THE services were begun on the 8th of December, the Feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which this year concurred with the Second Sunday in Advent. There were two Low celebrations at the High Altar, at which large numbers of the laity assisted and received communion. Father Staunton celebrated at 7 o'clock, and Father J. C. Kerr at 8 o'clock. The Children's High Mass at 9 o'clock was sung by Father Upjohn, when a goodly number of communicants received. Matins was said at 10, in St. Elizabeth's Chapel, by Mr. Purdy, lay-reader.
The great function of the day was begun at 10:30 o'clock with a prelude by organ and orchestra, after which the Celebrant, the Rev. Father Brown, in cope; attended by Father Mason, Deacon, in dalmatic; Father Staunton, Sub-deacon, in tunic; the Acolytes bearing candles and the cross-bearer; entered by the Epistle side of the Choir, and stood at the sedilia in the [3/4] Sanctuary. Then the Choir procession came from the door of the aisle on the Gospel side, preceded by another cross and candle-bearers; the choir boys and men first, then Seminarians, Brothers of Nazareth, and Clergy in order to the number of fifty, all vested in cassocks and surplices. Then Bishop Grafton, of Fond du Lac, in cope and mitre, entered, preceded by the Bishop's cross and candle-bearers; the Chaplain, Rev. Dr. H. G. Batterson, in cope; the Deacons of honour, Father Odell and Father Knowles, in dalmatics. These entered the Choir by the centre gate and stood in their places; the Bishop and his attendants, passing through into the Sanctuary, stood about the throne on the Gospel side. The Rev. Father Upjohn was Master of Ceremonies, attended by an assistant.
The Solemn Procession was begun: the thurifer proceeded from the Sanctuary into the Choir, and out by the Gospel side-gate into the north aisle. Then followed the choir cross and candle-bearers, boys, men, Seminarians, Brothers of Nazareth and Clergy; then the second cross and candle-bearers and Clergy of the Mass, wearing their birettas; then the Bishop's cross and candle-bearers, the Chaplain, Deacons of honour, and the Bishop. The course of the Procession was through the north aisle behind the Altar, down the full length of the south aisle, and up the centre to the Choir and Sanctuary. The Bishop went to the centre below the Altar steps, the Chaplain on his right, the Celebrant on his left, the Deacons of honour behind the Bishop, the Deacons of the Mass behind the Celebrant, the Master of Ceremonies behind at the right; whence after a pause the Bishop went to his Chair.
 The Celebrant ascended to the Altar and began the Celebration. The choir in the west gallery, accompanied by the great organ and orchestra, sang the Gloria in Excelsis as an introit. During the Creed, everybody in the vast Church knelt for the Incarnatus. After kneeling for the benediction of the Bishop, the Rev. Father Ritchie, Rector of the Church of St. Ignatius, was conducted to the pulpit and preached the sermon. In the usual manner the Bishop gave the Absolution and the Benediction.
The Celebrant's Procession returned to the Sacristy by the Gospel side-gate of the Choir. The others through the centre gate of the Choir to the choir door in the north aisle by which they had entered.
The music was Haydn's Mass No. 3 (The Imperial). The music of the Offertory (Ps. xxiv.) was composed for the occasion by the organist, Dr. Prentice.
Vespers were solemnly sung at 4 o'clock by the Rev. Father Brown. The Psalter was sung by the gallery and Chancel choirs. The music of the vespers was by Lambelotti.
On Thursday, December 12th, during the Octave, Rt. Rev. H. C. Potter, D. D., LL.D., D. C. L., Oxon., the Bishop of New York, consecrated the Church. At 10:30 A.M., the procession of choir boys and men, Brothers of Nazareth, fifty-five clergy and Bishop, proceeded down the north aisle and were received at the centre door of the Church by the Trustees, and went to the Chancel reciting the 24th Psalm, The Bishop ascended to his Chair. One of the Trustees, [5/6] standing at the communion rail, read the letter of donation, and gave it to the Bishop. The Letter of Consecration was read by Father Mason and presented to the Bishop, who placed it upon the altar. The Bishop then consecrated the Church. Matins was read by Father Oberly, of Elizabeth, N. J., and Father Baldwin, the Bishop's chaplain. The first lesson was read by the Ven. Archdeacon of Queens County, Dr. Cooper, of Astoria, and the second lesson by Father Crary, of Poughkeepsie.
The Bishop then celebrated the Holy Eucharist. The choir sang the Introit. The Rev. Dr. Thomas Richey, of the General Seminary, read the Epistle; the Rev. Dr. James R. Davenport read the Gospel. The music of the Mass was composed by the Organist, Dr. Geo. B. Prentice, and sung by request of the Trustees. The procession returned in its order to the Sacristy.
On Wednesday Evening at 8 o'clock, December 11th, the Rev. Fr. Brown blessed the Mission House, assisted by the Clergy of the Parish, together with the Altar boys. Sister Mary Maude, of the Order of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Associates of the Order, Members of the Guilds of Saint Mary of the Cross and of Saint Mary of the Annunciation, and a large number of women of the Parish and visitors, were present.
On Friday Evening at 8 o'clock, December 13th, the Rev. Fr. Brown blessed the Clergy House, assisted by the Clergy of the Parish, together with the Altar boys. Members of the Men's Club, of St. Alban's Guild, of Saint Joseph's Guild, of the Choir, and a large number of men of the Parish and visitors, were present.
 On Sunday, December 15th, Octave of the Feast, there was a Solemn High Mass. The Celebrant was Father Brown; Father Mason, Deacon; Father Staunton, Sub-deacon; Father Upjohn, Master of Ceremonies. The ceremonies were the same as is usual at Solemn High Mass at St. Mary's. There being no Bishop, there was no Solemn Procession before the Mass. Father Brown preached the 25th Anniversary sermon. Vespers was sung with solemnity as on the Feast, the Sunday previous.
On Christmas Eve, at 9 o'clock A.M., the Bishop of Newark, the Right Rev. Thos. A. Starkey, D.D., consecrated the altar in the Chapel of Our Lady and said the first Mass.
Outline Description of the New Buildings.
Location: 46th and 47th Streets, between 6th Avenue and Broadway. Frontage: 46th Street, 125 feet; 47th Street, 95 feet. Style of Architecture: Church, French Gothic of the XIII. century; Clergy House, Mission House and Rectory, French Gothic of the XIV. century. Great saving in space and cost was effected by using, for the first time in a church building, the modern steel construction.
The Church is centrally placed on 46th Street, with the Clergy and Mission Houses on either side, and the Lady Chapel, Rectory and Priests' Vestry at rear, on 47th Street. The exterior of Church is faced with light buff Indiana limestone, the other buildings with stone, light Roman bricks and terra cotta. The front [7/8] is intended to be elaborately carved. A considerable portion is already done, and a fine statue of the Virgin and Child (the work of J. Massey Rhind, the sculptor) is about to be placed under the canopy on the mullion between the two great entrance doors.
