearing upon our subject. There are plenty of such collections in existence, and any of the longer books referred to in the book list prefixed to this volume will give an adequate catena of passages. The inscriptions upon Christian graves, the early Liturgies, the hymns and prayers of the undivided Church, the writings of its Fathers and Doctors, offer a field from which a vast amount of material bearing upon the subject of Invocation may be gathered. My object requires no such exhaustive presentation of material. I am solely concerned with the demonstration that the Catholic Fathers of the period to which the Church of England appeals for the justification of its position held to the practice of the Invoca?tion of the Dead. If their testimony is good as to other points in the Christian religion I see no reason for rejecting it in this. If they can be quoted as authoritative in the matter of the Deity of our Blessed Lord against the Arians, and in the matter of the constitution of the Church against modern Papalists, and in the matter of the Sacra?ments against Protestants, I do not see why their testimony as to the legitimacy of the Invocation of Saints should be rejected. Here is the testimony.


It may be interesting before we proceed with the extracts to look at the summary of 3d and 4th century evidence given us by Kirsch:

"In the third century we find all the essen?tial parts of the Veneration for Martyrs who witnessed to the Faith by their death. The Fathers of the Church and the faithful Laity regarded them as the perfect followers of the Lord and elect friends of God, who at?tained at once to a special degree of glory in heaven. They were credited after death with the power of protecting by their inter?cessions with God Christians both living and departed, and of obtaining by their recom?mendation, while still undergoing sufferings, the reconciliation of notorious sinners, their merits before God being reckoned as com?pensation for the sinners' penance. Their protection was sought and they were invoked to intercede with God on behalf of both the Faithful on earth and the Faithful departed. Their memory was held in honor, their tombs and whatever recalled their glorious death were objects of veneration."

It was later that the notion of sainthood was expanded to something more like our modern conception of it. After the Martyrs the great Ascetics became the object of invo?cation. Again hear Kirsch:

"Along with the Martyrs, other members of the kingdom of God received special honor as examples of life for the Faithful, and as protectors and intercessors with God. This development was closely connected with the great outburst of asceticism in the 4th century. It was those great teachers of asceticism, who by a life of the greatest self-renunciation had gloriously overcome all attacks of the evil one, who, along with some of the most celebrated Bishops, now began to be specially venerated with the Mar?tyrs in a marked manner. The numerous miracles related in their biographies had much to do with exalting these Fathers of asceticism in the eyes of the people, and ob?taining for them special honor."

The feeling of the unique glory of martyr?dom is found already in the New Testament. "If we suffer with him we shall also reign with him" "He that overcometh, to him will I grant to sit down in my throne."

This last passage is the source of the title sometimes given to Martyrs, Sunthronoi, those who share the throne of our Lord. But this feeling was extended, as we have just seen, to embrace others who were reck?oned Saints as the era of martyrdom passed.

The following are the passages I have chosen out of a large number available.

Eusebius of Caesaraea (264-340)

We are instructed to say these things in prayers, instead of sacrifice and whole burnt offerings putting forward the blood of the holy Martyrs and sending up such supplica?tions as these: " We, indeed, have not been held worthy to strive unto death, nor to empty out our blood for God: but since we are the sons of those who suffered these things, glory in our fathers' virtue, we be?seech Thee to be compassionated for their sakes."

St. Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386)

Then we commemorate also those who have fallen asleep before us, first Patriarchs,

Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, that at their prayers and intercession God would receive our petitions. (Catech. Myst V. 9 P. N. F. 2d Series, Vol. VII, p. 154-)

St. Gregory Nazianzus (325-390)

Yet mayest Thou gaze upon us from above, Thou divine and sacred person; either stay by Thy entreaties our thorn in the flesh, given to us by God for our discipline, or prevail upon us to bear it boldly, and guide all our life toward that which is most for our profit. And if we be translated, do Thou receive us there also in thine own Tab?ernacle, that, as we dwell together, and gaze together more clearly and more perfectly upon the Holy and Blessed Trinity, of which we have now in some degree received the image, our longing may at last be satisfied, by gaining this recompense for all the battles we have fought and the assaults we have en?dured. (Prayer to St. Basil, Orat. 43.82 P. N. F. 2d Series Vol. VII, p. 422.)

