Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
PALM SUNDAY, 1941.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
As we begin the commemoration of the events of Holy Week, we pray that we may have a due sense of the inestimable love of God in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; Who took upon Him our flesh and suffered death upon the Cross, that all mankind should follow the example of His great humility. We pray also that we may follow the example of his patience.
The Epistle teaches us the same lesson. "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross."
The Gospels recount day by day the records of the Passion.
On Maundy Thursday a light will relieve the darkness, the Altar will become a place of repose for the Sacramental Presence. Many lights will shine indicating the brightness of the Presence of Him Who lighteth every man. Fragrant flowers will make a garden to which we shall make visits of devotion. We shall pray, "Almighty Father, Whose dear Son, on the night before He suffered, did institute the Sacrament of His Body and Blood; mercifully grant that we may thankfully receive the same in remembrance of Him, Who in these holy mysteries giveth us a pledge of life eternal."
Then. fortified by this pledge we shall go out into the dark night, and follow Our Lord over the Way of Sorrow, until at last we arrive at Calvary. There we shall keep our watch beside the Holy Cross. We shall hear and meditate upon the seven last words of our Saviour. We shall see our Lord bow His head, and give up the Ghost.
In the silence of the next day, we shall prepare our souls by Sacrament and prayer for the great day that is to follow.
Year by year we are brought into the solemn observances of Passiontide. Year by year we come to the Cross with the experiences of a year through which we have lived, and suffered perhaps, from which we have learned something more of the meaning of life and of our unsatisfied needs. Year, by year we have become convinced of the need of the peace which the world cannot give; the peace of God which passeth understanding.
Each year we are told where and how to find, that peace. "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. If any man will be my disciple, let him take up his Cross and follow me." The Cross is the medicine of the world.
Our Lord is the only person Who has been able to see the joy that is set before the Cross. The Christian religion is the only religion that bids us to seek peace, not by evading the Cross, but by bearing it.
This is the first lesson of the Passion. Obedience. God so orders our lives that we may become sharers in the Passion. The bearing of the Cross is our opportunity of obeying our Lord's invitation to follow Him. The joy set before Is the joy of being His disciple.
The second lesson is humility. We come to the Cross as penitents. We come beseeching God to grant that, by the merits and death of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and through faith in His blood, we, and all the whole Church, may obtain remission of our sins and all other benefits of His passion. We kneel before our crucified Redeemer to offer and present unto Him, our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice.
The joy that is set before will be that we shall be made partakers of His Resurrection.
Affectionately in Our Lord,