St Lawrence

Deacon and martyr (entered heaven in this day 258)

Dear Larry,

I imagine you have begun your “two-a-days” already.  Football practice can be a great way to offer up sacrifices for the good of the Church and for the souls in purgatory, you know.  As long as you understand that your involvement in athletics is part of your education (you are supposed to use sports to build your character, not your vanity), it falls well within the purview of the duties of your state in life as a college student.  That means that it is part of God’s will for you. Not only can you build up the Kingdom through the Christian example you give to your teammates, but if you offer up the pains of your grueling practice sessions (unless they have made football practice easy and comfortable in recent years) you can also merit graces for souls in need and make up for the sins of those who have fallen away from the faith.  Of course, it all depends on the state of your own relationship with God – if you have abandoned friendship with Christ, then you can’t merit anything: “Without me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5). As further motivation, you may want to have today’s saint be your personal patron for these weeks of hard practice.

St Lawrence, though only a deacon, was Pope St Sixtus’, right-hand man.  When the Pope was apprehended under the persecutions of the Emperor Valerian, Lawrence was devastated.  His only relief came when Sixtus told him that he would also be martyred soon afterwards. In anticipation, Lawrence began distributing the goods of the Church to the poor.  Supposedly, the emperor heard about it and gave Lawrence a few days reprieve, so he could gather up the Church’s treasures and hand them over to his captors. Lawrence quickly liquidated all the Church’s goods and gave away the money, then gathered together the poor, the lame, and other abandoned souls.  When his time was up, the shrewd and holy deacon brought the emperor to his motley crowd and proudly said, “I present to you the treasures of the Church.” Valerian missed the point, and responded with anger instead of conversion. He decided to execute Lawrence in a particularly painful and cruel way in order to avenge the “insult.”  They set up a huge grill over a pit of red-hot coals and laid Lawrence, bound, upon it. As he slowly roasted to death, the Christians in the crowd seemed to perceive a sweet aroma and a brilliant halo around the saint’s calm countenance. Lawrence got the last laugh when, after a considerable time, he cheerfully informed his executioners, “You may turn me over now; this side is done.”  Soon after, he uttered a prayer for the conversion of pagan Rome (which is why he is so popular among the Romans) and breathed his last.

So, my dear nephew, as you are sweating it out on your own “gridiron,” take advantage of your pains and offer them up for the conversion of the modern pagans; God won’t let your prayers go to waste.

Keep me posted, Uncle Eddy

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