Width, 60 feet; length, 180 feet; height to top of cross over main gable, 130 feet; height of interior vaulting, nave, 80 feet; of the ambulatory, 26 feet; width of nave, 46 feet; width of ambulatory, 6 feet 6 inches. Twenty-two piers of clustered stone columns separate the nave from the ambulatory and support the clere-story walls. The Church terminates in a five-sided apse and is lighted through lofty clere-story windows. The Chancel is 48 feet deep. The marble Altar from the old Church is re-erected, with some improvements; but the Reredos is not. A magnificent new Reredos, corresponding in architecture to that of the Church, has been designed and partly subscribed for.
The ambulatory, or aisle, extends entirely around the Church, outside these columns, and is connected through arcaded openings with St. Joseph's Hall under the Clergy House, and St. Elizabeth's Chapel under the Mission House, and with the Baptistery, Mortuary Chapel, Lady Chapel and rear entrance. All the chapels and the Baptistery are handsomely decorated. In St. Joseph's Hall is a fine large organ. The oak altar used in the chapel of the old Church is placed in St. Elizabeth's Chapel. The Lady Chapel has a fine new marble Altar, designed by the architect. [8/9] The Chapel is richly decorated and furnished. The carved oak Calvary from the old Church is placed in the archway between the Lady Chapel and the Mortuary Chapel. The old font has been handsomely carved, and the Baptistery suitably fitted up. Seating capacity of Church, 720; of Chapels, 350; and the Chapels are utilized for the overflow after the nave seats are filled.
The marble pulpit of the old Church stands nearly half way down the nave, has been enriched by bronze, and above it is a handsome oak sounding-board, surmounted by a fine carved statue of St. Paul. Opposite the pulpit, on one of the columns, is a large carved oak crucifix.
The Church is lighted at night by 14 magnificent chandeliers, specially designed, and hung from the vaulted ceiling.
The stained glass windows of the old Church find places in the various Chapels of the new structure.
The great, swell and pedal organs are located up in the west gallery, and the choir organ at the other end of the Church over the Chancel, at a distance of nearly 150 feet. There is a console in the gallery, also one in the Chancel. Each is equipped with three manuals, with the full number of stops, couplers and accessories, and playable at either point. It is built entirely on the electro-pneumatic system. The touch of the key is as easy and quick as that of a piano. The bellows are in the crypt, driven by two powerful electric motors. The organ embraces all the new and improved features, many of which have been lately introduced from Europe. The organ contains sixty stops and accessories, five of the stops being of 16-foot [9/10] tone. It is pronounced one of the finest instruments ever built, especially in its deep foundation tones, exquisite solo stops, and the many facilities enabling the organist to produce with ease every variety of tonal effect. There are said to be no other organs in the world which can be played separately or together from either console.
The pews are of dark oak; the space in front of the pews is covered by six rows of rubber-tipped chairs, specially made with flat-topped backs, book-racks and kneeling cushions attached. These chairs can be removed when the space is needed for great functions.
The Clergy House is 39 feet by 95 feet, four stories high in front and five stories at rear. The first two stories contain the St. Joseph's Hall for men and boys and the choir vestries. The third story is devoted to guild purposes and young men's club rooms, with assembly room, library, etc. The fourth floor contains suites of chambers for the resident Clergy, and the fifth floor rear is to be occupied by the janitor.
The sexton's office is placed next entrance on first story. The steam heating apparatus (for all the buildings) is in the basement; with a gymnasium at rear.
The Rectory has 70 feet front on 47th Street, and is 20 feet deep, with an extension, and is four stories high, the first story being largely occupied by the sacristies.
 Mission House
The Mission House is 25 feet by 85 feet, and of same height as the Clergy House.
On the first and second floors are two Chapels, a Reception Room and an office for the Mother Superior.
The third story is devoted to the Guild Rooms.
The fourth story has an Infirmary, Community Room and Sisters' sleeping apartments.
The fifth story contains the Kitchen, Refectory and two sleeping rooms for servants. Dumb-waiters connect the kitchens in both houses with the basements. There is a gymnasium in the basement.
The Catholic Law of Love
Sermon preached at the Opening Services of the New Church on the 25th Anniversary of the Parish Feast of the Conception of the Virgin Mary 1895 by the Rev. Arthur Ritchie, Rector of St. Ignatius Church New York
"Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked Him a question, tempting Him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the Law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."--St. Matt. xxii. 35-40.
THERE is between the upper waters of the Tigris and the Euphrates an ancient country called Padan Aram. One of its cities was Ur of the Chaldees, out of which Abram the Patriarch was called of God that he might become the father of many nations. A quiet river flows through the highlands of that country. It is called in the Bible the river of Chebar; it is one of the tributaries of the mighty Euphrates. More than thirteen hundred years after Abram's time there was a very doleful company of people camped near the little river. They were Jewish captives, carried away out of their own land by the King of Babylon; allowed of God to be thus afflicted because they had grievously transgressed against Him. On the special day of which I would speak to you, a man sad of countenance and heavy of heart had gone [19/20] down to a peaceful place by the river's brink to pray to the God of Israel. There the Spirit came upon him, and a wonderful vision was vouchsafed him. A whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud and a fire infolding itself. The prophet goes on to describe the marvelous things which he beheld in a way which it is hard for us to follow exactly, yet we understand that there was revealed to the man Ezekiel a striking and impressive declaration of the power and greatness of the Most High. A celestial chariot of cloud, flashing with awful fires, and borne on unearthly wheels through the heavens, was accompanied by the four living creatures, the mystic angels which are before the Throne of God. The flashing fire which awed the wondering prophet he tells us infolded itself, that is caught or turned upon itself. And it seems to me that in that expression there is suggested to us one of the most significant characteristics of the Catholic Church.
I. For Ezekiel's vision may fairly be interpreted of the splendid march of the Church of God through the world, conquering and to conquer. God's host moves slowly; but, as the prophet tells us of the living creatures, in this same vision, "they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward," so the invincible army of the Lord Christ never turns backward. In like manner does the world move on, ever advancing, as its votaries love to think, towards more glorious developments, more perfect acquisitions. There is an immense difference however between the mode of the Church's onward march and that of the world. Have you ever gone up into some well-situated observatory on a crisp autumn night, to look for meteoric stars? If you have, you have been without doubt impressed [20/21] by two things, the loveliness and majesty of those heavenly rockets, and then the swift oblivion which overtakes their glory. That is a picture of the onward progress of the world, new excitements, new discoveries, new theories, sweeping like meteors across the zenith of human curiosity, and then forgotten as quickly as they became famous. But the onward march of the Catholic religion is like the lightnings which flash out upon the sky from the storm fast approaching yet still for the onlooker below the horizon. The splendid outbursts of dazzling radiance seem to return upon themselves, only to flash out again more gloriously, more rapidly than before. The prophet saw the heaven-light as a fire infolding itself. Thus it has ever been in the history of the Church. She crouches for mightier springs than she has made before by returning upon herself. She has no new discoveries in theology to make, no new moral principles to enunciate, no new schemes to propose for the salvation of men's souls. When she has fresh problems to meet, unwonted difficulties to face, she simply turns in upon herself, reverts to the past, the ancient ways, the venerable traditions, and thence draws her wisdom and her power. Her progress is that of the fire infolding itself.
