[Editor: This article by L. E. Homfray was published in Daylight (Adelaide, SA), 30 December 1924.]
The Best Christmas Story.
The old, old story.
“Tell me the story always,
If you would really be
In any time of trouble
A comforter to me.”
Despite all our differences and divisions it would surprise many people to know how deeply evangelical the Catholic Faith really is. We may value the help of ritual, we may appear to others to lay too much stress upon outward acts of devotion, we may love and honour the mother of our Lord, and all other saints, and remembering our own utter unworthiness, may even call upon them to intercede for us in our times of danger or distress; but deep in the inmost heart of every Catholic is the one abiding and adoring love of Christ, the one yearning for His Presence, and for the assurance of His pardon and mercy.
And so, because to the Catholic heart there is nothing more real and more wonderful than the Presence of the world’s Redeemer who once in time, upon the Cross of Calvary, paid the ransom for His people’s sins — we fain would hear that same old story day by day from every altar where the Christian faith is taught.
The cry of every human heart is the same whether Catholic or Evangelical — the yearning to hear again, and yet again of
“That wonderful redemption,
God’s remedy for sin.”
And as the little child forgets his lesson even ere the day has passed, so we also forget the lesson of the Incarnation and Atonement, and, conscious only of our own exceeding weakness we plead,
“Tell me the story often,
For I forget so soon,
The early dew of morning
Has passed away at noon.”
Ah! Is it not so? The early morning dew of our innocent young lives. How soon it melted ’neath the world’s glare and glitter. Those sacred days of Confirmation and our first Holy Communion — how quickly their memory faded, how soon we lost the burning zeal which fired our youthful hearts, and with it much of the abiding reality of God’s presence within our souls, and now, heart sick and travel worn, we cry again—
“Tell me the story simply,
As to a little child,
For I am weak and weary,
And helpless and defiled.”
Ah! And again when the glitter of worldly wealth has filled our hearts with pride, or dimmed our eyes, so that we no longer behold that dear beloved Form upon the Cross, when worthless joys of earth have made us forget for a time that lone Figure in all its wondrous poverty and glory outstretched against the darkening sky — then in that hour—
“When you have cause to fear
That this world’s empty glory
Is costing me too dear.”
Some still small voice within our souls gives utterance to the cry which has stirred the hearts of countless numbers of sinners throughout all ages—
“Tell me the old, old story,
Of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory —
Of Jesus and His love.”
There lives, deep in the heart of humanity, the yearning after Christ, the Son of God, the living Bread who alone can satisfy the faint and hungry soul.
How then shall they know where to seek Him, that they may rest their weary souls upon His sacred Heart, save through hearing again and yet again the old, old story of His love? Has He not promised in His most gracious words: “I, if I be lifted from the earth will draw all men unto Me.”
And so, in humble and adoring faith we come to seek Him at the altar, there to find fresh courage for our troubled souls, there to hear His words of pardon, and to lay before His sacred Heart those burdens which had grown so unbearably heavy, and to ask for all the souls we love, the blessings of His infinite mercy and forgiveness.
There in that solemn silence we renew once more our vows and resolutions, and taking back into the world some echoes of that old, old story, we go forth refreshed and ready to fight once more against the sorrows and temptations which, without the comfort of Christ’s Presence, would in all surety have overwhelmed us.
“Yes, and when that world’s glory
Is dawning on my soul,
Tell me the old, old story,
Christ Jesus makes thee whole.”
For, in that last dread hour, when earthly lights grow dim, when the worthless joys of wealth shall fail us, the one last conscious cry of the departing soul will still be for that one unfading story—
“Of Jesus and His Glory,
Of Jesus and His Love.”
L. E. HOMFRAY.
(in “The Church Standard.”)
Daylight (Adelaide, SA), 30 December 1924, p. 825 (7th page of that issue)
This article originally appeared in the Church Standard (Sydney, NSW), which was the official newspaper of the Church of England in Australia, published from 1912 to 1952.
The verses quoted in the text of the article are from “Tell Me the Old, Old Story”, a hymn written by A. Catherine Hankey (1834-1911).
See: “296. Tell Me the Old, Old Story”, Hymnary.org
Calvary = the place where Jesus was crucified (according to tradition, Calvary was a hill located outside of the walled city of Jerusalem)
ere = (archaic) before (from the Middle English “er”, itself from the Old English “aer”, meaning early or soon)
fain = happily or gladly; ready or willing; obliged or compelled
He = in a religious context, and capitalized, a reference to God or Jesus
Him = in a religious context, and capitalized, a reference to God or Jesus
His = in a religious context, and capitalized, a reference to God or Jesus
Lord = in a religious context, and capitalized, a reference to God or Jesus
’neath = (vernacular) beneath
Redeemer = in a religious context, and capitalized, Jesus
thee = (archaic) you
[Editor: Added a comma after “That wonderful redemption”; added a question mark after “Is it not so”.]