Courage of soul

Daily Reading for August 10 • Laurence, Deacon and Martyr at Rome, 258

Eloquence may be suitable for exhortation, reason may be effective in persuasion, but examples are more forceful than words, and it is better to teach by deeds than by words. Lawrence, the blessed martyr, whose suffering makes this day illustrious, was renowned with great honor in this preeminent kind of teaching. Even his persecutors could feel this, when that marvelous courage of soul, born chiefly from the love of Christ, not only did not yield itself, but even strengthened others by the example of its endurance. When the fury of pagan powers raged against some of the most chosen members of Christ and especially sought out those who were of priestly rank, the wicked persecutor was inflamed against the deacon Lawrence, who stood out not only in the ministry of the Sacraments, but also in the administration of ecclesiastical goods.

This agent banked on a double reward from the arrest of one man, for if he could make him an embezzler of the Church’s money, he would also make him a traitor to the true religion. . . . He insists that the ecclesiastical wealth he so avidly desired be brought to him by the untarnished keeper of the treasury. This most virtuous deacon, showing him where he kept them hidden, presented the countless flocks of the holy poor. It was for their food and clothing that he had secured resources that could not be lost. He took care of these resources all the more carefully, since the expenditures had been approved for so holy a purpose. . . .

Let us then take joy, dearly beloved, with a spiritual joy, in the most blessed end of this celebrated man. Let us glory in the Lord who is “wonderful in his saints,” in whom he established a protection and an example for us. He has so illumined his own glory through the whole world that, from east to west, where the brilliance of the lights of his deacons shines, as Jerusalem has become renowned for Stephen, so Rome has become as renowned for Lawrence.

From Sermon 85 on the Feast of St. Lawrence (10 August 446-461?), quoted in The Fathers of the Church: St. Leo the Great, Sermons, translated by Jane Patricia Freeland, C.S.J.B. and Agnes Josephine Conway, S.S.J. (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1996).

Past Posts