The 1923 Anglo-Catholic Congress
from an address by the Rev. G. A. Studdert-Kennedy, Rector of the Church of St. Edmund the Martyr, Lombard Street; Messenger, Industrial Christian Fellowship. In Report of the Anglo-Catholic Congress, London, July 1923. [London], Society of SS. Peter & Paul, 1923.
THIS is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. That, I take it, is a point upon which we are all agreed. The Church of Christ exists to save sinners. It is not, and never to be considered as an end in itself; it is a means to an end, and that end is the salvation of souls.
If that be granted, then I think that we might take one further step, and assume that whatever else the great word Salvation means -- and it would be impossible short of the Beatific Vision to exhaust its meaning -- whatever else it means, it does mean and must begin with the unification of the personality. The process of salvation must begin by giving to the human soul some measure of internal unity and peace.
Descartes said that all doubt must end with the fact of his own existence, but, in very truth, that is where all the deepest doubt begins. To say "I am as certain of this as I am of my own existence" is not to claim a very high standard of certainty for a large number of men, for the existence of any settled, united, and reliable self is the very thing of which they have no present assurance -- no right to be certain -- and is exactly what their conduct would lead us to doubt very seriously indeed.
We have to save souls from the world, the flesh, and the devil, and it is not for nothing that the world comes first, because it is through the world that the flesh and the devil make their main attack. The flesh and the devil change not, but the world is ever changing, and in these latter days it has changed rapidly, and has become a patchwork quilt, a tragic and terrible patchwork quilt, stained here and there with blood and tears. It has become an infinitely complex environment which tears and divides human souls. That is ever its way of attack -- it divides, and so destroys. It damns by division.
We cannot save men from the world by the method of retreat from it -- permanent retreat. The practice of periodic retreat is of enormous value, and ought to be an important part of our method of evangelisation. But however valuable temporary retreat may be, permanent retreat for most men and women is impossible. They must live in the world and yet not be of it. They must earn their daily bread, and they can only earn it by entering into, and becoming part of, the vast and complex industrial and commercial system by which we live; they must be members of a nation, they must be citizens of a city, they must be in business, they must work in factories or on farms. They must live in those relationships to other human beings, and, moreover, those relationships must be a part, and a very important part, of them -- each one of them. A man is, and ought to be, something more than the sum of his human relationships, and yet his human relationships are and must remain an essential part of himself. An Indian native is more than his caste, and yet his caste is a very important part of him, and is the part which he commonly finds it impossible to reconcile with Christ. The social system lives in the individual soul. It cannot be too strongly stated that our main business is, always must be, with the individual soul, but it is that main business, once we get to grips with it, which compels us to tackle the question of his social environment, because the social environment lives in the individual and produces in him a conflict with Christ. A man finds himself, as a member of a nation, doing things, and allowing things to be done in his name, which as a Christian individual he revolts from and detests. He finds himself as a citizen of a city obliged to tolerate slums, which are the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual disgrace. He finds himself as a business man obliged to accept standards of morality, standards of honesty and uprightness, and ideals of work and its meaning, which as a man he would regard as beneath contempt. He finds that as a worker in a factory he has to submit to conditions and tolerate abuses which his Christian soul abhors. He is, in fact, in a state of internal conflict, and it is largely a conflict of despair; he sees no way out. Now, I submit that Salvation must begin if not by putting an end to that conflict, certainly by making it a conflict of faith and hope, and no longer a conflict of despair. If he cannot find the right way out in Christ, he will find the wrong way out somewhere else. Nature abhors a conflict of despair as she abhors a vacuum, and she has her own ways out, and one of these ways almost every soul with whom we have to deal finds for himself. All the ways of nature apart from Grace are dangerous, and lead in the end to the disintegration of the personality, which is spiritual death, and which in extreme cases ends in madness.
The first method is that of disassociation. The attempt to live in watertight compartments and settle down to a permanently divided self -- with Dr. Jekyll in the drawing-room and Mr. Hyde in the study, and the Prince of Darkness in the cellar.
