Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
QUINQUAGESIMA SUNDAY, 1943.
MY DEAR PEOPLE
The prayer makes mention that Charity is the very bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whosoever liveth is counted dead before God. Armed with Charity our works begun, continued and ended in God will be acceptable to Him, and we may humbly hope, and confidently expect, to be kept in the very bond of peace and led into the possession of all virtues.
Our prayer for Lent is that God may direct our hearts into the love of God. We pray that we may behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God. As we commemorate the mysteries of Our Lord's Passion and Death, we hope to grow into a deeper understanding of the love of God for us. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
"This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." "If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He is the Propitiation for our sins." "For us men and for our salvation He came down from Heaven, And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man: And was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried." So Lent is a season for beholding what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us.
It is the knowledge of this love that arouses and deepens penitence. We love Him because He first loved us. Because He gave Himself for us we are moved to give ourselves to Him. Love so amazing, so divine, demands that we, in return, must offer and present ourselves to be a reasonable, holy and living sacrifice unto Him.
Deep calls to deep. The demand is insistent. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." This is the true repentance which obtains the forgiveness we have always desired. To those who love much, much is forgiven. This is the love that casts out fear. "There is no fear in love: but perfect love casteth out fear; because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love."
So Charity is the very bond of peace and of all virtues which the true penitent seeks to attain in his desire for expiation and reparation. As we follow Our Lord through the Forty Days we shall follow Him over the Way of Sorrows. But at the end we shall arrive at the Garden of the Resurrection. With Our Lord we shall endure the Cross for the joy that is set before.
"Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another." The second Commandment of the law of Charity is, "thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Saint John wrote, "He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God Whom he hath not seen?"
Saint Paul in today's Epistle gives us a definite instruction on the keeping of this second Commandment. We may profitably use it for self-examination. Do I suffer long? Am I kind? Am I envious? Am I proud? Am I easily provoked? Am I uncharitable in my judgments of others? "Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."
Here again we shall find that Charity is the bond of peace and of all virtues.
Affectionately in Our Lord,