I. It is not to be denied that the Church constantly needs reformation, in her several Communions it may be, or even throughout her entire being. Her members are fallible human creatures, by no means yet made perfect; and while the Holy Spirit so guides her councils that it is certain the whole body never can be deceived concerning the true faith- or sound morals, yet there is found in her no indefectibility as to human manners. [21/22] The Church is often corrupted by wealth; her rulers sin through pride; the lust of the flesh is ever seeking to weaken her discipline. There have been lamentable lapses in Christian history from Apostolic truth and primitive purity; the Church's practice rarely comes up to her ideal. When things have gotten very bad, the Spirit of God has incited the more earnest believers to seek a reformation. Our Holy Mother, in her human aspect, thus purges herself and the way of God is more loyally kept. So our Anglican Communion sought to purge out mediaeval corruptions and abuses in the days of the Tudors and the Stuarts. Likewise did Rome seek to purify herself and the Churches obedient to her, by means of the Council of Trent.
2. The Anglican reformation of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries only partially effected the good end sought, for it was thwarted and directed into false channels by those who were no true lovers of the Church. Many evil things were cast out, but many good things were thrust away with them, and unlovely and humanly devised practices crept in unawares. When devout and earnest men in England more than sixty years ago realized the unhappy plight into which their spiritual Mother had fallen through the rank growth of these roots of mischief, they set themselves to do what was in their power, with the help of God, to reform the Anglican Communion once more. They were enough of theologians, and of sound students of history to know the Church can never truly reform except after the manner of the fire in Ezekiel's vision which infolded itself, that is by reverting to the primitive model, the Apostolical tradition. Therein lies [22/23] the strength of the Catholic movement in the Anglican Churches. Because of that principle it will go on conquering till it has wrought its full and wholesome work. The few Oxford men have grown into a host of priests, theologians, students of history, tireless workers, earnest preachers, religious, and celibates not in community. The parishes in England and America in which the old Catholic religion is taught and practised are now numbered by thousands, and the devoted worshipers among the laity in those parishes, by hundreds of thousands.
II. It is easy to make assertions, but is it true that the Catholic movement in the Anglican Communion is a genuine reversion to the original type of Christianity as our Lord founded it, and His Apostles propagated it? Men are impatient in these days of unreality. They want to get back to first principles; to take their stand upon fundamentals. How much of the Catholic religion is husks and how much kernel? Give us the kernel, they say, and get rid of the husks as speedily as possible. That is reasonable enough in a practical age. Then let us go back to the Master Himself. All Christians may not have exactly the same idea about Him, but all acknowledge Him their Lord; they uncover the head in His presence if they do not bend the knee. On occasion a lawyer asked Him, "Which is the first commandment of the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Is it not good? I [23/24] do not think any one can reasonably find fault with that summary of the Catholic religion. You smile when I say the Catholic religion. You think that Catholics have no patent on that splendid summary of all human duty. I am quite content to have you feel so, for we start the more hopefully when we have a common ground on which we cordially agree. Let us to the application of it.
III. Whoever was equal to the first half of that sublime code, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind"? We stand abashed as we face the Majestic declaration emblazoned as it were in letters of fire at the entrance to God's temple among men. How much of our hearts have we given to Him? What is He to our souls, full of this world's thoughts and ambitions? For how long a time in the day are our minds fixed upon Him and the things of His kingdom? Do you think if we searched the globe from one end to the other we should find a man who in his daily life loved God with all his heart and soul and mind? Was there ever any one like that?
I. I have found one. Where? Who is He? Do you ask? Look on the Rood beam there. It is Jesus, the Son of Mary. He is crucified, nailed cruelly through hands and feet to the Cross. He is dying in pain, in darkness, in desertion. Why is He dying? For love of man, you say. True, yet also and first of all for love of His heavenly Father. How finely He declares this to His disciples at the end of that fourteenth chapter of St. John: "But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do." It was His [24/25] Father's commandment that He should die to redeem the world. He loved the Father, therefore He hastened to fulfil the commandment. Could anything be simpler, anything grander? Here then is One Who loved the Lord God with all His heart, and soul, and mind. The sacrifice of Calvary is the demonstration of that love. And I do not believe anything but the sacrifice of Calvary can demonstrate it, certainly nothing else can do so adequately.
2. Tell me now, if you will, what is a Catholic church-building? I understand such an edifice to be the covered enclosure surrounding an altar. This is a very lovely church, fair and of goodly proportions, delightsome to the eye, uplifting to the soul, solemnizing to the spirit of the worshipper. You know it is a Catholic church so soon as you come in at the front door, for you see the Altar. It is a noble Altar, impressive, majestic, mutely telling its tale of mystery. And what is the Altar for? You may easily apply the words of the Church Catechism concerning the Lord's Supper, in answering. An Altar is for the continual remembrance of the sacrifice of the death of Christ and of the benefits which we receive thereby. We are getting back, you see, to the Cross again. It is only an illustration of the fire infolding itself; everything in the Catholic religion turns back to the Cross. The mystery of the Altar is the proclamation of the first and great commandment, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. For every time the priest reads Mass at the Altar, there is mystically portrayed there the sublime sacrifice of Calvary. The priest takes the bread, gives thanks, and uttering the sacred words, [25/26] breaks it, for so the Lord's Body was broken, through the holy wounds, upon the Cross. The priest takes the cup, and giving thanks cries in the Lord's words, "This is my Blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." The sacred Blood is again mystically separated from the holy Body, through the separate consecration, as if shed for the sins of the whole world. Calvary is reproduced in sublime and celestial mystery as the Mass is sung at the Altar. It is the Church's way of fulfilling the commandment, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." I challenge you to produce anywhere in the realm of Christian faith and practice anything which can rival this heaven-given Eucharist as a fulfilment of the first and great commandment, his duty towards God on the part of man. No doubt devout prayer is wholly acceptable to the Most High, especially the common prayer of the congregation of believers. It is a genuine declaration of the love of man for God. No one can dispute it that hymns and psalms and spiritual songs are well pleasing to the Divine Majesty, and testify appropriately the devotion which the creature should feel towards his Creator. It is recognized by all that our free-will offerings, according to our ability to give, and out of a ready disposition, are tributes of love and loyalty which God does not despise. I am not disparaging any of these in the least. But I say that over and above and immeasurably beyond them all, as the sublimest possible expression on earth of man's love and loyalty towards God, is the unearthly mystery of the Eucharist, the pure offering which alone has intrinsic merit in the [26/27] sight of the Most High. There is a pathos too about our Mass celebration, for if there is one point above another at which the human heart may touch with actual emotion of love the sacred heart of our Redeemer, it is in the offering of this mighty Eucharist, for of it, and of it alone His parting words were, "Do this in remembrance of me." Have I proved my point, that there is no other way for the Church to fulfil the commandment, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God," comparable to this of the celebration of the holy Mass?
