“What causes all the joy, even irresponsibly, to flood ones soul, and mind, and veins and heart so that there seems to be no sorrow or pain? What causes all the joy to disappear, sometimes for long arid periods, sometimes for a moment—why the almost complete despair? I suppose only in these circumstances can we reach the greatest gift—HOPE.” (1938)
“The avoidance of passion may with justice be said to be one of the chief characteristics of our modern Christian civilization. But Christ our leader may with justice be characterized as the Man of Passion! Passion may be defined as the acceptance of those obstacles (according to temperament) which reduce one to desperation but not to despair.
“The passion of Christ in his followers has power itself capable of conquering the violent and carnal passion of the devil and elevating passion to self-conquest, compassion. Can it withstand the lack of passion? The world, respectability—complacency, comfort, efficiency and the rest, all [which] cloak the lie of the father of lies?” (c. 1932)
I’m sending out the latest issue of Vision—the CSF e-newsletter—later today, with more memories from his son David Schmitt, Carl Schmitt’s influence on the American poet Hart Crane, and how you can “spread the word” about Schmitt and his legacy.
As always, Vision will feature photos and stories from the archives not seen anywhere else.
To get your copy delivered to your inbox, subscribe by clicking here.
“The only thing which distinguishes greatness from mediocrity is will. Mediocrity is half asleep, greatness is awake. The saint, the master chooses!” (1932)
This week we are honoring David T. Schmitt, Carl Schmitt’s fifth son, who died on March 22 at the age of 89. Below is David’s portrait of his father, taken from a collection of memories he wrote down not long after his father’s death.
My father was born in 1889 in Warren, Ohio. He was the second son of Jacob and Grace Schmitt, who had only two boys. His father Jacob taught music in Youngstown and donated his expertise as the choir director for St. Mary’s Church in Warren for over fifty years. He also played the organ every Sunday for that period.
From the beginning Dad could always draw, he had the talent of the discerning line. He pursued this talent and made it his vocation, leaving high school to study art in New York, at the National Academy of Design. He always knew what he wanted to do and he did it as far as art was concerned. He was given the gift and he knew it was his responsibility to develop it. He further studied abroad in France and Italy before the First World War.
Later he returned home to marry Gertrude Lord and settle in Silvermine, near Norwalk, Connecticut. Here he and other like-minded artists founded the Silvermine Guild of Artists, a colony where they could exchange ideas, paint and exhibit their skills. This included drama, sculpture, painting, drawing, etching, water color, and some crafts such a pottery–they established a shop.
My father was what I call a civilized man: you could count on him to not only do the right thing at the right time but from the right motive, and he always knew why he should do things so. He had good will and intelligence. He was mature. He not only nursed the gift of Faith, but he welcomed the gifts of the Holy Spirit, contemplated them, and tried to integrate them into his everyday life as much as possible.
He was civilized in the Christian tradition and he saw God’s creation as a magnificent manifestation of his love, because God is magnificent. He wasn’t stilted in Puritan observations and taboos because Christ has redeemed creation to the extent that it wants or has cooperated in submission. Consequently the Holy Spirit has informed nature to raise it above itself through grace.
Mother always said Dad had an “artistic nature” or “temperament.” In a word, he responded almost innately: dramatically, responsibly to any given situation. He had instant commitment or involvement, with integrity. To balance this innate tendency he was also extremely analytical to the point of being almost scientific about evaluating everything.
He was a true contemplative at times and even mystical at others in his deep understanding of the true nature of persons, places, things, situations—he would speak of the symbol and reality of the Trinity again and again in creation!