Vital refreshment

Daily Reading for February 26 • Emily Malbone Morgan, Prophetic Witness, 1937

On the fiftieth anniversary of the Society of Companions of the Holy Cross, Father J. O. S. Huntington, O.H.C., conducted a Retreat. At the last breakfast, at which Emily Malbone Morgan, Founder of the Society, was not present, Father Huntington spoke as follows: “I am glad that Miss Morgan is not with us this morning, for I want to say something about her. She always reminds me of a great river, flowing steadily and swiftly, bringing vital refreshment to every country through which it flows.”. . .

Emily Morgan loved at recurrent intervals to tell her Companions how the S.C.H.C. began. . . . .Let us listen to the briefer account given in the talk in 1921, at the celebration of the twentieth year of Adelynrood, the house which bears her friend’s name:

“Dear Adelyn Howard had moved into a new town away from old friends and associations, and I wanted to form a group of her friends into a little society which should add companionship, merriment, and diversion to her life. As she lay there helpless on her bed she said she missed above all her Church, and if anything was started for her she wanted it to be a religious society, and one which would give her spiritual companionship. I did not understand about religious societies, and they did not interest me. My leading characteristic at the time was undeviating and hilarious high spirits; but dear Adelyn wanted such a society, and I loved Adelyn.

“In the early winter of 1884, during a visit to Boston, I talked over the matter of such a society with Harriet Hastings, who was religious and who understood all about religious societies. . . . It was also that afternoon, looking over a number of books, that I selected our prayer, an ancient collect, and we called ourselves ‘Companions of the Cross,’ neither of us, in our teens, knowing much about the Cross and what it meant, but because Adelyn had sounded the depths of pain, and reached the heights above it, and it was her society and to be composed of her friends. . . .

“’Give us grace, O Eternal Father, that we strive to keep the way of the Cross, and carry in our hearts the image of Jesus crucified. Make us glad to conform ourselves to Thy divine will, that, being fashioned after His life-giving death, we may die according to the flesh, and live according to the Spirit of Righteousness, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord and only Saviour. Amen.’

“What that prayer has taught us in all these years! We, in our human associations, our companionship, touch only by surfaces, ‘but spirit is the core of these,’ as the old English adage says. Way down in the depths of our being where we carry the image of Jesus crucified is our real life lived and our real battle fought. . . . We felt the sense of the generations of Christians through the centuries who may have said them, and who knew the full meaning of His life-giving death, which had opened for them the doors of endless and abundant life.”

From the Vida Dutton Scudder’s Foreword to Letters to Her Companions by Emily Malbone Morgan (Privately printed, 1944); found at

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