Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
Today is the Festival of the Holy Ghost. It is the day of the fulfilment of Our Lord’s promise of the coming of the Comforter. “I will send Him unto you.” “He will guide you into all truth.” In the Collect we pray: “Grant us by the same spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in His holy comfort.
The word “comforter” means “Called to one’s aid.” The Comforter aids as an advocate, a pleader, an intercessor. “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.”
It is in the times when we are blinded and deafened and deadened that the Holy Ghost saves us from ruin by His intercessions. It is in the times when we know not what we should pray for, that He prays for us. It is the Holy Spirit who carries through the surface disquietudes. The disquietudes are only surface disquietudes. The depths are quiet even when the surface is disturbed. “Thou shalt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee.” The peace of God passes understanding. But it does not pass the will to attain it.
The Holy Spirit guides into all truth. The quiet mind is the most easily guided. The still waters reflect. The troubled waters miss the reflections. In the times of confusion one must first study to be quiet. It is in quietness that we come gradually to see the light. It is in patience that we come into the possession of our souls. Patience means standing under whatever befalls us. Patience means refusing to get from under. The patient person discovers glory in tribulations. Tribulation worketh patience: And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. It is to the patient, experienced, hopeful persons, who go on loving God through tribulations, that the gift of deep, calm, clear knowledge of the truth is given. They are the persons who keep their heads in panics. They are the persons who remain certain when everybody else is uncertain. They are the persons who see light when everybody else is in the dark. They are the persons who are brave without effort, when the hearts of everybody else are failing them for fear.
But, the first fruit and the most excellent gift of the Holy Spirit is Charity. This virtue is the very bond of peace and of all virtues. Charity suffers long and is kind. Charity conquers in the end. It breaks down barriers, it bridges chasms, it restores waste places, it expels evil and it stablishes the things that are good. It is the victorious virtue. It is so stable that it can afford to wait for its victories. For the lack of charity the world goes wrong. By charity the world is saved and restored. Charity, we must remember, is not a human instinct, it is a Divine Virtue. It is the gift of the Holy Ghost.
The Holy Ghost is the giver of the unifying energy which binds together in one Faith the members of the Holy Church throughout the world. The Holy Ghost draws Christians to the Eucharistic Centre. The Holy Ghost alone can restore the visible unity of the scattered sheep, in the One Fold, under the One Shepherd.
Affectionately in Our Lord,