Project Canterbury

Santa Scala: Readings and Prayers for Them That Mourn

Edited by William Croswell Doane

New York: James Pott and Co., 1894.


The Blessed and Beloved

Memory of

Sarah Paine Cleveland

At Rest

June 26, A. D. 1893


This little book is printed for two purposes; to suggest a simple service, for use with those who mourn for the dead, in the home, before the body of their beloved is carried out to the House of God; and to offer some thoughts, and words, and prayers of consolation to those who mourn.

The reason for its printing is, that the selections which the book contains were either made or used by one to whom, in a long and varied life, they had proved refreshing springs of strength and peace. To one who knew and loved that life for more than half a century, it seems well to use, and offer for others' use, what helped her to live and die, "having the testimony of a good conscience, in the communion of the Catholic Church, in the confidence of a certain faith, in the comfort of a reasonable, religious, and holy hope, in favour with God, and in perfect charity with the world." As the book lies before me ("Miss Sewell's Private Devotions for Young People"), [5/6] used until the leaves are all loose, with the dates marked in it of the different sorrows which had furrowed her life for the sowing of fresh seeds of faith, and love, and hope, and with the names of those whom she wore upon her heart, it seems like the worn steps of a real "santa scala," a stairway, by which her soul climbed to rare heights of holiness here; and from them to the mountain-top of Vision, the entrance-way to the promised land of Paradise.

W. C. D.


Dearly Beloved, hear the words of Holy Scripture to those who mourn for the dead:

What man is he that liveth and shall not see death? Shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave.

He shall go to the generation of his fathers: they shall never see the light.

They are laid in the grave: death shall feed on them; and their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling.

But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for He shall receive me.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.

For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.

Jesus said unto her, I am the Resurrection and the Life: he that believeth in Me; though he [7/8] were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.

For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and living.

For He must reign till He bath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious Body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself.

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.

For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

As we have borne the image of the earthy, we [8/9] shall also bear the image of the heavenly. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory: while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.

These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the Throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple: and He that sitteth on the Throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.

For the Lamb which is in the midst of the Throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto [9/10] living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.




Almighty God, Who through Thine only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, hast overcome death and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life, grant, we beseech Thee, that as we are baptized into the death of Thy Blessed Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ, so by continual mortifying our corrupt affections we may be buried with Him, and that through the grave and gate of death we may pass to our joyful resurrection for His merits who died and was buried, and rose again for us, Thy Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

We most humbly beseech Thee, of Thy goodness, O Lord, to comfort and succour all those who in this transitory life are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or other adversity, and we also bless Thy Holy Name for all Thy servants departed this life in Thy faith and fear, beseeching Thee to give us grace so to follow their good examples that with [10/11] them we may be partakers of Thy heavenly kingdom. Grant this, O Father, for Jesus Christ's sake, our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen.

O Lord Jesus Christ, Who by Thy death didst take away the sting of death, grant unto us thy servants so to follow in faith where Thou hast led the way that we may at length fall asleep peacefully in Thee, and awake up after Thy likeness, through Thy mercy, Who livest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.


Most merciful Father, Who hast been pleased to take unto Thyself the soul of this little child, grant unto us who are still in our pilgrimage, and who walk as yet by faith, that, having served Thee constantly on earth we may be joined hereafter with Thy blessed saints in glory everlasting, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost, O Holy, Blessed, and Glorious Trinity, into the everlasting arms of Thy loving embrace we commit the souls and bodies of Thy servants our loved ones lost to us a while. Anoint and cheer them with Thy grace. Make sweet to them the [11/12] calm of "Paradise the blessed." Let our prayers and their petitions for us intermingle before the throne of Thy Divine Majesty, and when we shall have served Thee here below, may we join with then in praising Thee above. Thus under the shadow of Thy wings may they and we, with all the household of faith, abide in peace for evermore. Amen.


The God of peace, Who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, the Great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do and bear His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.



