Monthly Archives: November 2015

With apologies to Burl Ives

OB-MS161_burl02_E_20110223150112Sarum and Rome
Sarum and Rome
Sarum and Rome
Ev’ryone wishes for Sarum or Rome
How do you measure their worth?
Just by the troubles they cause in the garth.
Sarum and Rome
Sarum and Rome
Mean so much more when we see
Sarum and Rome decorations
Bought by the parish’s late rich trustee
Sarum, Sarum and Rome
Sarum, Sarum and Rome
Sarum and Rome


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A Ship in the Air (1647)

Behold, a fourth colony of New-English Christians, in a manner stolen into the world, and a colony, indeed, constellated with many stars of the first magnitude. The colony was under the conduct of as holy, and as prudent, and as genteel persons as most that ever visited these nooks of America; and yet these too were tryed with very humbling circumstances.

Being Londoners, or merchants and men of traffick and business, their design was in a manner wholly to apply themselves unto trade; but the design failing, they found their great estates sink so fast, that they must quickly do something. Whereupon in the year 1646, gathering together almost all the strength which was left them, they built one ship more, which they fraighted for England with the best part of their tradable estates; and sundry of their eminent persons embarked themselves in her for the voyage. But, alas! the ship was never after heard of: she foundred in the sea; and in her were lost, not only the hopes of their future ‘trade, but also the lives of several excellent persons, as well as divers manuscripts of some great men in the country, sent over for the service of the church, which were now buried in the ocean. The fuller story of that grievous matter, let the reader with a just astonishment accept from the pen of the reverend person who is now the pastor of New-Haven. I wrote unto him for it, and was thus answered:

“REVEREND AND DEAR SIR: In compliance with your desires, I now give you the relation of that APPARITION of a SHIP IN THE AIR, which I have received from the most credible judicious, and curious surviving observers of it.

“In the year 1647, besides much other lading, a far more rich treasure of passengers, (five or six of which were persons of chief note and worth in New-Haven) put themselves on board a new ship, built at Rhode-Island, of about 150 tuns; but so walty, that the master (Lamberton) often said she would prove their grave. In the month of January, cutting their way through much ice, on which they were accompanied with the Reverend Mr. Davenport, besides many other friends, with many fears, as well as prayers and tears, they set sail. Mr. Davenport in prayer, with an observable emphasis, used these words: ‘Lord, if it be thy pleasure to bury these our friends in the bottom of the sea, they are thine: save them.’ The spring following, no tidings of these friends arrived with the ships from England: New-Haven’s heart began to fail her: this put the godly people on much prayer, both publick and private, ‘that the Lord would (if it was his pleasure) let them hear what he had done with their dear friends, and prepare them with a suitable submission to his Holy Will.’ In June next ensuing, a great thunder-storm arose out of the north-west after which (the hemisphere being serene) about an hour before sun-set, a SHIP of like dimensions with the aforesaid, with her canvas and colours abroad (though the wind northernly) appeared in the air coming up from our harbour’s mouth, which lyes southward from the town, seemingly with her sails filled under a fresh gale, holding her course north, and continuing under observation, sailing against the wind for the space of half an hour.

“Many were drawn to behold this great work of God; yea, the very children cryed out, ‘There ’s a brave ship!’ At length, crowding up as far as there is usually water sufficient for such a vessel, and so near some of the spectators, as that they imagined a man might hurl a stone on board her, her main-top seemed to be blown off, but left hanging in the shrouds; then her mizzen-top; then all her masting seemed blown away by the board: quickly after the hulk brought unto a careen, she overset, and so vanished into a smoaky cloud, which in some time dissipated, leaving, as everywhere else, a clear air. The admiring spectators could distinguish the several colours of each part, the principal rigging, and such proportions, as caused not only the generality of persons to say, ‘This was the mould of their ship, and thus was her tragick end,’ but Mr. Davenport also in publick declared to this effect, ‘That God had condcscended, for the quieting of their afflicted spirits, this extraordinary account of his sovereign disposal of those for whom so many fervent prayers were made continually.’ Thus I am Sir,

“Your humble servant,


Cotton Mather, Magnalia Christi Americana (Hartford: Andrus, 1855), vol. I., pp. 83-84.

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2015 Advent Calendars

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a smaller selection of Advent calendars this year, but its trusty Cloisters Unicorn is still with us, and so is the Victorian Christmas Advent Calendar. The Avian Holiday Pop-Up Calendar is out of stock, and they seem to have discontinued the lovely old New York-themed and Met Museum-themed versions.


As usual, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has some of the best calendars available. The Venice, Westminster Abbey, Weihnachtshaus and Snow at Argenteuil (one of the loveliest) calendars are all 25% off.