St. Gregory Nyssa (335-395)

May we, too, enter Paradise, having been strengthened through their (the Forty Mar?tyrs) intercession unto some good confes?sion of our Lord Jesus Christ. (In XL Mar.)

St. Ambrose (340-397)

The Martyrs must be entreated, whose patronage we seem to claim for ourselves by the pledge as it were of their bodily re?mains. They can entreat for our sins, who, if they had any sins, washed them in their own blood; for they are the Martyrs of God, our leaders, the beholders of our life and of our actions. Let us not be ashamed to take them as our intercessors for our weakness, for they themselves knew the weaknesses of the body, even when they overcame. (De Viduis IX. P. N. F. 2d Series Vol. X, p. 406.)

For what comfort have I left, but that I hope to come quickly to Thee, my Brother, and that Thy departure will not cause a long severance between us, and that it may be granted me, through Thy intercessions, that Thou mayest quickly call me who long for Thee. (Prayer to his Brother. De Fide Resur. Cam. P. N. F. 2cl Series Vol. X, p. 196.)

St. Jerome (340-420)

And now, Paula, farewell, and aid with your prayers the old age of your votary. Your faith and your works unite you to Christ; thus standing in His presence you will the more readily gain what you ask, (Ep. 108 P. N. F. 2d Series Vol. VI, p. 212.)

Vigilantius said, "But once we die, the prayer of no person for another can be heard." St. Jerome replied, "If Apostles and Martyrs while still in the body can pray for others when they ought to be still anxious for themselves, how much more must they do so when they have won their crowns." (Contra Vigil. 6 P. N. F. 2d Series Vol. VI, p. 419.)

In bringing my book to an end I think I ought not to omit to mention the devotion of the holy woman Constantia, who, when a message was brought her that Hilarian's body was in Palestine, immediately died, proving even by death the sincerity of her love for the servant of God. For she was accustomed to spend whole nights in vigil at his tomb and to converse with him as if he were present in order to stimulate her pray?ers. (Vita Hilar. P. N. F. 2d Series Vol. vi, P. 315.)

St. Chrysostom (347-407)

They have much boldness of speech, not when living only, but also having died, yea, much more, having died. For they now bear the stigmata, the marks of Christ; and, displaying those stigmata, they are able to persuade the King all things. (Hom. De SS. Bernice et Prosdoce.)

May it be by the prayers of this holy Martyr (St. Pelagia), and by those of the rest who wrestled with her, that you may retain accurate remembrance, etc.

St. Augustine (354-430)

It is true that Christians pay religious honor to the memory of the Martyrs, both to excite us to imitate them, and to obtain a share in their merits, and the assistance of their prayers. (Contra Faustum, P. N. F. 1st Series, Vol. IV, p. 262.)

For on these very grounds we do not com?memorate them at the Table in the same way as we do others who now rest in peace, as that we should also pray for them, but rather that they should do so for us, that we may cleave to their foot-steps. (On St. John, P. N. F. 1st Series, Vol. VII, p. 350.)

The names attached to these quotations are, after the Apostles, second to none in dignity and authority in the history of the Church. They are those of the men who led in the battle waged for the preservation of the Catholic Faith from the attacks of heretics. It is to their writings that the Church in all subsequent times has appealed with confidence for the confirmation of its assertion that the faith it was teaching was the same faith that had been revealed in the beginning. These are they whom the whole Church, East and West, has revered as Saints and Doctors, and whose names are enrolled in all calendars for yearly commem?oration. In particular, these are they to whom the Anglican Church at the Reforma?tion made appeal. Can we for a moment consent to treat seriously the assertion that they had so far departed from the Faith committed to them as to bring back to the Church the heathenism it had abandoned, and had corrupted the pure religion of Christ by the introduction of shameless idolatry? Far be it from us to think so.


