Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
Today we commemorate the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles.
The Preface for Whitsunday and six days after gives the devotional intention of the Festival.
The Collect for the day gives the prayer intention for the Festival.
The Epistle for the day gives us the narration of the event commemorated.
The Holy Communion is received with the special intention that through the merits of Christ Jesus and through union with Him, who liveth and reigneth with the Father, in the unity of the same spirit, one God, world without end, our bodies may be renewed as temples of the Holy Ghost.
The Sacrament of Confirmation administered to us by the Laying on of Hands of the Bishop brought to us the bestowal of the Holy Ghost and His sevenfold Gifts.
"Wisdom enables us to apprehend the values of the mysteries of the Faith and to detect error."
"Knowledge enables us to penetratingly discern moral principles and laws."
"Counsel enables us to apply these principles with sound moral judgment." "Understanding enables us penetratingly to discern the mysteries of the Faith."
"Ghostly strength enables us to be morally courageous, and to persevere in grace and self-discipline."
"True Godliness enables us to acquire reverent and loving piety."
"Holy Fear enables us to feel loving anxiety to please God."
(I quote these definitions from Hall's Theological Outlines. I advise you to purchase this book and to keep it at hand for reference.)
The Holy Ghost is the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. The Holy Ghost intercedes for us, when we do not know how to pray as we ought. "Likewise the spirit also helpeth us in our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the spirit himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." Therefore we should pray constantly to the Holy Ghost. We should cultivate a personal devotion to the Holy Ghost. We say in the Nicene Creed, "And I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord, and Giver of Life." We should make this faith a personal faith. We should train ourselves to trust in the Holy Ghost to give us holy desires, good counsels, a heart set to obey His Commandments, and a right judgment in all things. The "Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire" is a prayer that will serve us well for daily and constant use. The Collects for Quinquagesima, Whitsunday, the Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Twelfth, Fourteenth, and Nineteenth Sundays after Trinity are prayers which we may address to the Holy Ghost with special intention. The Bishops' prayer at Confirmation may be adapted for personal use, by changing the pronouns.
When we were Baptized we were incorporated into Christ's Church. We were put in the way of growing "up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure. of every part." Each one of us has a measure of supply to the whole body. We must pray to the Holy Ghost to give us "grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ?' (Read the Epistle to the Ephesians about this.) Whatever each may do, there is one thing that we can all do together. We can pray for the whole Church. The Collects for the Thirteenth, Fifteenth, Sixteenth, Twenty-second and Twenty-third Sundays after Trinity are good prayers for this intention. The prayer for unity on page 37 of the Prayer Book might come next. The prayer for missions on page 38 would follow. The prayer on page 564, with a change of pronouns, will serve as a prayer for the parish.
This "fellowship of the Holy Ghost" is the inward reality expressed in the outward signs of the solemnities of Whitsuntide.
Affectionately in Our Lord,