The Life and Death of Deacon Lawrence Call Us to Courage in a New Rome
Perhaps others will write the story of when the New Rome of the west returned to Jesus Christ!
I ask our readers to pray for all Deacons of the Church in this critical hour. That we may have the courage and holiness of Deacon Lawrence. We face growing hostility from those who weary of our insistence upon a respect for all human life,our defense of true marriage and our insistence upon restoring the moral foundations of society. They seek to silence us in a soft persecution. They have begun to focus their growing animosity on the Catholic Church. That is because she will not compromise the truth. It is in just such times that we need many Deacons like Lawrence to stand strong in their uncompromising fidelity to the ancient yet ever new Catholic Christian faith.
CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) - On August 10 in the Roman Catholic Liturgical Calendar we commemorated a great Deacon and Martyr of the early Church named Lawrence. I have served as a deacon for sixteen years and continue to draw great encouragement from the story of Deacon Lawrence as I seek to be faithful to my own vocation.
I am also a student of Church history. I regularly write about - and contend with - the challenges we currently face in this new missionary age. I find myself regularly reminding people that these times are not the most difficult the Church has faced. Nor is our situation all that new to the Church. We were born for times such as these. However, the hostility toward the faith is accelerating.
I offer this account of this Deacon/Martyr named Lawrence who helped to bring the entire pagan Roman Empire to Jesus Christ to demonstrate that fact. It seems particularly relevant because we do seem to be living in a modern Rome. Deacon Lawrences' heroic life and death commend him to all who see the Third Christian Millennium as a new missionary age and are willing to sacrifice all for the love of Jesus Christ and His Church.
In a special way, on this Feast of the Deacon and Martyr Lawrence, I ask our readers to pray for all Deacons of the Church in this critical hour. That we may have the courage and holiness of Deacon Lawrence. We are facing a growing hostility from those who weary of our insistence upon a respect for all human life,our defense of true marriage and our insistence upon restoring the moral foundations of society. They seek to silence us and engage in a soft persecution.
They have begun to focus their animosity on the Catholic Church. That is because she will not compromise the truth. It is in just such times that we need many Deacons like Lawrence to stand strong in their uncompromising fidelity to the ancient yet ever new Catholic Christian faith. We are living in a new missionary age and the same God Lawrence loved and served is pouring out his Holy Spirit. We too shall see the conversion and transformation of lives from the power of the Gospel. Perhaps others will write the story of when the New Rome of the West returned to Jesus Christ!
The year was 258. It was a difficult beginning for what would become the First Christian Millennium. Hostility against these early followers of Jesus Christ was growing. The barbarism and severity of pagan Rome had begun to reach a fever pitch. It would soon lead to a blood lust. The newborn Christian Church, faithful to the One who had given Himself for the life of the world, continued the work of His redemption.
Roman authorities charged Christians of that era with "odium humani generis" [hatred of the human race]. The Romans claimed to be citizens of a great empire, yet they practiced primitive forms of abortion as well as "exposure", the killing of unwanted newborns. They also tried to institutionalize approval of homosexual relationships on a par with authentic marriage.
Emperor Nero in the first-century A.D. was not only overt in his homosexual relationships but sought to make them normative in the empire, to give an equal status between homosexual relationships and marriage. First and Second century Rome was a challenging mission field for these early Christians. Rome proclaimed itself the shining example to the world of its age while it violated the natural law and embraced debauchery.
The day that Deacon Lawrence experienced his birth from death to life was an ominous and frightful day in ancient Rome. Four days earlier, the great Bishop of Rome, Sixtus, was arrested by soldiers of the emperor Valerian, along with his beloved deacons, and beheaded.
Valerian had issued an edict to the Roman Senate that all the Christian clergy-bishops, priests and deacons-were to be arrested and executed. There were so many holy people among the martyrs of early Rome. That makes it even more remarkable that the life and death of this one humble deacon-Lawrence-is attributed with "all of Rome becoming Christian."
Sentenced to death in the Emperor Valerian's sweeping condemnation of all Christian clergy, Lawrence offended the Emperor and endeared himself to all Christians since-by assembling before Valerian the "gold and silver" of the Church.
According to the tradition, Deacon Lawrence, knowing that the fervor of Valerians' hatred was extending to all Christians who owned property, began to give it all away. He distributed the money and treasures of the Church to the city's poor-believing the clear admonition of the Savior that they were blessed and especially loved by Him.
Valerian heard the news and wanted the treasure to satisfy his unbridled lust for worldly power. So, he offered Deacon ...
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