Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
The real reason for the observance of Lent is that Our Lord had recourse to forty days of retirement, in preparation for His work of redemption and the Church provides us with the opportunity to share the experience with Him. The only way to know a person is to live with them, where they live. The Christian year is so arranged that Christians may follow the blessed steps of His most holy life, from the Nativity to the Ascension, from Bethlehem to Heaven. Without this annual pilgrimage life would be dull and drab and dreary and altogether insupportable. The drama of Redemption is thrilling from beginning to end. The Liturgical setting is the most exquisitely beautiful thing in the world. There is a haunting, heavenly loveliness in it, that is inescapable. It is difficult to imagine a person whose sensibilities are so dull as to be wholly incapable of at least some tremor of intelligent reaction, in spots and at times. The beauty of the Crib, the majesty of the Cross, the wonder of the Sepulchre, the joy of the Garden, the glory of the Mount, send echoing Glorias and Hosannas and Misereres and Alleluias which have inspired the masters of art to lay the first fruits of their arts at the feet of the King of Kings. Every liturgiologist and musician, every architect and sculptor, every painter and poet, every artificer worthy of the name, by the sheer beauty of their works have inscribed upon their creations the dedicatory tribute "My Lord and My God." Art attains the sublime heights when it becomes the hand-maid of religion.
Lent admits us to the intimate knowledge of the austerities of the love of Our Lord. It reveals the sacrificial energy which is the quality of love. It reminds the world that greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. It reminds us that without that love, whosoever liveth is counted dead before God.
So here we have the objective of Lent. It is to grow in charity.
We are to deepen our prayer life in order that we may grow in love for God and for those for whom we are bound to pray. It is not too hard to give an half hour in the early morning, when we have in mind and heart the well-being of those for whom we have set ourselves to pray. It is a real satisfaction to offer up an additional service or a visit to the Sacrament with an intention of special devotion to Our Lord in His life of solitude and prayer. We grow to know him better.
We are to develop self-discipline in order that we may become selfless for Him. It is not burdensome to endure discipline that sets us free to do the will of God. It is a satisfying incentive to keep in mind those who will be made happy by our unselfish service and devotion. It will mean so much to them, that we will be glad to pay the little is, costs us.
We are to develop the charity that rejoices in generosity. We are to train ourselves to give for the joy of giving. To visualize the needs of others and to learn to care more is the real reward for the notable duty of almsgiving. It opens one's heart to the world which is so dear to the Sacred Heart.
A Lent that will make for growth in the knowledge and love of God, will be a happy Lent.
Affectionately in Our Lord,