A very large number of the people who attend our services and partake of the Sacraments are disassociated personalities. They are one person on Sunday and another on Monday. They have one mind for the sanctuary and another for the street. They have one conscience for the Church and another for the cotton factory. Their worships conflicts with their work, but they will not acknowledge the conflict. I want to press home what seems to me obvious, that while this unfaced conflict exists, the soul is not on the road to salvation, it is not sozomenos, never mind sesomenos, and while we leave it in that state we are not doing our job. There is a kind of piety about which one would say what the schoolmen said about concupiscence, rationem habet peccati -- it has of itself the nature of sin. It is the piety of the disassociated personality. The churchwarden who owns slum property; the devout layman who will not face the problem of war; the earnest brewer who presents a chalice to the church in the suburbs bought with the profits of the drink shops in town; the Christian workman who helps the vicar, and perhaps serves at Mass, and leaves his mates to strive for an improvement of conditions which he knows is short of justice and humanity, and takes gladly when he gets it, though he will not work for it. Don't you know him? The good, respectable fellow who keeps to himself, minds his own business, and is too Christian to be unselfish. All these -- and even the pious lady who attends daily Mass and evensong, and draws her dividends from goodness knows (but she doesn't know, nor care) where -- all these are disassociated personalities, and are not sozomenoi, on the road to salvation.
The second method is that of rationalization -- the conflict ends in compromise. The Christian standard is watered down until it reaches the level of practical politics and practical business. The Christian adapts himself to the world because he cannot adapt the world to himself -- and despairs of doing so. He composes a new version of the Sermon on the Mount, which identifies the British Empire with the Kingdom of God and industrialism with the Divine Providence. He does not claim the world for Christ, but is content to stake out a limited claim for Christ in the world. The Church for him is a limited liability company -- more limited than liable. But the conflict is not really at an end; it goes on underneath, and from time to time it produces nausea of religion and disgust with its unrealities, a disgust which breaks out into violent criticism of the Church and bitter judgement of fellow Christians. Nothing can save these souls but a social gospel which declares war in the name of Christ upon the world.
The third method is that of repression. , And what is repressed is not the world, but the Christ. Men repress and choke back their aspirations and longings for better things. They repress the awkward impression that haunts them that Christ is right; and inasmuch as they do not see how his standard and principles can possible apply to the world in which they live, they dismiss, or endeavor to dismiss, them as mere ideals worthless for practical men who have to work in the world. The result of this repression is indifference, often tinged with antagonism.
Go back to your parish and do some evening visiting, and you will find specimens in every street. Is there a parish Priest here who has not beaten his hands in vain at that stone wall, and if he be in earnest, has not beaten until they bled? Behind that indifference there is a soul in conflict -- a conflict of despair . . .
It is always disastrous for man to attempt to put asunder those whom God has made one, and there is no divorce more morally disastrous than that between the reformer and the revivalist -- the divorce between the men, who, through Christ, are endeavoring to pour new life into the world, and those who are endeavoring to change the world so as to make it a fitting environment for and expression of that life. Each is poverty-striken without the other. A divorce between the secular and the sacred means the death of real religion. The secular without the sacred is a body without a soul, and that can do nothing but stink and foster parasites. The sacred without the secular is a soul without a body, and whatever that may be it is not human. It is neither what man is nor what he is meant to be. There is a natural body and a spiritual body, and the idea that we are meant to be bodiless spirits is neither Christian nor true. I believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.
We come, then, to this practical issue. If we are to succeed in the re-evagelisation of England and of the world, we must definitely recognise that what is often called the social message of Jesus Christ is an essential part of the Gospel. It is not an addendum to it, it is not something that follows conversion; it is that to which men need to be converted . . .