This state of things continued until the Reformation. All through the Middle Ages there was the constant exercise of the Com?munion of Saints through the tides of mu?tual intercession which flowed from all parts of the Church to its common center and back again. Prayers and Masses for the Dead were a notable expression of the confidence of the Faithful that those who had passed beyond their sight had not passed out of union with Christ and therefore had not passed beyond the reach of prayers. The Invocation of Saints expressed the unshaken confidence of the Faithful in the continued love and interest in the Body of Christ and each member of it felt by those who had passed to a clearer vision of God. There were no doubt gross abuses. That was inevitable under the circumstances of the low cultural level of the time. There wore errors and exaggeration of teaching on the part of some of the clergy and wandering preachers; this also was inevitable as both clergy and preaching friars were drawn from the mass of the people and could hardly have attained any very advanced instruction. But it cannot be said that the theology of the Church went much astray in these matters. The great mediaeval theologians still remain our theological masters; but the mass of the clergy will never in any age be very far in advance of the mass of the people from which they are drawn. Their mentality will be that of the people, and they will share the prejudices and intellectual limitations and general social outlook of their congregations, rather than the point of view of their theo?logical masters. The important thing was not that there were abuses of practice both in the matter of prayers for the Dead and the Invocation of Saints; but how, as the fact of their existence became clear through the rise in the intellectual level of the edu?cated class, they were going to be dealt with. Reform was quite possible, but it would require a good deal of patience to carry out reforms in matter that touched the every?day devotional life of the people so closely.

And patience was one of the virtues that was lacking. The Renaissance was virtu?ally a Pagan reaction against the authority of the Church. It produced a very super?ficial culture based on a wholly mistaken notion of antiquity, and raised up a class of scholars who substituted an ideal of cul?ture for the Church's ideal of holiness. Men were to be saved, if indeed it were at all necessary to be saved, by knowledge and not by faith. There were many profound and humble scholars born of the Renaissance; but the immediate effect of the move?ment as a whole was the effect of all one-sided cultural development, to produce a set of men?and those especially who did the writing and popularizing?who were char?acterized by a contempt of the immediate past and by extreme arrogance in dealing with all such questions as the reform of Church discipline and practice. When the tide of the Renaissance had passed beyond the borders of Italy, where familiarity had already bred contempt with a good deal in the administration of the Church and where zeal for reform was never great, into Ger?many and France and England, a portion of its energy was speedily converted from a purely secular culture scorning things spiritual and devoted itself to the purification of the Church. The Reformation was the child of the age-long restlessness of the great body of the Church under the abuses of the Papal over-lordship?a restlessness which had long been shaking the Church in the attempts of the Reforming Councils to bring about a better state of things?and the new cultural movement which was judging all things by the standards of classical Paganism as it understood, or rather misunderstood, it, and contemptuously rejecting much of medieval religion as being barbarism and super?stition.

The forces of the Renaissance touched England at the end of the Fourteenth and opening of the Fifteenth centuries but lightly, with much of its Paganism left be?hind. Educational reform came to the front and a small but remarkable group of men were interesting themselves in the improve?ment of educational discipline and practice. But this promising movement was soon swamped by the results of the quarrel be?tween Henry VIII and the Papacy; and for a time the whole intellectual and spiritual energies of the nation were swept into the turmoil that arose. The outcome was the constitutional reform of the Church of Eng?land and its freedom from the yoke that the Papacy bad been trying with more or less success throughout the Middle Ages to impose upon it. It was some time before the Protestant influence from the Continent gained sufficient headway in England to bring about a formidable movement for or?ganic and doctrinal change. But from the meeting of the Reform Parliament in 1529 there was a constant restlessness which was evidenced by the putting forth of a series of doctrinal formularies in the vain hope of quieting agitation and securing unity and peace. We are concerned with these formu?laries only in so far as they bear upon the subject of Prayer to the Dead.


