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The Rio Grande rattler. ([McAllen], Hidalgo County, Tex.) 1916-1917, November 27, 1917, Image 13

Image and text provided by New York State Military History Museum

Persistent link: http://www.nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn87030234/1917-11-27/ed-1/seq-13/

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THE WADSWORTH GAS ATTACK a n d RIO GRANDE RATTLER WHAT A CHAPLAIN DOES. By Rev. Horace R. Fell, Chaplain, 102 Engineers. There seems to he an erroneous impres­ sion in the minds of a considerable number of civilians that an Army C haplain is more or less of a secular official, occupied very largely with the care of the mail and the supervision of the Post Exchange. But such is not the case. The writer knows of no greater opportunity for distinctly spiritual work than is offered by the post of Army Chaplain. Conditions vary in the different branches of the service, but the weekly round of the writer is fairly typical. We begin with Sunday morning. The Chaplain is up not later than 6:30 a. m., get­ ting ready for the first service, which is a celebration of the Holy Communion at 7:10 a. m. This is followed by a second service at 9:00 a. m. This second service is some­ times a Celebration of the Holy Communion, sometimes an informal Song Service, but is always accompanied by an address. On Sunday evenings the Chaplains in turn speak at the services in the Y. M. C. A. tents. Sometimes there is also a service in the afternoon for men on detached serv­ ice somewhere within reach of the main camp. On week-days he is usually up in time to take p art in the setting-up exercises in one of the company streets, or to take physical exercise playing medicine ball before morn­ ing mess, with the officers. Immediately after morning mess there are letters to be dictated to the stenographer assigned him. This is followed by visits to the Base Hos­ pital and to the Guard House. On Monday afternoons there is the joint conference of Chaplains and Y. M. C. A. workers to be attended. In the evening he is usually present at a meeting of the Athletic Asso­ ciation. Later there are visits in the offi­ cer’s tents or he receives visitors at his own tent. These visits nearly always af­ ford opportunity for discussion on some re­ ligious topic. When encouraged To do so, both officers and men are very ready to ask questions. Taps usually finds the Chap­ lain busy with personal correspondence for which there is little or no time during the day. Follows His Men. It frequently happens, in the writer’s or­ ganization that more than one detachment is away from the main body. In such eases Tuesday usually finds him away from head­ quarters on a visit to the nearest detached body. On Tuesday evenings a class in Re­ ligious Instruction is held at Headquarters. This class is very informal, taking up topics suggested by questions which have been asked by the men. Wednesday, as a rule, is the day for a visit to the hoys at the Rifle Range, some twenty-five miles from Camp Wadsworth. This is a two-day trip, and the Ford trucks furnished by the S tate of New York prove invaluable* for this work. Bedding Roll, Organ, A ltar, Books, etc., are placed aboard. Arrived at the camp, the little organ is set up a t the head of the company street, or if the weather forbids, in a hospital tent. A song service with address is held im­ mediately after evening mess. After the service conferences are held with the men who are interested enough spend an hour in the discussion of some religious topic. This is followed by a short visit with the officers. In the morning Holy Communion is celebrated before mess. Frequently the little Ford truck gives some of the men a lift to the scene of their day’s labor which may be five or six miles from the location of the tents. Camp W adsworth is usually reached by noon, by which time the Hos­ pital and Guard House work again needs attention. Friday is chiefly occupied in preparation for the Sunday services, getting out Church notices, etc. Sometimes a song or choir practice is held in the evening. Rests Saturday Afternoons. On Saturdays the boys have the after­ noon off, and if possible the Chaplain roots for the baseball team or attends such a th ­ letic games as may he under way. In the evening he is always in his tent, accessible to any of the boys who may want to see him. On his trips to the Rifle Range, he is fre­ quently accompanied by one of the Y. M. C. A. Secretaries or by a Roman Catholic Priest. This more or less regular routine is of course broken in upon by cases of critical illness demanding particular attention, or by death with its consequent ministry of consolation to the relatives of the deceased. There are also each day conferences with boys seeking advice or assistance. Arrange­ ments have been made by the Chaplains acting in concert for two services every Sunday at the Base Hospital, for entertain­ ments there on two evenings each week, and for two 'Chaplains to be within call constantly in case of emergency. This in addition to the regular visits made by each Chaplain to the Hospital in the ordinary course of his duty as Regimental Chaplain. Rainy days, when drills are impossible are the Chaplain’s harvest days, when he can visit the men in their tents. This schedule leaves little time for what is generally known as secular work. The Chaplain is, as a rule in charge of the mail, but the details are all attended to by mail orderlies, so that this function of his office does not in the slightest degree encroach upon the more important spiritual duties which are his proper sphere of action. As to the Post Exchange, he has nothing what­ ever to do w ith it. Services are of course sometimes held un­ der difficulties, and sometimes the attend­ ance is comparatively small. But always there is the opportunity to come into vital religious contact with more men than most Rectors ever reach at home. The writer is of the opinion that, aside from the administration of the Blessed ETHELBURT JELLYBACK HAS AN IDEA. I, Ethelburt Jellyback, Private—though Heaven knows I have more intellectual en­ dowment than a great many officers I have seen—enlisted in the army to do my bit and make the world safe for democracy. But at the time I so gallantly offered my services to the nation, I had no w arning that weather conditions might prove so inclement. Having come into the army from one of the best homes in the country, w hat w ith our fine big house, so assiduously eared for by the servants, particularly Hobart, the but­ ler, and Jibson, my valet, I now feel that I have been intrigued. To put the matter frankly, it is often terribly cold here at camp. One can’t do one’s best bit when it is so bitter. Raw winds blow. It may be permissible to put the draft men in the draughty places, but for us who voluntarily came forward with our lives and good fam­ ilies, well, that, as the negro servant who fell into the flour bin said, puts a different complexion on the matter. But I have a splendid idea. (I often have splendid ideas). It ought to revolutionize the w orld’s system of waging w ars, and also make for greater comfort. It is this: Why not do away w ith all w ars and train­ ing in the winter time, and conduct them only in summer? For example, in the game known as baseball, though I seldom play it myself owing to its propensity for causing in the player such a nasty amount of per­ spiration, contests are often eliminated when the elements are unpropitious. I believe the phrase is: “Postponed on account of wet grounds.” Why not bring influence to bear upon the great nations a t war to have their winter battles “postponed on account of cold weather?” And then play the so-called double-headers in the summer. Perfectly corking idea, isn’t it? All my own,—I, Ethelburt Jellyback, Private—- though goodness me, a private gets little privacy in the army! Some officer or en­ listed man is forever poking his head in a t my tent and looking around at me, even when I am only partially clad. There are 365 days in the year. There are usually, I have discovered, only about 150 battles a year between two armies in conflict. W hat could be more simple than to arrange it so that all of the 150 battles would take place in April, May, June, July, (Continued on page 20) Sacrament, the Chaplain’s g reatest oppor­ tunity, and it is a very great one, comes in the little conferences with small groups of men, or the almost daily occasions w hen one man alone will open his h eart to the spirit­ ual father of the regiment on some ques­ tion of vital religion. Some hardship and inconvenience there may be in the Chap­ lain’s office, but we are sorry for those priests at home who have never known the unique experiences which fall to our lot.

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