It is not enough to make the devotional life our main concern, and allow an occasional lecture or preachment on social matters to be added as a make-weight. The social life must be brought right into the heart of our devotion, and our devotion right into the heart of our social life. There is only one spiritual life, and that is the sacramental life -- sacramental in its fullest, its widest, and its deepest sense, which means the consecration of the whole man and all his human relationships to God. There must be free and open passage between the sanctuary and the street. We must destroy within ourselves our present feeling that we descend to a lower level when we leave the song of the angels and the archangels and begin to study economic conditions, questions of wages, hours and housing. It is hard, very hard, but it must be done. It must be done not only for the sake of the street, but for the sake of the sanctuary, too. If the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament obscures the Omnipresence of God in the world, then the Sacrament is idolatrous, and our worship is actual sin, for all sin at its roots is the denial of the Omnipresence of God. I have been to Mass in churches where I felt it was sinful, sinful because there was no passion for social righteousness behind it. When ye spread forth your hands I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make long prayers I will not hear you; your hands ate full of blood . . . Cease to do evil, learn to do well. Seek judgement. Relieve the oppressed. Judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
Remember that medieval ritual was a natural expression of medieval life, which, at any rate, tried to consecrate all things to God -- tried to build the Kingdom of God on earth, and dedicated all arts and crafts, all human activities to him. In that setting it meant much; apart from that setting it means nothing, and worse than nothing -- it is a hollow mockery. The way out is not to destroy ritual, but to restore righteousness, and make our flaming colours the banners of a Church militant here on earth . . .
Closing address by the Rt. Rev. Frank Weston, Bishop of Zanzibar. In Report of the Anglo-Catholic Congress, London, July 1923. [London], Society of SS. Peter & Paul, 1923.
have no manner of doubt that it is the present duty of every Churchman to send money across the seas for foreign Missions. But that is not the purpose of my being here tonight. I was asked to speak to you at the end of the Congress upon our present duty as Anglo-Catholics, and it is to that that I address myself. I am purposely not saying anything about the present duty of the Anglo-Catholic Congress Committee, for any views I may have upon that I hope to communicate to them tomorrow if they care to have them. My duty as Chairman is this -- to try to sum up as clearly as I can the things we have been learning, the things, at least, that I hope we have been learning during these three days.
Now to put it quite clearly our present duty as Anglo-Catholics is to make a far deeper surrender to our Lord Christ and to make it over far wider areas than ever before. We are to make such a surrender of self to Christ over the whole area of our life that were he to choose to come on earth to reign in his own person, neither you nor I would find it necessary to alter the principles upon which we conduct our work, our prayer, our worship. That is the point. Were he to come, our principles would not require to be altered.
I recall you and myself to him, and I want you first to listen to the call of the Christ of Bethlehem, eternal God made Man for you, made Man for me, Jesus the Babe of Bethlehem. I want you to listen to him as he leaps from the Father's Throne across the gulf that separates the Creator from creation, across the gulf that separates holiness from sin. Listen to him as he leaps that gulf and appears in human form amongst us men. Listen to him as he speaks to you: By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples if ye have love one to the other. I recall you to the Christ of Bethlehem and I suggest to you, as I suggest to myself, that it is our present duty to return into our own parishes and into our own dioceses and to see whether it is not possible to work out there the problems in the solving of which we seem to lose our love and to care only for ourselves. There in your own parish: and not in your parish only, but (shall we say?) in your rural deanery. There where you have the problem of the rich and the poor, the problem of the educated and the uneducated, the problem of the master and the man, the problem of the employer and the employed -- there set yourselves, brethren, to work out the problem of fellowship. See if be not possible that some of us may be called by our Lord to make a leap after the manner, however great a distance apart, of his; that we should come out of that in which we were born and make for ourselves a new life; if in any way we can help to build up the fellowship of man with man in Christ. I recall you to Jesus of Bethlehem. I challenge you to look up to Jesus at Bethlehem and summon him to move around your parish from altar to altar, from church to church. I challenge you to summon him. You dare not, and I dare not. When he comes we cry, "Lord, have mercy." We are ashamed. For when shall we be able to stand for him, as a family, round the parish altar with hearts and voices all in unison, and all raise to him? When? That is your problem. That is the first problem of the Anglo-Catholic Congress.
Now in this no one can throw stones. There are individuals whose efforts must shine in the sight of the angels; but as a corporate body, no Communion, no Church, no Society, can claim to have done more than touch the problem. Brethren, if you ask me, your Chairman, what is your present duty I tell you that first. Get back into your parish, get back into your rural deanery, get back into your own diocese, and work out what Christian fellowship means. Make for yourselves such fellowship as shall not make you ashamed in the sight of Jesus. Do not ask me how it is to be done, -- if I knew I would tell you. It is a problem; but it is a problem that Christ can solve if we would be true to him -- a difficult and ticklish problem. You cannot simply sweep away the social customs in which we have been born and bred, and God forbid that we should try. You cannot pretend to an equality of culture and an equality of taste and temperament which does not actually exist. But, if God leapt a gulf for you, I suppose that you can leap gulfs for God -- that first. We are recalled by the Christ of Bethlehem, then, into fellowship.
