EARLY IN 1893 Father Crapsey held a two weeks' mission in the Cathedral in Omaha. Eva seems to have felt that a time of crisis was upon her, as she wrote: "The mission to be held in the Cathedral this week and next is taking all our thoughts and prayers. It may give us great opportunities. God grant that we may be equal to them; that whatever the result, He may be served in His own way. To be purged of self will in everything at whatever cost, that is the burden of my prayer."
February 26, 1893.
A dozen times since the retreat began I have said to myself, Oh, if G. could only have this!
It began Wednesday night with a preparatory service and sermon by the Bishop, blessing the missioner and giving him charge to preach faithfully the truth to his people. And most wonderfully he is fulfilling his charge. The services are Holy Communion at six-thirty and eight in the morning, a doctrinal instruction at ten-thirty, an address to business men at noon, a service for women at four, and the general mission service at night. This afternoon there was a service for children at three and Paul said the Cathedral was full from end to end, some little darkies coming in late having to go up to the choir.
When I first saw Father Crapsey's full face I thought of Mr. Chadband; when he turned his profile I was reminded of the great Napoleon--and indeed besides the likeness he has his trick of holding his head thrust forward--but now I do not think of either but only strain to lose no word, no gesture, no play of feature while he is speaking. He is very clear in his explanations, eloquent and thoughtful, dramatic without effort. When he said this afternoon that an unhappy marriage was the ghastliest thing in this world--a corpse--those six hundred woman hearts stood appalled. [In casually hearing the name of the Rev. Algernon Crapsey, a Churchman is apt to think first of the wounds he afterwards dealt in the house of his friends, so that I am glad to record this witness to his great influence for good while he remained true to our full Catholic heritage.]
These afternoon meetings are for women alone. He said in the beginning that he meant to tell us of our faults, and he did not propose that our fathers and brothers and husbands should take advantage of it; and two or three reporters who had slipped in at the back he sharply ordered out. He is vigorous in his denunciations of western freedom, which he termed liberty run mad, and today he took for his subject the two estates of woman's life, Holy Matrimony and Consecrated Virginity. He insisted there was no third for a Christian. Those who were called not to holy matrimony were by that fact chosen of God for the other. Of course he said consecrated virginity could be lived in the world, but not by all. I tell you these things to show you all my heart. More and more things seem to be culminating towards a point. There are times still of violent rebellion, but it shows itself as rebellion now, and if, indeed, God has made this choice for me, pray, dear sister, that I may be meek and obedient to His will. Not your will, beloved, nor mine, but only and always His.
This has been a busy week with me, for on Tuesday Mr. and Mrs. Sanford and their baby came to us for a little visit. Mrs. Sanford is as dainty and birdlike as ever, with her fluffy golden hair and dimpled childlike face that hides so much cheerful courage beneath its pleasant smile. She seemed tinier than ever, perhaps because the baby is bigger. She is sixteen months old and exactly half as tall as her mother, but with such morsels of hands and feet that she does not attempt to walk yet, and the little mother patiently carries her everywhere, upstairs and down, and never once admits that there is such a thing as backache. She did enjoy her little outing, the first she has had since coming to Nebraska, and I must say I never had a visitor I enjoyed so much. Of course there were troubles. Mary fell and bruised and strained her ankle, so I had to stay at home one evening and wrap it in hot cloths. Two afternoons I had meetings and had to be away, and it being Mr. Johnson's week at the fires, I had the responsibility of them and was in constant terror lest they should go out, being always in a languishing condition. Saturday morning I went out at ten leaving Mr. Johnson lounging in the study, both fires doing well. At half after twelve I came home, and they were out. He had gone off without touching them! My wrath and indignation knew no bounds and that evening at tea I gave a little sermon on the importance of little things that may work a reform. It ought to, if it hurt them half as much to hear it as it did me to give it. I spent the evening in the oratory afterwards praying for them and for you and for this poor, weak self that cannot keep her temper when her fire goes out!
I wrote my letter last night while all the men of the house were down at the Cathedral at the men's service. They came in at half after ten in great excitement, declaring it was the greatest sermon they had ever heard. Mr. Johnson fainted away and had to be carried out into the deanery. When he came to, he said, "Well, if Father Crapsey will tell such blood-curdling stories he must expect to have the corpses strewn about!" The Cathedral was filled, they said, from end to end with men, which made the third great congregation there in four hours; first the children, then the women, then the men. And of course there had been service in the morning as usual.
We had a fearful storm last night, a bitter wind driving a blinding sleet and beating the house in fury all night long, and then about midnight a thunder storm with several deafening peals of thunder. I would not believe my own ears and concluded that I had dreamed it until I heard the others talking of it this morning. I never heard thunder in such severe cold. The fires are roaring this morning and by diligent attention the house keeps warm.
You see I have been going through a personal revival, and what before seemed a hard duty and an end of life, looks now as a beginning of something new and altogether beautiful. I had a private little talk with Father Crapsey on Wednesday before the morning service. He laughed at my fears about separation from those I love. "Why," he said, "a sisterhood is not a prison," and then he spoke of one sister who visited her home every six months. He advised me to enter at once, and indeed little urging was needed, for the joy of my vocation leaped into being and sang in my heart all day; but when in the evening I told Paul, I was very much disturbed at the effect it had on him. He was more than sorry and disappointed, he was angry. The next morning, however, he was in a calmer frame of mind and had a "proposition" to make as usual. He made it over a game of backgammon under cover of the rattling dice, but I really forget who won that game. His proposition was to wait for eighteen months until his work was finished here, and then, if I still wished, to make my trial of the sisterhood life. We agreed to refer it to Father Williams, and I think rather mystified Mrs. Williams by taking luncheon with her, somewhat unexpectedly to her, and having private conference with her husband afterwards. He agreed with Paul that I ought to wait, though I see little to be gained by it but patience. But I have no right to rush into a life of obedience by an act of disobedience--as Sister Dora did, do you remember?--and with such disastrous results to herself--so I shall possess my soul with patience, and perhaps, like Jacob laboring for Rachel, the months may seem like but a few days for the great love that is holding my heart. Ah! may it hold it fast!
