MEDITATION OF THE DAY
Saint Lawrence, the Grain of Wheat
Lawrence, the blessed martyr, whose suffering makes this day illustrious, was renowned with great honor…. 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….
He ordered [Lawrence] to renounce Christ and prepared to oppress the remarkably firm courage of the deacon’s soul with dire cruelties. When the first attempt obtained nothing, worse followed. He ordered the limbs, mangled and torn with the many cuts of lashes, to be burned over a fire on an iron grate—which by now, from the steady heat, had on its own the ability to burn. This way, as his limbs were being turned over and over, he might be tortured more fiercely and the punishment might be drawn out. You gain nothing, you accomplish nothing, O cruel savagery! The mortal body is removed from your schemes, and Lawrence escapes you as he goes to heaven. The flame of love for Christ cannot be overcome by your flame, and that fire was less effective which burned on the outside than the one which burned within. You, O persecutor, helped the martyr in being harsh; you increased his victory when you added to his punishment. What did your skill not invent for the glory of the victor, when even the instruments of torture were transformed into the honor of his triumph?
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. We believe that we are helped by his prayer and his patronage without ceasing. Since the Apostle says, All who wish to live devoutly in Christ suffer persecution, we are strengthened by the spirit of love and fortified to overcome all temptations by the perseverance of a steady faith, through our Lord Jesus Christ, living and reigning with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.
Saint Leo the Great
Saint Leo the Great († 461) reigned as pope from 440 to 461. He is a Doctor of the Church. [From St. Leo the Great Sermons, The Fathers of the Church, Vol. 93, Jane Patricia Freeland & Agnes Josephine Conway, Trs. © 1996, The Catholic University of America Press, Washington, DC. Used with permission.]