The Altar Steps eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 477 pages of information about The Altar Steps.
very well, and it’s quite right of him to bear in mind that the main object of the Order is to work among soldiers; but at the same time he leaves this place to run itself, and whenever he does come down here he plans some hideous addition, to pay for which he has to go off preaching for another three months, so that the Abbey gets looked after by a young novice of twenty-five.  It’s ridiculous, you know.  I was grumbling at the Bishop; but really I can understand his disinclination to countenance Burrowes.  I have hopes of Brother George, and I shall take an early opportunity of talking to him.”

Mark was discouraged by Sir Charles’ criticism of the Order; and that it could be criticized like this through the conduct of its founder accentuated for him the gulf that lay between the English Church and the rest of Catholic Christendom.

It was not much solace to remember that every Benedictine community was an independent congregation.  One could not imagine the most independent community’s being placed in charge of a novice of twenty-five.  It made Mark’s proposed monastic life appear amateurish; and when he was back in the matchboarded guest-room the impulse to abandon his project was revised.  Yet he felt it would be wrong to return to Wych-on-the-Wold.  The impulse to come here, though sudden, had been very strong, and to give it up without trial might mean the loss of an experience that one day he should regret.  The opinion of Sir Charles Horner might or might not be well founded; but it was bound to be a prejudiced opinion, because by constituting himself to the extent he had a patron of the Order he must involuntarily expect that it should be conducted according to his views.  Sir Charles himself, seen in perspective, was a tolerably ridiculous figure, too much occupied with the paraphernalia of worship, too well pleased with himself, a man of rank and wealth who judged by severe standards was an old maid, and like all old maids critical, but not creative.



The Order of St. George was started by the Reverend Edward Burrowes six years before Sir Charles Horner’s gift of land for a Mother House led him to suppose that he had made his foundation a permanent factor in the religious life of England.

Edward Burrowes was the only son of a band-master in the Royal Artillery who at an impressionable moment in the life of his son was stationed at Malta.  The religious atmosphere of Malta combined with the romantic associations of chivalry and the influence of his mother determined the boy’s future.  The band-master was puzzled and irritated by his son’s ecclesiastical bias.  He thought that so much church-going argued an unhealthy preoccupation, and as for Edward’s rhapsodies about the Auberge of Castile, which sheltered the Messes of the Royal Artillery and the Royal Engineers, they made him sick, to use his own expression.

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The Altar Steps from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.