The Church Expectant

Cathedral Nave -- A cathedral nave

Oliver Wendell Holmes' immortal words from "The Chambered Nautilus" come to mind when that thought of building our souls into Christ's living cathedrals visits me:

Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea!

Vaulted Ceiling

View of cathedral ceiling
Cathedral ceiling


	       Glen Davis

I  watched eternity last night
	her velvet curtain aglow  with stars:
I heard the music of the spheres,
	and knew that You were there.

From silent depths and silent heights,
	my soul within this peace took rest:
As trackless paths before her stretched,
	to other realms and other worlds.

I watched eternity last night
	and knew not yet where it bends:
Her velvet curtain bright with stars,
	hid from my eyes where Heaven begins.

For who can span so vast a dome
	and take it into what he is?
Eternity beyond this time and place,
	her mystery hid in those night skies!

And thus I looked within myself
	within this earthbound soul of mine:
And found her there, yet could not span
	that soul redeemed within my breast.

I  sighed, "Eternity!", last night
	and I gazed within:
Each starried galaxy had eyes
	and angels looked down from the skies.

I watched eternity last night
	and felt Your  peace within.


Austin Pardue, Bishop, Pittsburgh Episcopal Diocese

When I used to broadcast every Monday night over the Mutual Network, I had stations in both Pittsburgh and Buffalo,. I was just one person, broadcasting from one station into one microphone, yet, as an individual, I spoke in hundreds of homes in each city at the same time and, as a matter of fact, I did so over one hundred and ten stations. My voice was in any number of places at once due to the aid of radio waves. Certainly, if I can perform such an act, I have little trouble in believing that a soul in a spiritual body can do far greater and more mysterious things in the realm of the unseen.

If I were entirely consistent, I would not use such terms as "the other world" or "beyond" or "death," because I am resorting to the language of time and space, but unfortunately I don't know quite what to do about it when I, who inhabit a physical body, am here working a typewriter on earth.

A question often asked is, "In the next world will children who died long ago still be children, or will they be old men and women when we come in contact with them?" Certainly they do not grow old in terms of time for there is not time or age in the life eternal. The whole thing, the Bible would seem to intimate, will be a matter of growth of character and understanding and spiritual awareness.

The more we pray to get outside the physical world while still on earth in order not to be bound by our time-space world, the easier it will be for us to comprehend the immensity of eternal life. Pray constantly for an expansion of your imagination, understanding, and vision, and the scope of life will; take on vast new angles for you right here and now. You will start living in the Kingdom of Heaven while you still live in the Kingdoms of this world. "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven."

(taken from Glen's personal notes from the Rt. Reverend Austin Pardue's He Lives, published in 1946 by Morehouse)

Clerestory Galleries

Heavens light in the cleresotry -- Jesus Christ, as Heaven's Light, streams into our souls --

Entering the nave of some great Cathedral is always a breathtaking experience. The vastness of that place beneath the high vaulted ceilings enfolds us in its majestic, reverent silence. And thus it is within the cathedral of our soul. Christ has placed within us a rightful frame of worship and adoration. Our vaulted ceiling is built of the Eternal Life Christ has won for us and not of the perishable timber and masonry of the Gothic cathedral. A soft kindly light filters down into us from the clerestory of Heaven. This upper place has its galleries of heavenly blessedness, to ascend to them is dizzying to our intellects and enlivening to our hearts. The light from Christ who is Himself the Light of Light, fills us with an interior peace. Scriptures call it "the peace that passeth all understanding!" We ought take time to look at the three preceding illustrations and meditate upon them by going inwardly and worshipping God in the beauty of holiness. Let us realize what it is to have such an eternity within our baptized Christian souls. There is a vastness within us for God calls us to Larger Lives. There is a vastness of inward landscape here: what mountains we must yet ascend, what good forests of love and suffering must we use at times as our ladders to mount our crosses which we carry in His name: and Everyman's cross is Everyman's present falleness.

He calls us back to what we were meant to be from Creation. His heart was broken upon the cross that, even as life breaks our own hearts, we find that our places of the soul are no longer shanties hastily constructed, narrow and squalid but rather we discover that within our Cathedral soul is a vastness of purpose and meaning. St. Paul's words of magnificence seem almost understandable in view of what Christ's resurrection has made the church to be: "If anyone be in Christ, he is a new creation, ... old things are past, all things have become new!"