And secondly -- though I dared not if I had not been told to do it, for who am I that I should speak on present duty? -- I recall you to the Christ of Calvary. I remind you brethren, and myself, that the reality behind the Catholic Movement, the reality at the foundation of the Church of Christ, is the Man Christ Jesus and him crucified.
I remind you that the hope of your salvation and the justification of your claim to attention from the world is just the naked Christ of Nazareth, and to him I recall you. The Anglo-Catholic -- a man, a woman -- following the after Jesus on the old Catholic path. Nothing more than that. The path is Catholic, but do not boast about your path. Fix your eyes upon him who goes before you: Jesus, the naked Christ. Brethren, I recall you then in his name to the imitation of his Passion in a degree that has become foreign to most of us. You must set yourselves, brethren, here in the midst of London to show people that it is perfectly possible to lead a happy, wholesome, healthy life, developing your true manhood without in any way forsaking the simplicity which goes with the Cross of the Christ of Nazareth; that you shall live simple lives, that you shall fight against luxury, that you shall encourage the rich to set a limit to the amount of money they will use upon themselves, that they will do it not under pressure from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but out of personal devotion to him, Jesus.
And I would say this. I would venture to say to my brethren in the Ministry that the priesthood of which we Anglo-Catholics talk a very great deal implies a strictness and a sternness in the following of Christ that is sometimes sadly to seek. We want, we Priests, really to believe that we are consecrated to give our wills to Jesus, and in giving our wills to lay ourselves body and soul in his hands that he may do what he will with us. And therefore we have to be extremely careful to shut ourselves in from those things in the world that so easily distract our minds from him. We must have a far stricter standard, a far sterner following of Christ. For the Christ of Calvary calls you.
Brethren, consider. We meet and count our thousands now; and had we an Altar that we might offer our Mass here, how glorious we should think it. But when you have followed the naked Christ, now glorified, and in the sacramental presence pleaded his cause before the Father, where is the sternness, where is the strictness, where is the self-sacrifice in us, the ministers, the acolytes and worshippers at the altar? Naked, yet glorified: that is the picture of him in his sacramental presence; and we -- well we know what we are. And beyond that call to us, the ministers, there are those yet awaiting their vocation; there are young men, there are boys, young women, girls; and life is opening out. What has the Christ of Calvary to say to you? What is the duty of the Anglo-Catholic Movement with regard to them? We want the young men in the Priesthood, if God calls them: we want the women in the Religious Life, we want them in the work of teaching for the Church: we want men and women, Priests and other workers abroad in the Foreign Mission field. But where are they? Why do they not come? Because we are not yet recalled to the Christ of Calvary -- there is no other reason. And I put it to you who are parents and you who hope to be parents hereafter -- I put it to you, what has the Christ of Calvary to say to you? Nothing? Do you remember how he reached his Cross? Do you forget whom it was he left that he might climb his Cross? Do you forget how his mother was bidden to be content to live with the Beloved Disciple? And you fathers and mothers, cannot you give to Jesus some of what he has given to you? Dedicate them; rejoice that they should go into the Religious Life. Look only at the Catholics in Ireland -- five or six of the family in the Priesthood and in Religion. Look at the numbers of men and women in a French household who are in the Priesthood and in Religion. Then look at your English homes. I recall you to the Christ of Calvary -- listen to him, brethren.
