My northeastern “retreat” continues as I swing through a few states visiting family and Latin Masses.
Today and tomorrow are special days for me as Holy Mother commemorates one of the greats – St. Lawrence the Deacon – in both his vigil and his feast.
You no doubt know the story of his martyrdom. How in the year 258, the Roman emperor called Lawrence forth and demanded that he turn over the “treasures of the Church”. Lawrence spent the next 24 hours distributing the precious items (chalices, patens, etc.) to the poor for safekeeping. When he appeared again before the emperor empty-handed, the now irate ruler ordered him to be slow roasted to death. Lawrence, in the midst of his death agony, quipped, “You may turn me over now. I’m done on this side.”
This is simply one of the greatest lines ever uttered by any man. Ever.
This line has survived 17 centuries and served as an inspiring backbone of the spirit of the Catholic faith. If the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church, the words of the dying martyrs have been like a fertilizer. And this one line is almost unmatched.
Lawrence was so overjoyed to go to God that he jabbed one last zinger in the eye of his executioners.
It was said by Augustine that at the death of Lawrence all of Rome became Christian. So powerful was his witness because it was the gift of one man’s body to the Lord Who had given His own body. It was the heart of a man already ascending to union with the Heart of his Beloved. And it was the joy of that man, mindful of the glorious crown being bestowed on him, bursting forth on his lips that we remember today.
This got me thinking. I am sure we are all going to meet a similar fate.
Take it in stride and be joyful. You were chosen for this time. Will the words He places on your lips inspire others? Perhaps. If you let Him lead you where He wants to. It might be the gridiron. Will you laugh?
Keep your wits about you. It’s only going to get rougher.
St. Lawrence, pray for us!