Monthly Archives: January 2014

Richard Hooker Wilmer on the last General Council of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America

I met with Bishop Elliott for the last time at the General Council in the autumn of 1865. Great changes had taken place. His fondest earthly hopes had been crushed, and his most sanguine predictions had been unfulfilled. He bore it all as became him. Strength and greatness never seem so attractive as when chastened by heavy affliction. Sorrow gives that softness of coloring which the painter is wont to use in his last touches when toning down the picture. There was the same winning smile, the same loving recognition, but withal, there was an undertone of indescribable tenderness which bespoke a great sorrow encountered and endured. “We should ask”—thus ran the tenor of his discourse— “not what will gratify our pride, and please the world, but what the interests of the Church demand, and what Christ would have us to do.” This selfsame spirit pervaded the action of the General Convention, which had closed its session a few weeks before at Philadelphia.

The blessed Spirit of God, the Holy Comforter, in answer to the prayers of the faithful, was moving upon the heart of the Church,—deep calling unto deep under the impulse of His mysterious power,—and the waters flowed together as do the waves of the sea which a passing vessel has for the moment parted asunder.

There is nothing upon this earth so beautiful as the spectacle of an heroic soul struggling manfully with adversity, yielding at last to manifest destiny, and bowing to the divine will in unquestioning submission. There are faithful men in these latter days, who have illustrated their faith by sacrifices greater even than that which the patriarch Abraham was preparing to make upon the mount. There are some things dearer to a man than the life of his child, and when sacrificed at the divine command, through faith, are most precious offerings in the sight of Heaven.

It was one of my first thoughts, when I realized that all was over, “How does Bishop Elliott bear all this?” so long and so thoroughly identified had he been with that cause for which we were hoping and struggling. He bore it all most beautifully, as the permissive will of God without which not even a sparrow falleth to the ground. The faith which had waxed so strong in the time of action, rose to sublimity in the hour of submission. Most worthily did his demeanor illustrate the motto upon his official seal: “In utrumque paratus agere et pati.” [“Prepared for either—to act or to suffer.”] Mysterious indeed to all of us were the providences of that hour, but what room for faith, if sight and reason had not altogether failed! It should be our delight to lose ourselves in the depths of the divine mysteries, because in the darkness and cloud God dwelleth, and there His children find Him. Thanks be to God that we have a Father so wise that we cannot always comprehend His ways, and so good that we can never distrust His love.

Not by the power of reason do we solve divine mysteries, and turn all our sadness into rejoicing, but by the application of faith. “Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in Thy sight.”

From The Recent Past from a Southern Standpoint: Reminiscences of a Grandfather (New York: Thomas Whittaker, 1887), pp. 233-236.


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THE forty-sixth annual festival of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament was held at the Church of the Ascension, Chicago, on the Feast of Corpus Christi, Thursday, June 11th, with a large attendance. The council met at 10 A.M., in the parish house, and re-nominated Bishop Weller Superior-General, and Mr. Clinton Rogers Woodruff Treasurer-General. The Rev. E.B. Taylor, who has so ably and faithfully served the Confraternity for the past twenty years as Secretary-General, asked to be relieved of the work, and the council accordingly nominated the Rev. C.P.A. Burnett, 552 West End avenue, New York City, Secretary-General. The council was practically re-nominated, and, including the heads of wards, now numbers about fifty members. All of these nominees were elected at the general meeting in the afternoon. The membership of the Confraternity is steadily increasing, and now numbers over 3,000. At 11 A.M. a Solemn High Eucharist was celebrated, with all the beautiful and reverent ceremonial for which the Church of the Ascension is famous.

The rector, the Rev. W.B. Stoskopf, was celebrant, with Dean Larrabee of Nashotah as deacon, and Canon Rogers of Fond du Lac as sub-deacon. Bishop Weller was the preacher, his chaplain being the Rev. F.S. Penfold, and Bishop Webb, who was also present, was attended by the Rev. Dr. Percival C. Pyle, rector of the Church of St. Edward the Martyr, New York City, as his chaplain. The music, which was beautifully given, was Gounod’s Messe Solonelle, and the well-drilled choir of the parish was assisted by an excellent orchestra of strings and brass, as well as by the organ. The music was directed by Mr. W.H. Knapp, choirmaster, Mr. Lester Groom being the organist Bishop Weller’s sermon was a strong and eloquent presentation of the Sacrificial aspect of the Holy Eucharist. This elaborate and imposing service concluded with a Solemn Procession, and with the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, Bishop Weller officiating. There was a large congregation, with a goodly proportion of, men, recruited from widely separated portions of the city and suburbs.

At the luncheon in the parish house, after service, some fifty of the clergy and a good many of the lay associates of the Confraternity were the guests. The essay of the afternoon was by the Rev. F.S. Penfold of Racine; and its central point emphasized the importance of the Daily Mass. The paper was of such value that it will be printed by the Confraternity, and will be widely circulated among the clergy of the Church. No one who has not become an associate of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament can have any conception of the spiritual uplift and strength which such membership brings. The daily use of the leaflet of Intercession, which is published every month, and is now in its forty-eighth volume, is of itself a deep source of helpfulness, in widening one’s sense of spiritual fellowship, and in reinforcing one’s own personal intercessions. To have the privilege of placing some person or some cause before the entire membership of the Confraternity, through the use of this leaflet, each month, or whenever desired, is an invaluable aid which many more of our devout communicants really ought to secure as they try to live the life of Intercession. The expense is but fifty cents a year, and the time required daily is so little, if one has any system of daily personal prayer worth mentioning, that even the busiest persons can readily fulfil the duties of membership. There are now at least three wards of the C.B.S. in Chicago, namely, at the Church of the Ascension, at Christ Church, Woodlawn, and at the Church of the Redeemer. The Ascension ward numbers some sixty members and is the largest in the diocese. It would seem possible, since the Brotherhood of St. Andrew throughout the Church is now working systematically for increased devotion to the Holy Eucharist on the part of men, and since the Brotherhood, while it stresses prayer so earnestly, publishes no such monthly leaflet of suggested Intercessions as does the Confraternity, for many earnest Brotherhood men to join the Confraternity as well, and thus to widen and deepen their spiritual leverage along these most important lines. Any priest-associate will be glad at any time to take up the question by correspondence with any communicant, man or woman.

From The Living Church, June 20, 1914.

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