O merciful God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the Resurrection and the Life, I meekly beseech Thee to raise me from the death of sin unto the life of righteousness, that when I depart this life I may rest in Thee as I hope and believe ---- are now resting, and that at the general Resurrection at the Last Day we may be found acceptable in Thy sight, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


O merciful and. gracious Father, Who lovest Whom Thou chastenest, look down upon us in pity in this time of grievous sorrow. We do earnestly desire to submit ourselves to Thy Divine Will. O, grant us Thy help, the strength of Thy Blessed Spirit, that no murmurs may arise in our hearts. We would meekly submit; do Thou in Thy love effectually comfort us. O Lord, bless to us this hour of anguish, grant that it may be the [13/14] preparation for a life of greater nearness to Thee; and so fit us, we beseech Thee, for our own last change, that when the hour of our departure shall come, we may look up to Thee with hope and comfort, and may at last be received, with the loved one from whom we are now parted, into the Home of rest and peace, where Thou shalt Thyself wipe away all tears from our eyes. Grant this, O Lord, for His sake Who wept at the grave of Lazarus--our Blessed, Loving, and Tender Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Lord, turn Thee unto me, and have mercy upon me, for I am desolate and in misery. The sorrows of my heart are enlarged: O bring Thou me out of my troubles. Look upon mine adversity and misery, and forgive me all my sins, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Hear my crying, O God, give ear unto my prayer; from the ends of the earth, whithersoever Thou shalt cast me, I will call upon Thee when my heart is in heaviness. Hear me, O Lord, for Thy loving-kindness is great, turn unto me according to the multitude of Thy tender mercies. Hide not Thy face from Thy servant, for I am in trouble; but draw near unto my soul and redeem it, for Jesus Christ His sake. Amen.

[15] My soul melteth away for very heaviness. Comfort Thou me according to Thy Word. Amen.

O Lord, trouble and heaviness have taken hold upon me; give me patience, good Lord, and grant that my delight may still be in Thy commandments. Amen.

Lord, support me all the day long of this troublous life until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over and my work is done. Then in Thy mercy grant me a safe lodging and a holy rest and peace at the last. Amen, Lord Jesus. Amen.


O eternal God, and merciful Father, with whom do rest the souls of them that die in Thy faith and favour, have mercy upon me, and grant that my life may be a preparation to die, and my death an entrance to life with Thee, as upon this day it pleased Thee to take my dear ---- to Thy mercy. O Lord, he was Thy servant, Thy meek, humble, faithful servant; and I assure myself he is in rest, and light, and blessedness. Lord, while I am here behind in my pilgrimage, shower down Thy grace upon me, that I may grow in faith, obedience, and [15/16] thankfulness to Thee; that I may make it my joy to perform my duty to Thee. And after my painful life ended, bring me, I beseech Thee, to Thy joys, to Thy glory, to Thyself; that I and him I love, with all Thy saints and servants departed this life, may meet in a blessed glorious Resurrection, ever to sing praises and honour to Thee, in and through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, prayers be made for all men."

O'ER land and sea love follows with fond prayers
Its dear ones in their troubles, grief, and cares;
          There is no spot
On which it does not drop this tender dew,
Except the grave, and there it bids adieu,
          And prayeth not.

Why should that be the only place uncheered
By prayer, which to our hearts is most endeared,
          And sacred grown?
Living, we sought for blessings on their head;
Why should our lips be sealed when they are dead,
          And we alone?

Idle? their doom is fixed? Ah! who can tell?
Yet, were it so, I think no harm could well
          Come of my prayer:
And O the heart, o'erburdened with its grief,
This comfort needs, and finds therein relief
          From its despair.

[18] Shall God be wroth because we love them still,
And call upon His love to shield from ill
          Our dearest, best,
And bring them home, and recompense their pain,
And cleanse their sin, if any sin remain,
          And give them rest?

Nay, I will not believe it. I will pray
As for the living, for the dead each day.
          They will not grow
Less meet for heaven when followed by a prayer
To speed them home, like summer-scented air
          From long ago.

Who shall forbid the heart's desires to flow
Beyond the limit of the things we know?
          In heaven above
The incense that the golden censers bear
Is the sweet perfume from the saintly prayer
          Of trust and love.


"I will pray, as for the living, for the dead, each day."

How can I cease to pray for thee? Somewhere
In God's great universe thou art to day,
Can He not reach thee with His tender care?
Can He not hear me when for thee I pray?

[19] What matters it to Him who holds within
The hollow of His hand all worlds, all space,
That thou art done with earthly pain and sin?
Somewhere within His ken thou hast a place.

Somewhere thou livest, and hast need of Him:
Somewhere thy soul sees higher heights to climb;
And somewhere still, there may be valleys dim
That thou must pass to reach the hills Sublime!

Then all the more because thou canst not hear
Poor human words of blessing, will I pray
O true, brave heart! God bless thee! wheresoe'er
In His great universe thou art to-day!