On the 12th of July, 1536, there was signed by the members of the Convocation of the clergy of England the first authorized formulary of faith of the reformed Church of England. It was entitled "Articles to Established Christian Quietness," and came to be known as the Ten Articles. Accord?ing to Canon Dixon the Articles were in?tended to vindicate the Catholic position of the Church of England, and as a warning to those who wished to push the reforma?tion beyond Catholic limits. The section en?titled, "Of Praying to the Saints" is as follows;

"As touching praying to the Saints, we will that all Bishops and Preachers shall instruct and teach our people committed by us unto their spiritual charge, that albeit grace, remission of sin, and salvation, cannot be obtained but of God only by the mediation of our Saviour Christ which is the only suf?ficient Mediator for our sins; yet it is very laudable to pray to Saints in heaven ever?lastingly living, whose charity is ever per?manent, to be intercessors, and to pray for us and with us unto the Father, that for His dear Son Jesus Christ's sake, we may have grace of Him and remission of our sins, with an earnest purpose (not wanting ghostly strength), to observe and keep His holy commandments, and never to decline from the same again unto our life's end: and in this manner we may pray to our Blessed Lady, to Saint John Baptist, and to all and every of the Apostles or any other Saint particularly, as our devotion doth serve us; so that it be done without any vain super?stition, as to think that any Saint is more merciful, or will hear us sooner than Christ, or that any Saint doth serve for one thing more than another, or is patron of the same."

This is a perfectly clear and definite setting forth of the traditional theology of the Church such as it will be found in the pages of any of the accredited theologians of the Middle Ages. But the Confession of Faith of which this was a part did not have the quieting effect desired and a new commission was appointed and sat in the following year, 1537, for the purpose of drawing up a new Confession of Faith. It consisted of the Bishops of both Provinces and certain other divines called together by the King's Writ. The result of their deliberations, which is entitled "The Institution of a Christian Man," and was popularly known as The Bishops' Book, was published with the signatures of the two Archbishops, of all the diocesan Bishops, and of twenty-five Doctors, who declared that they wrote in the name of "All other Bishops, Prelates, and Archdeacons of the Realm." The book never had the authority of Convocation. In the instruction on the Third Command?ment we read:

"We think it convenient, that all Bishops and Preachers shall instruct and teach the people committed unto their spiritual charge, that (forasmuch as the gifts of health of body, health of soul, forgiveness of sins, the gift of grace, for life everlasting, and such other, be the gifts of God, and cannot be given but by God) whosoever maketh in?vocation to Saints for these gifts, praying to them for any of the said gifts, of such like, (which cannot be given but by God only) yieldeth the glory of God to His crea?ture, contrary to this Commandment. For God saith by His prophet, I will not yield my glory to any other. Therefore they that so pray to Saints for these gifts, as though they could give them, or be given of them, transgress this Commandment, yielding to the creature the honor of God. Nevertheless, to pray to the Saints to be intercessors with us and for us to our Lord for our suits which we make unto Him, and for such things as we can obtain of none but Him, so that we make no invocation of them, is lawful, and allowed by the Catholic Church."

In this Article, while the legitimacy of asking for I he prayers of the Saints is up?held, we seem to feel back of its wording a good deal of pressure being brought to bear upon its authors and an evident shading down in language to reach a compromise with objectors. The explanation in detail of what had been already sufficiently explained shows a certain uneasiness; and they make a curious distinction between invocation and intercession which seems to have become permanent in the English theology of the following century and to which we shall have to recur later. What needs to be noted now is that, under strong pressure, they still hold fast to Catholic doctrine.

Six years later, however, the question was reopened by the report of a Commission which had been appointed three years earlier and consisted of the Archbishops of Canter?bury and York, six Bishops, and twelve Doc?tors. This document of 1543 which is the third Confession of Faith put forth in the reign of Henry VIII is entitled, The Necessary Doctrine and Erudition of a Christian Man, and was known as the King's Book. It was introduced into Convocation and after an examination lasting eight days was passed. It has therefore the authority of the English Church. In the comment of the Third Commandment we read:

"Therefore they that so pray to the Saints for these gifts (of health, grace, etc.) as though they could give them, or be givers of them, transgress this Commandment; yielding to a creature the honor of God. Nevertheless, to pray unto the Saints to be intercessors with us and for us to our Lord in our suits which we make unto Him, and for such things as we can obtain of none but Him, so that we esteem not or worship not them as givers of those gifts, but as intercessors for the same, is lawful, and al?lowed by the Catholic Church: and if we honor them in other ways than as friends of God, dwelling with Him, and established now in His glory everlasting, and as exam?ples which were requisite for us to follow in holy life and conversation; or if we yield unto the Saints the adoration and honor which is due to God alone, we do (no doubt) break His Commandments."

