Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS DAY, 1936.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
“I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God; Begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God; Begotten not made; Being of one substance with the Father; By whom all things were made; Who for us men and for our salvation came down from Heaven, And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, And was made man.”
So the Holy Church throughout the world proclaims the Faith concerning the Incarnation of Him whose Nativity we celebrate on Christmas Day. Throughout the world Christians assemble in their Churches, stand before their Altars and make solemn affirmation of their most holy Faith.
At their Altars Christians give thanks to the “Lord, Holy Father, Almighty, Everlasting God, Because thou didst give Jesus Christ, thine only Son, to be born as at this time for us; who by the operation of the Holy Ghost, was made very man, of the substance of the Virgin Mary His Mother; and that without spot of sin, to make us clean from all sin.”
At their Altars Christians meekly kneeling on their knees, receive the most precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, that they may be filled with grace and heavenly benediction, and made one body with Him, that He may dwell in them, and they in Him. Each heart becomes a Manger. Each Christian carries in the heart the Holy Child of Bethlehem.
These are the three religious acts of Christmas. The act of Faith in the Holy Child. The act of Hope in the Holy Child. The act of Love to the Holy Child.
It is all as real today as it was to the shepherds on the first Christmas Day, because on the Altar the Holy Child is really present in the Blessed Sacrament of His Body and Blood. We are as near, and nearer, than the shepherds were. When they, had seen, they went away and made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning the child. When we go away from the Altar, the Child goes with us because He dwells in us; and we in Him. We also are to make known abroad the saying which has been told us concerning the Child. Sometimes in words, but always by the virtue of his indwelling life. He is to live in us, through us, for us, assisting us with His grace, that we may do all such good works as He, has prepared for us to walk in.
There is a selflessness in the Christmas devotions not to be found in the other Festivals. This selflessness is the secret of the charm. At Easter the glorious risen Lord restores everlasting life. At Ascension the mighty Ascending Lord opens the gates of heaven.
But at Christmas a Child in a Manger draws us with bands of love. No bands of love are so cleansing, so compelling, so bracing as the love of and for a child. This is why God came as a Child. Only this Child could lead us out from the stable into life to win the battle of life; to win battles against the world, the flesh and the devil. To triumph through peril, toil and pain. To do all this for love of the Child. “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”
Affectionately in Our Lord,