IV. I do not forget that there is a second commandment which is like unto that first and greatest one. It is, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Indeed this is distinctly the popular aspect of religion, one might say the only fundamental commandment; albeit the Master said the first was "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God." Men believe in the sort of religion, or they say they do, which consists in helping one's fellows, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, succouring prisoners, burying the dead. That is what we want churches and religious societies for in these days. Some would extend the sphere of neighbour-love yet further, and make it include gymnasia and institutes, sound politics, total abstinence societies, and what not. Take it as you will, and then let us find the typical lover of his neighbour. This one gave vast sums of money to relieve distress. Very good, but he was a capitalist. Another spent his whole life ministering to wretched ones in hospitals. True, but he tried to make proselytes of them. Those sisters have given their lives to care for foundlings and the children of shame. Yes, but they have put religious [27/28] restrictions about their homes. And so it goes. There is no lover of his kind against whom something may not be alleged which seems to mar the absolute unselfishness of his work. Yet there must be one. Where shall we find him? Every eye goes instinctively to the Cross, to the dying Friend of sinners. You see the fire is infolding itself again, we always have to revert to the Cross in this wonderful religion of ours. We cannot get beyond that. But let us make no mistake about this perfect Lover of His kind. Is it Christus Consolator that most fulfils the royal law, "Thou shalt love thy neighbonr as thyself," or Redemptor Mundi? Is it the Christ healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, opening the eyes of the blind, feeding the hungry, blessing little children; or the Christ spilling His sacred Blood in Gethsemane, at the whipping post, on the tree of shame? He has Himself told us, though I do not think we should have hesitated about the answer. "Greater love than this hath no man, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Even in that saying there was something which His infinite generosity made Him leave out. Those for whom He died were not friends so far as they were concerned, but bitter relentless enemies. He was pleased to regard them as friends, for He loved them. Therefore also He willingly died for them. He has demonstrated that He more than any other fulfilled the law of love of one's neighbour.
I. Note, however, a singular fact. The Crucifixion was the most magnificent spectacle of unselfish love, but it was not a circumstance which helped Him to relieve men's temporal woes. So far as that is concerned it distinctly terminated the gracious work He had been [28/29] doing for more than three years among the poor and wretched. It removed their Benefactor. It seemed to have concentrated all the benevolence of His great heart upon the bestowal on mankind of spiritual blessings and graces alone. There is room for devout contemplation of that mysterious thing which took place when His side was pierced by the Roman spear, after He had died. There flowed Blood arid Water. Such was the legacy of this world's philanthropist, this King of altruists. He had no millions to bequeath, only a stream of Blood and Water. Do not let us forget this, for I want to recur to it presently.
2. You may truthfully say that although He died, and so surrendered the outward and visible power of relieving temporal woes in His own person, He implanted in the earth a spirit of benevolence and lovely charity which should bear fruit a thousand fold, not only in the persons of His Apostles, but in every true Christian life. The splendid inspiration of His heroic unselfishness has transformed the civilized world, and made even the heathen to wonder at the love of the follower of Christ for his kind, whether friend or foe, grateful or ungrateful, white or black. The Catholic Church yields to none in her zeal for the necessities of men, in her tireless devotion to relieve to the utmost their physical and mental woes. Howbeit you cannot overlook the fact that she regards the Water and the Blood, from the side of her Lord, as more needful for man than even meat for his body or raiment for his back. The crowning work of all deeds of mercy, as the Master Himself summed them up, is that to the poor the Gospel is preached. The Catholic Church never feels that she has done her duty towards man till she [29/30] has opened to him the kingdom of heaven, till she has regenerated him at the Font, confirmed him with the seven-fold gifts of the Holy Ghost, spread for his daily spiritual food the Lord's board, laden with super-substantial viands, and opened for him that fountain for sin and for uncleanness of which the Prophet spake long ago. This is the way in which she disburses that precious legacy of the Water and the Blood which flowed from the Lord's side upon the Cross. Tell me now, can you think of any more worthy way of fulfilling the second great commandment, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," than this, which is the work of the Catholic religion?
V. It is for all of this your church stands, as you see it to-day. How your hearts thrill as you survey these royal arches, this superb nave-vault. Yet it is not altogether of the graceful and inspiring lines of the French Gothic architecture that you are thinking, nor of those exquisite Stations of the Cross set upon the walls, and made so chaste and impressive by the lovely canopies which overhang them. Your minds, I am persuaded, are not dwelling so much upon the pomp and circumstance of the Solemn High Mass with its glorious musical accompaniment, as upon the unearthly significance of the Altar and its surroundings, the unspeakable goodness for which the Confessionals stand, the untiring works of mercy of which the spacious parish buildings which encompass your church prophesy.
I. You will find many parishes of our own Communion wherein are carried on abundant good deeds of Christian benevolence, wherein guilds and associations and gracious agencies of brotherly love of a score of [30/31] names require vast parish houses for their administration. It is a blessed thing it is so; we thank God for it that such parishes are manifesting the practical meaning, or at least a very important part of it, of the second great commandment, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.''
2. You will find parishes where in addition to untiring zeal for good works one may behoM richly furnished chancels and goodly Altars, where lovely mosaics and costly paintings and rarely tinted glass seem to proclaim to men forever that they should worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; where ravishing music on the Lord's day uplifts the spirits of the devout to the portals of paradise. We thank God for that, for the fact that at least in some measure such parishes are proclaiming the excellence of the first and great commandment, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart." Yet in such well-appointed shrines one often looks in vain for the Confessional, for the frequent Mass, for the faithful observance of the ancient Catholic law of fasting communion, and one sighs to think how little of the fulness of the Master's dying legacy of the Water and the Blood can be realized there.
3. But your parish church, my friends, stands for the full and glorious meaning, in all its wealth of application of the Lord Christ's summary of the Law, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind--and Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." For here at the Altar is offered day by day, often many times a day on the festivals, that adorable sacrifice which the Master ordained as the perpetual memorial of His love. It is the mystic reproduction of Calvary, for "As often as ye [31/32] eat this bread and drink this cup ye do show the Lord's death till He come." The sacrifice of Calvary was the most magnificent proclamation of man's love for God-- for our Lord made Himself representative man, the new Adam, and offered for us all in His own person-- that the world has ever known, aye, that human nature can conceive of. Therefore, going to that sacrifice He cried, "That the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do." We have also a commandment from Him concerning this very thing. It is "This do in remembrance of Me." Thus do we, here at our Altar, declare in the most perfect way possible to man, that the Catholic Church loves God with all the heart and soul and mind.