This reconsideration of the position of the Church of England continues firmly to hold to Catholic doctrine. There is no recession from the position of 1537. We note how?ever that "Invocation" is dropped, and the word recommended in the preceding docu?ment, "Intercession," is adhered to.

In the following year, 1544, the English Litany as prepared by Archbishop Cranmer was put forth. It was modeled upon the medieval Litanies, but the elaborate invoca?tion of individual Saints familiar in them was dropped. It included however the fol?lowing petitions:

St. Mary, Mother of God, our Saviour Jesus Christ, Pray for us.

All Holy Angels and Archangels, and all Holy Orders of Blessed Spirits, Pray for us.

All Holy Patriarchs, and Prophets, Apos?tles, Martyrs, Confessors, and Virgins, and all the Blessed Company of Heaven, Pray for us.

Beginning with the reign of Edward VI there were three sets of Articles of Religion put forth. The XLII Articles were issued in 1553 but a few weeks before the death of the king, and in the opinion of Dr. Kidd 75 never had Synodical authority but simply the authorization of the Crown. That how?ever is not important as with the accession of Mary they fell out of sight. After the accession of Elizabeth they were made the basis of a set of Articles put forth in 1563 with the authority of Convocation. As adopted by Convocation these were thirty-nine in number, but as published they were but thirty-eight?one having been sup?pressed by the Crown. They underwent a further revision in 1571 when the discarded Article was restored and became the Thirty-ninth of our present Articles.

The Twenty-second Article as it stands to-day declares the "Romish Doctrine" (Doctrina Romanensium, in the Latin ver?sion) "concerning . . . Invocation of Saints, a fond thing vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture; but rather repugnant to the Word of Cod." It was in this form in the revision of 1563, but in that revision the phrase " Romish doc?trine "was substituted for the phrase of the earlier version of 1553, "The doctrine of the School Authors? According to Kidd the effect of the change was "to di?rect the condemnation against a type of prac?tice and teaching current within recent mem?ory rather than against the system of the Schoolmen whose day was passed. The party with which this teaching was current was known as the 'Romanensian ' or 'Rom?ish' party, a name given to the extreme Me?diaevalists and not descriptive of the Roman Church as a whole." This is much as we use the word ultramontane to-day.

The Thirty-nine Articles were subscribed by the Upper House of Convocation on the 29th of January, 1563; and by the Lower House on the 23d of February, 1563. The decree of the Council of Trent on the subject of the Invocation of Saints was not published till December, 1563. This would seem to be a sufficient answer to the allegation that the Convocation had the formal doctrine of the Roman Church in mind in changing the wording of the Article.

Whatever the framers of Article XXII may have had in mind it is quite impossible to construe that Article as a condemnation of the practice of the Invocation of Saints. When one condemns a special theory con?cerning anything one can hardly be held to condemn the original that the theory inter?prets or any other interpretive theory; rather, the fact of the condemnation of one inter?pretation may usually be held to be the vin?dication of some other. If a congress of scientists were to meet and condemn "the Darwinian theory concerning evolution as a fond thing vainly invented, and grounded in no warranty of observed fact; but rather repugnant to the whole body of scientific knowledge"; it is quite possible that a newspaper might come out with a scare headline ?"Doctrine of Evolution Condemned by Scientists"; but the announcement would only produce a smile in educated circles where no one would dream that Evolution and the Darwinian theory concerning it were the same thing. If the framers of Article XXII had wished to condemn the practice of Invocation of Saints, the resources of the English language are quite sufficient to have enabled them to say so plainly: the fact that they said something quite different proves that they did not intend to condemn the prac?tice in all its forms.

A clue to their intention is, perhaps, to be found in a distinction we have already met between Invocation and Intercession. I pointed out that in The Institution of a Christian Man, of 1537, this distinction was made, and was held to in the King?s Book, of 1543. There are indications that ibis dis?tinction had considerable vogue, as it has been pointed out that a like distinction be?tween lawful prayers to the Saints and In?vocation or praying to the Saints as though they could themselves give what we desire, is found in the following century in the writings of Archbishop Ussher and of Bishop Forbes of Edinburgh. This estab?lishes a probability that the word invocation in Article XXII may have the same signifi?cation.

