10th August – Feast of St Lawrence the Deacon

Today we celebrate the feast of St Lawrence the Deacon who was martyred back in 258. Ilawrence found myself marvelling at how he still features so prominently in the life of the Church after all those centuries. Perhaps we can see it as a sign of the blessedness of those who live lives of heroic love. Lawrence could have lived differently. In today’s terms he could have looked out for number 1 at his highest priority. This Lawrence would have faded into obscurity immediately after his death, a man who would have spent his time watching TV, down in the pub, improving his golf game, working on a showcase garden, polishing the house décor, exercising down at the gym or else working long hours at work to maximise his financial profits, etc. We all know that a particular amount of effort spent in one way cannot be spent in some other way. Lawrence however maximised the use of his time as a Church deacon in the service of God and neighbour and eventually received a martyr’s crown. Let us live our lives for God and others as he did.

Below is a Bible Alive reflection for today.

Today we celebrate the feast-day of St Lawrence of Rome (c. 225-58). Like his Lord and Master Jesus of Nazareth, St Lawrence lived only thirty-three years. He was one of the seven deacons of ancient Rome and was put to death with Pope Saint Sixtus II and others during the Valerian persecution of 258 AD. A tradition has it that he was burnt to death on a grill and that, when half burnt, he said to his torturers words to the effect, `You can turn me over now as I am done on this side.’ Because of it, St Lawrence is revered as the patron saint of cooks and chefs. In Rome, which has adopted him as the city’s patron, there is a shrine to him containing the grid-iron thought to have been used to put him to death. The church of San Lorenzo in Panisperna is identified as the place of his execution.

St Lawrence did not hold on to his life in this world. He loved the life to come, the eternal life, and his Lord and Saviour so much that he was prepared, willing and eager to lay down his life. No greater love can anyone have than to lay down their life. Throughout history men and women who are prepared to die for what they believe in have inspired others. We may not be called to shed our blood as martyrs but we are called to live lives of heroic virtue. We are called to be martyrs of love, service and giving.

Many today see the Catholic Church in unfavourable terms. The child abuse scandal has caused untold damage to the Church’s reputation and standing in the world and, because of this stain, many today are not proud to be Catholics. We need to remember however, that we stand on the shoulders of saints like St Lawrence who laid down his life for Christ, and who belonged to the same Catholic Church as we do.

O God, Blessed Lawrence showed forth the fire of his love for you, both by faithful service and glorious martyrdom. Make us love the things that he loved, and do the works that he taught. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.