Here are the Confessionals, always ready for use, that sinful souls may wash them clean in the fountain of the precious Blood; here is God's board, spread every day that hungry souls may break their fast upon the Bread of Life. These things tell their own tale of the practical carrying out of the royal law, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," for what greater proof could God's Church give of her love for the souls of men, than to supply them with the unfailing fountain of pardon, and to nourish them with the inexhaustible food of heaven?
I do not forget that the Master cared also for the earthly needs of His little ones as well as for their souls' health. You in St. Mary's cannot, however, have it brought up against you as a reproach, that you have lavished all your wealth and all your pious thought on stately Masses and overflowing sacramental [32/33] opportunities. I have but to point to the Mission House, the Clergy House, the parish halls of various names, the chapels of the catechism, aye and to the bands of self-denying and ever-ready workers which belong to this parish to silence anyone who should presume to declare that we Catholics forget the poor while we are zealous for the Lord. Have I made good my contention, that the Catholic Religion in its full presentation means in a way no other religious system can mean, the complete fulfilment of the Master's summary of the law, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart--Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself"?
Then, dear friends of the parish of St. Mary the Virgin I give you greeting on this glad day, and bid you God speed. It is no small thing for Catholics of our Communion throughout this country to feel that there is here in New York so splendid, so stately, so perfectly appointed a church as this, where thousands of our fellow men must come to know, despite the taunts of enemies and the timid disclaimers of half-believing friends, that the American church has still the old Catholic Mass and is not afraid to celebrate it in all the pomp and with all the accessories of the ancient traditional ritual; that she has still the Catholic Sacraments and is ready to administer them freely and lovingly to all fainting and sin-laden souls; that she is not the Church of the rich and well-to-do only, but quite as much the Mother and Friend of the poor.
You are keeping your silver jubilee to-day under fair and lovely auspices; we of other Catholic parishes are rejoicing with you. Richly has your faithful priest [33/34] with his devoted flock earned this earthly crown of his labours. May he and you and all of us by fidelity to the Catholic religion all our days upon earth, win the crown of everlasting glory in the fair Temple which is on high.
The Anniversary Sermon Preached on the Octave of the Opening Services of the New Church on the 25th Anniversary of the Parish Feast of the Conception of the Virgin Mary 1895 by the Rev. Thomas McKee Brown, Founder and Rector
"O pray for the peace of Jerusalem; they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls; and plenteousness within thy palaces. For my brethren and companions' sakes I will wish thee prosperity. Yea, because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek to do thee good."--The conclusion of Psalm lxxii, being one of the proper Psalms for the Consecration of a Church.
O GOD, who didst put it into the hearts of Thy servants David and Solomon, to build a house to the glory of Thy name, mercifully grant that we who desire to raise a church in Thine honor may be blessed in our endeavor and enabled to bring it to perfection, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen."
These are the words of the prayer which have been printed in the Parish Paper during the time of the building of this church. They have been upon the lips of hundreds of people, and in the mercy of God they have borne fruit. We see to-day the completion of this church, the building of which has been influenced by prayer even more than by the possession of the money that was left to build it. The publication of this prayer has been the occasion of calling forth [37/38] commendation and thanks from some of the Reverend Clergy who are far removed from the advantages of a large city and the Ecclesiastical intercourse with brethren which always stimulates men and provokes true enthusiasm. One of the Reverend Clergy in a country parish added to his expressions of congratulation to us all, that in addition to what we are doing here in New York, we had given him the beautiful prayer for the building of a church for his own parish, and he felt that he had received timely help.
It would be a pleasure to give you an account of the hearty congratulations which have been sent us from Reverend Bishops, Priests and Deacons, from Sisters of Mercy, from laymen and laywomen, but it would take too long at this time to do so.
But let us instance the enthusiasm of a Reverend Father whom I have known affectionately since the days we were together in the seminary. He intended to come to the Opening Services, but was called elsewhere by a peremptory duty. He wrote: "I was with you yesterday in spirit, and dreamed last night that I was actually in the church and said one of the masses."
We are not only entering upon another year, but upon a new experience in our life. The past quarter of a century has been one of hard work and steady rising up to meet duties which have accumulated. This accumulation has brought us to the point where we shall be more in evidence. From all sides we shall be observed with an interest which will see us as we have never been seen before; as St. Paul says, we have become a spectacle unto men, and everything that we do must be done with the consciousness that the eyes [38/39] of all are upon us. It means greater work, greater liberality, greater care that our good be not evil spoken of. Whatever influence we have had for good, we shall find that everything will be magnified into importance that has not hitherto been vouchsafed to us. It will not be the conduct of public worship alone, but it will be in little things, as we might term them: the giving of alms, the intercourse with our fellow men, our individual conduct to be tried and judged on every occasion.
We said a year ago that there would be a certain familiarity and home-likeness because of the memorials which have been removed from the old Church, yet we find that in the construction of this great Church, there is something to carry us still further forward. There is a religiousness, magnificence and grandeur about this Church which of itself is more than a striking lesson, which at once finds a response in our spirit and teaches us to look farther beyond. It is not merely walls and vaulted roof that we see, but religious truth, which elevates the soul wherever the eye may rest. The gift which God has given the architect who has designed the graceful structure has been two-fold, in that he has not only produced a thing of beauty, but one of a most wonderful construction. Few men have this double gift. It seems to have been his from the very beginning. Whatever dreams he may have had of architectural beauty, he has embodied them and given them a form, which can but benefit every one who comes here. The pillars, the arches, the clere-story, the vault above and the views of Chapels beyond, all suggest a Cathedral-like building, which is easily recognized by those who have seen the structures of the Old World. [39/40] The commodious houses for the Clergy and the Sisters on either side of the front, are most beautiful. The rectory is well adapted for parochial as well as domestic use. The large Chapel of the Catechism, which is under the Clergy House, which is to be known as St. Joseph's Hall, will be a centre for gatherings and work of the most varied order. The club rooms can likewise be put to many kinds of use. The library will some day be filled with valuable reading matter, be a place of study and instruction which will benefit the rising generations. St. Elizabeth's Chapel, under the Mission House, will be often used for additional masses and for instruction, and the beautiful Lady Chapel at the Chancel end of the Church, will be a place of repose for those who seek a more secluded sanctuary; while the Mortuary Chapel will be a place of rest and comfort, and many a heart will be led through the Valley of Shadows to the peace which, amidst tears and sighs, shall find the bitterness of grief sanctified by God's most Holy Spirit. The Baptistery, which is a memorial of a little child, has been already used for baptism, and although it has been built a memorial because of death, it will be found to be a place of life, wherein the gift of the eternal life shall come from heaven.
There must be inspiration given to the mind of an architect who could thus provide for the due celebration of the offices of religion and parochial work, who could design so much in such a space upon paper, and then find when the plan is carried out in masonry that it is right, that it fills the needs both of beauty and use, and that it will continue in its main features without material alteration.
