CNA - Saint of the Day

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Feast of St Lawrence - Deacon & Martyr

Lawrence of Rome (c. 225 – 258) was one of the seven deacons of ancient Rome who were martyred during the persecution of Valerian in 258. Lawrence served as chief Deacon to Pope Sixtus II who himself experienced martyrdom three days prior to Lawrence. In fact, Pope Sixtus informed Lawrence, who was mourning the fact that his Bishop was going on to execution without him, that he would surely follow him to a similar fate. Lawrence is reported to have said "Where are you going, my dear father, without your son? Where are you hurrying off to, holy priest, without your deacon? Before you never mounted the altar of sacrifice without your servant, and now you wish to do it without me?" The Pope is reported to have prophesied that "after three days you will follow me".

Indeed, three days later Lawrence was sentenced to death for having collected the riches of the Church together and presented them to the prefect of Rome just as he was instructed to do. The riches he presented were the poor, the crippled and the outcasts of the city of Rome, true treasures indeed, and because the prefect thought that Lawrence was intent on making him look ridiculous he sentenced him to a slow and torturous death. Lawrence was grilled slowly on a grid iron part of which remains on display in the Church of St Lawrence at Lucina. Of interest too is the fact that the reliquary containing the burned head of St Lawrence is on view for the veneration of the faithful in the Vatican throughout the day of the 10th August. Aren't we Catholics a curious lot??

I knew very little about Lawrence and his story before I began my research into the Permanent Diaconate and can very well guess that those who are discerning a vocation to the Permanent Diaconate don't get very far without encountering Lawrence somewhere along the way. The story is facinating and serves as a very real example of how the Deacon and his Bishop share a special fraternal bond. His story is one worthy of serious study for those aspiring to the Diaconate. What can be learned? There are, I think, 3 important lessons in this story.

1. Filial devotion and obedience to the Church through our Bishop.
2. Recognition that we are called to be servants of all.
3. Defence of the faith in season and out of season.

Having attended Holy Mass this morning and having recited the Rosary before hand I offered all the merits associated with said devotions to the Lord for the temporal and spiritual needs all Permanent Deacons around the world, for those who are in formation and those currently contemplating and discerning a vocation to the Permanent Diaconate. One does not enter the discernment process easily; one enters with a little fear and trepidation. We know that we will be asked to relinquish a lot including time, perhaps friends, status and reputation. Today's world finds it very hard to understand a religious vocation and so those discerning along with those exercising a vocation to the Permanent Diaconate need our continuous prayers.

It will not be easy but, no matter how bad it gets out there for the Church and her members, we must remind ourselves that it has Peter as it's Rock, Christ as it's cornerstone, the faithful members as its building blocks and the blood and prayers of the martyrs as its mortar. It will stand and it will overcome all. The gates of Hell will not prevail against it. So rejoice and be glad.

The Divine Office accords this special prayer to him on his feast day:

you called Saint Lawrence to serve you by love
and crowned his life with glorious martyrdom.
Help us to be like him
in loving you and doing your work.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
In the Breviary of 1962 the prayer reads:
O Almighty God,
Who didst give unto Blessed Lawrence power
to be more than conqueror in his fiery torment;
grant unto us, we beseech thee,
the power to quench the flames of our sinful lusts.
Through Jesus Christ, etc.

Múlier, ecce fílius tuus, Totus Tuus! Fergal

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