I KNOW not what awaits me, God kindly veils my eyes,
And o'er each step of the onward way He makes new scenes to rise;
And every joy He sends me comes a glad and sweet surprise.

Where He may lead I'll follow, my trust in Him repose,
And every hour in perfect peace I'll sing, He knows, He knows.
[20] One step I see before me, 'tis all I need to see.
The light of Heaven most brightly shines when earth's illusions flee,
And sweetly through the silence comes His loving "Follow Me."

Oh blessed lack of wisdom, 'tis better not to know.
He holds me by His own right hand and will not let me go,
And lulls my troubled soul to rest in Him who loves me so.

So on I go not knowing, I would not if I might;
I would rather walk in the dark with God than go alone in the light--
I would rather walk by faith with Him than go alone by sight.

Those are not happy upon whom the adversities of God's love do not smile.

"Began to realize that happiness is not the result of pleasure commencing with enjoyment and turning naturally into the satiety of fruition; but of pain dedicated to God by consecration and transfigured by resignation into the peace that attends the practice of His Presence."--SIR PERCIVAL SHORTHOUSE.

[21] Worldliness or conceit, not rationality, is the scriptural antagonist of faith.
How the children know the Father where the will of God is done!
By all Thou causest me to long for, oh, my God, I feel how much Thou hast to give.


LONG, still, colorless days stretching out from that day. They seem to fill all space, all time. "It is not living," says Madame Bunsen; "it is waiting, moored to one point of time."

It is not living, yet how the ceaseless shuttle flies--conjecture, hope, fear, remembrance, flashing through the warp of the daily lower life, which goes automatically, noisily on! It is not living, yet how quickened is every nerve to every touch, to every voice, to all the novelties and incongruities, the humours even (grim, heart-breaking humours) of grief! How keen is our introspective glance!

Be a little lenient with yourself, dear heart, in these hard days. Do not expect too much of yourself. Do not search too sharply, and despair if you do not find overcoming faith, definite hope, ready submission. Lie still, lie still. After a [21/22] while you will begin to guess the patient tenderness of the arms in which you lie.

"They ask me if I can trust," said one stricken by a heavy blow. "I do not know. I search my heart, but--no, I am afraid I do not even trust." Then came one wiser than them all, her whitehaired pastor. "Dear child," be said, "you lie here quietly on this bed. You are not afraid of falling? You think the bed is strong?" "Yes." "You think the floor is strong, the foundation of the house firm. You do not stop to question about it. You lie down. Just so your soul maybe resting upon God, though you are not conscious of an act of trust."

Be much with nature. "A great remedy lies therein." We cannot bear a spoken word. We turn, it may be, even from the sacred written word. But we can let the sunshine fall upon our head. We cannot refuse its silent benediction. No mother soothes so healthfully as nature. She is so human in her moods, yet how underlaid they are with patient strength! There is rest in her slow, great purpose, her sure fulfilment. And she may become our schoolmaster, to lead us to Him whose slower, grander, more silent purposes include and overrule hers.

Anniversaries are days of dread to the sufferer. The best way is to make them blessing days to [22/23] others--Sabbaths of the heart, set apart to loving service. Many a life has such a sacred, secret calendar, indicated only by sweet words and golden deeds. You do not suspect why that lonely man gives his large gift to some noble end to-day rather than to morrow. There is One who knows. The children do not guess why their mother kisses them with unusual tenderness on such a night, and lingers longer in the nursery talking of their little joys and sorrows, defeats and victories. It is the night that little Mary died, whom they never knew.

Learn, above all, as soon as you can, to take without shrinking all the little pleasures that may come. Be sure they will not violate that silent temple where you and sorrow sit. Let even the laugh come as soon as it will. God knows it does not come from a very deep well, but let it come. The great joys are gone--yes, I know that--postponed, but there are little pleasures still; cups of cold water held out to us. Let us learn to take them with simple thankfulness. Guizot, that deep-hearted, broad-minded man who had suffered during his long life as only the strong can suffer, wrote in his latest years to a friend: "Time will teach you, as it has taught me, not to despise joys of a secondary kind. There are depths in the ocean which the sun's rays that illumine and [23/24] warm its surface can never reach. So it is with our minds after certain blows. Nevertheless, I can enjoy the sun."

No human life is so strong, so inspiring, as that of one who waits with patient cheeriness.

"The Lord shall be thine everlasting Light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended."

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