Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT, 1929.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
Today is Refreshment Sunday. The Collect speaks of relief. The Epistle speaks of freedom. The Gospel speaks of refreshment. Relief, freedom and refreshment are the rewards of a good Lent. The disciplinary devices are expedients for attaining a definite result. They are the scaffolding necessary for building purposes. Edification means building. Lent devotions are edifying. At the end of Lent the scaffolding will be removed. At Easter we shall see what we have been building. Saint Paul tells us that we must “grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”
Relief, freedom, refreshment are words to keep in mind for mid-Lent meditation.
Every thing is done that can be done to make access to the Sacraments easy and extraordinary opportunities for prayer available in Lent. Every provision is made for the relief of our spiritual necessities. The very fact that every one is expected to go to Church more frequently in Lent makes it easier for any one to go to Church. Once there one may, find times for uninterrupted solitude and undisturbed silence. It is such a very real relief to be alone and still. To keep one’s mind in still quiet is like holding a mirror toward Heaven. One’s mind begins to reflect the things that are so far above one’s self. If one has developed the habit of visiting the Church for private prayer in Lent, one will continue the practise after Lent.
If one has availed one’s self of the Sacramental privileges in Lent as a part of one’s rule, the experimental knowledge gained will lead to a deeper and clearer understanding of the meaning of the Sacraments. Lent absolutions and Lent Communions will leave memories too lasting to allow one to lapse back into the dreariness of lax Sacramental existence. To know where and how to find relief will be something worth keeping.
Freedom of spirit is the only real freedom. The place where one lives, the conditions under which one lives can neither make nor mar spiritual freedom. The freedom which is promised by changed scenes and altered conditions is, I do believe, an illusion. If we can’t be free where we are, it is not likely that we could be free anywhere. God is with us wherever we are and under whatever conditions we may be living. Freedom consists in living an interior life with Him. The only liberty is the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free. The free life is the life that is hid with Christ in God. If our Lent has led us along this path of freedom, we shall have something worth keeping after Lent is over.
Refreshment is always ours in the Blessed Sacrament. This is the Bread from Heaven which contains in Itself all sweetness. This is the Heavenly manna upon which we feed in our hearts by faith with thanksgiving. This is the strength and refreshment for our souls, by virtue of which we can do all things and endure all things. This is our daily supersubstantial Bread. If only the pressure of burdens drives us to more frequent Communions, we shall be perceiving in ourselves the fruits of redemption. If Lent has led us to fresh discoveries of the wonders of Communion, we shall have found lasting refreshment.
Affectionately in Our Lord,