I had to interrupt my letter yesterday, and tonight, seated in my own room with table drawn close to the stove where a comfortable wood fire is burning, I shall try to answer your dear, sad little letter which came to me this morning.
To me the whole question of separation, of at least breaking the home ties, seemed answered when I found I could visit you if I pleased twice a year. It seems to me if I can see you often and write to you always, there need be no real separation. What more could we hope for, unless I lived with you, and I have never thought that would be quite wise for you. All the real training and guidance of your children must be in your own hands until they are of an age to be handed on to school and college. It would be bad for you to be able to shift the responsibility upon anyone else, a great loss to you and to the children. And as to hasty choosing, dear, I do not think I choose at all, I think I was chosen. For days every prayer has been for guidance. On the day that I went to Father Crapsey I received the Holy Communion in the morning with a special prayer for light. Do you believe in the individual guiding of the Holy Spirit? Do you think He leaves us comfortless and unguided when our whole prayer, our sincere desire, is to know His will that we may do it? But if He has set His love upon me, can I resist it? That strange, beautiful love that is so close that it seems to rest upon me alone of all the world, and yet, such is the wonder of Infinity, I know it rests in like measure upon every creature of His hand. You will understand, for you are a woman and have been chosen and crowned with a human love. That such choosing can exist in the divine relation is a thing that overwhelms the reason and makes the heart tremble to the verge of faintness. To be so crowned, so chosen, a thing of dust and ashes!
And now as to the trial of the Sisterhood life. It lasts for three years and a half. Six months' residence and trial before I should be accepted at all, and then three years novitiate before the life vows can be taken. Such are the safeguards placed around the life, and do you think that pride would hold me then if it should be found that I had no call, when I knew it to be my soul's peril? I can hardly see how there can be a mistake made in that direction. The danger that the world, and ease, and pleasant pastime may creep in and steal your priceless treasure is far greater, and then life must be lived upon a lower plane in bare poverty of soul, and what the loss in Eternity may be we cannot tell.
We had our sewing school this afternoon with fifty-three children present and eight absent, and only four teachers to take care of them all. Two hours fly like minutes in work like that.
In the spring of 1893 Paul and Eva came into a small competence, through the settling of their father's estate, which enabled them to take the house on Twenty-eighth street, leaving the now overcrowded clergy house. They hoped to live quietly together for the remainder of Paul's promised term. He continued to help support the Associate Mission and made possible the immediate building of a new and more convenient clergy house near St. John's Church, which could be eventually turned into a parish house for that parish when the need of the association of missions should be ended. From a letter of April 16th it would seem that the clergy were inclined to follow the home maker:
We are moved at last, and though not yet completely settled, the worst of it is over and we are really comfortable. What made it particularly hard this time was that I had so little time for preparation. The whole of the previous day, which should have been given to packing and planning, was taken up with a sale for St. Paul's, that I had to take the direction of, and so I could not spare an hour for my own interests. Miss Keese was indeed a help, but in moving you have to trust mainly to yourself. I wish you could see how pretty the house looks, the ample dining room with its sunny bay and a rose vine climbing the second story windows, the drawing room with its cheerful open fireplace, mattings and rugs and portieres, my books in the pretty bookcase, and a tall Easter lily crowned with seven blossoms and buds on the table in the window. Then there is the study, with desk and book shelves filled with books and a pantry where I keep my china and ice chest, etc., and then the kitchen. The range was broken in moving, so until that can be set up I am using a gasoline stove and it is so convenient that I wonder that I ever did without it.
The day we moved, while everything was in confusion, the wagons standing at the door waiting to be unloaded, and the men calmly seating themselves on the porch and eating their noonday meal of sandwich and pie, my hungry family began clamoring for dinner, and I gave them a very good one in ten minutes, mulligatany soup, ham and eggs, coffee, and bread and butter. By nightfall the kitchen things had been unpacked and put away, the china and glass wiped and stowed in their respective places, the dining room carpet down, and a large rug thrown over the bare boards of the drawing room, the furniture arranged, and a bright fire in the grate, for the evening was cold and bleak, and the whole clergy house came over to a hot supper of beefsteak and fried potatoes, hot coffee, and a most excellent cake bought the evening previous at the sale, bringing a sense of comfort and cheer to tired souls. And the marvelous thing to me was that I was not overtired, though I had hardly slept the night before.
It is a large hearted house-wife who is able to contemplate a supper party on moving day, or parish calls and a friend to tea the day the house almost burned down.
The fire happened this morning while I was out, and created a good deal of excitement. Indeed at one time it looked very doubtful about saving the house, and considering what headway the fire had made, I think we are fortunate in getting off with so little damage. The attic was swept almost from end to end, and one corner of the house is practically roofless, but aside from that and a few wet ceilings no great damage is done. We lost all our trunks and things stored in the attic, and the maid's room is a wreck.
Miss Keese met me as I got off the car, having waited for half an hour or more for fear I should hear an exaggerated account of it, and broke it to me very gently, so gently indeed that I was quite surprised to find so much of a ruin when I had reached the spot. However, after setting the girls to work cleaning up, there was nothing else for me to do, so I went out and made some important calls; and coming home about six o'clock found Miss Wood here, who wanted to see me about our sewing school, which now numbers sixty-five pupils and three teachers only. We persuaded her to stay to tea and she has just left. I feel very grateful that I have a fireside tonight.
The "House of Women" seems to have been something of an evolution. Towards the end of Mr. Johnson's three years, Miss Keese, who had been his betrothed for some time, made her home with Eva, at his request, until, in accordance with his promise to the Bishop, they could be married. Eva, finding the experiment of the house a success, was emboldened to work out a plan for women living and working together. This house was dubbed irreverently by the clergy, "The House of Martha."
