Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
We celebrate today the Festival of the Holy Ghost. The day especially commemorates the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles, to dwell in the Church forever, according to the promise of Our Lord.
The Proper Preface at Mass declares that on this day, as "we give thanks unto thee, O Lord, Holy Father, Almighty, Everlasting God," we do so with special intention, "through Jesus Christ Our Lord; according to whose most true promise, the Holy Ghost came down as at this time from heaven, lighting upon the disciples, to teach them, and to lead them into all truth; giving them boldness with fervent zeal constantly to preach the Gospel unto all nations; whereby we have been brought out of darkness and error into the clear light and true knowledge of Thee, and of Thy Son Jesus Christ."
At Baptism, the Church prays for the persons to be Baptized, "Give thy Holy Spirit to this child (or this thy servant)."
At Confirmation the Church prays, "Almighty and Everlasting God, who has vouchsafed to regenerate these thy servants by water and the Holy Ghost, and East given unto them forgiveness of all their sins; strengthen them, we beseech thee, O Lord, with the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, and daily increase in them thy manifold gifts of grace; the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and ghostly strength, the spirit of knowledge and true godliness; and fill them, O Lord, with the spirit of thy holy fear."
So the Christian receives both the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, and the bestowal of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost, through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.
Saint Paul has written, "Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?"
Saint Paul has also written that "the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance."
Saint Paul has also written, "likewise the spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."
So the Holy Ghost has brought to remembrance and led the church into all the truth contained in Our Lord's promise; "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; even the spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you."
Here then we have the facts for the headings of our special thanksgiving today. The Holy Ghost came down. He lives in the church to teach and lead us into all truth. We have received His indwelling Presence. We have received His seven-fold gifts. We have Him as our intercessor and comforter. He will produce in us the nine-fold fruits, which are His to give.
Personal devotion to the Holy Ghost can only come from personal knowledge of Him. Personal thankfulness to the Holy Ghost can only come from personal experience. Experience can only begin with the clear understanding that we cannot live without Him. "Every virtue we possess, and every victory won, and every thought of holiness, are His and His alone." It is from Him that we receive all holy desires, all good counsels. He alone can give the peace which the world cannot give. He alone can give us a right judgment in all things. He alone can cause us to rejoice in His holy comfort.
The first thing of all to do is to pray to Him constantly. We should make habitual use of the Collects for Pentecost and the nineteenth Sunday after Trinity, and the hymn, "Come Holy Ghost Our Souls Inspire." These should be daily prayers.
And the next thing is to remember that without Him it is impossible to please God. We must utterly abandon ourselves to Him, and trust Him implicitly and without reserve.
Affectionately in Our Lord,