Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
ALL SAINTS' DAY, 1931.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
Today we pay our tribute of reverence to the Saints. Throughout the year we have observed the days dedicated to individual Saints. Today we remember the innumerable company of all the Saints. We recognize their virtues. We celebrate their victories. We exalt them as examples. We invoke their prayers.
What is a Saint? A Saint is a person who has been made perfect by the grace of God.
Why do we honor the Saints? We honor the Saints as the workmanship of God.
Why do we ask the Saints to pray for us? We ask the Saints to pray for us because they have attained to perfection in the science and art of prayer.
How do the Saints know that we invoke them? The Saints know that we invoke them because they are with Him who ever liveth to make intercession for us.
Why should the Saints pray for us? For the same reason that anybody prays for anybody else.
Is there a danger in honoring the Saints, lest we rob God of the honor due to Him alone? We do not rob God when we honor the Saints. We worship God alone. We give one kind of honor to the Saints, and another kind to the Blessed Virgin. God made the Saints and magnified Mary. To God alone is ascribed all honor, glory, worship, might, majesty and dominion.
There are people who regard reverence for the Saints as being superstitious. What is superstition? Superstition is the placing of the creature above God. No one does that. In the whole history of the Christian Religion no one ever did that.
But this is what has happened. Neglect of the duty of rightly honoring the Saints has led to the neglect of the duty of rightly honoring God. The loss of the sense of reverence for Saints has led to the loss of the sense of reverence for sanctity. The disregard for good people has led to the disregard for goodness. And that is where the world is today. The reason why people have lost the old standards is that people have lost the old standard bearers.
The Saints believed that by walking in the Spirit they would avoid fulfilling the lusts of the flesh. They believed that they were not debtors to the flesh to live after the flesh. They believed that if men live after the flesh they shall die; but that if men, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, they shall live. They believed that the flesh can be subdued to the Spirit. And they demonstrated it. They energized a jaded, pessimistic world with the certain hope of spiritual and moral freedom. They proclaimed the gospel of fearlessness. “Ye have not received the Spirit of bondage again unto fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father, the Spirit beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.”
The worst depression that afflicts the world today is moral depression. An obsession of moral pusillanimity has settled like a cloud of poisonous gas over the world. People are being told that they are debtors to the flesh to live after the flesh. That the flesh cannot be subdued to the spirit. That self-control and self-restraint are impossible. That marital fidelity is an outworn notion. That parental responsibility is outmoded. That divorce and contraception are necessities.
The only persons who have it in their power to bring the world back to sanity are the people who kept their sanity by keeping their sanctity.
The Saints are the only social reformers who can rescue the world from the moral panic, for which erotic psychologists and neurotic novelists are responsible.
Affectionately in Our Lord,