So far as the formularies of the English Church are concerned, it would appear from this review that there is visible no intention of condemning the practice of the Invocation of Saints; but there is evidently an anxiety to have the doctrine so stated that there can be no mistake as to its scope?so to state it that it can under no circumstances be imag?ined to encroach upon the mediatorial office of Our Lord or upon the prerogatives of God. This is what we should expect from a Church trying to pick its way through dif?ficult and embarrassing controversies and anxious to vindicate its Catholic character by an appeal to the teaching and practice of the Church in the era of the great Catholic Doctors.


Yet the fact is that the practice of the Invocation of Saints, and the broader prac?tice of asking for the Prayers of the Dead whether Saints or not, passed out of the life of the English Church and consequently of the churches descended from it, and is to-day by the bulk of their membership either re?jected outright or regarded with great dis?trust and suspicion. This seems a strange conclusion from the series of facts cited in this essay. How are we to explain it?

Perhaps a sufficient explanation of the decline and disappearance of this practice is to be found in the fact that all invocations were expunged from the public services of the Church. Under such circumstances those who had been accustomed to ask the Prayers of the Dead in their private devotion might go on doing so; but in the next gener?ation or so the practice would die out. And this the more quickly if it were actively discouraged by those in authority. The Church through its official utterances no doubt expressed its mind, that in view of the abuses that had been prevalent in the past and of the offense they gave, it would be better that public practice of Invocation should cease, though at the same time ex?pressing no condemnation of the practice, it was not possible to impose a like note of silence upon the ministry of the Church, and especially upon the Bishops. Indeed, owing to the peculiar see-saw movement of the Reformation by which one party was now in control and now another, the practice of Invocation got a semi-official condemnation in the Book of Homilies. Bishops charged against it, and preachers preached against it. The influence of Continental Protestantism was all on the side of discouraging devo?tional expression, so that it is not surprising that the thought of souls as having any rela?tion to this present life passed away. The attempt to struggle back to the devotional standards required by or implied in the Book of Common Prayer and the formal utter?ances of the Church, which characterized the opening of the 17th century ended in the suppression of the Church organization at the hands of the Protestant revolutionists; and, after an attempt at revival under the later Stuarts, was crushed by the Protestant ascendency which gave us the spiritual deadness of the 18th century. The leaders of the Oxford Movement in the 19th century were somewhat wary of touching so highly con?troversial a doctrine. Late years have seen more boldness and a better appreciation of all that is involved in our daily professed belief in the Communion of Saints. Clergy and people alike have been slow in freeing themselves from the horrors of Protestant eschatology; but the task is now largely ac?complished and the future looks bright.


The teaching of the ancient Church which has been quoted was that of both East and West. As our concern in producing it was to illustrate the meaning of the appeal of the Church of England to antiquity we had no need to quote Mediaeval or modern West?ern practice. Nor is there such need for quoting the belief and practice of the mod?ern Orthodox Churches. But from another point of view some description of the use and practice of the Orthodox seems desir?able. Movements toward Church Unity so far as they contain any element of hope, are movements toward the ultimate reconcilia?tion of the Churches of the Catholic tradi?tion, and not toward a Pan-Protestant com?bination. Anglican and Orthodox have been so separated geographically and politi?cally that any rapprochement in the past has been almost hopeless. But we are entering a new world religiously as well as otherwise, and in it our opportunities of contact with the Orthodox will be much fuller than in the past, and much less hampered by inherited prejudices. Moreover, attempts at an un?derstanding and at inter-communion with the Orthodox will not be blocked by any such obstacles as lie across the way of approach to Rome. It would seem that the Oriental Churches and those of the Anglican Rite have but to understand each other to find a ground of agreement; and one of the things that it is necessary for us on our part to ap?preciate is the Orthodox understanding of the Communion of Saints. That shall be my excuse for a rather fuller citation of Eastern documents than is at all necessary for the main purpose of my essay.

