THURSDAY THE TENTH OF AUGUST, 2017
* Lawrence the Deacon *
O sovereign and almighty Lord, bless all your people, and all your flock. Give your peace, your help, you love to us your servants, the sheep of your fold, that we may be united in the bond of peace and love, one body and one spirit, in one hope of our calling, in your divine and boundless love. Amen.
( Liturgy of St. Mark )
When Lawrence was led out to die,
love made him prodigal of life,
no armour would he use but faith
against the persecutor’s strife.
The first of seven chosen men
selected at the Pope’s behest,
a deacon’s office to fulfil,
in virtue he surpassed the rest.
He was a leader in the fight,
although no sword hung by his side,
and with a smile in face of death,
he could the torturer deride.
We praise your triumph here on earth,
so, holy Lawrence, lend your aid,
may each of us your favour feel,
receiving grace for which we prayed.
For all the care with which you served
and loved the city’s poor in Rome,
what lustre must enhance your crown
for ever in the Father’s home!
To Father, Son, and Spirit too,
be honour, homage and renown,
who will reward your prayers for us
by granting an eternal crown. Amen.
MEDITATION by Tim Madsen
Lawrence the Deacon: protecting the church’s treasure
We take time today to remember Lawrence, a deacon of the ancient church, who was put to death in Rome on the tenth of August, 258, in a persecution instigated by the Roman emperor, Valerian.
In the ancient church, the work of deacons took its lead from the "Book of the Acts of the Apostles." The deacons were to take care of the poor, the widows, and all who were in need. By the third century, the church, though still illegal according to Roman law, was organised enough to be making a real difference in the quality of life for many people. Simply put, they took care of people for whom the Roman emperor and his government had nothing to offer. The deacon was entrusted with the church’s money for such work.
In early August of 258, Valerian issued his decree against the Christians. In Rome this decree was carried out immediately. The pope at the time, Sixtus II, was found in the catacombs under the city, and executed on the 6th. of August. Lawrence was captured also and executed on the tenth of August. These are the facts we know for certain.
But as with many of the ancient saints stories have been handed down which add colour to the bare facts. No one is able to say for sure whether they are true or simply folklore. Two such stories have circulated about Lawrence and they appear in written form in the works of Saint Ambrose (340-397).
The first is that when captured, Lawrence was commanded to turn over to the emperor the treasure of the Church of Rome. Lawrence asked for three days to gather it. During those three days, he gave away the money, and assembled a large group of impoverished people, widows, orphans, those disfigured by disease.
He appeared before the emperor and proclaimed: “These are the treasures of the Church!”
The second story is related to the first. Enraged by Lawrence’s deception, the emperor ordered a large gridiron to be prepared stacked with hot coals. Lawrence would face death slowly by being roasted over the coals.
Before he died, he is alleged to have said to his executioner: “Turn me over please, I’m done on this side.”
Scripture. In the sixth chapter of "Matthew," verses nineteen to twenty-one, Jesus tells the crowd:
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
... for peace in the world.
... for the deacons of the Church, for church treasurers and all who care for those in need in the name of Christ.
... for those who stand up to and condemn corrupt or cruel leaders.
... for archivists and librarians, brewers, butchers, chefs, cooks, confectioners and restauranteurs, comedians, cutlers, glaziers and stained glass workers, laundry workers, paupers, schoolchildren, students and seminarians, vine growers, vintners and wine makers; for the people of Sri Lanka and the people of all places, institutions and churches that claim Lawrence as their patron and for those suffering from lumbago.
... for the people of Ecuador who celebrate their national day today.
... for those who are fearful that there may be a nuclear war.
... for those living with heart problems.
... for those who have died and for those who mourn their passing.
... for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.
... for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.
... for ourselves.
THE LORD'S PRAYER
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
A sermon preached by Augustine of Hippo on the feast day of Saint Lawrence:
The Roman Church commends this day to us as the blessed Lawrence’s day of triumph, on which he trod down the world as it roared and raged against him; spurned it as it coaxed and wheedled him; and in each case, conquered the devil as he persecuted him. For in that Church, you see, as you have regularly been told, he performed the office of deacon; it was there that he administered the sacred chalice of Christ’s blood; there that he shed his own blood for the name of Christ. The blessed apostle John clearly explained the mystery of the Lord’s supper when he said Just as Christ laid down his life for us, so we too ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. Saint Lawrence understood this, my brethren, and he did it; and he undoubtedly prepared things similar to what he received at that table. He loved Christ in his life, he imitated him in his death.
And we too, brethren, if we truly love him, let us imitate him.
After all, we shall not be able to give a better proof of love than by imitating his example; "for Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example, so that we might follow in his footsteps."
In this sentence the apostle Peter appears to have seen that Christ suffered only for those who follow in his footsteps, and that Christ’s passion profits none but those who follow in his footsteps. The holy martyrs followed him, to the shedding of their blood, to the similarity of their sufferings. The martyrs followed, but they were not the only ones. It is not the case, I mean to say, that after they crossed, the bridge was cut; or that after they had drunk, the fountain dried up.
The garden of the Lord, brethren, includes – yes, it truly includes – includes not only the roses of martyrs but also the lilies of virgins and the ivy of married people and the violets of widows. There is absolutely no kind of human beings, my dearly beloved, who need to despair of their vocation; Christ suffered for all. It was very truly written about him: who wishes all men to be saved, and to come to the acknowledgement of the truth.
So let us understand how Christians ought to follow Christ, short of the shedding of blood, short of the danger of suffering death.
The Apostle says, speaking of the Lord Christ, "Who, though he was in the form of God, did not think it robbery to be equal to God."
What incomparable greatness! But he emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, and being made in the likeness of men, and found in condition as a man. What unequalled humility!
Christ humbled himself: you have something, Christian, to latch on to. Christ became obedient. Why do you behave proudly? After running the course of these humiliations and laying death low, Christ ascended into heaven: let us follow him there.
Let us listen to the Apostle telling us, "If you have risen with Christ, saviour the things that are above us, seated at God’s right hand."
Almighty God, who called your deacon Lawrence to serve you with deeds of love, and gave him the crown of martyrdom: Grant that we, following his example, may fulfil your commandments by defending and supporting the poor, and by loving you with all our hearts, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
NOW LIGHT A CANDLE
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