His eternal life He has won for us is therefore the Larger Life of Heaven that begins for us within though we are still here below! Still later, St. Paul celebrates with his beautiful: "I am convinced that neither life nor death ... shall separate us from Christ Jesus!" The Risen Christ appearing before Saul of Tarsus cries out to him, "Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute Me?" The persecution of the church is seen by Christ as a persecution, an assault upon His Larger Life in His people here upon the earth. Now above, according to the Apocalypse of St. John the Divine, the holy martyrs of all ages cry out from their holy place to Jesus on behalf of this same Church: "How long, oh Lord, how long?" Christ in that same magnificent book of scripture answers this how long by saying to that same Church on earth: "Behold, I come quickly!"

the doves: A dove

In the clerestory of my soul
facing onto the Light of Heaven,
	where the silent light streams down in its forever peace,
Far from the troubled days
	of our fleeting lives
			at complete rest with the sweet doves' nests--
	they brood over their little ones
			until their joyous births,
		and tend them each with gentle sweetness,
		until at last they come down in purest flocks of white,
			to the innermost lofts of blessed peace.

the golden birds: Soaring eagle

And singing sweetly the golden birds are flying high within the space of
the vaulted sky of this my Cathedral soul  -- they sing their melodies of
love for Him who died that I might live:
	Yet what shall I down here below, upon the nave floor, what shall I --
	now offer with them to the Lord:
'This one thing, and let me think upon its joys:
			Our yet to be said prayers
			are perched like little golden birds above,
			awaiting our saying them
			that in goldened splendor they might fly
						to Heaven and God,
						to Heaven and God!

clerestory right:

The Unseen Hand

"He who. from zone to zone,
Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight,
In the long way that I must tread alone
Will lead my steps aright"

William Cullen Bryant


Thou Unseen Hand, once so cruelly pierced:
from age to age Thou hast led our redeemed souls
till "glow the heavens with the last steps of 'day'".
Lead Thou our hearts beyond the hunter's sharp-eye;
beyond and unto that 'pathless coast' and ever near unto Thee.

How soon, how soon!
	--  and it shall all be past,
How soon?
	--  to see Thine Hand, at last!

And this is a ray of purest light that filters through our soul's clerestory that in God there is no darkness at all. He is the Light that lightens all of existence, the light that shineth in the darkness, the light that those of the darkness despise. In a world gone to the devil, we are to be walking in the light as He is in the light. Our lives have direction for they are in His light. The scoffers of this world may ridicule us, the evil may hate us, that "hunter" who lays in wait for the fall of men cannot destroy us if we are walking in that light. But to so walk is to so pray, there is light for our entire soul if we will know that His Hand, now invisible to us, shall soon be revealed in the light of paradise most blessed. Meanwhile we walk prayerfully.

John 1:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

clerestory left:

color is to the natural beauties

even as

Divine Graces are to spiritual beauties

(analogy of Jonathan Edwards)

Oh Thou Lord of infinite beauty,
from Thine unapproachable light cometh Thy Holy Spirit.
Oh glorious are Thy beauties that stream through Him
as though through some holy prism, celestial bright.

Unto us He cascades from Thy divine purity of light
as though in multicolored rays
all the gifts,
all the mercies,
all the graces
for Thy people
for Thy Creation: our fellow-creatures

In Thy constant radiance are found Thy constant mercies --
they pour multi-colored all around us
--oh, if we could but see in our present blindness!

Deep within our redeemed souls they brilliantly glow,
they gleam from the "stained glass" windows
of Thy unstained grace;
down from the clerestory and great nave walls!

Oh come Holy Spirit,
dwell Thou in this place of my soul
which Jesus so wondrously bought
with His life,
shine forth with hope and peace,
with the rainbow's splendor after the Flood ...
shine forth as young Joseph's coat of many colors,
warm me from the drabness, the darkness of my old sins ---

shine forth,
shine forth,
with the precious gems that forever diffuse holy peace
from Heaven's Gates --
--shine forth oh beauteous grace,
shine forth!

Clerestory Galleries


There are those galleries above the main side-aisles or ambulatories of the Cathedral. In our Cathedral-souls they are up near the clerestory with its heavenly light, constant reminders that our walk down here on earth must be patterned by our heavenly walk in that which is higher for, as St. Paul has beautifully written: "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think upon these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me do; and the God of peace will be with you!" (Philippians 4: 8-9) For it is true that our sojourn here is a sending of treasures to Heaven where rust and moth cannot ruin, where thieves cannot steal (Matthew 6:19).

Each step, each action, each decision for the good and the right and the merciful, each prayer that becomes the pattern for our daily living hast its wonderful counterpart in that gallery above, the invisible world that surrounds us, the Heaven which we rightly call Home. (John 14: 1-7). There is a wisdom in Shakespeare's observation that:
William Shakespear
William Shakespear

	The quality of mercy is not strained;
	It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
	Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest--
	It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
	'Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
	The throned monarch better than his crown:
	His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
	The attribute to awe and majesty,
	Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
	But mercy is above this sceptred sway, --
	It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
	In an attribute to God himself;
	An earthly power doth then show likest God's,
	When mercy seasons justice.
			(From: The Merchant of Venice)

And so it is that if we will walk rightly, prayerfully, filled with His own mercy and forgiveness in this life we are at that moment walking the Heavenly corridors with the blessed saints and holy angels for St. Paul reveals a wonderful mystery in these inspired words from God: "But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2: 4-7)

Jesus tells us that whatever we do unto His children we do unto Him, that even a cup of cold water given in His Name has its blessings in Heaven; that when Saul persecuted His people, the Church, Saul persecuted Christ Himself. We have but a glimpse of that invisible gallery above our earthly walks -- that all things have their relatedness to Heaven somehow. (Matthew 25: 31-46; Matthew 10:42; Acts 9:1-9) That the martyrs face torture and death without fear is a sure and certain indication that when such a time comes we know that we walk both upon earth and in Heaven with Christ. So walk valiantly, bravely, kindly, and with a love that is not of this world but from Christ.