In all this time of work and waiting she was never without consciousness of her vocation. She had promised her brother to wait for its accomplishment until his pledge to Bishop Worthington should be fulfilled, and she threw herself wholeheartedly into the Mission work and into teaching in the parochial school, which opened in September of that year. But underneath was always her purpose working towards its accomplishment.
She became an Associate of St. Mary's Sisterhood, making a retreat at their house in Chicago. Her interior life was full of the joy of renunciation. "I dreamed last night of such a beautiful baby, so soft and warm and white, and as I held him I thought of the Christ Child--only the bare thought takes my breath away--and to think that that came to a woman, one of us." And again:
To you the life seems barren and hard, a toil to little purpose in a raw, unformed city among a people of little refinement of mind or manners; and sometimes, when I am in a captious mood, it looks like that to me too, but there is a side often present to me, when this obscure work of ours shall have borne its fruit, this little band of faithful men will be known as the pioneers in a great movement, and I shall esteem it a privilege ever to have been, however humbly, associated with them. And better and greater than this looking forward is the looking backward into the little cities of Galilee and the dusty highways of Judea, and to feel that we too are of that little band who have left home and friends and hope of gain to follow Him, who always leads to Calvary, Crown of thorn and Throne of cross. What a kingship is this to turn the hearts of men from old delights to strange new loves, that the world laughs at and calls insane because it sees only the outside life, and the vision of the King Himself is hidden.
The Associate Mission never worked out into a great, country-wide, semi-monastic movement as perhaps Bishop Worthington may have hoped, but it did prove its worth as a practical, economical method of working several weak missions from a common center, something as our foreign missions are worked from the Mission Compound. It seems a method much less discouraging to young priests and deacons than our present policy of isolation and meagre salaries, and I think it surprising that it has not been made use of more widely. It has been used in New Jersey, and with success. Edward J. Knight, one of the original five, established an Associate Mission in Trenton, N. J., which did excellent work. He was afterwards made Bishop of Western Colorado.
Individualism does not thrive in such an atmosphere. It takes the Catholic mind and intense, common interest to bring success in such an enterprise. The young men of the Mission were all well instructed Churchmen for that day, and were bent upon giving the faith in its fulness and beauty. On St. Luke's day, the anniversary of their ordination to the priesthood, Paul Matthews and Irving Johnson, with a colored priest who had been ordained with them, had a festival celebration at St. John's Church; all the children of the parochial school were there, and one of the children reported at home, to the deep mystification of her Protestant parents, that Mr. Matthews came out in a red shawl. The movement then, of which Eva felt the urge, was the tidal wave of the whole Church towards the fulness of Catholic practice just gathering momentum towards the close of the nineteenth century.
During the year of 1893 ner influence brought into the Church two families very dear to her, that of her older brother and that of her younger sister. In the early part of the year her letters to her sister were full of loving suggestions or appeals. In a birthday greeting: "I was praying for you this morning, dearest, with especial remembrance as I knelt before the altar; another anniversary, shall we kneel together?" On the occasion of an illness: "Perhaps here is a quiet space in your busy life which God has given you that you may listen to Him. Perhaps He has some solemn truth or some tender secret to tell you, and He has stilled the stir and tumult of your life that you may hear, for His is a small, still voice and can only be heard in silence. Dear, believe me such tender and close intimacy of the soul with God may exist, does exist, and, so far from being the fruit of spiritual pride, can only exist with the most profound humility. Every human life is only a type and shadow of the divine, and every human relationship should teach us something new of His love or it has lost its purpose. He is the Father who forgives us, the Friend that is closer than a brother, the Husband, the Spouse, who stands and knocks, waiting to be admitted into the inner chamber of our hearts. Will He withhold anything from them who so receive Him? Is there anything which can be withheld from Him?"
She urged her sister to study, sent her lists of books, and put her in touch with the Library for Home Study of the Holy Scripture and Church History founded by Miss Sarah F. Smiley, writing: "God is Truth as well as Love, and seeking Truth, knowing Truth, is loving God with our minds."
She was deeply concerned over the conversion of a dear cousin, who afterwards entered the Sisterhood of St. Margaret. It was no light change for some of us to embrace the Catholic religion in those days. "It is hard for her," she wrote, "as her mother thinks one might as well be a Romanist at once as High Church, and according to her creed Romanists are worse than infidels." Her personal calls she found the most valuable part of her work--"the hardest to start and the most helpful after they are started. Often I feel that I have no right to so much, the World's Fair, and visits home, this pleasant home here, and really everything I want, when nearly every day I hear some new tale of sorrow in which lack of money plays a conspicuous part. It seems disgraceful of me to have crept into the good graces of fortune when the times are so hard for others."
On the last day of June the sewing school, in which Miss Wood was so faithful a helper, and the sixty-five pupils dispersed. "We had an interesting program of song and recitation all on the absorbing topic of sewing, and Paul made a little address on the subject of the camel going through the needle's eye which was interesting and appropriate."
Contact with the Religious life was of deep interest. "The Sisters of St. Monica are establishing a work here in connection with the Mission of Our Merciful Saviour, a work which is the result of the mission held here in Lent. It is in that part of the city, utterly forsaken of law and religion, that the Chapel of Our Merciful Saviour has been placed, and it is among the abandoned women of the region that the Sisters are to do their work. They have just found and furnished a suitable house and invited all Church people to visit them. The house certainly was most suitable and absolutely spotless, and the two Sisters, Mother Caroline and Sister Sarah, ladies of intelligence and refinement, neither of them young and both attentive hostesses."
