Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE THIRD SUNDAY IN ADVENT, 1931.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
What does this word mysteries mean? In the first place it means “that which is known to the initiated”: “the secret doctrines.” In the New Testament it means “the things once hidden but now revealed in the Gospel.” Mysteries are facts. Myths are fables. Mysteries can only be imparted to the spiritually receptive. Myths may be related to lovers of fiction. It is extremely important to be on one’s guard in this matter of distinguishing between mysteries and myths. Mysteries are for Christians. Myths are for pagans. Our Lord reserved the mysteries until His disciples were prepared to receive them. “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth shall come, he will guide you into all truth.”
It is the function of the minister of Christ to turn the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just. It is the function of the steward of the mysteries of God to impart revealed truths to those who are enabled to bear them by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Baptism and a period of growth as babes in Christ. Catechetical instruction in the principles of the doctrine of Christ. Confirmation which is the strengthening with the Holy Ghost, and is accompanied with daily increase in the 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 the Spirit of holy fear. All this must come first. Then comes the climax of the final initiation into the Eucharistic Mysteries. After that the unfolding of the life which is hid with Christ in God. So is “the mystery, which hath been hid from ages and from generations, made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you the hope of glory.”
There is no short cut in this business of becoming a Christian. The only time saving device is the wisdom which redeems the time. The Christian possesses his soul in his patience. His strength is in his quietness and confidence.
When the world is disturbed and the crowd is distracted, the wise, patient, quiet men find the way out of difficulties and save situations. But back of this selected group who may be men of all religions and of no religion, there is always the reserved selection, the holy and humble men of heart, the initiate in the mysteries of God, who through the turmoil and blunders and tragedies of secularists, continue instant in prayer. It is this regiment which time after time, when the captains and the kings have departed, have appeared to clear the ruins of the kingdoms which have fallen and to reveal to the despairing the kingdom against which the gates of hell have not prevailed. This has been the history of the world. This has been the history of the Church.
No one knows from day to day what is going to happen next. The whole world is on the qui vive. We wonder what the winter will bring forth. We read editorials, We listen to speeches on the radio. We do our bit where and when and as best we can. In the welter of uncertainties there is the gleam of one certainty, The Church. She is infallible, indestructible and invincible.
Affectionately in Our Lord,