Tasha Tudor fans can buy an Oh Holy Night calendar from the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown:


By far the most beautiful—and reasonably priced, unless you’re outside the UK—calendars again this year are from the National Gallery. The Altarpieces calendar opens to reveal a tritpych of the Madonna and Child with Sts. Dominic and Aurea:


The National Gallery’s Brueghel calendar shows the artist’s Adoration of the Kings:


For grownups who tipple during Advent, Master of Malt offers another batch of daily dram calendars of whisky, bourbon, gin, vodka, tequila, cognac, etc.

The trend of online Advent calendars about 10 years ago has faded a bit, but Advientos still provides a service to build your own online Advent calendar.




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A Tribute to the Late Superior of the Society of St. Margaret (1909)

IN the death of Sister Louisa Mary, who was for thirty years Superior of the Society of St. Margaret in Boston, there has passed from our midst another (perhaps quite the last) of the group of forceful and steadfast women to whom it was given to lay foundations in the religious movement that awoke in the middle of the last century. These pioneers were the fruit of a sober and earnest Christianity handed down through generations within the Anglican Communion.

Responding quite early in life to the call, as she steadfastly held it to be, to that special form of the Master’s service, Louisa Stone spent many years in close touch with the Society of St. Margaret, founded in 1855 by the late Dr. Neale at East Grinstead in Sussex, England, being at times in residence as one of them. During this period her relation to Dr. Neale moulded and developed her natural gifts of intellect and temperament. She also shared the friendship of others among the men who were carrying forward the principles of the Oxford Movement, such as Dr. Littledale, Father Mackonochie, Canon Newbold (her kinsman), and Father Benson. Dr. Pusey and Mr. Keble were both living during those early years.

But Miss Stone held that the God-given home claims and duties came before aught else, and not until she had fulfilled these to the uttermost did she account herself free to assume the permanent religious obligation. At her profession finally on the Feast of the Annunciation, 1873, Sister Louisa Mary was in her fiftieth year. In the following September she went to Boston, having been appointed by her Community the Superior of the little band of three Sisters who were sent out as an affiliated house of the Order of St. Margaret.

The society had already been two years represented in this country, a Sister having been sent from England in 1871 to take charge of the Children’s Hospital in Boston, in response to the solicitation of the Board of Managers of that institution, then in its initial stage. This pioneer Sister was included in the three who now came out permanently, that she might continue the work she had so splendidly begun. The unique character of the Children’s Hospital and Training School today is largely due to the impress of her personality, which has been followed up without a break under the charge of the St. Margaret’s Sisters.

With many chances and changes, sorrows and losses and toils, that little band of three (of whom the other two survive the Superior) has become in the course of the years, by God’s blessing, an Order numbering some forty-five members, besides fifteen already gone before. The works of the community are various, while in the main of missionary character. They are well known in Boston and in other dioceses in the United States, and also in Montreal.

It is five years since the Mother Louisa Mary laid down her office and title by reason of the increasing disabilities of her years, chief of which was failing eyesight. The serious illness that overtook her while visiting the house in Montreal last summer terminated on the morrow of the Epiphany, after prolonged suffering and weakness.

Sister Louisa Mary would have been the last to recognize the paramount influence of her own strong personality in the upbuilding of the American community. Absolutely simple and straightforward, she had no worldly policy for the development of “her work” (so dear to most human hearts); her purpose was a single-minded devotion to Him whom she served, for Himself and in His poor. Of social service merely as such she knew nothing; but social service of the highest order she certainly rendered. Nor was the growth of character the crown which is to be the meed of faithful discipleship ^her conscious aim, but rather the outcome of her simple love and obedience. Her thought was of her Master, not of herself. The obvious was the thing to be done, and her “obvious” was safe because her heart was pure. Uncertainty, when it existed, did not distress her, because she was so quietly ready to do God’s will so soon as it should become clear to her. Subtleties of thought neither appealed to her nor disturbed her; subtleties of purpose received no quarter from her. Someone was dreading some cross-questioning: “Why, I don’t see why you should be troubled; you have nothing to do but tell the truth.” Another craved sympathy: “You have God and your work, what more can you ask?” But tenderly sympathetic as she was with all real distress, she could not understand that which was self-made, just as she had very little patience with fine words.

Generous and open-minded to others, thoughtful and considerate for her Sisters and her friends, she was self-less rather than unselfish. She always remembered everybody, the events and anniversaries of their lives. Absolute forgivingness was another mark of that loving heart; she forgave so completely that she entirely forgot, and trusted again where few could follow her in it. If it were a personal matter, the occurrence itself would be clean gone from her memory. Her single-heartedness was manifest again in the rarity of reference to herself, which was wholly unforced; it was the self-forgetfulness of her perfectly real and simple self-surrender to her Lord and His service.

A strong and well balanced soul within a strong physique, of practical judgment and with the saving grace of a ready sense of humor—she loved her little joke—she was well adapted on the natural side to the leadership of an active order; while the early discipline of her gifts amid the strenuous claims of the family ties prepared her to meet wisely the inevitable frictions of community life. As in her own life doing was the result of being, so was she also fitted to carry out the spirit of the founder of her community in seeing, and leading others by example to see, the supernatural expressing itself through and as the natural—as in the Master’s own life. Activity was thus saved from its attendant danger of becoming works merely. “Things temporal” were to Mother Louisa the sphere of “things eternal,” and so necessarily of their expression. Her morning hour of personal communion with her Lord was never remitted save under actual impossibility. That was the key of her day and of her life.

