“Sheltered under the name of Jesus Christ, I do not fear these pains, for they do not last long.” ~ Saint Lawrence
The deeper you delve into the lives of the Saints, the more you come to realize that these men and women are the true heroes in our midst. I must emphasize the fact that they are the true heroes ~ not were ~ because they remain spiritually among us, tirelessly praying and interceding on our behalf. When we call upon the canonized, asking them to place out intentions before the Throne of God, heaven and earth collide in divine intimacy. Knowing they the prayers of the righteous are powerful and efficacious (James 5:16) coupled with the desire of these great Saints to walk with us on our journey home, intercessory prayer is the golden thread that binds and strengthens our dialogue with the Holy Trinity.
“After my death I will do more,” Saint Padre Pio would often say. “My real mission will begin after my death.” Given the miraculous magnitude of Saint Pio’s life and the profound impact he had on so many, this statement is remarkable. “I will stand at the Gates of Heaven and wait until all of my Spiritual Children have entered.” This was yet another of his generous promises. Like millions and millions of others, I have asked Saint Pio to accept all of my loved ones and me to be counted amongst his spiritual children. Should I be found worthy on the day of judgment, you can rest assured I’ll be looking for the gray bearded man in the chocolate brown robe as I draw closer to the threshold of my eternal dwelling place (John 14:2).
The greatly venerated and beloved Saint Therese of Lisieux made similar promises over the course of her fleeting but prodigious life https://hubpages.com/literature/The-Marvelous-Intercession-of-Saint-Therese-and-Her-Little-Way. On her death bed, the ‘Little Flower’ insisted “I am not dying. I am entering into life. She knew that death was not the final chapter; not by a long shot.
Today we celebrate the Feast Day of Saint Lawrence, a Deacon and Martyr of the Catholic Church. Sentenced to be burned to death on a gridiron on account of both his faith and works, legend has it that Deacon Lawrence turned to his executioner while on the grid and said“Turn me over! I’m done on this side!” Lest anyone accuse the Catholic Church of being devoid of a sense of humor, Saint Lawrence is the Patron Saint of cooks. Deacons and the poor as well.
“Christ did not come to make us nice people. He came to make us new men.” These were the words of the Venerable Fulton J Sheen, a man who stands on the precipice of sainthood in his own right. We become new men and women in Christ through repentance and taking up our cross, as discussed on Friday https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/The-Convergence-of-the-Mysteries-and-the-School-of-Love. Jesus revisits this teaching once again In today’s Gospel (John 12:24-26), using an interesting analogy to make his point. “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit."
Having spent the majority of my adult life living in apartment buildings nestled in overcrowded urban cities, I do not profess to be an expert on matters pertaining to gardening. But I do know, courtesy of Bishop Barron by way of his daily meditation this morning, that a seed can exist for an incredibly long time. Seeds, he points out, have been found in the tombs of the Pharaohs. But unless they fall into the soil and crack open, nothing further comes of them. They remain merely a seed. Their life source is buried within the seed, and it’s a life that can only grow by being “given away“ and mixing with the soil around it. If you were to gaze upon a large tree, you would see none of the original seed, yet in essence you see nothing but the original seed, now in its thriving and flourishing state. So it goes for us.
In dying to one’s self, we become what Saint Paul describes as a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Only a new creation can and will choose daily to die to self, to seek this continuous denial of the flesh that occurs over a believer's lifetime despite what the secular world is saying and doing. Yet dying to self is not about what we are not allowed to do. It is instead about what we are now freed to do in Christ. “It is no longer I who live,” said Paul “but Christ who lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20).
Jesus tells us that “Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness.”’ (John 8:12). Because of this promise we know that we never walk alone. Saint Lawrence undoubtedly felt Jesus’ presence in his life, particularly in those waning moments, thus giving him the courage to stare down a horrid death with faith, hope and even a dash of gallows humor.
In John 12:26, Jesus proclaims that “Whoever serves me must follow me and where I am there also will my servant be.” Saint Lawrence took those words to heart, and in doing so sealed his eternal heavenly fate, securing his place amongst those who are now adorned with the crimson crown of martyrdom. I leave you with words of the Collect as it was proclaimed at Mass today the whole world over. May we “love what he loved and out into practice what he taught.” For the blood of the martyrs is truly the seeds of the faith.