To walk in that higher light while still amongst the shadows of this dying world, that is our great privilege because the cathedral's upper galleries are bathed in such light and we walk them when our "better angels" we show to this adverse generation. The hymn by Bernard Barton well expresses what I am trying to say to you, my beloved family:

Walk in the light! so shalt thou know
That fellowship of love
His spirit only can bestow
Who reigns in light above.

Walk in the light! and thou shalt find
Thy heart made truly His,
Who dwells in cloudless light enshrined,
In whom no darkness is.

Walk in the light and e'en the tomb
No fearful shade shall wear;
Glory shall chase away its gloom,
For Christ hath conquered there.

Walk in the light! thy path shall be
A path, though thorny, bright;
For God, by grace, shall dwell in thee,
And God Himself is light.

(Bernard Martin)

Those who dare be saintly in this world only dare to be so because they purposely recall in faithful, prayerful recollection that this world is not the last word concerning our lives, that they best trod the thorny paths of this life by faith ... and that faith is in Christ who has ascended in glory wearing our own humanity. It is true that in that wondrous sense we are already there with Him. From the gallery ways that skirt Heaven's brilliant walls we can sing when all is gloomiest about us and no man cares whether we live or die:

O Beulah Land, sweet Beulah Land!
As on thy highest mount I stand,
I look away across the sea,
Where mansions are prepared for me,
And view the shining glory shore --
My heaven, my home forevermore!

(John R. Sweney)

Thus Mother Teresa could joyously spend her life in the horrid slums of Calcutta bathing the sores of the lepers, lifting them up to embrace the dying, to become the poorest of the poor for the love of Christ. Thus she could say that Jesus was in every face that she saw and so she loved Him in the poor, the dying, the homeless, the orphaned. ... When such a cathedral soul cared for them a man can then look up and see Heaven in her eyes: "Mother, I have lived in Hell but I die in Heaven!" To thus walk in heavenly places while in a squalid slum, to know that the upper gallery ways are now in our redeemed souls is to learn to see Christ everywhere!


And while we walk upon the earth while our hearts and minds walk in Heaven these words of the blessed John Henry Newman should encourage our faithfulness to our higher callings:

(John Henry Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, London: Longmans, Green, 1891 1:208,209, 210, 211)

John Henry Newman

It is intended that we should look to ourselves and rather consider why we have privileges given us than why others have not the same. Our Saviour repels such curious questions more than once. "Lord, and what shall this man do?" St. Peter asked about St. John. Christ replied, "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou Me.

[And, thus of the Scriptures Newman spoke] -- (it) increases our difficulties. It is indeed a remarkable circumstance, that the very revelation that brings us practical and useful knowledge about our souls, in the very act of doing so, nay (as it would seem), in consequence of doing so, brings us mysteries.

[He tells us that if there is an endless state of blessedness there is also] a state of endless misery too. Now, how great a mystery is this! yet the difficulty goes hand in hand with spiritual blessing.

It is still more strikingly to the point to refer to the message of mercy itself. We are saved by the death of Christ; but who is Christ? Christ is the very Son of God, Begotten of God and One with God from everlasting, God incarnate. This is our inexpressible comfort , an a most sanctifying truth if we receive it rightly; but how stupendous a mystery is the incarnation and sufferings of the Son of God! Here, not merely do the good tidings and mystery go together, as in the revelation of eternal life and eternal death, but the very doctrine which is the mystery brings the comfort also.

Frail man requires pardon and sanctification; can he do otherwise than gratefully devote himself to, and trust implicitly in, his Redeemer and Sanctifier? But if our Redeemer were not God, and our Sanctifier were not God, how great would have been our danger of preferring creatures to the Creator! What a source of light, freedom, and comfort is it to know we cannot love them too much or humble ourselves before them too reverently, for both the Son and Spirit are separably God. Such is the practical effect of doctrine; but what a mystery also is herein involved. What a source of perplexity and darkness (I say) to the reason is the doctrine which immediately results from it! For if Christ be by Himself God, and the Spirit be by Himself God, and yet there be but one God, here is plainly something altogether beyond our comprehension.

It seems, then, that difficulties in revelation are especially given to prove the reality of our faith. What shall separate the insincere from the sincere follower of Christ? When the many own Christ with their lips, what shall try and discipline His true servant and detect the self-deceiver? Difficulties in revelation mainly contribute to this end. They are stumbling-blocks to proud and unhumbled minds and were intended to be such. Faith is unassuming, modest, thankful, obedient. It receives with reverence and love whatever God gives, when convinced it is His gift.

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