As these lives pass out of our sight and ken, their works follow them in forms determined by changing environment, and also, especially in this present period of time, in changing modes of thought. But truths and underlying principles cannot change, and must be re-expressed by those of us who follow. All who have known the Mother Louisa Mary through the vicissitudes of these many years, whether as her children or as gathered into her large heart as friends, thank God for His good gift, and take courage as they press forward in their generation to bear the burden and heat of to-day.

From The Living Church, January 23, 1909, p. 398.

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The Late Sister Catherine Vera

Sister Catherine Vera, of the Community of St. Mary, for nearly thirty years identified with the mission work of Trinity Church, New York, and recently called forth by God to the reward of her labors, may well be held in the remembrance of a future generation of Christian workers as an example of a very high and noble type of the Anglican Religious.

Of English parentage, of gentle birth, of a family with sound Church traditions, and with untarnished ideals of Christian standards of living, she came, still a young woman, to New York, to Trinity parish, seeking to know something of the work of a sisterhood which was in its formative years under the chaplaincy of the rector, the Rev. Morgan Dix.

Her character and the cast of her mind made her singularly fitted for the work to which she was at once assigned, after she had received her training as a member of the Community of St. Mary in the mother house at Peekskill. Dr. Dix was at that period planning a work amongst the down town poor of Trinity Church. He formed an association of the members of the parish church, distinct from Trinity corporation, to raise and administer funds for the support of this mission work. A small house was opened in State Street, facing the Battery, and Sister Catherine Vera, the day after her profession, was sent with some other sisters to take charge of this house and to organize the new mission. Seven years later the work was moved to 211 Fulton street, a more central situation in the district, and some seven years later still the house was remodelled and doubled in size.

The work was based on a system of guilds, formed to include in the various organizations every member of the mission, from the tiny tots of the Good Shepherd Guild to the aged women of St. Monica’s. Boys of various ages have their guilds, as well as the girls. These guilds have weekly meetings in the mission house, always closed by a religious service in St. Christopher’s chapel, at which one of the clergy of the parish officiates. The people of the mission were taught by Sister Catherine Vera to look upon the mission house as a second home; to many the hours spent there were the brightest they ever knew. She was herself ever ready to receive their confidences, and by her death many have lost their best friend. This system of guilds was reinforced by a thoroughly organized plan of visiting by districts. Through the knowledge of the people gained in this way, the alms of the Church could be intelligently dispensed. All the plans and methods of conducting the mission were worked out in consultation with Dr. Dix, who was a constant visitor at the house, and was most interested in all the details of the work. It seems a strange ordering of God’s Providence that these two, the great priest and the devoted sister, who were for so long intimately associated together, should have been taken from this work and from the people within a few months.

To describe adequately the activities of Sister Catherine Vera’s life would be to give a full account of the history of the mission work of old Trinity down to the present day, for through her thirty years of ministry, she had in the Providence of God this one work, and in the midst of it developed her fully rounded life. Much that was best and highest in that life was hidden and known but to the few who were in the most intimate association with her, but, her character had its effect on all who came in contact with her. Everyone felt a sense of her calm power, her balanced judgment, her devotion to duty, her inviolable integrity. Many were the tributes paid her at the last. The doctors and nurses who attended her in her painful illness were greatly struck by her patience and by her remarkable fortitude in the endurance of pain. The members of her household and those who came and went during her last days felt the sanctity of the influence that went forth from her sick-room. Most touching of, all was the scene on the morning when she lay in St. Christopher’s chapel, and the poor amongst whom she had ministered came in great numbers to assist at the Requiem, more than a hundred of them making their Communion. Many of the women are office cleaners and had risen at 4 or 5 o’clock that morning to get their work done early in order to be present.

In closing this brief sketch, a few words must be added as to her characteristics as a member of a Religious Order of this Church. As a matter of fact, her work can hardly be considered apart from her “state of life.” She was a consecrated woman, devoted to her Church and to her community, who brought her natural gifts and her qualities of character, and used them to the glory of God and the good of souls, in the work to which she was sent; just as she laid aside her responsibilities and accepted the service of others, when the time came that her strength failed her. Daily through a long life she accepted the Providence of God; daily she fulfilled her round of duties, some of which were simple household tasks, some of which touched interests that were far-reaching and vital to many. No one was more human in her affections and interests. The mission house was singularly bright and homelike, a most unexpected oasis in that district of New York office buildings. She made it an ideal Christian home, as well as a thoroughly organized centre of multifarious charitable and philanthropic activities.

From The Living Church, March 27, 1909, p. 712.

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