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Henry Augustus Rawes

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Oblate of St. Charles, hymn-writer and preacher, b. at Easington near Durham, England, 11 Dec., 1826; d. at Brighton, 24 April, 1885. Educated at the grammar school, Houghton-le-Spring, where his father was headmaster, and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he proceeded B.A. in 1849 and M.A. 1852, Rawes entered the Anglican ministry, and after holding curacies at St. Botolph's, Aldgate, and St. Bartholomew's, Moor Lane, became warden of the House of Charity, Soho, 1854. In 1856 he was received into the Catholic Church at Edinburgh by Fr. Ignatius Grant, S.J., and on Whit-Monday, 1857, became one of the original members of the English Congregation of Oblates of St. Charles, founded at St. Mary of the Angels, Bayswater. Ordained priest in November, 1857, Fr. Rawes took charge of the poor district of the Potteries, Notting Hill, where he built the Church of St. Francis of Assisi. As Cardinal Wiseman bears witness, "this has been built entirely at the expense of Fr. Rawes, an Oblate, who has spent all his fortune upon it" (Letter to Cardinal Barnabó in 1860; cf. W. Ward, "Life and Times of Cardinal Wiseman", II, 354). After acting as prefect of studies in St. Charles's College, Bayswater, for some years, and doing good work by his sermons and devotional writings, Fr. Rawes was created D.D. by Pius IX at the instance of Cardinal Manning. At Whitsuntide, 1880, he became Superior of the Oblate Congregation, and being re-elected in 1882 and 1884, continued to hold this office till his death.

His sermons and devotional writings are strongly marked by a strain of mysticism which was already present in his early Anglican preaching. "Homeward: a Tale of Redemption" (3rd ed., 1873) is an allegory somewhat in the vein of Bunyan, though illuminated by the light of Catholic theology. "The Beloved Disciple" (1872) is inspired by the devotion of which the author gave practical proof a few years later by founding a confraternity in honour of the Evangelist. In like manner, his deep personal devotion to the Holy Ghost found expression not only in his writings but in the foundation of the Society of Servants of the Holy Ghost, which was subsequently made an archconfraternity by Leo XIII. Among other smaller devotional works are: "Sursum; or, Sparks Flying Upward" (1864); "Septem; or, Seven Ways of Hearing Mass" (7th ed., 1869), and some original devotions for the Way of the Cross , published in 1877 with drawings by H.N.J. Westlake. His hymns, too little known nowadays, are remarkable for poetic beauty and deep religious devotion. Some of them appeared separately, but his best work is preserved in "Foregleams of the Desired" (3rd ed., 1881). When received into the Church he had published "The Lost Sheep, and other Poems". Besides his original writings, Fr. Rawes translated the Encyclical of Leo XIII on Catholic Philosophy and the treatises of St. Thomas Aquinas on the Blessed Sacrament and on the Lord's Prayer. His volume of sermons, "God in His Works" (1872), shows that his poetic mysticism was compatible with a keen interest in modern scientific methods. And it may be remarked that in like manner his ultramontane conservatism in matters of theology and Biblical criticism did not hamper his warm sympathies with political Liberalism. Yet his learned discourses and high-flown poetic fancies were a curious counterpart to his quaint ways and the blunt, homely simplicity of his language. At the same time the tender spirit that speaks in some of his hymns and prayers gives us true knowledge of his kindly nature.

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