The Sisterhood of St. Mary, as the oldest foundation in the American Church, was especially interesting. Eva had made a retreat in Chicago under the direction of Sister Frances, being received as an Associate by Father Larrabee, and it was towards that Sisterhood that she was looking for the fulfillment of her vows. The simple details of her first experience in a Sisters' house or "Cloister," as she called it, were full of meaning to her: the tiny bedroom, the iron bed, small wardrobe, hospitable cup of tea, the evening's preparation for her retreat by Sister Frances, the quiet day spent alone in the chapel, "entirely by myself, in reading, meditation, and prayer, a useless day it would seem to some."
A little Apologia of explanation was due to her still Protestant sister:
You ask me how my visit to the Sisters has affected my attitude to the question. I am not aware of any change. I found, as indeed I expected, that people live quiet, happy lives in the cloister as out of it. I found there the atmosphere of peace and kindliness that I expected. In fact it was all very much as I thought it would be. I feel very strongly that that is the life meant for me. I do not think I am the kind of character that can be grafted into the lives of others without serious injury. I have been given the faculties that I must use, a distinct development of character that needs a distinct sphere. If I should succeed in effacing myself it would be to the loss of certain powers that have been given me to exercise. If I should assert my own individuality, on the other hand, I should inevitably become a selfish, ease-loving old maid, if not sharp and crabbed. But after all, the only reason is that I believe it to be God's will clearly intimated to me, that I should enter a convent and lead the cloistered life.
It was not without experience of life and thoughtful balancing of different ways and methods that she came to her decision. On Nov. 27th, she wrote:
Church work is a most complicated profession. My amateur attempts give me some notion of what a Deaconess should be, and the question in my mind is, have our Deaconesses the spiritual background necessary to enable them to make the interests of others as dear to them as their own, at the same time absolutely free from prying curiosity or undue interference? It is certainly a difficult position looked upon as a career, but the Sisterhood can only be properly regarded as a life. Its main object is the life, the work being rather a means to an end. The Deaconess may to a certain extent choose her work, the Sister must go where she is sent, obedience being the main principle upon which the life is wrought. But this is beginning to be an essay. I am to write a paper on this subject, Sisterhoods and Deaconess Schools, to be read at our mission class, and I suspect myself of unconsciously practising on you.
You ask about the Sisterhood of St. Mary. The mother house is at Peekskill, New York. It is there that the novices are trained. There is also a girls' school connected with it. Teaching seems to be their especial work, as besides this boarding school they have one in New York City, another at Kenosha, Wisconsin, and still another at Memphis, Tennessee. Besides these they have charge of the House of Mercy in New York City, the largest institution of that kind, I believe, in our Church. They have a hospital in Sewanee, Tennessee, with a summer home for convalescents in the mountains. The Chicago house is confined to parish work and I believe they are planning a house in Washington this year. But with only eighty sisters it is hard to keep so many houses as they have. You see there is great demand for the work of trained women in the Church. Amateur work is well enough in its place, but few women are willing to give more than one afternoon a week. Few, indeed, are able to give more than that, and so no work can be undertaken that needs attention every day. Sisters and Deaconesses fill a want that is beginning to be felt as imperative by the Church. I believe it to be as much needed by women, as opening to them a career somewhat more satisfying and stimulating to the better nature than stenography and telegraphy or even public school teaching and paid nursing.
She kept her own counsel as much as possible, but sometimes the need of sympathy would cry out to the one person who would at least try to understand, and in November she wrote to her sister:
There is this one thing that is certain, the strange, sweet mystery of the love of Christ is stifled in the air of doubt and controversy. I hate argument now, I who once loved it. I cannot speak of what I feel to those who do not understand and cannot sympathize, and that is why I must hide something even from you, though your loving heart carries you so much farther than your faith can follow. But I wish I might speak everything to you, I wish I might say to you simply and without need of preparation, "Dear, I must enter the Sisterhood next summer," and hear you answer, "Go in peace and my love follows you"; and that you could understand why I must go and sympathize with and appreciate the happiness I feel in going. I have never borne children, but have I therefore no sympathy in the mother's joy? Perhaps, indeed, I do not sufficiently comprehend the mother's pain, but you, who have actually experienced both, can you not imagine a happiness that is worth some suffering? But it is there of course that you, not having my faith, cannot see the happiness, while the pain is clear enough. If ever you do attain the faith, how happy you will have to be in it!
This letter crossed one from her sister telling of her complete conversion to the primitive, Catholic point of view. Eva's next letter was a paeon of thanksgiving and joyful personal affection.
On October 9th, she wrote:
Yesterday I stood godmother to Mrs. P.'s little girl. She was born in August while I was with you. Mrs. P. spent the afternoon with me on Thursday and we discussed the baby's name. She confessed to me that it was the desire of her heart to call her Pearl, but Mr. P. would not hear of it. I suggested to her, Margaret; that means Pearl, you know, I said. She was delighted. She could have her coveted name after all; and so the little girl is called Margaret Eva. As I came to her after the service she said, "I do not feel that she belongs entirely to me now, but I am glad to give you a share in her."
It was perhaps at this baptismal service that Eva casually met the remarkable personality who was to be the partner of and the moulding influence in all the work of her life. The influence of her brother and sister in all of her visits to the old home was exerted against her entering one of the established Sisterhoods of the Church. They dreaded what they felt would be the inevitable separation; but if Eva had never met Beatrice Henderson, it is quite conceivable that she would have entered the Sisterhood of St. Mary, and that the Community of the Transfiguration might never have been born.
There is nothing in Eva's letters to suggest that this meeting was important, but to Beatrice, a child of only fifteen, there was from the first a mysterious drawing of her whole nature in willing discipleship, which seems to have been the form her vocation took. A few years later she gave me an account of this beginning of her vocation, and I wrote it out as showing that development of Eva's nature which was to make her the center of discipleship and therefore a founder rather than a follower.
