Joseph H. Schlarman, D.D.
Died November 10, 1951
Died November 10, 1951
On November 10 the Liturgical Conference of America lost one of its most encouraging friends in the person of the great shepherd of Peoria, Archbishop Joseph H. Schlarman, D.D. Because of his paternal interest in the liturgical apostolate our deep sadness is not without high gladness, and not without the conviction that he who on earth so understandingly blessed the efforts towards the “incorporation of all things in Christ” will in heaven continue to intercede for the realization of “the most pressing duty of Christians: to live the liturgical life, and increase and cherish its supernatural spirit” (Mediator Dei, n. 197).
Those of us who were privileged to participate in this year’s Liturgical Week at Dubuque will long remember the soul-stirring homily of Archbishop Schlarman on “Mary, the Mother of the Priest,” and will read with gratitude in the Week’s Proceedings (to appear early in 1952) this spiritual swan-song of one who loved the church and her liturgy, and whose motto was: “We learn in order to live, not merely to know. Doctrine must be translated into action, particularly sacramental action” (Archbishop’s preface to his Catechetical Sermon Aids).
Some years ago as a guest of His Excellency, I had an experience that I shall treasure for the rest of my life. Before retiring, the Bishop picked up from his library table one of the five volumes of Cardinal Schuster’s Sacramentary and said: “Let’s prepare our meditation for tomorrow.” With his famous red pencil in hand, he underlined the leading thoughts as he slowly read Schuster’s commentary on the next day’s Mass-text. Upon arriving in his private chapel the following morning, I found the Bishop kneeling on his prie-dieu with the Sacramentary, meditating, preparing for the Eucharistic Sacrifice.
His deep appreciation of holy Mass and his great love for the flock entrusted to his care have for years prompted the Bishop’s generosity (as announced weekly in the Peoria Register) to offer this Wellspring of all holiness and life, on Sunday (and holy days): for the diocese, as prescribed by canon law. On Monday: for the souls of the departed listed in the weekly column of the Register. On Wednesday (the week-day on which Judas betrayed Jesus): for the return of lapsed Catholics, particularly in the diocese of Peoria. On Thursday: for the living and departed benefactors of Guardian Angel Orphanage. On Friday: for the dispossessed millions, homeless, and hungry. On Saturday (Priests’ Saturday—Our Lady’s Day): for the living and departed priests of the Peoria diocese, for vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and for priests throughout the world.
Behold a great priest who in his days pleased God!
The concluding words of his last pastoral (Thanksgiving clothing drive), read in all the churches of Peoria on the day following his death, beautifully reflect the charity of the noble high priest of Peoria, a charity born of sincere love for the Mystical Body, the Church, and her sacramental life-streams, the liturgy: “While we thank God for a roof over our heads, beds to sleep in, warm clothing, and food, let us not forget the millions of homeless, shivering, and hungry people—our brothers in Christ.”
One is compelled to think of the words of the apostle of charity, St. John: “He that hath the substance of this world, and shall see his brother in need, and shall close his heart to him, how does the charity of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word, nor in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”
In the light of the approaching Christmas solemnity it may be appropriate to quote the late Archbishop’s liturgical comment on this blessed feast (Catechetical Aids, p. 3): “The spotlight falls upon the altar where the whole work of redemption—the annunciation, the birth of our Lord, His passion and death, the resurrection and ascension—re-appears, is made present. The spotlight on the 25th of December is thrown on the birth of Christ, and the Nativity shines forth as present during the Mass. We are not merely reminded that Christ was born nineteen centuries ago. The Nativity as belonging to the plan of God is present in the circle of time and is present upon the Altar as part of the great Mysterium currens per anni circulum (the Mystery, re-appearing in the circle of the year).
Officers and members of the Liturgical Conference of America humbly pray that the heavenly “spotlight” of full redemption may fall upon the Church-loving soul of Archbishop Schlarman and grant him the joys of an eternal Christmas with Christ and His holy Mother and with St. Joseph, his patron.
He loved the Church!
Tribute written by Martin B. Hellriegel, President of the Liturgical Conference, published in the January 1952 edition of Worship, volume 26, no. 2, pg. 83. Reprinted with permission.