Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE TWENTY-FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY, 1928.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
I am writing this, message from the Catholic Congress in New York. The Congress has a message which ought to reach every one. The keynote of the message was given in the first paper read. It was affirmed and emphasized in every address and in every paper. It is this: The Catholic Religion is the religion of freedom. It proclaims the glorious liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free. It announces the freedom of Christians to believe the whole Christian Faith. It declares the unrestricted liberty of Christians to practise the whole Christian Religion. It affirms the rights of Christians to exercise the heritage of Christians to worship God in spirit and in truth. It offers the whole world the whole Faith. It brings liberation from the chains of dogmatic inhibitions against faith. Its battle cry is "I believe." It is the one effective antidote to the systems of scepticism which preface declarations of protest with the formula "I doubt." It witnesses to the things which have been surely seen and known and most certainly believed by all Christians, always and everywhere. It expresses the truth which makes men free.
It is this gospel of freedom to believe and practise and worship which explains the spirit of joy in this Catholic Congress and in all the Congresses in America and in London and in the whole Catholic movement in the Anglican Communion.
The religions of protest have been dreary religions because they are religions of doubt. There is no joy in doubt. The religions of sectarianism have been narrowly exclusive because they have only offered a selected part of religion to a select party. No sect is large enough for all people because it does not offer all there is of religion.
It is not less spiritual life that men need, but more. It is not the unbelief of the sceptics, but the Faith of the Saints, which floods the world with light.
It is not cringing compromise, but ringing witness, which fills the world with courage.
It is not the insistent divorcement of religion and art which brings heavenly beauty into the world.
It is not by limiting the sacramental works of God that the knowledge and love of God are made known to man.
It is not by depriving men of the means of mercy that men come to the fulness of joy in God.
It is not by withholding the medicines of God that the souls of men are healed.
It is not by closing the Gates of Heaven that the world finds peace.
It is freedom and truth and faith and courage and love and beauty and joy and peace that men need. Our Lord who knows what is in the hearts of men revealed His own religion and built His own Church. No other religion will suffice. No other Church built on the sands of human organization can outlast the one Church which is built upon the Rock.
The Heart of the Eternal is infinitely kind. No one is beyond the wideness of the mercy which is like the wideness of the sea. It is the inclusiveness of Catholicism which is so winning. It is so irresistibly generous. It speaks the truth in love.
The Catholic tide is rising. It is coming in rapidly. Nothing can hold it back. The Anglican Communion is being flooded. The old religion is returning.
It never quite went away at any time, even in the worst times. But old truths are being brought to light. Old treasures are being brought forth. Old things are being made new.
Those who come after us will have their hearts' desire.
We shall have had the thrill of a great adventure.
Affectionately in Our Lord,