Sister Beatrice said:
My first remembrance of Mother Eva Mary was at a baptismal service at St. Augustine's Chapel, Hanscom Park, where my mother sent me every Sunday afternoon to Evensong, to prevent my "growing up as the heathen," for I had refused to attend the Presbyterian Church of which she was a member. I was a girl of fifteen--a hard age to influence. I was not much interested in the service, except in the baby and in the very sweet face of the baby's godmother. After the service I was introduced to her and was still more interested and attracted. Always after that I would watch for her at the services. She did not come often to St. Augustine's, as she attended one of the other mission churches.
It was not until the next September when I attended the parochial school that I saw much of her. She was my French teacher, and that hour of French was the brightest in the day to me. She had a wonderful influence over me as over all the young girls of my age. It seemed to be her especial gift to attract them to her and to bring out all their good points; young girls just at the turning point of their lives. My French was the one study I prepared as carefully as possible; I would do anything to please her. Learning from her was only pleasure. I cannot explain just what the influence was, for we seldom got off the subject of the lesson, and I saw her only in class, but that she was my guiding star and my ideal from my first lesson, I do know.
When I received a note just before Easter week of that year, 1894, saying that she would like to have me spend Easter week with her, I was so delighted that I could not believe my eyes, but had to read the note to each member of my family separately, and then hurry to share my good news with my ever sympathetic friend, Marjorie Montmorency. Mother Eva has told me since that she wished at that time to study me. Had I known this, I would never had dared to go. In her presence, where I had rather be than anywhere, I was always overcome with shyness and could never make a voluntary remark.
After that visit she frequently had me come to write and copy for her in the afternoon, and to relieve her of much of the drudgery of secretary's work, for she was at that time secretary of the Woman's Auxiliary. She was still studying me, I suppose. At any rate it was great pleasure for me, and I always treasured up all that she said and did, and dreamed about it.
At that time I was greatly troubled with religious doubts, and thought that I did not believe in God. In fact I made the boast that I should never bind myself in any way by joining a church or signing a pledge. But at one of our Sunday school picnics, when we were driving home, I sat next to Miss Matthews and almost involuntarily I told her my doubts. She was shocked and interested, and talked beautifully to me. A few days after she called on me at home. As she could not see me alone I remember she asked me to walk to the car with her, and she brought up the subject of my doubts again. She walked up and down with me for nearly an hour, for it was hard to give up after months of delight in my independence of thought, and she did not reach home until after dark.
I do not know much of the first year or two of the Associate Mission. For a time all the clergy lived with Mr. and Miss Matthews, but afterwards she and her brother kept house alone, except for Miss Grace Keese who afterwards became Mrs. Irving P. Johnson. During the summer of 1894 the new clergy house was built, and as Mr. Matthews was elected head he had to live there.
I believe the suggestion came in the first place from Mr. Johnson that Miss Matthews should keep a house of women and assist the Associate Mission in the parochial work of the several centers and also take young girls to be trained in the work. I was fortunate enough to be one chosen to take the training. The plan was successfully carried out, and when we all reported for duty in September, 1894, we were a household of nine: three girls and six ladies. With her usual wonderful organizing ability, we found all our time planned and the work of each day scheduled, and the management of the house soon went like clock work. Each member had some household work; I remember I had charge of the dining room. The mornings were spent in the parochial school. Several of the ladies were teachers and the girls continued their studies. The afternoons were spent according to schedule:
Mondays: Sewing for the poor. We took turns reading aloud.
Tuesdays: Guilds and mission calls.
Wednesdays: Thorough cleaning of rooms allotted to each one.
Thursdays: Recreation day.
Fridays: Study and reading.
Saturdays: Morning--our rooms cleaned. Afternoons--we taught in the sewing schools of the different missions.
Sundays: Church services, Sunday school, and rest.
Miss Matthews' time was largely spent in calling. We saw little of her and sometimes were sent to places of poverty when she was unable to go, and we learned from the people whom she had visited that she had been an angel of light to them. How many cases she looked after no one knows, for she never talked about her work. They were not "cases" to her.
We always spent part of the evening together as a family, and very often Miss Matthews would play Beethoven to us, and now certain of his sonatas always take me back to those pleasant evenings. The girls had their study hour in the evening, and I was permitted to spend a half hour once or twice a week reading St. Monique in French with Miss Matthews in her office. At nine we assembled in the drawing room for compline, after which we retired immediately. It was then that the happiest minutes of the day came to me, when I could slip in and say good night, and sometimes whisper how much I loved her. She told me I was the first person to tell her that outside of her own family. I thought she must be used to such confessions, as I knew the other girls adored her as I did, but probably they did not have the courage to tell her so. She did not make a companion of me, though she sometimes chose me to go with her.
She never showed the least partiality. I remember, in one of our walks, she told me of her proposed trip abroad and that she depended upon me to keep the household together and to stay with them, for though her plans were not yet made, whatever she did she wanted me to be with her. It was shortly after this that she went abroad with her brother, after making arrangements with Father Johnson to keep open the "House of Women" on a smaller scale.
Eva's own conception of her house of women workers appears in a letter to her sister: She wrote in March, 1894.
The plan is to establish a house of women something on the order of the Associate Mission, a semi-religious life in community, the work to be directed by the Associate Mission here. For the first year the life would be experimental, after that time pledges could be taken--life vows do not enter into the scheme--and a rule of life settled upon. At least one permanent resident besides myself is required, then transient residents coming for one, two, or three months would be welcomed and assistants from outside, not resident, would be useful.
