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It is interesting to some of us who have been at work on this subject for the last fifteen years to receive letters from clergymen complaining bitterly of the lack of chaplains in the army and of the many limitations to the chaplain's efficiency, the fact being that it is the neglect of the clergy, as well as of the people, that has allowed this situation to exist. Congress is quick and ready to respond when it knows what the people want. A few months ago representatives of all organized Christianity in this country met in Washington and presented a draft of a law; looking towards one thing-empowering the Secretary of War to appoint one chaplain for every 1200 men and to distribute the chaplains according to his discretion. Many other improvements are sorely needed, but it seemed best to concentrate upon this one great need.
In one and the same day this body of representatives met the President and the Secretary of War, who expressed their approval of the general principle of increase, and they then brought it before the Committee of the Senate on Military Affairs. On the next day the Committee unanimously recommended the bill and on the next day the bill passed the Senate unanimously and went to the Committee of the House on Military Affairs. Congress then adjourned and the bill is now before that Committee and will, we trust, soon come before the House.
I mention these facts to suggest the speed with which such a subject may be carried through, provided the request for legislation is simple and is unquestionably supported by the Christian sentiment of the country. Later several other very important changes in legislation must be sought for if the chaplains are to meet the conditions which the duties of their office require of them.
Under the present law the Secretary of War has been practically prevented from appointing any other than regimental chaplains. No matter if there be ten thousand young men who have just left their homes, they cannot, under the exact interpretation of the law, have a chaplain appointed to care for them. Hence the forty thousand young men in the Officers' Training Camps who were to give the tone to the new army had no chaplains sent to the camps, and in our great cantonments, where
the regiments have been gradually organized, the chaplains have been very slowly appointed. In November in cantonments holding 600,000 men there were but seventy-five commissioned chaplains, one chaplain for practically each eight thousand
The War Commission, realizing these conditions, has wasted no time in complaining of them or in writing to officials in Washington, but has set to work to remedy them, so far as is possible, and along such lines as these:
First: The surgeons and paymasters of the army are equipped with tools necessary for their efficient service. There is not a dollar appropriated for the equipment of chaplains. Again note that this is not the fault of the Government or of Congress; it is the fault of the churches that have not been alert to the conditions. Hence, it is the duty of the churches to equip the chaplains until the public sentiment is so aroused that appropriations will be made by Congress for equipment. The various churches of the country through their representatives have agreed that each church must equip its own chaplains. Hence it is the duty of this Church to equip every chaplain who is a clergyman of the Church, and this includes not only the newly appointed chaplains, but the regular army chaplains who have been in the service perhaps five and fifteen years, but who have been limited in their efficiency for want of equipment.
Second: In order to increase the spiritual forces in the camps due to the small number of commissioned chaplains, the war commission has undertaken systematically, with the co-operation of the bishops and other clergy, to place strong clergymen in the camps to be of service in any way in their power, but especially to care for the men and boys of our own Church. Thus it is that in all the large cantonments and camps of the country there is at least one clergyman of our Church living, it may be, in a Y. M. C. A. hut, who is devoting himself to the spiritual and moral welfare of the men and boys of the Church. In all these camps there is a celebration of the Holy Communion in the early part of every Sunday, and the chaplain gives practically all of his time to getting into personal touch with the men and boys of the Church, as well as all others who may care for his sympathetic advice or ministrations.
Third: The Commission is also sending, through the St. Andrew's Brotherhood, strong laymen who, as secretaries of the Y. M. C. A., place the emphasis of their work upon the Church boys and men-looking them up, bringing them into the religious life of the camp, corresponding with parents, doing everything in their power to be helpful. Thus there is brought into the camp a personal voluntary service which is human and without the limitations of the military system. These voluntary chaplains are, of course, in camp by the invitation of the Commandant.
Fourth: A great camp, which is really little less than a great city of men, is within three months built up beside a little country parish. The rector is swamped with his responsibility. Hence it is the duty of the War Commission to reinforce him by helping the Bishop to place a second man there, or in other ways.
Fifth: Through a central office and a system of card cataloguing the War Commission hopes to keep parents and friends in touch with their sons and husbands in the service.
