Project Canterbury

Locust Street Letters

By Frank Lawrence Vernon

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




We celebrate today the Festival of the Holy Trinity.

Our Lord said to His disciples, "All power is given unto me in Heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

In the Apostles' Creed we say, "I believe in God the Father Almighty, and in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord; I believe in the Holy Ghost."

In the Nicene Creed we say, "I believe in one God the Father Almighty, And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, Being of one substance with the Father; I believe in the Holy Ghost, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified."

In the Athanasian Creed we say, "We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost; but the Godhead of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one, the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the son, and such is the Holy Ghost. Like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be God and Lord, so are we forbidden by the Catholic religion to say there be three Gods, or three Lords. The Father is made of-none, neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone, not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son, neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is afore or after other, none is greater or less than another; but the whole Three Persons are co-eternal together and co-equal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped."

In the Preface for Trinity Sunday we say, (having declared that "it is very meet, right, and our bounden duty, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto thee, O Lord, Holy Father, Almighty, Everlasting God") "Who, with thine only-begotten Son, and the Holy Ghost, art one God, one Lord, in Trinity of Persons, and in Unity of Substance. For that which we believe of thy glory, O Father, the same we believe of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, without any difference of inequality."

In the Gloria in Excelsis we say, "Thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost, art most high in the glory of God the Father."

The Collect for Trinity Sunday reminds us of our dependance upon Divine grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity. The Collect teaches us to pray for steadfastness in this faith and for defence against all spiritual adversities.

The Gospel gives us Our Lord's own teaching that except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God! "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the spirit is spirit. Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God."

Natural religion is good as far as it goes. But it can only go as far as the light of nature permits. There it stops. Man must sit in darkness and wait for the light. That light can be nothing less than the light of the Life which came down from heaven. That life can be nothing less than the Life of the Word which was in the beginning. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. Only God can reveal God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth. So the knowledge of the Holy Trinity was brought to us men on earth.

Affectionately in Our Lord,

Project Canterbury