Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, 1928.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
The Conversion of Saint Paul was a great gift of God to us. Saint Paul in a very special sense is our Apostle. We may claim him with all confidence as our patron. We may read his letters, meditate on his life, give thanks for his conversion, rejoice over his Apostolate and invoke his intercession. He is a master of the science of the Christian life and of the art of Christian living. There is not a type of person nor a variety of experience concerning which he does not exhibit a deep, penetrating, discerning, intimate, understanding, sympathetic knowledge. He knows sinners and saints, and loves both. He is experienced in dealing with every sin and every symptom of sin. Nothing shocks him. Nothing baffles him. Nothing discourages him. He knows more about the world than the most blasé worldling. He has no equal as a skilful director of souls. He is the most marvelous spiritual physician and surgeon, of all the Saints. His psychology is flawless. His religion is perfect. There is no entanglement with the world, the flesh and the devil beyond his skill. When Our Lord gave us Saint Paul he gave us a right, reverend, father in God, who leaves nothing to be desired, short of Him in whom all desire is fulfilled. Many saints have left us many books for spiritual reading. Over and over again, you will find that what other saints require a whole book to contain, Saint Paul states in a single sentence, a flaming coal of celestial fire. Drop one grain of the incense of prayer on that coal and the hidden sanctuary of the most desolated soul will become fragrant. No matter how dark the morning of the darkest day may be, a selected, single counsel of Saint Paul will give light before night falls, and will change that night into bright day. If you would know a new joy in the Communion of Saints, say "Saint Paul, Apostle of the Gentiles, my own dearest Apostle, receive me into your patronage, protection and prayers."
In these days of ecclesiastical distress, of papal claims and protestant disputations, Saint Paul is our mightiest human intercessor, next to Our Lady, in the Appellate Court of Heaven. We need have no misgivings. God has given us our Apostle. Our ecclesiastical affairs are safe in his hands. We are his spiritual children. He knows us. He loves us. He will not fail us.
Saint Paul is an indescribable comfort to those to whom God has given a desire for the conversion of souls. It may be the priest whose heart aches for the conversion of non-Christians, or the return of lapsed Christians. It may be the Christian who wistfully desires the conversion of some one who is very near and dear. The personal problem is so intricate and delicate. The wrong word at the right time, or the right word at the wrong time, might delay for years, the desired conversion. Or a personal defect or dereliction might prevent it forever, for all one knows. Anyone who has lived through this, knows the agony. Saint Paul will manage it. Invoke him. And then be at peace.
Affectionately in Our Lord,