Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Go Forth Upon Thy Journey Christian Soul: Dianne Clode (1940-2021)

Earlier today, one of my oldest American friends passed from this world.

I first met Dianne in the early 1990s, when she was the coordinator for the Friday evening crew of the Grate Patrol (which prepared meals for the homeless in Washington DC) at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, K Street, in Foggy Bottom. A proud South Jersey woman, her civil service career was cut short by a diagnosis of MS for both her and her twin sister Cynthia, for whom she cared until her death in 1996 and of whom she still spoke with fondness many years later. Thankfully, her great fear that she would - like Cynthia - be totally incapacitated or at least confined to a wheelchair was never realised and she bore her condition with a patience that was awe-inspiring, even as she frankly confessed to close friends the toll that it inflicted upon her.

Brought to faith through Catholic Charistmatic Renewal, Dianne was aesthetically a high church Anglican but found herself unable to accommodate the ambivalence toward the sanctity of life that was characteristic of many in The Episcopal Church during the 1980s and 1990s. Her Christian identity was framed through a Catholic lens not so much because she found in it the ideal community but because the teaching of the Magisterium represented a bulwark against what she felt was a rising tide of cultural nihilism. Outspoken in her convictions, she was always compassionate in her deeds. From her long friendship with a neighbour whose life was sadly constrained by Aspergers' Syndrome to her financial and emotional support for a young single mother and her daughter (which continued until her death), she demonstrated that works were truly the fruit of a vibrant faith.

During her retirement she found a second calling as a "manuscript doctor" both for former government colleagues and private clients. Her forthrightness in editing and insistence that language be clear and concise was not always as appreciated by those she sought to help as it might have been, but I am grateful that my first published article in the Journal of Mormon History owed much to her editorial labours and in later years her commendations of my writing style were greatly appreciated.

It seems appropriate to provide a recording of the first part of Edward Elgar's Dream of Gerontius, a composition based on the poem by John Henry Newman, the Anglican divine whose reception into the Roman Catholic Church in 1845 marked the end of the first phase of the Oxford Movement. Dianne would have identified not only with Newman's decision but also with the feelings of loss that - one suspects - must have framed the second half of his life.   

Go forth upon thy journey, Christian soul!
Go from this world! Go, in the Name of God 
The Omnipotent Father, Who created thee! 
Go, in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord, 
Son of the living God, Who bled for Thee! 
Go, in the Name of the Holy Spirit,
Who Hath been poured out on thee! Go in the name 
Of Angels and Archangels; in the name
Of Thrones and Dominations; in the name

Of Princedoms and of Powers; and in the name
Of Cherubim and Seraphim; go forth!
Go, in the name of Patriarchs and Prophets! 
And of Apostles and Evangelists,
Of Martyrs and Confessors, in the name
Of holy Monks and Hermits; in the name
Of holy Virgins; and all Saints of God.
Both men and women, go! Go on thy course; 
And may thy place today be found in peace, 
And may thy dwelling be the Holy Mount
Of Sion: through the Same, through Christ Our Lord.




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