Project Canterbury

Locust Street Letters

By Frank Lawrence Vernon

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




How did the Saints become Saints? In the first instance they were called by Our Lord. They followed Our Lord. They received the gifts of Grace. They were taught by Him. They were illumined and guided by the Holy Spirit. They became adepts in the school of prayer. They discovered the buried treasures of love that lie beneath the pangs of penitence. They climbed mountains of hope and saw the limitless expanse of the love of God. They found bracing adventures in temptations. They learned at first hand the effective thoroughness of forgiveness. They became eye witnesses of miraculous transformations of personality. They observed in themselves, and for themselves in others, the actualities of redemption. They saw battered, soiled, disordered souls being healed and cleansed and righted, so often and so constantly, that they grew accustomed to the victorious operations of redeeming love. They moved freely in a new world filled with ever new wonders. They were breathlessly disillusioned. The world out of which they had been rescued ceased to interest them, because they saw it as a cramped, sordid, stifling, poisonous, uncertain, unhappy place. They were no longer conformed to it because it no longer seemed worth while. In their new world they found the truth that made them free, and the beauty that made them glad. In the glorious liberty wherewith their Lord had made them free they were transformed. Former things had passed away and all things had been made new.

Yet they of all men of and beyond their times, were possessed of a passionate love for humanity. In the worst of the old world they never failed to see the best buried under its ruins. The philosophers were the pessimists. The Christians were the optimists. They sought the lost, they saved the sinners, they were the friends of the poor, the teachers of the ignorant, the champions of the oppressed, the pastors of princes, the patrons of learning and the masters of arts. They had their armies of virgins, contemplatives, monks and hermits. They had their regiments of confessors and doctors and their shock troops of death-defying, death-conquering martyrs. They went to the uttermost ends of the world and it was never themselves they preached, but as servants of the Saviour of the world, they preached Christ crucified. With all their hearts and with all their souls, and with all their minds, they identified themselves with Him and in Him with all the world. In this world they laid down their lives for the world, and when they died, they carried in themselves into the world beyond the veil their knowledge of the needs of the world and their passion to serve it and save it. Freed from the fetters of their bodies, they were free to release the flood of their prayers. In the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, with an innumerable company of angels, in the general assembly and Church of the first-born, they prostrated themselves before God the Judge of all, and with the spirits of just men made perfect, they saw with their own eyes, Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant. As angels rest not day nor night, saying Holy, Holy, Holy, so the Saints rest not day nor night in intercession which is set forth in God’s sight as incense, and rises until it rests in the perpetual intercession of the Great High Priest from whom it took its origin.

The Saints know now as they never knew before. The Saints love now as they never loved before, because they have been made perfect in love. The Saints pray now as they never prayed before. Their whole life is a life of prayer. Their prayer is for us. They well know what we are enduring. They well know what remains to be endured. What they do not know, Our Lord tells them. The Holy Ghost teaches them what to pray for and how to pray. They pray for the unconverted in their ignorance, for the careless in their sins, for the penitent in their agonies, for the tempted in their perils, for the bereaved in their loneliness, for the sick in their pains, for the dying in their dismay. They pray for you. Have you ever asked them?

Affectionately in Our Lord,

Project Canterbury