Today, August 10, is the Feast of St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr of the early Church.
St. Lawrence was a deacon of the Church in Rome during the persecution by Valerian, under whom Pope St. Sixtus II and four of his companions were martyred. A famous story of St. Lawrence is recounted by the website Catholic Online:
“The Prefect of Rome, a greedy pagan, thought the Church had a great fortune hidden away. So he ordered Lawrence to bring the Church’s treasure to him. The Saint said he would, in three days. Then he went through the city and gathered together all the poor and sick people supported by the Church. When he showed them to the Prefect, he said: ‘This is the Church’s treasure!'”
Needless to say, the Prefect wasn’t impressed. He ordered that St. Lawrence be executed. Lawrence was tied onto a grill over an open fire, where he suffered a long and torturous death. Strengthened by the grace of God, however, the holy deacon was able to endure the flames, even joking to his executioners that they should turn him over, since he was “done on this side.”
The martyrdom of St. Lawrence brings to mind the sufferings of so many of our brothers and sisters in the faith who face persecution in countries like China, Cuba and Vietnam, and who face death in other countries, especially those areas of the Middle East and Africa dominated by radical Islam. The word martyr is from the Greek, meaning “witness.” Today, martyrs continue to witness with their lives to the good news of salvation won by our Lord Jesus Christ. Today is a good day to remember them in prayer, and to ask our good and gracious Lord for the fortitude to persevere in the faith when we are confronted by those who demand that we compromise our faith to a political, social or cultural agenda that demands nothing less than unqualified assent.
“Father, 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.” Christian Prayer: The Liturgy of the Hours
St. Lawrence, pray for us!
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.