Project Canterbury

Locust Street Letters

By Frank Lawrence Vernon

Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.




I have been looking out from my study window to-night entranced. I have seen the lights of Boston on the Charles. I have seen the lights of London on the Thames. I have sensed the secrets of the lights of Washington. I have never lost the thrill of the lights of New York. I have seen the lights of Philadelphia tonight. And I shall never forget.

This is what I saw. Tall buildings, studded with lights, which seemed to touch the sky. From a deep shadow the spire of Saint Mark's shot up and stood perfectly outlined in flawless beauty. And between the spire and one towering, light-crowned shaft, the moon with all its fullness and fairness shone down. I saw the world and a world beyond the world. And I saw the finger of the Catholic Church pointing to the world which is beyond the worlds. Beneath it all were streets, and cabs and buses and crowds. The crowds which are so dear to God. The crowds whom Angels guard and for whom Saints pray.

In the dark church the red lamp will shine before the Tabernacle all night long.

Within the Tabernacle the crowds' Redeemer will wait and watch and intercede.

The dawn of day will transform the city. Everything will change, except the spire. It never changes.

Before the city is quite awake, candles will be lighted. The Angelus will ring. Priests will stand before the Altars. The Holy Sacrifice will be offered. The Holy Food will make the weak strong. The Great Physician will visit the sick.

The Divine Office will be recited at the appointed times. Psalms and Lessons, Canticles, Versicals, Responds and Collects will fill Choir and Nave with the substance of which incense is the sign.

At mid-day petitions will be presented to the Lord of Compassion.

All through the day the clients of the Saviour will visit Him for adoration and rest.

The evening Angelus will end the day. Night will come. And through the night, the spire will point the crowds to Heaven. Do the crowds understand?

All this week I have thanked God for the letter of a friend of mine. He is not a priest. He is a young layman.

"Religion can become so complicated, although it is so simple that a child can understand it. It is its simplicity that makes it complicated. People expect something difficult to understand and thereby lose track of the real truth. The things that I learned as a child cover the whole thing, that is a reverent love and affection for Our Lord and a close contact with Him through simple, earnest prayer."

That leaves nothing more to be said.

That is what the spire stands for to-night. It points silently, and massively and imperiously, above the city and beyond the moon and through the years.

The crowds know where to find the world. They know where the best things of the world are. But the crowds want more than the world. The crowds want Heaven. The crowds look for Heaven in the Church. They look to the Church for the things that are not to be found in the world.

Affectionately in Our Lord,

Project Canterbury