Project Canterbury

Locust Street Letters

By Frank Lawrence Vernon

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




“I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” Have we the patience to wait? And to be humble while we wait? Can we shorten the waiting time in any way? What are some of the things we cannot bear to be told? We cannot answer these questions. But one thing we can learn. We can learn how to cultivate patience and humility and trust. We can learn not to expect to know everything at once. We can learn to attribute our lack of spiritual knowledge to our own incapacity. And we can learn to trust the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth in His own time and in His own way. We can learn the meaning of the peace that passes understanding just because we have learned to leave to God the many other things which pass our understanding.

A disciple is a pupil. A disciple looks to the teacher. He obeys the rules. He tries to learn. Our Lord said that His disciples must become as little children. They must be humble and patient and trustful. A disciple must expect discipline.

Our Lord is very patient with His disciples. He never overcrowds them. He never tells them more than they can bear. But He always leads them on. He always makes it possible to go on. Going on means going on being a disciple. So the chief thing that we all have to learn is how to be a willing disciple. In religion as in lesser matters we live and learn. We learn by living.

The lasting happiness of Easter is the everlasting companionship with Our Lord. He is with us always, even unto the end of the world. We live in Him. We learn from Him. The longer we live, the more we learn.

The ladder of faith leads up into the light. One must climb rung by rung. When one climbs one must never look down. One must look up all the time and all the way. One must be expectant.

It is not always easy to be patient and expectant. There are times when it seems to us that it is necessary for us to have specific guidance in some perplexity which happens to be troubling us. If we are rightly trained in the technique of discipleship, we will follow the usual course. We will pray. We will ask advice from our spiritual director. We will make our Communion. But still we may find that the light does not come. We seem to be unable to escape from our uncertainty. In such a case there is nothing else to do but to wait and work along from hour to hour and from day to day. One must just do the best that one can do under the circumstances. We must attribute our difficulty to our own dull spiritual sensibilities. This is one possible cause. So we must have renewed recourse to the Sacraments and we must persevere in prayer. Then we must wait for the time when by means of this trying discipline one grows better able to bear what God has to say to us. This time is not lost. As a matter of fact we are growing in humility and patience and trust.

In the end one of two things will happen. We shall get an answer. Or the question will fade out. One way or the other, it amounts to the same thing.

Affectionately in Our Lord,

Project Canterbury