The Altar Steps eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 477 pages of information about The Altar Steps.

“Thank you, Brother,” said that same voice which yesterday, only yesterday night, had sounded so rarely sweet.  Here on this mellow August afternoon it was the voice of the golden air itself, and the shriek of the engine did not drown its echoes in Mark’s soul where all the way back to Malford it was chiming like a bell.



Mark’s ambition to go and work at Aldershot was gratified before the end of August, because Brother Chad fell ill, and it was considered advisable to let him spend a long convalescence at the Abbey.

     The Priory,

     17, Farnborough Villas,


     St. Michael and All Angels.

     My dear Rector,

I don’t think you’ll be sorry to read from the above address that I’ve been transferred from Malford to one of the active branches of the Order.  I don’t accept your condemnation of the Abbey as pseudo-monasticism, though I can quite well understand that my account of it might lead you to make such a criticism.  The trouble with me is that my emotions and judgment are always quarrelling.  I suppose you might say that is true of most people.  It’s like the palmist who tells everybody that he is ruled by his head or his heart, as the case may be.  But when one approaches the problem of religion (let alone what is called the religious life) one is terribly perplexed to know which is to be obeyed.  I don’t think that you can altogether rule out emotion as a touchstone of truth.  The endless volumes of St. Thomas Aquinas, through which I’ve been wading, do not cope with the fact that the whole of his vast intellectual and severely logical structure is built up on the assumption of faith, which is the gift of emotion, not judgment.  The whole system is a petitio principii really.
I did not mean to embark on a discussion of the question of the Ultimate Cause of religion, but to argue with you about the religious life!  The Abbot Paphnutius told Cassian that there were three sorts of vocation—­ex Deo, per hominem, and ex necessitate.  Now suppose I have a vocation, mine is obviously per hominem.  I inherit the missionary spirit from my father.  That spirit was fostered by association with Rowley.  My main object in entering the Order of St. George was to work among soldiers, not because I felt that soldiers needed “missionizing” more than any other class, but because the work at Chatsea brought me into contact with both sailors and soldiers, and turned my thoughts in their direction.  I also felt the need of an organization behind my efforts.  My first impulse was to be a preaching friar, but that would have laid too much on me as an individual, and from lack of self-confidence, youthfulness, want of faith perhaps, I was afraid.  Well, to come back to the Abbot Paphnutius and his three vocations—­it seems fairly
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The Altar Steps from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.