The knowledge that the architects were men of skill [40/41] and taste gave such a feeling of confidence to the Rector, that from the moment they took charge of the work, there was an absence of worry and a presence of trust and satisfaction that everything would be right, as it has proven to be.
Under these guiding hands, those who have undertaken to do the work of construction have been men of intelligence, unusual ability, with extraordinary means for carrying out their work. They were selected because of their reputation and ability, so that having begun the work they continued to the end able and faithful. In spite of delays and obstacles within and around them, they have performed that which they promised--a great Church and the large buildings finished in one year--a most unusual compliance. The unfortunate strikes which have hindered the erection of many large buildings in this city, have as we see been averted in this.
For the men who have worked under them we have but the most respectful regard. They have been faithful to a degree. The uniform politeness, pleasant manners and quietness, which have been characteristic of the men who have worked in the different parts of these buildings, deserve more than a passing thought. Any one who has entered this building must have noticed their industry, their promptness, their good demeanor.
We, as Clergy, Trustees, and members of this congregation, owe to them one and all a good word; and if it will encourage them to continue their high degree of an already good reputation, they have from us every encouragement which we are or shall be able to offer.
It has been noticed that women who have visited this Church during the past year have been loud in their [41/42] praise of the refinement of manner which they had observed amongst the ordinary laborers, the mechanics and the foremen, who have built their church. And now a few notes on the financial situation. In some way or other the impression has got abroad that the parish is a wealthy one, and that it does not need now, as it formerly did, any contributions from the faithful to maintain the work. This is an absolutely erroneous impression, and each member of the parish ought to be not only convinced of the fact himself and herself, but also be an agent for the spreading abroad of the idea that the work of St. Mary's is a great work, that it cannot be carried on without liberal contributions, and that it does not possess the necessary funds of its own. To be sure a large legacy was received from Miss Cooke, but the very Church the people are worshiping in is an evidence that that money is not available for maintaining parish work. When the legacy was received, the Trustees had, of course, the option of investing the money and carrying on the work of the Church with the income. If this had been done we should still have been in old St. Mary's Church, without the necessity of asking for contributions from anybody; but we think that we should have had a dead Church, and we would have had no right to expect any quickening of spiritual life or any earnest, faithful prosecution of the work of a city parish. Experience has shown that nothing so quickly kills active church life as large endowments. In the last anniversary sermon, the theory of the Trustees was fully explained. It was to use the legacy to make a plant which should be capable of doing enormous work in the city of New York, and to leave a small [42/43] endowment to insure the protection of the fabric and to provide for the care, preservation and repair of the real estate : using the proceeds of the property of the old Church as a part of this endowment fund. The Trustees felt that the people of St. Mary the Virgin's would insist upon turning over the old property of the Church to this endowment fund free of debt. That expectation has not yet been realized. Liberal responses have been made to the appeals of the Rector and Trustees of a year ago, but there still remain nearly twenty thousand dollars of the old debts of the parish unprovided for. I do not mean that these old debts have not been paid, but I do mean that the legacy of Miss Cooke, which never was intended to pay the debts of the parish, but was intended to be used in the erection of a new Church, has been encroached upon to the extent of twenty thousand dollars to pay these debts.
This Church and surrounding buildings, and the land, have cost about six hundred and fifty thousand dollars. They are worth a good deal more than that sum to-day. The real estate was bought at a low figure and is worth much more to-day than the price paid for it by the Trustees. The buildings erected upon this land have been constructed under contracts which could not be duplicated to-day by many thousands of dollars, and the parish is in possession of a plant worth a good many thousand dollars more than the Trustees have paid for it.
Now, this great plant the Trustees hold for the parish free of debt, and the" endowment fund, if rilled up by the repayment to it of the twenty thousand dollars, more or less, of the old debts of the parish, [43/44] which our people ought to pay but have not yet paid, will be sufficient to care for this plant and leave it in workable shape for the parish. The Trustees have been enabled to do this by economy in expenditure and by profits realized in the management of the funds left by Miss Cooke; but the people must see that to carry on the work of St. Mary the Virgin's Church, as much, if not more, contributions than ever will be needed. Two things are necessary, therefore, for the people to do: first, to repay to the Endowment Fund the twenty thousand dollars borrowed from it to pay the old debts of the parish; and, second, to keep up and increase the contributions for the carrying on of the work of the parish. The Endowment Fund was not reserved for either purpose. It was intended simply to care for the fabric, to preserve it, to maintain it, to supply any temporary deficiencies in income; but it was not intended by the Trustees, nor could Miss Cooke herself ever have intended, that the legacy left by her should make it less necessary for the people who belong to this parish and attend its services to maintain, not only the services themselves, but the missionary operations conducted by its Clergy and Sisters. It must be patent to everybody who attends these services that the cost of maintenance is very much increased. The care, the cleaning, the lighting, the heating of the buildings, and the music of the services, are necessarily largely increased in cost. But certainly a Parish Church is not for these only. It stands, if it stands for anything, for the carrying out of the practical working among the people of the well-known objects of the Christian Church. Its enlarged plant, therefore, merely means enlarged opportunities, and to [44/45] make the most of these the income of the parish must not only be maintained, but increased. Let no one, therefore, say that the parish of St. Mary's is rich, and that it needs no money, and make this an excuse for dropping off in his contributions or failing to make them. The fact of it is, that the parish needs income more than ever it did, and that this fact was within the deliberate intention of the Rector and Trustees, who will never believe that the people who attend this Church wish to do so without contributing to the utmost of their means to its support. Evidences are not lacking that during the past year the feeling has been abroad that the Church no longer needed money. There has been, however, some improvement in the envelope account, and we are glad to say that the pledges already made for 1896 fully equal in amount those received during the past year; and we are receiving new names. It is earnestly hoped that this matter of renewing pledges and increasing them, if possible, will have the immediate attention of the people; as well as the increasing of the collections and of the subscriptions to the Mission House account, which, we regret to say, have also fallen off during the past two years.
While we are worshiping in the new Church (and it is in a condition entirely fit for use), it is evident that the Trustees have left for individual givers many things to be done for its adornment. The old Reredos was entirely unsuited for the architecture of the new Church, and to the proportions of its sanctuary. A design for a new Reredos has been prepared and exhibited in the new Church. To complete it richly and fittingly will cost several thousand dollars--perhaps ten thousand [45/46] dollars. Towards this over a thousand dollars have been contributed, and small sums for that purpose are received at nearly every high service. The carved decorations of the front of the Church have been planned for, but the Trustees have not thought it right to use the funds of the corporation for such purpose. There is shown in St. Elizabeth's Hall a model of the front of the Church as it is intended to be, and gifts for the completion are invited. ' The entire cost of the carvings will be $8,500, but this has been divided, so that smaller gifts may be made.