The difference between the Latin and the Orthodox eschatology is in reality the difference between the Latin and the Orthodox mind?the former clear cut, eager for sharp definition, not satisfied till every detail of doctrine and practice is fixed with precision; the latter, impressionistic, vague, mystic, satisfied with general statements and not eager about detail and consistent defini?tion. There is a characteristic instance of this difference in the summing up of the state of the Departed in the Orthodox Con?fession:

The Orthodox Confession of Peter Mogila says that "Those souls of men who depart hence in the favor of God, and have wiped out their sins by repentance," are in a place variously named Paradise, Abraham's Bosom, and the kingdom of heaven. "By whichsoever of these three names that we have mentioned any one shall call the receptacle of the righteous souls, he will not err; provided that he believes and understands this much, that they enjoy the favor of God, and are in His heavenly kingdom, and, as the hymns of the Church mention, in heaven." And again: "This, then, is to be believed by the Faithful, that as the souls of the righteous, although received into heaven, do not receive the full and perfect crown of glory before the last Judgment, so neither do the souls of the damned feel and suffer the full measure and weight of their punish?ments before that time. But after the final and decisive Judgment the souls of all, re?joined to their bodies, will be crowned with glory or overwhelmed with torments."

The formal doctrine of the Orthodox with regard to the Invocation of Saints may be gathered from the following extracts:

"The Faithful who belong to the Church Militant on Earth, in offering their prayers to God, call at the same time to their aid the Saints who belong to the Church in heaven; and these, standing on the highest steps of approach to God, by their prayers and inter?cessions purify, strengthen, and offer before God the prayers of the Faithful living upon earth, and by the will of God work graciously and beneficently upon them, either by invisible virtue, or by distinct apparitions, and in divers other ways."

And a little further on:

"Q. In what state are the souls of the Dead till the general resurrection?

"A. The souls of the righteous are in light and rest, with a foretaste of eternal happiness; and the souls of the wicked are in a state the reverse of this."

Naturally the Liturgies are full of Invoca?tion. Here is a characteristic passage from the Anaphora or Canon of the Mass of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom:

"Moreover we offer unto Thee this rea?sonable service on behalf of those departed in the Faith, our Ancestors, Fathers, Patri?archs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evan?gelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Virgins, and every just soul made perfect in the Faith, especially the most holy, stainless, highly blessed arid glorious Lady, the Mother of God, and Ever-virgin Mary, for St. John the Prophet, Fore-runner and Baptist, the holy, glorious and illustrious Apostles, for Saint N?? whose memory we also cele?brate, and for all Thy Saints, through whose prayers, O God, look favorably upon us."

We may supplement this account of the formal doctrines of the Orthodox with some extracts dealing with popular practice. Mr. Athelstan Riley says, "I may here say, in passing, that to the Easterns the idea that many Anglicans hold that the Blessed Virgin and the Saints cannot hear us when we ask them to intercede for us, appears . . . too un-Christian and materialistic to be even so much as discussed. Just as if the God in Whom 'We live and move and have our be?ing' could not make the Saints hear us quite as easily as He is able to make our voices intelligible to one another in ordinary con?versation. Moreover they believe that if it had not been His will that this communion of prayer between the living and departed should exist, then the Church which is His Body and in which His Spirit dwells would not have permitted and encouraged such prayers."

In regard to the Russians' attitude toward the Departed, the Invocation of Saints "is practiced throughout the Orthodox com?munion, but with important qualifications. It is taught that the Saints themselves are only saved by grace, and therefore we cannot be helped by their merits but only by their prayers. Further, the Saints and even Blessed Mary herself, are prayed for in the Liturgy. The Communion of Saints is a reality to the Russian. He is united with them in spirit, separated only in body. He asks them to pray for him as simply and naturally as we desire each other's prayers, for the Saints are his personal friends. Nor is this invocation confined solely to canonized saints. In just the same way a little child commends itself to the loving in?tercessions of its departed mother."