There are several objects in view. One is the doing of Church work that cannot be done in the ordinary way of guilds or that requires some special fitness; another is the training of women in Church work, so that wherever they may be they may always take an active and perhaps a leading part in the work that is always there to be done; then, there are women who could always spare a few months every year away from home who cannot, either from circumstances or from disinclination, make up their minds to give it up entirely. They would be greatly benefitted in their spiritual life, if, instead of spending their three months at the seaside or in the mountains, they would sometimes spend it in a religious house where the rule of life would not be so strict as to exclude them. There is the possibility, too, that such a life might be the stepping stone to the more complete religious life of the cloister. This could only be for the few, but from the fact that so few of our women do care to enter that life, it seems to me that some half way measure, something that does not alarm them with life vows and complete separation from the world, might entice many who now confine themselves to one or two bits of work in the week, to months and perhaps years of effort and devotion. The attraction to Cincinnati has been and still is strong, but I feel that I have no right to choose my own place of beginning, that I am walking in the dark and must wait to be led. It is all so experimental. The most experienced of the Roman Catholics all declare for life vows as being the happiest and most restful, and Rome has great experience. Our women are not yet prepared for great renunciations, however, and it seems to me the best way is to begin with small ones. There is every facility here for the home life, and I should want the atmosphere in the house to be one that would deepen spirituality, devotion, personal holiness, to let the work be the natural and wholesome fruit of life, not the main object, certainly not the absorbing aim.
Whether it would be possible to obtain the necessary conditions of such an atmosphere in Cincinnati I do not know; they are all ready here. Then I am doubtful about leaving the work here just yet; Paul has great influence with the men and his leaving would be a serious blow, and of course the work among the women and children would suffer if I should leave without making provision for it. Then there is Beatrice Henderson. She is a girl of great spiritual possibilities, a sweet, womanly character, and a graceful intellect. She came to the parochial school full of doubt as to the truth or reality of Christianity, and now she is eager to study all proofs; and her mother, though a Presbyterian, wants her to be with me this year for the sake of the more religious atmosphere that would be about her. She would take Miss Keese's place in the school, teaching the little ones, continue her own studies, and take some part in the Church work. Then there is Mrs. P--, and so the unfinished work here seems to present as urgent claims as that dearer work in Cincinnati not yet begun.
The future seems so full of promise. God grant we may live up to it. Paul is deep in plans for a clergy house. The Bishop consented to build it, and Paul spends every spare moment perfecting some detail, getting specifications and estimates, or talking over with Mr. Johnson or with me, arrangements for the associate life which will really take its beginning this summer.
Tomorrow, Good Friday, we are going to have the commemoration service of our Lord's crucifixion from twelve to three. I hope the day is coming when it will be possible to have such a service in Glendale. This is the first year we have had it in the Associate Mission, though it has been held in other churches in the city.
The three years promised to Bishop Worthington were ended, but the building of the clergy house held Paul a little longer; and though Eva did not remain in Omaha without feeling the pull homeward to her own diocese, her letters during the next few months show a remarkable ability to put her whole soul into work and a life which she knew for her could not be permanent. She continued her teaching of German and French in the mission school, and took the oversight of all the many interests of the "House of Martha," besides helping in all the different mission parishes. She tested her powers in constantly attempting some new work, such as holding the attention of children by talk and story. Her first attempt with children was a missionary talk on China, when she and the children quite forgot themselves in a fifty minute journey through that country which they afterwards wrote up in essays, the best to receive a prize.
To one who had made the change from Presbyterianism she wrote:
Of course a time of change is not a time of peace and quiet. It develops activity in every department of our lives, it stirs up all the depths of our being, shaking us out of old faiths, old habits of thought, old habits of easy tolerance of ourselves and of our neighbors; it is so pleasant to be satisfied with mediocrity and even to take pride in it, calling it by the fair name of charity, that when a great spiritual revolt sets in, great truths force themselves upon us not merely to be thought out, but to be lived out. High ideals suddenly flame out before us. We are disturbed and unhappy, and want to buy back our old content and peace of mind. Some bargain it back and settle down to the old comfort, perhaps a trifle threadbare and shabby; others go through the wilderness to the land of promise beyond; but I believe self content is never found again.
To another who had poured out her heart to her she wrote:
I got only a fragment of a letter from you today, but I am going to try to answer it, though perhaps I may not understand it fully. I seem to gather from it that you are in the state that follows upon spiritual exaltation and change. The first few months after a crisis, perhaps I ought to say, the crisis, in a soul's life, it is borne in the Everlasting Arms and rejoices and wonders at the strength and swiftness with which it is carried on, not fully realizing whence the strength comes. But one cannot always remain a baby; the time comes when it must learn to walk, and the first efforts are so weak, so awkward, with such frequent falls--falls that hurt--that it is not strange that it should think it had lost rather than gained. Sometimes even it thinks it is worse than before the great awakening that has transfigured its whole future, just as a child gets on more slowly when it first begins to walk than it did in creeping, yet the mother sees a distinct gain in its trying to walk, though the child may not. We have yet to remember that in walking in the Via CruciSj the beautiful way of the cross, that we are very weak, and the stumbling stones are many, and our eyes are lifted so often from them to the hill of Calvary that lies before us, so it is no wonder that we are tripped many times. Yet we may be sure that so long as our eyes are on the cross we have not turned backward.
Now it seems to me that the remedy for the restlessness and discouragement that you are suffering from is in living up to some definite rule of life. You can live by rule just as well as I can, though of course not the same rule. You can rise at a settled hour, you can take some definite hour in the day for spiritual reading, prayer, and meditation, and around these two definite points the rest of the day, with its duties and pleasures, can circulate. Of course there will be necessary interruptions, but they are really few, while the unnecessary ones are legion.
I think it would be well to write out a plan for your whole day, including everything, for if it is a good rule in housekeeping to have a place for everything and everything in its place, it is certainly a good rule in life to have a time for everything and everything in its time. I think you ought to cultivate the habit of meditation, and if you are troubled and wavering in your faith, why not take the Apostles' Creed, article by article, and meditate on it, not controversially, but spiritually, confirming your faith in it, and applying it practically to life; see what actions or line of action ought to spring from it, and whether it does as a matter of fact in you.
