The Homily for the Day
WT Stead (The Daily Paper, October 4, 1893, p. 12)
“Religion,” says Emerson, ” is as inexpugnable as the use of lamps or of wells or of chimneys. We must have days, and temples, and teachers. A wise man advises that we should see to it, that we read and speak two or three reasonable words every day amid the crowd of affairs and the noise of trifles. We no longer recite the old creeds of Athanasius or Arius. The forms are flexible, but the uses not less real. The old heart remains with its old human duties. Hero is thought and love and truth and duty, new as on the first day of Adam and of angels.” Attendance at morning service is for the most of us an impossibility. In many of our churches there is no morning service, and where the service is there are too often no worshippers. Even family prayers, in the rush and scurry of catching trains, the irregularity of business hours, and the decay of positive religious belief, has largely gone out of vogue, to the immense loss of family and social life. But still, in Emerson’s phrase, “the old heart remains,” and the old heart craves for something more satisfying than the ground bottle glass of party polemics, the endless wranglings between the ins and outs, or even the vast resonance that fills the press, with the echo of the innumerable happenings of yesterday.
Therefore, in The Daily Paper everyday, this page, and that which adjoins, will be set apart as sacred to the old human duties which fill the old human heart. It may be a poor substitute for morning service or family prayers, but for thousands it will be the only alternative – the only voice audible in the babel of life echoing in modern dialect the cry of the Muezzin. Every day will have its watchword culled from those which have been the mainstay of heroes and the inspiration of saints. Every day will have its brief collect, selected from the immense range of devotional literature that has welled from the human heart “since the first man stood God-conquered, with his face to Heaven upturned,” and every day will have its poem or its hymn, its canticle or its psalm, selected with such appropriateness to suit the circumstances of the day as is possible. And every day also will have its brief homily —a discourse addressed by earnest men and women of all creeds to our readers—based when possible upon some of these events of the day, which are the living texts of our time[.] In addition to this meditation on the events of the passing hour, there will be a page devoted to the memory of men and women of renown and of holiness, whose lives have made fragrant the centuries that are past “The fortifications of the City of God,” says Richter, “have been founded by the Ancients of every age by the history of their own. He who knows not the Ancients is the creature of a day, who sees the sun neither rise nor set.” So each day will have its saint, or sage, or hero, and we shall in time construct a new Calendar out of all the calendars, and familiarise the heirs of all the ages with the saints and heroes of all climes and of all religions. Nor need any of our readers fear that in this, new hagiology there will be any limitation bounded by shibboleths. Where Good is, there God is; where Love is, there Christ is, and wherever a human being sacrifices himself for the service of his fellow, there is the Holy Spirit. Nor shall we wait for a hundred years before we add our saints to the Calendar. To promote the union of all who love for the service of all who suffer is the purpose of these pages, and I venture to hope that even the most cursory reader will find sometimes a momentary calm retreat among the thoughts and the memories, the aspirations and the prayers of the heroes of our race.