Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
"When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a-rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost." This is the record of the event which we commemorate today.
"I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord, and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spake by the Prophets." This is the confession of our Faith.
In the Catechism we were asked, "What do you chiefly learn in these Articles of your belief?" We answered, "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."
What does the word ‘sanctify' mean? The word sanctify means "to separate and set apart to a holy and religious use: to cleanse from sin, and to free from the power of sin."
How does the Holy Ghost sanctify us? We can answer this question by recalling the operations of the Holy Ghost in the Sacraments that we have received. I suggest a thoughtful reading of The Ministration of Holy Baptism. "Dearly beloved, forasmuch as our Saviour Christ saith, None can enter into the Kingdom of God, except he be regenerate and born anew of Water and the Holy Ghost." The Holy Ghost begins His work of sanctifying us by spiritually regenerating us; by releasing us from sin; by bestowing upon us the everlasting benediction of heavenly washing; by giving to us the fulness of grace; by incorporating us into Holy Church.
So the process of sanctification begins. The virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity are implanted in the soul, as seeds in good soil, to bring forth fruit in due season.
Read next the Order of Confirmation. The Bishop prays "Almighty and Everliving God, who hast vouchsafed to regenerate these thy servants by Water and the Holy Ghost, and hast given unto them forgiveness of all their sins; Strengthen them, we beseech thee, O Lord, with the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, and daily increase in them thy manifold gifts of grace: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and ghostly strength, the spirit of knowledge and true godliness; and fill them, O Lord, with the spirit of thy holy fear, now and forever."
"Then all of them kneeling before the Bishop, he shall lay his hand upon the head of every one of them." In this solemn act, he is one with the Apostles and he, as they did, lays his hands upon them, and they receive the Holy Ghost. So the process of sanctification proceeds.
When the Bishop laid his hands upon us, he prayed that we "may daily increase in thy Holy Spirit more and more." The responsibility of conforming to the laws of this increase rests upon us. The spiritual seeds have been planted in the gardens of our souls. Power has been given to us to guard the gardens from the weeds of sin. By removing whatever weeds that may appear by the faithful use of the Sacrament of Penance. By receiving thankfully, habitually and frequently the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of our Saviour Jesus Christ, whereby our souls are strengthened and refreshed. By turning our souls to the light of God's Presence in unceasing prayer. By endeavoring daily and hourly to continue in this holy fellowship, and by doing all such good works as God has prepared for us to walk in.
The gardens of our souls will be subjected to seasonal vicissitudes, for which we must be prepared. In due time, with patience, the fruit of the Spirit will appear; Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.
Affectionately in Our Lord,