Sixth: In sending Bishop McCormick to France the War Commission is organizing upon the other side for such helpful service as the conditions open. It requires no imagination to suggest in how many ways Bishop McCormick and his helpers can keep the boys and men who are jeopardizing their lives for us, in sympathetic touch with their homes. This war is testing out the Church and unless we enable the men and boys of the Church to feel that in their hours of stress and danger they have the support of the Church, the grave question will arise as to what relations they will have to the Church when they return home.
In all of these plans it has been the purpose of the War Commission to encourage local effort as much as possible. It would be as impossible for the Commission to have under its supervision all the war work of the Church in this country as it would be for the Board of Missions to have under its supervision all of the diocesan missions of the country. The War Commission, therefore, confines itself to such general work and to such reinforcement of diocesan efforts where needed, as the circumstances demand.
The Call of the Laity.
BY THE RIGHT REVEREND CHARLES FISKE, D.D.
[AT is a layman? We have been satisfied, too often, with a merely negative definition. The layman is a Churchman who is not in holy orders. That implies a good many other assumptions, all introduced by a not. Not a clergyman; therefore not specially called and chosen; not supposed to be living a specially consecrated life; not having a priest's responsibility; not expected to do certain things; not engaged actively in the service of the Church; not finding his chief joy and obligation in any work distinctly religious. Always it is assumed that some sharply drawn line quite naturally separates those who are in holy orders and those who are not; and the layman's life is therefore a lower one, his duties lighter, his path easier, his responsibility less clearly defined.
The editor of The American Church Monthly asks me to tell how we may develop a better laity. To plunge at once in medias res, the absolute requisite to the development of a stronger, more active and more influential lay membership is that we shall make the layman understand his real vocation and value. A writer in The Commonwealth, some years ago, pointed out that the laos were the whole people of God, the elect race, the roya priesthood, the holy nation. The laos were the whole elect race, the kletos the special charge allotted to any worker within the holy nation. In other words, so splendid and sacred a distinction was it to be within the people of God that no later distinctions within the Body were anything like as important.
That is the first point we need to emphasize. Religion is not the business of the man in holy orders to such an extent that the layman may leave to the clergy the real work of the Church while he concerns himself wholly and, as he imagines, necessarily, with secular things.
The error of the past has been that in emphasizing the need of the ministerial priesthood we have failed to show that it is the expression of the priesthood of the whole Body. The clergy
are representative of the corporate priesthood of all believers. They have a special function as ministers of the Word and Sacraments, but as such they are organs of the Body, the arm of the Church. As in our bodies different members have different offices, so in Christ's Body the Church. The Christian priesthood is not a caste or a class; the ideal of its ministry is not a class ideal. Clergyman and layman are alike members of the Body, each with his own office and work, each responsible for the advancement of the Kingdom.
Our tendency has been to proceed, perhaps unconsciously and unintentionally, on an opposite theory, so that religion and theology are supposed to be entirely an affair of the man in orders and gradually the whole work of the Church has been left in increasing measure to the clergy. The layman either knew nothing about it and lost interest, or did not understand the methods by which it was done and became utterly indifferent; or positively disapproved and grumbled or rebelled. He came to feel that the only thing that was expected of him, the only thing he was ever really called upon to do, was to supply the funds by which the work was carried on. Having done that (if perchance he did do it), he stepped aside and shunted all the responsibility to other shoulders, save in one or two instances where he came to feel that his gifts of money entitled him to a mild dictatorship in parochial affairs. Usually, however, there are few "lay popes.' The general effect of the system is rather that clergy and people live in different worlds. The priest does not understand the layman's task, does not know his temptations, cannot enter into his thought. The layman cannot fathom the clerical mind. The clergyman is tempted to divorce doctrine from life; the layman to divorce life from doctrine. Meanwhile the life of the Church languishes and thought of the Church stagnates. In time, the original error has borne fruit in a false conception of clerical and lay ideals. The two standards of life are supposed to be entirely different, their conceptions of service as wide apart as the poles; the duty of discipleship is forgotten, and the clerical calling becomes a class by itself, with the terrible possibility that it may degenerate into