This last point of the invocation of their own beloved dead is further illustrated as follows: "The separation between the visible and the invisible world seems to be non-existent. You may hear a son who has that day prayed for his mother's soul at her grave intreat her together with the holy Mother of God and the Saints, to pray for him before he goes to bed that night. I have seen in one of the cemeteries which sur?round Moscow a newly engaged couple hav?ing a service for the dead said at their par?ents' grave, and immediately afterwards have heard them asking them to pray to God for a blessing on their marriage, and I sub?sequently found this custom as common as possible."

Mr. Headlam tells us, "Often when a child who has lost his mother is praying, he may be heard adding her name to those of the other saints whom he asks to pray for him. Mutual prayer of the dead for the living, and of the living for the dead, as of both for the whole Church, is to the Russian the bond which links together the Church in one Communion of Saints." He goes on to quote from a poem by Khomiakoff, on his dead children:

"Dear children, at that same still midnight do ye,
As once I prayed for you, now in turn pray for me;
Me who loved well the cross on your foreheads to trace;
Now commend me in turn to the mercy and grace
Of our gracious and merciful God."

Those who are eager for the unity of Christendom must feel that there is a group of facts with which they must be prepared to deal. Both the Greek and the Latin Churches are so firmly grounded in a belief in the intimacy of our relations with the Dead that it is inconceivable that they should ever give it up, so intimately is their whole spiritual life intertwined with it. They to?gether represent by far the greater part of Christendom, and this the most spiritually intelligent part. We of the Anglican com?munion are equally with them committed in theory to the practice of the Invocation of the Dead. We claim to stand upon the platform of the Catholic Creeds?of the Christian religion as stated by the Church of the Conciliar period. Alas! we have fallen far behind our professed belief in the matter of practice. This failure on our part is not only a spiritual disaster but a bar to the unity of Christendom. There was published in 1904 a set of observations on the Ameri?can Prayer Book which represent a report drawn up and presented to the Holy Synod. The question was whether Anglican congre?gations going over to the Orthodox Church could be permitted to continue the use of the Book of Common Prayer. The committee was of the opinion that certain changes should be insisted on, among others that " Into all the services in general, prayers must be inserted addressed to the Blessed Mother of God, to Angels and Saints, with the glorification and invocation of them."


Any one who has entered into the enjoy?ment of his privilege as a member of Christ to communion with all the other members of the Body has found a vast expansion of his spiritual outlook, and a glorious enrichment of his life in Christ. When we have shaken off the spiritual selfishness which thinks only of the relation of God to our own souls, and our expanding thought and prayers have em?braced all the company of heaven, from Blessed Mary, Ever-virgin Mother of God, to the last baptized baby whom our Lord has gathered to Himself, then we realize the meaning of the Orthodox theologians who define the Church as "Faith and love as an organism." The Communion of Saints is the mutual exercise of love. We are privileged to feel that death has not cast any shadow athwart that love, but has deepened and gladdened it. The belief that those whom we have loved are still alive some?where in God's universe, but are cut off from us save in memory, may give rise to noble thoughts of them; but they are always thoughts tinged with sadness?such sadness as we feel even in Matthew Arnold's beautiful lines in "Rugby Chapel."

O strong soul, by what shore
Tarriest thou now? For that force,
Surely, has not been left vain!
Somewhere, surely, afar,

In the sounding labor-house vast
Of being, is practised that strength,

Zealous, beneficent, firm.

The Catholic faith has got rid of that note of limitation?got rid of it because we have not been separated from our Dead. Their names are on our lips with the same fre?quency, with the same passion of love, as in their lifetime. Our souls reach out to com?munion with them, and find it at the altar, and in our private prayers. We ask the aid of their intercession, of the intercessions not only of Blessed Mary and all Saints, but of the parent or child from whom we have just been visibly separated by death. We ask their prayers, not because we doubt of them, but because the asking is the expression of our love. Love needs to manifest itself?to ask and be asked. We know what the answer to the question is?

My name on earth was ever in thy prayer,
And wilt thou never utter it in heaven?

Where life in Christ is love, love also is unending action. These are not only our convictions?they are our experiences, ex?periences that we would lead all to share.

O doubting heart! Dost thou not know thy love,

Across the awful silentness of death
Smiles at thee through the dark?



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