Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
EASTER SUNDAY, 1936.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
The third day He rose again from the dead. This is the fact proclaimed today by the most venerable institution in the world: The institution which has claimed and kept the allegiance of her members for nearly twenty centuries: The institution which treasures a roll of saints and martyrs unique in the chronicles of history: The institution which has enshrined the fact of the resurrection in her creeds, confirmed it in her scriptures, shown it forth in her Liturgy, and having staked her very existence upon its historicity, remains unmoved by every effort to compel her to alter her testimony, and having outlived each generation of her adversaries, proclaims with sublime assurance on this Easter precisely, and in the very words, the fact which she announced on the first. The Easter salutation common among Christians down through the ages, is the common salutation of Christians on this Easter of nineteen hundred and thirty-six; confident, vibrant and world-encircling: “The Lord is risen, He is risen indeed. Alleluia.”
Christians today treasure the records of the appearances of the Risen Lord to his disciples. The very conversations are read and re-read with joy no less than the joy which thrilled the disciples who first heard them. “Mary!” “What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?” “Peace be unto you.” “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: Handle me, and see: for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.”
These records are not guarded timidly in secret and inaccessible archives. They are printed in a Book. The Book is sent to every part of the world. That Book heads the list of all books sought and bought. It is to be found everywhere for everyone to read. Its impregnable defence is its unchallengeable veracity. Its unconquerable guardian is the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church; whose strength is her indestructible unity; whose credibility is her indisputable holiness; whose convincing authority is her catholicity; whose stability is her accredited apostolicity.
The bodily resurrection of Our Lord is the promise and pledge of our own bodily resurrection. As He rose, so shall we. Our bodies will be raised lacking nothing essential to their identity. They will be changed in that they will be spiritualized. They will be raised from the infirmities of the natural body before death into the power of the life-giving Body of the Risen Lord. They will have flesh and bones as they have now. But they will be changed in that they will have put off corruption and put on incorruption. They will have put off mortality and put on immortality. They will be made like unto Our Lord’s risen, glorious body. As He was after His resurrection so shall we be after our resurrection. So the Christian looks for the resurrection of the dead, and believes in the resurrection of the Body. “There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body.”
In Baptism we are incorporated into the Body of Christ. “We are made members of His Body, of His Flesh, and of His Bones.” From the moment of our Baptism the process of the spiritualizing of our bodies begins. The first action of this spiritualizing of our bodies consists in the mortifying of the sinful desires of the flesh. The body becomes dead to sin that it may become partaker of the resurrection.
By the Eucharistic Food of the Body and Blood of Christ, the body and soul are preserved unto everlasting life. “Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Affectionately in Our Lord,