Saint Laurence, Deacon, Martyr

John 12:24-26

If a grain of wheat falls on the ground and dies, it yields a rich harvest

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘I tell you, most solemnly,

unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies,

it remains only a single grain;

but if it dies,

it yields a rich harvest.

Anyone who loves his life loses it;

anyone who hates his life in this world

will keep it for the eternal life.

If a man serves me, he must follow me,

wherever I am, my servant will be there too.

If anyone serves me, my Father will honour him.’


2 Corinthians 9:6-10

God loves a cheerful giver

Do not forget: thin sowing means thin reaping; the more you sow, the more you reap. Each one should give what he has decided in his own mind, not grudgingly or because he is made to, for God loves a cheerful giver. And there is no limit to the blessings which God can send you – he will make sure that you will always have all you need for yourselves in every possible circumstance, and still have something to spare for all sorts of good works. As scripture says: He was free in almsgiving, and gave to the poor: his good deeds will never be forgotten.

The one who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide you with all the seed you want and make the harvest of your good deeds a larger one.


Psalm 111(112):1-2,5-9

Happy the man who takes pity and lends.

Happy the man who fears the Lord,

who takes delight in all his commands.

His sons will be powerful on earth;

the children of the upright are blessed.

Happy the man who takes pity and lends.

The good man takes pity and lends,

he conducts his affairs with honour.

The just man will never waver:

he will be remembered for ever.

Happy the man who takes pity and lends.

He has no fear of evil news;

with a firm heart he trusts in the Lord.

With a steadfast heart he will not fear;

he will see the downfall of his foes.

Happy the man who takes pity and lends.

Open-handed, he gives to the poor;

his justice stands firm for ever.

His head will be raised in glory.

Happy the man who takes pity and lends.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Facing difficulties in prayer

2729 The habitual difficulty in prayer is distraction. It can affect words and their meaning in vocal prayer; it can concern, more profoundly, him to whom we are praying, in vocal prayer (liturgical or personal), meditation, and contemplative prayer. To set about hunting down distractions would be to fall into their trap, when all that is necessary is to turn back to our heart: for a distraction reveals to us what we are attached to, and this humble awareness before the Lord should awaken our preferential love for him and lead us resolutely to offer him our heart to be purified. Therein lies the battle, the choice of which master to serve.

2730 In positive terms, the battle against the possessive and dominating self requires vigilance, sobriety of heart. When Jesus insists on vigilance, he always relates it to himself, to his coming on the last day and every day: today. The bridegroom comes in the middle of the night; the light that must not be extinguished is that of faith: “‘Come,’ my heart says, ‘seek his face!'”

2731 Another difficulty, especially for those who sincerely want to pray, is dryness. Dryness belongs to contemplative prayer when the heart is separated from God, with no taste for thoughts, memories, and feelings, even spiritual ones. This is the moment of sheer faith clinging faithfully to Jesus in his agony and in his tomb. “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if dies, it bears much fruit.” If dryness is due to the lack of roots, because the word has fallen on rocky soil, the battle requires conversion.


Saint Lawrence of Rome or Laurence (Latin: Laurentius, lit. “laurelled”; 26 December AD 225  – 10 August 258) was one of the seven deacons of the city of Rome, Italy under Pope St Sixtus II who were martyred in the persecution of the Christians that the Roman Emperor Valerian ordered in 258.

Life

St Lawrence is thought to have been born on 26 December AD 225 in Valencia, or less probably, in Huesca, the town from which his parents came in the later region of Aragon that was then part of the Roman province of Hispania Tarraconensis. The martyrs St Orentius (Modern Spanish: San Orencio) and St Patientia (Modern Spanish: Santa Paciencia) are traditionally held to have been his parents.

He encountered the future Pope St Sixtus II, who was of Greek origin and one of the most famous and highly esteemed teachers, in Caesaraugusta (today Zaragoza). Eventually, both left Spain for Rome. When Sixtus became the Pope in 257, he ordained St Lawrence as a deacon, and though Lawrence was still young appointed him first among the seven deacons who served in the patriarchal church. He is therefore called “archdeacon of Rome”, a position of great trust that included the care of the treasury and riches of the Church and the distribution of alms to the indigent.

St Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, notes that Roman authorities had established a norm according to which all Christians who had been denounced must be executed and their goods confiscated by the Imperial treasury. At the beginning of August 258, the Emperor Valerian issued an edict that all bishops, priests, and deacons should immediately be put to death. Pope St Sixtus II was captured on 6 August 258, at the cemetery of St Callixtus while celebrating the liturgy and executed forthwith.

After the death of Sixtus, the prefect of Rome demanded that St Lawrence turn over the riches of the Church. St Ambrose is the earliest source for the narrative that St Lawrence asked for three days to gather the wealth. He worked swiftly to distribute as much Church property to the indigent as possible, so as to prevent its being seized by the prefect. On the third day, at the head of a small delegation, he presented himself to the prefect, and when ordered to deliver the treasures of the Church he presented the indigent, the crippled, the blind, and the suffering, and declared that these were the true treasures of the Church. One account records him declaring to the prefect, “The Church is truly rich, far richer than your emperor.” This act of defiance led directly to his martyrdom and can be compared to the parallel Roman tale of the jewels of Cornelia.

On 10 August, St Lawrence, the last of the seven deacons, and therefore, the ranking Church official, suffered a martyr’s death.

Source: Wikipedia