Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE THIRD SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, 1930.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
Our Lord first made disciples. Then He sent His disciples to make disciples. What is a disciple? A disciple is a learner; a person who is being taught. "Learn of Me," said Our Lord.
Discipline is the rule of life which governs a disciple. The disciple must live like a disciple. He must be a disciplined person. He must be meek and lowly if he would learn. His aim in life must be to become like his Master,
The making of a disciple is not a short nor an easy process. To be a real disciple one must really want to be a disciple.
In the first place only the Grace of God can make discipleship possible. So one must use the means of grace. We must use the Sacraments with the simple intention of seeking grace for discipleship. We must use the grace that God gives to us in order that we may learn and obey and follow and endure to the end. Our Lord has told us that we must become as little children. It all becomes so much easier after that. The yoke does become easy. The burden does become light. But it is not easy to become as little children.
We must be willing to learn from Our Lord if we want to be His disciples. The great- disciples learned simply and they teach simply. They mastered the technique of their profession. They prescribed rules which were based on the Knowledge which is born of experience. The Knowledge came from God.
The first lesson they teach us is on discipline. We must learn how to be disciplined. We must learn how to acquire disciplined minds and disciplined wills and disciplined emotions. The masters of the technique of the Spiritual life have given us simple rules for this.
Their first rule is that every thought must be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. Every morning when we say our prayers we must offer in advance every thought that may come during the day to the Holy Ghost. We must ask Him to bring each thought, as it comes, into captivity. This means no thought will be ours until it has been given back to us to use. Until it has it will be only a suggestion. Our fixed rule must be to beware of interior suggestions. We must wait to see whether they are from God or not. One sure test is to examine the effect of the suggestion on our feelings. If. it excites us, it is not from the Holy Ghost.
So we must turn our attention to our emotions. Every emotion must be offered in advance to God each morning. Until it has been given back to us, transmuted into quiet and purposeful energy, we may not use it. If it presents itself again as quiet energy, clearly allied with a Godly motion, then it is of God. The test here is that it shall be free from haste. If it is hasty it is not of God.
This requires the will. So we must turn our attentions to our wills. Each morning we must offer our wills to God. The test of the validity of this offering will be absence of self-will. If the will leads back to self, it is not of God. So we set out upon the way each day.
So we shall be disciples.
Affectionately in Our Lord,