Today’s Episcopal Writings

In the US Episcopal Church, today is the commemoration of the Rt Rev’d Charles C. Grafton, II Bishop of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. He was an Anglo-Catholic (as we would term him today) and was somewhat infamous for the vestments he and fellow bishops wore at the consecration of his coadjutor, Reginald Heber Weller in the year 1900. The picture is referred to as the Fond du Lac Circus and is reproduced below:

On the occasion of the Consecration of the Rt Rev’d R.H. Weller as Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, 1900.

This is the first known photo of Episcopal bishops wearing copes and miters rather than the usual rochets and chimeres. The dioceses from which these bishops hailed are now referred to as being in the Biretta Belt.
Seated (l to r): The Rt Rev’d Isaac Lea Nicholson, Episcopal Bishop of Milwaukee; the Rt Rev’d Charles Chapman Grafton, Episcopal Bishop of Fond du Lac; and the Rt Rev’d Charles P. Anderson, Episcopal Bishop Coadjutor of Chicago. Standing (l to r): the Rt Rev’d Anthony Kozlowski of the Polish National Catholic Church ; the Rt Rev’d G. M. Williams, Episcopal Bishop of Marquette (now Northern Michigan); the Rt Rev’d Reginald Heber Weller, the Rt Rev’d Joseph M. Francis, Episcopal Bishop of Indianapolis, the Rt Rev’d William E. McLaren, Episcopal Bishop of Chicago; the Rt Rev’d Arthur L. Williams, Episcopal Bishop Coadjutor of Nebraska; St. John (Kochurov) of Chicago, protomartyr of the Bolshevik Revolution, Fr. Sebastian Dabitovich, chaplains to the Russian Bishop—St. Tikhon, then Orthodox Bishop of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands.

Why do you have all this to say about a long-dead bishop? you may ask.

Well, among his writings is the below-reproduced letter to a bishop (unnamed). You may find some of the sentiments Bishop Grafton expresses a bit, well, quaint in one way but, in reference to the Leper Colony—er—the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, the Anglican schismatics who have buggered off to Rome, timely as well. Any emphasis below is mine.




In addition to the two enclosed cases Bishop —— deposed the Rev. ——, educated at Sewanee, a College graduate, in middle life, married, and who verted to Rome. He married a woman of large means, and the consequent worldliness and luxury, together with disappointed ambition, led to the loss of his priestly vocation. This is one of the many cases I have known where marriage, for various causes, has led to a priest leaving our church for the Roman communion. The wife sometimes wants her husband to give up a life which involves such self-restraint and denial.

And now let me, my dear and younger brother, fraternally say that college education has nothing to do with a man’s loyalty to God and the Episcopal Church. Some of the most pious, loyal, useful, and God-fearing priests in my diocese have never been to College. Marriage is found to be no security against sensual sins, and in a diocese like mine in many cases it just halves the priest’s usefulness and doubles his cares. (emphasis mine)

The true reasons why so many men leave the ministry are: first, that they have never understood or felt the enormity of sin, or realized their own fatally lost condition, and have been most superficially converted. This I am forced to believe is the condition of many of the clergy, and that the sayings of some of the Fathers is true, that a number, it may be a large one, of the Bishops and priests will be eternally lost. Again, in our seminaries, the students are not taught what vocation signifies, how it is to be discerned and preserved. Their conversion is assumed. The sanctity of the priestly life is not aimed at; they are not properly trained in the art of meditation and prayer. Especially they are not taught that in Holy Orders the indelible stamp of priesthood is put on their souls, which shall shine forth forever in heaven, or burn on in intolerable torture in hell.

With my sincere and fraternal regards,
Yours in Christ,

I find this letter refreshing in its frankness. I do wonder, however, whether the Ordinariate’s priests have swum the Tiber because they found marriage an irresistable state, or because they went to college.

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