Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER EASTER, 1934. ROGATION SUNDAY.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
The three days following this Sunday are the days when special prayers are said for a fruitful season. So the Sunday is called Rogation Sunday—and the next three days are called Rogation Days. Rogation means asking, praying. It is not easy to turn even for three days, and even to so necessary a subject as prayer, in the approach to the very climax of Eastertide.
Next Thursday will be Ascension Day. Only three more days of Eastertide. Then Our Lord goes home in glory. The cloud will veil the glory. But how can we think of anything else? It is a distraction even to have to stop for a Saint's Day in Eastertide. We do. And we stop for the Rogation Days. But our thoughts are centred in the wonders of Our Lord's glorious resurrection. How can we think of anything else? We remember the saints, but we are remembering what they have told us of their Eastertide experiences. We need every one of the great Forty Days to do this.
We pray at Rogationtide for a fruitful season, but our one absorbing intention all the while is to obtain a fruitful Eastertide. Nothing else seems so worth while. Our Lord's joyful victory is the only thing that matters. Forty days are all too few to commemorate it worthily. And alas there are all too few who remain after Easter Day to commemorate it. Low Sunday is a sad name for the Sunday after Easter. Easter Day makes a High Sunday of every Sunday. Every Sunday is a commemoration of the Resurrection. Every day of the Forty Days of Eastertide intensifies the joy, multiplies the wonders of the appearances of Our Lord, and carries us on to the climax; the Ascension, the wonderful day when the cloud received Him, and the Angels met Him, and His Father received Him, and He sat down at the right hand of His Father in the glory which He had with Him before the world was, to reign forever as God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, Saviour, Redeemer, Advocate, Mediator of penitents, and Judge of the world.
The little Child in the cold, poverty-stricken crib, with all. His terrible life before Him, has lived it through to the bitter end. Our one thought throughout Eastertide has been to thank God that all that is over. No more neglect, nor insult, nor treachery, nor venomous enmity, nor brutal cruelty, nor desolate dying. All that is over. Thank God.
Toward the end it seemed as though we could not endure one more day. And now it is over. It never can happen again. Only three more days now and He is going Home. Thank God. Thank God. Thank God. This world of ours was a terrible world for Him to visit. This human race of ours was a terrible mob to live with. Hell could scarcely have been more frightful. Devils could hardly have exceeded our incredible violence. And now He is going Home. Thank God. The next time this world sees Him, He will come with power and great glory, attended by His holy angels. Every knee shall bow before Him and wait in trembling for His judgment. Those who have rejected Him shall look upon Him whom they have pierced. And those who love Him shall behold Him 'whom they have adored.
The Festival of the Holy Nativity is a great festival. The Festival of the Resurrection is a great festival. But the Festival of the Ascension calls every Christian in Christendom to attend upon the Lord. Each Altar will be a Mount of the Ascension. Upon each Altar Our Lord will bless the faithful.
In Holy Communion each Christian will be made one body with Him, that He may dwell in each, and each in Him. As the Christmas Communion united each Christian with Him in His Nativity, and the Easter Communion united each Christian with Him in His Resurrection, so the Ascension Communion will unite each Christian with Him in His Ascension. It will be a day of supreme joy.
Affectionately in Our Lord,