Project Canterbury

Locust Street Letters

By Frank Lawrence Vernon

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




On Christmas Day the Gospel will proclaim the good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. From all the Altars of Catholic Christendom the august, central and supreme mystery will be announced. “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” At that announcement every knee will bow in humble gratitude for the loving condescension of Almighty God.

Today we are still engaged with the Advent devotions in preparation for the due celebration of the joyful mystery of the Holy Nativity. We must make ourselves ready to receive Our Lord and Saviour.

The Gospel for the Festival will not spare us the appalling reminder that when Our Lord came into the world, the world knew Him not. That when He came unto His own, His own received Him not.

This all happened a very long time ago. What would happen if the event of the Nativity had been deferred to 1930? Take the world as it is. Take people as they are. _What would happen? What would people do? What would the popular orators say? What would leading intellectuals say? What would the newspapers say? What would be said by ladies in drawing rooms? What would be said by the man in the street? What would be written by popular novelists? What would be the comments of the young and the modern? And the old and the sophisticated? Suppose it were happening in Philadelphia or in any one of the many places where this letter will be read? Then what? Would it be so very different? I wonder. Do the types persist? The few at the Manger. The many who did not care. The more who did not know. And a little later on, the three who were so wise as to adore. And the uncounted ones who were so mad as to hate? It is not a pleasant conjecture. Yet is it a mere conjecture?

The Virgin born Son of God. Who will adore Him on Christmas morning? Who will not? There is the answer. There is no getting away from it. Each for himself, each for herself, must make the decision by which each stands self-revealed and self-judged. On Christmas morning one is at the Altar or one is not. It is either to adore or ignore. It is to be or not to be a Christian. The issue cannot be evaded.

What does a Christian do on Christmas Day? The pressing business and the first business of the day is to visit, adore and receive the Holy Child. The Christmas Communion is the reception of the Holy Child, who comes to those who receive Him to dwell in them. Each soul becomes a Bethlehem. Each heart becomes a Manger. He comes to His own and His own receive Him. To as many as receive Him, to them He gives power to become the Sons of God. Each Christian offers the sacrifice of self, soul and body. The Holy Child enters to reign as King. By His own sovereign right He is to rule every thought, govern every affection and control every desire. As Lord of Life He gives life. That life means freedom and peace and happiness and the endless possession of everything that makes life worth having and worth living. A Christian Christmas is a Merry Christmas.

Affectionately in Our Lord,

Project Canterbury