The Reredos

The Reredos

from “The American Architect” December 28, 1910

October 21, 1910

Dear Mr. Eaton,

Some of the architects in Boston, and.several of the public spirited citizens as well, have been making pilgrimages to Mr. Ross’ shop in East Cambridge for the purpose of seeing the reredos for St. Paul’s Cathedral, which is now set up, with all its statues in place.  The general consensus of opinion seems to be that, quoting one of the pilgrims, this particular piece of work is the mot beautiful thing of the kind ever made in modern times.  Naturally, we demur a little at this excessive praise, nevertheless the fact remains that the reredos has created, and is creating, a profound sensation.  Now we were today approached by one of the trustees of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts with the request that this same reredos should be set up in the new Art Museum and placed on public view for a week or two, in order that the   people of Boston might see what could really be done in the line of good architecture, good cabinet work and good sculpture in this country, day and generation.

Of course this is all immensely flattering.  We are under the impression that it is the first time that the Art Museum has  suggested the possibility of any such a proceeding, and we should like, above all things, to have the work on public exhibition here in Boston before it goes to Detroit.  The question is, however, first, would you permit such a public exhibition and under such auspices; second is there going to be time?

We do not know what you think now will be the date for the dedication of the cathedral, but it would only take three weeks to ship the reredos to Detroit and have it put in place and finished, while we should suppose that two or three weeks would be sufficient for the Art Museum.  If you do not expect to dedicate the cathedral before December 20, then if you are willing  that the reredos should be exhibited, there will probably be no difficulty in the matter.

from the “Michigan Churchman” Cathedral Number 1911

We very much trust that this may be the case; that you will make no effort to dedicate the cathedral before December 20, and that you yourself will have no objection to the reredos being placed on public exhibition in the Boston Art Museum.

Very truly yours,
Cram Goodhue Ferguson

Holy Week and Easter 2011

In some ways the journey of Holy Week is not for the timid. As we move from Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, hailed by many along the way with the triumphal waving of palms, deeper into the events of the week, we are challenged, even offended, by the behavior recounted to us. The intimacy of the foot-washing prompts our discomfort with the intimacy of being served and of serving. The betrayal by Judas as the night unfolds offends our sense of honor and integrity. The abandonment by the disciples called to stay and pray with Jesus in the garden evokes our own memories of abandoning others or being ourselves abandoned. What follows is even more difficult to bear: fear and plotting by those with “authority”, mob mentality and reactivity, injustice and cruelty. A crucifixion. Just listening to the retelling of “other’s” actions makes us want to turn away. Then we are called to examine ourselves and our actions as they apply to our own relationship with Jesus. We are called to realize how we have offended Jesus, others in our lives, and ourselves. In short, how have we sinned; how have we driven the nails of our own making into the cross.

If I contemplate these alone, I am really want to hide for all of this. It is part of the reason we make this journey as a community of faith. There is strength in being present with others as we each commit ourselves to this spiritual journey. In the Letter to the Hebrews (Heb. 12:1-3) we are reminded that we are “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.” We are encouraged to “lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with perseverance the race that is set before us.” It calls us to look to Jesus “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for … joy … endured the cross … so that you (each of us) may not grow weary or lose heart.”

I want to applaud your courage in making the journey however challenged, or successful, you consider your effort. What really matters is that you have come, and by coming can see that Jesus has gone the whole way for you, for each of us. Our burdens and transgressions, having been taken up on the cross, have been taken away in Christ’s willing journey to the tomb. In his resurrection to new life we are raised with him. New Life for all who believe!

By observation and experience, I can say that living as Easter people is always more challenging than we anticipate. It is so easy to return to old patterns and habits: those that burdened us down, led us away from God’s calling, or those of Lenten scouring. May this celebration of new life, of Easter life, of resurrected life, be full and wondrous for you.

On behalf of the Wardens and Vestry, Chapter, all the Staff, and the Clergy,

Easter blessings,