And I want, if I may, to make one other point about Calvary. I want you Anglo-Catholics to consider how you are going to make that picture of Christ real to the world, unless religion can be presented to people as a matter of discipline. We want all the love, and the Christ of Bethlehem will secure that. We need the self-sacrifice, and the Christ of Calvary will do that. Now what about the discipline? You know you move in an atmosphere of obedience. Ideally, as I step out to go to the altar of God, I go in definite obedience to Holy Church to offer the Sacrifice of Christ's obedience. Now I ask you, in the ordinary Anglo-Catholic Church how much obedience is there? Now, mark you, I am not asking for obedience to a Bishop. I ask for obedience to the Bishops in so far as they themselves obey the Catholic Church. Please don't try to applaud. I am not making a point. I am talking to your souls. If you want my opinion of your present duty, I want you to get nearer to those English Bishops who do understand a little, and I want you to make it clear to them that it is becoming intolerable to you that your daily and Sunday Masses should be without that consecrating sense of obedience lying heavy on the PrIest from the moment he begins to vest until he has completed the Mass and said his thanksgiving. And I want you to plead with the Bishops that they shall believe you, and that with you they shall try and see how you shall arrive at some understanding that shall be covered by the practice and the custom of the Catholic Church. I would never ask a Priest to obey the dicta of a Bishop. I have been a Bishop for fifteen years, and I do not think I have ever asked a Priest simply to obey my opinion; but I always beg of them -- and they listen -- that when we are agreed that this is Catholic, and this is useful, and this is what is needed, then they obey. Even if they do not always agree, they obey.
And you lay people, what about Confession? Are you going to obey about that? How long are you going to hold back before you make your confessions to God in God's Church in the presence of God's Priests? How long are you going to hold back from acknowledging your corporate guilt and your responsibility to the Church? Or fasting. Do you fast? Do you know what it means really to fast? We have not learned it yet in England, and now we are beginning to look for dispensations from fasting and talking about gentaculae and other most deceiving things. There is a sort of air of softness about us; and Jesus calls you. What does it matter if you get a headache when you are representing Calvary before the Father? Would you come to feel especially well and buoyant as you came from the contemplation of the Christ of Calvary? Brethren, you know you would not.
And my last point is this. I recall you in the last place to the Christ of the Blessed Sacrament. I beg you, brethren, not to yield one inch to those who would for any reason or specious excuse deprive you of your Tabernacles. I beg you, do not yield, but remember when you struggle, or, as Father Frere told us today, when you fight for the Church -- do remember that the Church is the body of Christ, and you fight in the presence of Christ. Do not forget that. I want you to make your stand for the Tabernacle, not for your own sakes but for the sake of truth first, and in the second place for the sake of reunion hereafter. But for the truth, because the one great thing that England needs to learn is that Christ is found in and amid matter -- Spirit through matter -- God in flesh, God in the Sacrament. But I say to you, and I say it with all the earnestness that I have, that if you are prepared to fight for the right of adoring Jesus in his Blessed Sacrament, then you have got to come out from before your Tabernacle and walk, with Christ mystically present in you, out into the streets of this country, and find the same Jesus in the people of your cities and your villages. You cannot claim to worship Jesus in the Tabernacle, if you do not pity Jesus in the slums.
Now mark that -- this is the Gospel truth. If you are prepared to say that the Anglo-Catholic is at perfect liberty to rake in all the money he can get no matter what the wages are that are paid, no matter what the conditions are under which people work; if you say that the Anglo-Catholic has a right to hold his peace while his fellow citizens are living in hovels below the levels of the streets, this I say to you, that you do not yet know the Lord Jesus in his Sacrament. You have begun with the Christ of Bethlehem, you have gone on to know something of the Christ of Calvary -- but the Christ of the Sacrament, not yet. Oh brethren! if only you listen tonight your movement is going to sweep England. If you listen. I am not talking economics, I do not understand them. I am not talking politics, I do not understand them. I am talking the Gospel, and I say to you this: If you are Christians then your Jesus is one and the same: Jesus on the Throne of his glory, Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, Jesus received into your hearts in Communion, Jesus with you mystically as you pray, and Jesus enthroned in the hearts and bodies of his brothers and sisters up and down this country. And it is folly -- it is madness -- to suppose that you can worship Jesus in the Sacraments and Jesus on the Throne of glory, when you are sweating him in the souls and bodies of his children. It cannot be done.
There then, as I conceive it, is your present duty; and I beg you, brethren, as you love the Lord Jesus, consider that it is at least possible that this is the new light that the Congress was to bring to us. You have got your Mass, you have got your Altar, you have begun to get your Tabernacle. Now go out into the highways and hedges where not even the Bishops will try to hinder you. Go out and look for Jesus in the ragged, in the naked, in the oppressed and sweated, in those who have lost hope, in those who are struggling to make good. Look for Jesus. And when you see him, gird yourselves with his towel and try to wash their feet.