Project Canterbury

Locust Street Letters

By Frank Lawrence Vernon

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




The Catechism, that is to say, an Instruction, to be learned by Every Person before he be brought to be Confirmed by the Bishop, requires each person to “rehearse the Articles of thy Belief.” It is to be remembered that for the most part these persons are children, under the spiritual care of sponsors who have promised to “take heed that this Child so soon as sufficiently instructed, be brought to the Bishop to be Confirmed by him.” One part of this instruction provides that the child shall be able to say the Creed.

The Catechism follows the request for the rehearsal of the Articles of Belief with another question, “What dost thou chiefly learn in these Articles of thy Belief?” The answer to this question is: “First I learn to believe in God the Father, who hath made me, and all the world. Secondly in God the Son, who hath redeemed me and all mankind. Thirdly, in God the Holy Ghost, who sanctifieth me and all the people of God.”

The Catechism leaves the matter at this point, resting upon the authority of the Church. It leaves the matter with a question which contains the arresting phrase, “What dost thou chiefly learn in these Articles of thy Belief?” Then the necessary steps for learning are prescribed. The moral Law governing conduct. The question once more, “What dost thou chiefly learn by these Commandments?” and the answer, “I learn two things: my duty towards God, and my duty towards my neighbor.”

Then follows the instruction upon the necessity of special grace, and of the duty of constant and diligent prayer.

The practise of private vocal prayer, of the reading of Holy Scripture, of meditation is no less insistently enjoined. The ways are opened and the method explained by which each person may advance toward whatever degree of contemplation the Holy Ghost wills for their attainment.

All the while the training and growth in penitence leads the person into the Way of Purgation. The experience of penitence in Sacraments and prayer develops the knowledge of God which will let in upon the soul the light which will shine more and more in the Way of Illumination. The experience in each and both together of the Ways of Purgation and Illumination leads into the more perfect love of God, which is the Way of Union.

This is the way by which we learn the meaning of the Articles of Belief which we receive on authority. In living the Christian life we learn to believe in God the Father who hath made us, in God the Son who bath redeemed us, in God the Holy Ghost who sanctifieth us. That which we believe of the Glory of the Father, the same we believe of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, without any difference of inequality, One God, one Lord, in Trinity of Persons, and in Unity of Substance.

Affectionately in Our Lord,

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