Project Canterbury

Locust Street Letters

By Frank Lawrence Vernon

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




The Gospel for the Second Sunday after Christmas brought us to Nazareth. The Gospel for the First Sunday after Epiphany tells us that “when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.” The Gospel for the Second Sunday after Epiphany tells us that “it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.”

First we have the years of hidden life in Nazareth. Then an appearance. Then more years of hidden life in Nazareth. The thirty years are hidden from us. Only one thing is told us, “He went down with them to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but His mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”

This is all we have to meditate upon. But it is enough. The obedient son: The understanding mother: The hidden life. When the time for the public life came, the hidden life was revealed. This is the important thing to think about. Because it explains the life that Christians are required to imitate. “Your life is hid with Christ in God,” wrote Saint Paul, “when Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.” The Christian life must first be hid with Christ in God. If the hidden life is sound, the public life will be effective. The hidden life is the source of unconscious influence. Unconscious influence never fails to register the good or the evil of the hidden life.

We shall be making good use of these weeks after Epiphany if we give our attention to the duty of cultivating the hidden life of our souls. So long as our motive is the better fulfilment of our duty to God and our neighbor, we may rest assured that we shall escape all danger of falling into self-centredness. “For their sakes I sanctify myself.”

The example of Our Lord’s life in Nazareth teaches us that we are to find our opportunities in the simple duties of that state of life unto which it has pleased God to call us. Our present environment is our Nazareth in which, by God’s grace, we may increase in the wisdom and stature in the spiritual life which prepares for advance toward future duties unto which it shall please God to call us. We must not allow ourselves to yield to discontent. We must not allow ourselves to indulge in day dreams of what we might be under what would seem to us to be a more favorable environment. All this is enough to show that the really practical person is the person who gives first and constant attention to the development of the hidden life of the soul.

We cannot safely be left to our own devices to do this. There is a science of the spiritual life. There is an art of spiritual practise. Even when we realize this, if we are left to ourselves, we are apt to rush to mock heroics. The safest course is to trust ourselves to the wisdom of the Church. Faithful use of the Sacraments: A simple rule of daily prayer; of daily reading at least a few verses of the Bible; of dutiful observance of the devotions of the Christian Year as prescribed in the public services of the Church will provide us with everything that is necessary. Armed with the mind that was in Our Lord in Nazareth we may face the duties of life in quietness and confidence.

Affectionately in Our Lord,

Project Canterbury