The single statues on either side of the door, above and below, may be put in position, the lower ones for seven hundred dollars and the upper ones for eight hundred each. The figure of St. Joseph, which is intended to be above the Clergy House door, will cost seven hundred dollars. The Calvary, to be placed under the rose window, will cost twenty-four hundred dollars for the three figures. The tympanum over the front door, as designed, will cost twenty-four hundred dollars, and is divided into three sections. The upper one six hundred dollars, the middle one six hundred dollars, and the lower one, filled with the statues of ten saints, and the canopies over the statues, for twelve hundred dollars. Thus the statue of a single saint may be subscribed for separately, for a little over one hundred dollars. Then there are the clere-story windows, the glass in which is not intended to be permanent, though it is effective, the Trustees having made a very advantageous contract for temporary glass. Coming down to smaller gifts, we very much need the wrought iron grille about the Chancel, which could be put in place for from sixteen hundred to two thousand dollars. [46/47] There are also four pillars, the carving of the capitals of which have not been yet subscribed for.
I want to say a few words about the Bishops' late Pastoral, as it has been so often referred to in commenting upon the services in this new church.
First, that Pastoral is not, as it is often represented to be, a sweeping condemnation of ritual or ritualism. I think a better description of the Letter's discussion of ritualism is that it is a protest against forcing ritual upon worshipers. The Bishops point out that "the faith loses its hold upon the conscience if it be framed only in theological formularies." and that the Te Deum and the Creeds and the cycle of the festivals of the Christian year have kept up the faith when decrees of councils and elaborate catechisms would have been forgotten. And then the Bishops urge the Clergy to conform the public conduct of divine service to the spirit and letter of the Prayer Book. They expressly condemn the doctrine that "omission is prohibition," and the use of these words, which are the very words used in the ritualistic controversies in England, shows that the Bishops do believe that our Church has the inalienable right to use the services of the ancient Catholic Church, and that the preface to the Prayer Book, conforming our doctrines and discipline and ceremonies to those of the English Church, and the preface to the English book, which insists that it contains nothing contrary to the earlier books of ceremonial, give undoubted permission to properly conform to Catholic ritual. They again add, that "the Prayer Book is not and is not intended to be a minute and detailed directory, entering accurately into the minutiae of every separate act, and that it was not compiled by a [47/48] congregation of rites," and they go on to urge that the ritual must be in accordance with the spirit of the Prayer Book; that the Book of Common Prayer is intended to serve the purpose of comprising the united devotion of a congregation of people, made up of varying temperaments and mixed characters; and their whole discussion of the subject shows that their primary purpose is to warn priests against forcing ritual on unwilling worshipers, as, for instance, where the Bishops point out that in villages and towns where there is but one congregation, the priest is far less free to press things lawful, but not expedient, than if the people have a chance to go to another place of worship. So much has been said about the services of St. Mary's on the opening day, that it is proper for us to insist that nothing was done on that day contrary to the Prayer Book or to the Bishops' Pastoral.
When we are considering whether a service is contrary to this Pastoral, we are not to look to the general expressions of the Pastoral, but to the specific injunctions. General expressions may easily be misunderstood, but specific instructions are usually definite. None of these was violated. To be sure, the programmes used the word Mass, which the Bishops do not like; but they can scarcely be supposed to actually forbid the use of a word which was used in the Prayer Book of the Reformed Church of England. The new rubric in the Prayer Book requiring opportunity to be given to the congregation to be communicated was fully observed. As to the Bishops' protest against omissions in the recitation of the office, the only omission from the full Prayer Book service was that of the exhortation, which the rubric directs shall [48/49] be said to those who are about to communicate. As no notice of intention to communicate had been received by the Clergy prior to the service, the reading of this exhortation was unnecessary and was not really called for by the Prayer Book.
The Bishops, in discussing the Mass without lay communicants, rightly assume that its purpose is to urge the people to receive fasting; and they distinctly say that they wish to speak on the subject with due consideration to an ancient and prevalent custom of the Church, and then they go on to urge that between the alternatives of infrequent communion and fasting communion there ought to be no question as to the choice. We take it, therefore, that the whole of this part of the discussion would not be held to apply to a Church which gives two or three opportunities every day in the week for communion.
Reservation is not absolutely condemned by the Pastoral, which expressly states that the "Ordinary may in cases of extreme necessity authorize the reserved Sacrament to be carried to the sick." Of course, the reserved Sacrament cannot be carried to the sick unless it shall have first been reserved; and reservation for this purpose we understand to have been long since distinctly authorized in this diocese. No Bishop has been, or would be so bold as to declare that the Sacrament reserved for the sick should not be adored; and the practice of this church, now as in the past, is therefore in this respect entirely legal.
We do not, however, need any close reasoning as to the truth of the allegation that the services in this church were contrary to the Pastoral of the Bishops. The Bishop who moved the adoption of the Pastoral [49/50] at the General Convention was the very Bishop who pontificated at the solemn service on the opening day of the Church, and he has, as we are informed, expressly stated that after full consideration of what took place, he found nothing in the service contrary to the injunctions of the Bishops. The service was indeed, as one of our parishioners wrote, a "splendid example of what may be done within its rubrical directions to set forth the whole of the truth which it teaches; for that the Prayer Book, from preface to finis, does teach the distinctively Catholic doctrine, was long ago shown by the Presbyterians in the Barnes controversy, and by the Reformed Episcopalians as their reason for schism; and you must remember at the last General Convention at Minneapolis, the Bishops and Clergy voted to take the words 'Protestant Episcopal' out of the Prayer Book, and that only a close adverse vote of the laity defeated the resolution."
There has been a change in the arrangements of the musical parts of the services; the concerted part of the music is sung, by a quartette and an increased chorus choir, in the western end of the building, in the gallery; and there also are gathered together those who play upon the musical instruments. There the conductor of the music can be stationed out of sight. By reserving a place in the stalls of the choir near the Altar, in the eastern end of the Church for a number of men and boys, the Gregorian music can be sung, which is used in the Mass and Vespers, so that this distribution of the musicians and the arrangement of the choirs will prove most practical, and better than anything we have ever had before, or than is had in most churches.
We are interested in the fact that there are two [50/51] organs in the Church. That over the choir is a new organ, light in tone, yet strong enough to sustain the Chancel choir. That over the organ gallery is the old organ, which we had in the old Church, enlarged and strengthened by well-selected stops. The strength of tone and power which has been developed by placing it against the western wall, high up, has been one of the good surprises that came to us, as the days drew near to the opening.
It has gained in sweetness, too, though it was always a sweet-toned organ. The novelty which will be observed in the manner of playing it is, that by means of electrical wires, the organist can play from either end of the church, in the choir or in the gallery, both organs at once or each organ separately. We are informed by those who are aware of the method of constructing organs and who are in the business, that there is no other Church in the country which has two organs so equipped in mechanism; and it is also said that there are no two organs in the world having this arrangement.
In the acoustics of the building we find another satisfaction, which is always a doubtful question in a new building; no matter how carefully the proportions may be designed, the result can be proved only by actual experience.
