Thursday, August 10, 2006
Saint Of The Day: Saint Lawrence
The Roman Church commends to us today the anniversary of the triumph of Saint Lawrence. For on this day he trod the furious pagan world underfoot and flung aside its allurements, and so gained victory over Satan's attack on his faith.
As you have often heard, Lawrence was a deacon of the Church at Rome. There he ministered the sacred blood of Christ; there for the sake of Christ's name he poured out his own blood. Saint John the apostle was evidently teaching us about the mystery of the Lord's supper when he wrote: "Just as Christ laid down his life for us, so we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." My brethren, Lawrence understood this and, understanding, he acted on it. In his life he loved Christ; in his death he followed in his footsteps.
Brethren, we too must imitate Christ if we truly love him. We shall not be able to render better return on that love than by modeling our lives on his. "Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow in his steps." The holy martyrs followed Christ even to shedding their life's blood, even to reproducing the very likeness of his passion. They followed him, but not they alone. It is not true that the bridge was broken after the martyrs crossed; nor is it true that after they had drunk from it, the fountain of eternal life dried up.
On no account may any class of people despair, thinking that God has not called them. Christ suffered for all. What the Scriptures say of him is true: "He desires all men to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth."
I tell you again and again, my brethren, that on no account may any class of people despair, thinking that God has not called them. Christ suffered for all. What the Scriptures say of him is true: "He desires all men to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth."
The persecutors of the Church demanded that [Lawrence] hand over the Church's treasures. In order to obtain a real treasure in heaven, he suffered torments, the account of which you can only listen to with horror: he was laid on a grill over a fire. However, he triumphed over all the physical suffering by means of extraordinary strength, which he drew from his charity and from the help of Him who made him steadfast. For [w]e are truly his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to lead the life of good deeds which God prepared for us in advance.
This made the persecutors angry. Lawrence said, "Send some chariots with me with which I can bring you the Church's treasures." They gave him chariots. He filled them with poor people and sent them back saying, "Here are the Church's treasures."
Nothing is truer, my brothers. The Christians great wealth is to be found in the needs of the poor, if we really understand how to make what we possess bear fruit. The poor are always with us. If we entrust our treasures to them, we will not lose them.
-Saint Augustine, a Sermon for the Feast of Saint Lawrence.