I think it would be well to make a particular and careful self examination once a week. Friday would be a good day for that, and then with your daily Bible reading and other spiritual reading, and your prayer, I will not say that you will grow so rapidly as to see it from day to day or even from week to week, but I think you could from month to month. For any spiritual growth, however, a certain set time for quiet is essential, and however irksome it might be at first, you would in time grow to look forward to it as a refreshment and a joy.
Please forgive me for presuming to advise you. I feel, dear, the presumption of it, when I myself am so painfully slow in the spiritual life.
She wrote to her sister in the fall of '94:
I think my heart is always with you, in the early Communion, in the noon hour of prayer, when you and your children always find a place of remembrance, and so often when my household--oh, so different from yours--gathers around the fire for a little recreation and talk, and perhaps a little music, before we all settle down, the girls to their study, Sister Ellis to her sewing, Miss Chipman and Miss Welles to their books, and I usually to writing. Our evening is a short one, as we have hardly finished our tea before seven, and we have compline at nine, and we do not stay up much later. I find, though I had made many resolutions last summer to take less sleep this winter, I must have my comfortable eight hours.
Last week we had the blessing of the clergy house and the consecration of the chapel by the Bishop. It was a very interesting service, the first of the kind I have ever attended. The Bishop, followed by the clergy, went from room to room, repeating psalms and prayers appropriate to each; for the bedrooms, rest and refreshment; for the common room, peace and brotherly kindness, etc. Then the procession came into the chapel, and after the consecrating and blessing of the altar, we had Holy Communion. It was St. Michael and all Angels' day, and my guardian angel seemed to be very near to me all day, that great beautiful Messenger of God, swift and gracious in his protection and ministrations.
How wonderful are the dispensations of God! What mighty agencies He uses in our salvation, the Principalities and Powers and Thrones of Heaven, yes, and His Own Son with His broken body and His spilt blood. Surely there must be some tremendous future hanging upon these frail lives of ours.
After the consecration of the chapel, and the congregation had dispersed, the Bishop and Mrs. Worthington remained to dinner. It was a pretty dinner, nicely served, and in the evening there was a house warming given to the people of all the missions.
On Sunday afternoon I went to the poor house and began my work there. I made the acquaintance of only a few of the women, but I hope in time to be able to do something there, I cannot yet tell what. We had our first chapter meeting Wednesday afternoon, Paul presiding as Head of the Associate Mission, and therefore our head. Reports were read of our beginnings in various directions, sewing for the poor, poor cases, sewing school work, etc. I think all of our members are becoming very much interested.
At this time she wrote often of her brother with some anxiety at his over-working:
I am anxious about him; for ten days he has not had a full night's sleep. There has been a great deal of sickness in the parish and he is up with one or another every night. One woman, who was thought to be dying a week ago, is still living, and always wants him, and Paul says he does his best work with the sick and will not listen to prudent counsels. There is another poor woman who never cared for the Church when she was well, now feels that it is her only stay.
"He preached a sermon on children this morning. As we were going to church, he caught a practical illustration. A baby about three years of age or less, we saw trying to pull a tin pail between the rails of a fence and was enraged at the obstinate resistance of the pail to come through a place too narrow for it. Paul came to the rescue, and lifting it over the fence, handed it to the baby, who stopped at once his impatient cries, looking at the whole performance in blank amazement. He seemed uncertain what to do for a moment, and then clasped his battered and precious pail in his arms, and trotted down the street--home, I hope. Paul plays beneficent fairy often in his rounds, and to more than children."
The beneficent fairy by no means considered himself an object of pity. He was thoroughly amusing himself as a housekeeper and head of the clergy house newly built, writing an occasional ridiculous letter to confound sisterly sympathy:
Where on earth did you get the idea that I was not going to be a good correspondent? If you imagine that I am not going to write you letters with great regularity and frequency you are vastly mistaken. Behold here is proof to the contrary. Note the letters on this page, see how frequently they follow one another, and see their beautiful regularity--they may not be beautiful but they are uniform. If you had been taking your first lessons in housekeeping--and not for an indulgent husband but for a family of five or six grown up and obstreperous men-children, and that, too, without the preliminary experience of bringing them up yourself--you would regard a demand for letters as a species of impertinence. You would at once indite a long and compassionate epistle to a person making such a demand, who is evidently quite incapable of understanding your variety of trouble.
What do you do, by the way--this is strictly nous avons you understand--with your deficit of ten dollars a week? Do you farm it out at ten per cent and grow wealthy on the proceeds? The "House of Martha" is going on famously--the pressure on the walls is so great that they may have to be buttressed. I see the member in charge--do you know who that is?--on Thursday for ten minutes. So far, interviews are conducted without the medium of a grating as an incentive to small talk, but I fancy bars will be put up before long. Mosquito bars might answer temporarily.
The school is forging ahead at a great rate--going so fast indeed that it is hard to keep up with it. By great exertion I manage to keep one lesson ahead of my classes, until the latter part of the week, when we resort to reviews, declamations, and reading, so as not to put too great a strain on our pupils' brains. The clergy house is a dandy, the hardwood floors are beautifully stained--with lime and other indications of honest toil. It is well furnished--with inhabitants.
This letter is a punishment. I am going to write a real letter to M-- today.
The parochial school, so enthusiastically undertaken and vigorously put through by these young people, had a background dating from the childhood of sister and brother.
On the marble topped table in the drawing room at Oakencroft, a large Douay Bible rested from 1870 on through the impressionable years of childhood. On the Bible lay a little case containing a medal inscribed from His Holiness Pope Pius IX, honoring our father for his efforts towards secularizing the public school teaching in America. We children were dimly aware that our mother was not completely proud of the Douay Bible and the medal of the Pope, as she was about most things concerning our father, though they were thoroughly at one in the ideal of the home as the center of religious instruction.
Every week day morning we had cozy and highly sociable family prayers around the cheerful hearth in our mother's room, with favorite verses or recitation in concert, or Bible story reading; but on Sundays our father took the lead in prayers at home before attending service at the little Presbyterian chapel, and we became familiar with the sonorous English of the Prayer Book, a remnant of Churchmanship retained from college days at Gambier.
