Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
Today we give thanks because "the Holy Ghost came down as at this time from heaven, lighting upon the disciples, to teach them, and to lead them into all truth; giving them boldness with fervent zeal constantly to preach the Gospel unto all nations: whereby we have been brought out of darkness and error into the clear light and true knowledge of God." So the Preface for Pentecost teaches us.
The Holy Ghost is the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. "The Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one substance, majesty, and glory, with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God." So the Fifth Article of Religion defines.
"I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord, and Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spake by the Prophets." So the Creed summarizes what the Church teaches.
"It is evident unto all men, diligently reading Holy Scripture and the Ancient Authors, that from the Apostles' time there have been these Orders of Ministers in Christ's Church,—Bishops, Priests and Deacons. Which Offices were evermore had in such reverend estimation, that no man might presume to execute any of them, except he were first called, tried and examined, and known to have such qualities as are requisite for the same; and also by public prayer, with Imposition of Hands, were approved and admitted thereto by lawful Authority. And therefore to the intent that these Orders may be continued, and reverently used and esteemed in this Church, no man shall be accounted or taken to be a lawful Bishop, Priest or Deacon, in this Church, or suffered to execute any of the said Functions, except he be called, tried, examined thereunto, according to the Form hereafter following, or hath had Episcopal Consecration or Ordination."
The Bishops laying their hands upon the head of each Elected Bishop kneeling before them, say, "Receive the Holy Ghost for the Office and Work of a Bishop in the Church of God, now committed unto thee by the Imposition of our hands; In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen." So the Church continues the Apostolic Succession and perpetuates the Apostolate instituted at Pentecost.
The Bishop with the Priests Present, shall lay their Hands severally upon the Head of every one that receiveth the Order of Priesthood; the Receiver humbly kneeling, and the Bishop saying, “Receive the Holy Ghost for the Office and Work of a Priest in the Church of God, now committed unto thee by the Imposition of our hands."
"The Bishop shall lay his Hands severally upon the Head of every one to be made Deacon, humbly kneeling before him, and shall say, ‘Take thou Authority to execute the Office of a Deacon in the Church of God.'"
So the Church has continued, and reverently used and esteemed the Apostolic Ministry.
"Strengthen them, we beseech thee, O Lord, with the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, and daily increase in them thy 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 fill them, O Lord, with the spirit of thy holy fear, now and forever." So the Bishops pray for those who are about to be Confirmed.
"Then all of them in order kneeling before the Bishop, he shall lay his hand upon the head of every one severally, saying, ‘Defend, O Lord, this thy child with thy heavenly grace; that he may continue thine forever; and daily increase in thy Holy Spirit more and more, until he come unto thy everlasting Kingdom.' " So the Baptized Christian receives in Confirmation "the formal bestowal of the Holy Spirit and His Sevenfold gifts. By which means the character impressed by Baptism is developed and completed, strength for spiritual warfare is imparted, and the soul is fully equipped for sacramental privileges."
Do you see now your place in the network of Pentecost? Do you see how you are knit into the fellowship of the Holy Ghost? This fellowship is what we are thanking Him for today.
Affectionately in Our Lord,