Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE SECOND SUNDAY IN ADVENT, 1935.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
The reward for devout use of the Holy Scriptures is unfailing. The use must be devout, that is, the Scriptures must be read devotionally. The Bible is a treasury of sublime literature. The reward for reading it as literature is literary pleasure. The reward for reading it as the holy word of God is the knowledge of God. In the knowledge of God will be found the patience, comfort and hope that God alone can give. It is not possible to be always patient if one senses time only. It is possible to be patient the moment one begins to sense eternity, not as something which is to be, but as something which is.
It is impossible to find comfort under the pressure of the changes and chances of time. It is possible to find comfort when one senses the moment as a passing moment, as a drop of water in the limitless ocean of eternity. It is impossible to be hopeful if one sees nothing beyond the temporal. It is possible to be hopeful if one embraces and holds fast to the things which are not seen and are eternal. It gives one a new and a true sense of proportion, when one hears, reads, marks, learns, and inwardly digests the lesson that a thousand years in God's sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.
The person who has learned how to read the Bible has learned how to wait. This is the patience of the saints. This must be the patience of those who would grove fit to govern the temporal affairs of the world. Impatience is the seed-plot of disaster, both spiritual and temporal.
All this is rooted in the revelation that God is Love. Divine Love is infinite. Holy Scripture instructs us in the love of God. The supreme truth about Divine Love is that God so loved the world, that He gave His Only Begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. The Holy Scriptures convey the invitation of the Incarnate Son to a tired world. "Come unto me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you."
Now the simple fact about the non-acceptance of this message of Holy Scripture is that a person is left with nothing more than a frantic search for some other philosophy of life. So far no other philosophy has been found to be satisfying. Though philosophers have been diligent, their philosophies have proved at best to have been serviceable only if they have produced an incurable restlessness to press on to a better hope; at worst they have ended in bleak agnosticism or devastating despair. The acceptance of the message of Holy Scripture has, without exception, resulted in the attainment of the peace of God which passeth understanding and keeps the heart and mind in the knowledge of God and of His Son Jesus Christ.
Just what is meant by a devout use of Holy Scripture? First there must be the desire to learn, through the word of God, what the way of God is for us. Second, there must be faithful use of all the means of grace known to us, in order that we may be able to follow that way. Third, there must be faithful practise of prayer, in order that we be able to exercise right dispositions to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest the content of the Scripture. Fourth, there must be a simple rule of reading at least a few verses of Holy Scripture every day.
If we are faithful in these four practices we shall find that the Church provides all the means for their fulfilment in the course of the liturgical year.
Affectionately in Our Lord,