If all American parents had been as conscientious as were ours in the religious teaching of their children, the spiritual wreckage of Protestantism, hastened, no doubt, by the withdrawal of the Bible from the public schools, might have been retarded. As it was, the failure of the schools to do the one essential thing in education--to form character--without the help of religion, was apparent within a few years.
Paul and Eva felt the need of the children for distinctly religious and Church training. Such a mission as that of the Associates in Omaha made possible the experiment of a parochial school, and the brother and sister felt that the work which brought the quickest results was that done in the daily routine of teaching.
The memory of my father and his point of view in defending the action of the Board of Education in 1870, when "the reading of the Holy Bible was prohibited in the public schools of Cincinnati," needs no defending among thoughtful people today. Looked at in long perspective and without regard to consequences, he was certainly right. He could not do injustice that good might come. He had fought through a Civil War for Liberty in unity. To him the idea of "toleration" had no place under the laws of the United States. All men--black or white, Jews, Roman Catholics, Protestants, were equals before the law; they could not just tolerate one another. Together they must live as struggling for and believing in equality. There could be no preferred State religion in a democracy. He himself was a devout Protestant, elevating The Book to its Protestant position of infallibility as Rome had elevated her Pope, yet so clear and just was his intellect that he could say to Jew and Roman Catholic, "Sacred as I believe that Book to be, just so sacred is your right to judge it." There could be no mere majority rule to Stanley Matthews; the individual was as sacred as the group. Democracy and Catholicism are largely synonomous in their regard for both group and individual. In their methods necessarily there must be cooperation rather than coercion.
In the fall of 1894, several new members joined the mission, the Rev. Percy Silver and the Rev. Charles Herbert Young among them, so that by the early summer of 1895 it became possible for Paul and Eva to give up the work and make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land together, before Eva should enter upon her future life. The Associate Mission lasted a few years longer, but gradually broke up as the parishes grew strong enough, each to support its own rector.
The particular direction Eva's vocation was taking came about so naturally, through her leadership in the house of women and her acquiescence in her brother's wishes, that she was hardly conscious of any change of mind on her own part as to her wish to enter St. Mary's. She found herself drifting into plans for continuing her life and work in Cincinnati after the pledge to the Omaha mission should be worked out. But early in the year of 1895 she came to the sudden parting of the ways.
Father Williams urged her to enter the Community of St. Mary. Sister Lydia Margaret wrote to her not to be precipitate in making her own plans. She felt the presumption of planning to found a Sisterhood when really knowing nothing about it. She feared the notoriety and shrank from the inevitable criticism as well as the responsibility; and overcome by a wave of discouragement and diffidence and interior loneliness, she took a sudden resolution and sat down at her writing table to make out her application to enter St. Mary's Sisterhood. She would cut herself adrift at one fell blow from all the ties which seemed to be binding her, through her natural affections, to the working out of religious vocation on new and untried lines.
The pen was in her hand; but before the letter could be written Irving Johnson was standing on the other side of the table. "What are you doing?" he asked.
So she told him; and, perhaps because he had been studying her as she had studied Beatrice Henderson, he was able to convince her that she was capable of undertaking the difficult trust of leadership in a new direction, that her particular gifts might be lost to the Church, certainly to the Church in our western country, if submerged in one of our greater communities, that her beloved West needed Sisterhood life and work, and that the training she had taken with the Associate Mission had fitted her for pioneer work.
Whatever he said, and he has always had the gift of tongues, it was convincing, for that letter was never written, and her resolution from that time never wavered to found a community in the diocese of Southern Ohio, if the Bishop should consent.
A recurrence of the dream of the Babe of Bethlehem coming early in 1895 may also have had its guiding effect. To her namesake niece she wrote:
I am going to tell you a dream that I had last night. I dreamed that I had a little baby in my arms, and it was not James Harlan nor you, but quite another baby, very white and beautiful, with strange, deep, sad eyes; and though it was quite dark in the room, there was so much light in his eyes that I could see him quite well, and I could feel him nestling so warm and soft against my breast and could hear him breathing softly and sweetly. And then some one in the dark whom I could not see began talking to me and said, "It is the Christ Child you are holding, and if you will love and cherish Him, you may keep Him always." And then I woke up, for it was morning. Wasn't that a lovely dream?
As the Transfiguration has so largely been given to the care and education of young children, I am interested in these dreams of mystical motherhood and in the suggestions of Professor Allier as to the part played by dreams in moral crises. His researches have been among non-civilized peoples, especially in their conversion to Christianity. He agrees with Freud as to the power of the suppressed tendency in the unconscious, but disagrees with him as to the source of the tendency. His studies have led him along different lines and to different conclusions. Writing in the International Review of Missions for July, 1925, he says:
There is one important difference between the well-known conclusions of M. Freud and my own observations. In the dreams which he studies specially, the repressed tendencies which emerge suddenly in unexpected forms belong to what is lowest in mankind. They are those which the most elementary moral considerations would impel the subject to restrain.
The dreams to which I have referred and which are at the source of conversion are of quite a different nature. That which reappears in them and through them is no ancient self of gross instincts and almost bestial inheritance. It is on the contrary a new self, which is in process of formation under the impulsion of an ideal as yet only half seen, and which, far from representing in the subject a distant and animal past, imagines, prophesies and prepares a future which is completely human. Who knows if these analyses of conversion carried further would not lead to still further correction of Freudianism and to the discovery beneath the gross strata beyond which he has not penetrated, of still further depths more mysterious and perhaps more akin to the divine?
If that "suppressed tendency" in many cases were not the image of the beast but of the Godlikeness within us, then the bubbling up of dreams of the Incarnation through Calvinistic inhibitions becomes of importance to Catholic believers.