We have been thoroughly trained in the Church to recognize that the chief purpose of building a Church in any part of the world is for the purpose of enclosing the Altar. Some of the most ancient Churches in the world were simply coverings, more or less beautiful, for the Altar which was erected over the body of a martyr, or over the place of martyrdom, where blood was shed [51/52] by the martyr for the love of his Saviour, Whose Blood redeemed the world. Such a memorial would be a constant reminder of the value of the Blood which is the life of the world.
There is something mysterious in the mystery of the life hidden with Christ; that He in whom is life should share with His people, who have become one with His life, and should give a value to the mystery of death, is one of the blessings promised by Him to His Church; and therefore the Altars were erected to show forth the death of Christ, while at the same time they gave honor to the death of the martyr, whose relics were enshrined under that Altar.
It was one of the ways in which the early Church did commemorate God and commemorate men. But in these days when we have no relics usually under our Altars, we are not so forcibly reminded that men are co-workers with God, but are left with the chief thought that it is the death of Christ which the Altar must represent.
The mark of a Catholic Church, therefore, is the Altar. It exalts the building that has the Altar above any building without an Altar. The scriptures may be read in a small mission chapel without an Altar, instructions may be given, sermons preached; however much they may benefit men in such a good use, nevertheless they have neither the honor nor the power which would attach to the smallest or the greatest Church with an Altar. It is the continual remembrance of the sacrifice of the death of Christ and of the benefits we reap thereby, which is the centre of Christian life. It is the continual remembrance showing forth or exhibiting to God, which is the chief purpose. It [52/53] is the continual showing forth the death of Christ and redemption thereby, which is the speaking exhortation to men. It is the evidence of the love that men should have for God and the love that men should have for men and is regarded as the motive for the love of man for man. It is not merely a sign that men are in charity with men, but that men have a charity for those who have not yet been brought to recognize the fullness of its meaning.
It is therefore testimonial of love amongst professing Christians; and it is also missionary, in that all men, from the hatred, ignorance, indifference and all grades of vice, which is the curse of the world, are called to become loving members of the body of Christ, which is the Church. The purposes of the memorial of the sacrifice of the death of Christ are revealed to us in the same order as Christ's own words, first, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God; and secondly, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Or as the Mosaic Law from the first has revealed it, the first commandment, Thou shalt have none other God but me. The fifth commandment, Honor thy father and thy mother. First, duty to God, and then afterward, duty to our neighbor.
As we enter this Church, the chief object which strikes our eye is the same holy Altar which was blessed by our Bishop Horatio Potter some twenty-four years ago. Here we behold the Altar which the old Church enshrined, and which is now canopied by this more magnificent Church. When we reflect how many times we have celebrated the Sacred Mystery of the sacrifice of the death of Christ, the memorial which He has commanded us to make; how [53/54] for this long time the continual remembrance has been presented to our Father in Heaven, we can appeal to the possibility and practicability of making the Office of our Church in villages, towns and cities, the light and the heart of every Church, where the love of God shall abide, where His own honor dwelleth; from whence the warm love of man may grow warmer, and love, that may have become cold, may be revived. Those of us who have found this Altar to be the strengthening of our life, will at a glance recognize its welcome shape. Others will become enthusiastic because of our enthusiasm. From far and near, they who have come to worship here occasionally, and who have received the Blessed Sacrament, will come again As time goes on, others will come, we may modestly say, in almost countless numbers.
When we are able to finish this Altar with a new and adapted Reredos, its central spire will point up toward the heavens; we know that affection for it will be strengthened. They who have already contributed toward the completion of it, and others who shall yet contribute of their bounty and their love, will some day see it in its perfection and beauty. One and all shall learn the glory of the Church, the kingdom of peace, as prophesied before the coming of our Lord. This Altar will be but one of thousands all over the tend, of which may be said,
Rise, crowned with light, Imperial Salem, rise!
Exalt thy tow'ring head and lift thine eyes!
See heav'n its sparkling portals wide display,
And break upon thee in a flood of day.
 See future sons, and daughters yet unborn,
In crowding ranks on ev'ry side arise,
Demanding life, impatient for the skies.
See thy bright altars thronged with prostrate kings,
While ev'ry land its joyous tribute brings.
But, Dearly Beloved, we must speak of the ministrations that are yet to be given through our possession of this Altar.
The Blessed Sacrament, at the time of the early celebrations, to those who are able and strong enough to come to the Church at the regular hours; at other times, to those whom circumstances prevent attendance at the hours of public worship, because of their inability to meet such public engagements; to the sick, who, either house-bound or bed-ridden or prostrate with serious illness, in their own abodes. The sanctification of sorrow, the confession of sin, the benefit of Absolution, in the Sacrament of Penance, which Our Blessed Lord has given power and commandment to His ministers to declare and pronounce to His people being penitent. The gift of Baptismal life at the sacred font, where the Water and the Word are outward visible signs, ordained by Christ Himself, as the means whereby we receive the inward and spiritual grace, and the pledge to assure us thereof. These three important Sacraments--Baptism, which is first of all and only once necessary for our salvation; the Blessed Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, which with frequent and regular reception is likewise generally necessary for our salvation; and Penance, which, thank God, because of the power of grace given, is not so frequently necessary to us, will be administered with the same loving care and faithful oversight as heretofore.
 Christian life begins with and continues with the use of these three Sacraments; notably Penance and Communion are of that nature that they become the ordinary channels of grace to the individual life. If it were not so, our individual life would be most extraordinary. Because of this Altar, we shall have the blessing of prayer, the strengthening of instruction by God's holy word written, in the daily divine offices of the Church. Because of this Altar, supplications and litanies shall abound for the whole Church, for the Diocese, for the Bishop and Clergy, for this city, for this parish, and for those of us in particular who send their special requests for prayer and their thanksgivings for benefits which they have received.
Around this Altar there shall be the cultivation of steadfastness, faith, seriousness, affection and devotion of mind. As was said in the Consecration service of last Thursday, we are to be affected with an awful apprehension of the Divine Majesty, of a deep sense of our own unworthiness. We shall approach the Sanctuary with lowliness and devotion, come here before God with clean thoughts and pure hearts, with bodies undefiled, and minds sanctified through Jesus Christ our Lord, for we are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them and walk in them, and I will be their God and they shall be My people.
As the walls of this Church open into the chapels under the Clergy and Mission Houses on the sides, so that in some sense these houses are built upon this Church, so must the grace from our Saviour and His twofold nature spread under and support all our works of mercy. Those of us who work here, in every kind [56/57] of parish enterprise, acknowledge that only upon the foundation of the Church can great opportunities and results arise in perfection. Our own building will teach us, whenever we see it or think of it, that other foundation can no man lay but that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
With a heart full of charity and thankfulness we give these thoughts to your kind hearts, doubting not that the response will be increased mutual love and effective united co-operation.