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St Lawrence of Justinian
Patriarch of Venice, Italy (entered heaven in 1455)
Never, never, never doubt the effectiveness of your prayers! Do you really think that God, who so lovingly created us and holds us in existence, who deigned to send Jesus Christ to save us by suffering and dying on the cross – do you think such a God would ignore you? When we get to judgment day, we will see that our prayers did much more than we ever imagined in extending and defending the Kingdom of God. As a result, we will deeply regret how little use we made of this powerful weapon while we were on earth. God’s love has gathered an immense reservoir of grace in heaven; every time we pray – even little prayer darts uttered as we walk across campus between classes – we open up a channel for some of that grace to rush down into our hearts and the hearts of others, to come to the aid of souls in need. God is just waiting to shower us with his grace; but he needs us to turn on the faucet.
Today’s saint is a good example of this. He forsook the pleasures and promise of his high noble rank in the Republic of Venice (which was in its heyday during his lifetime) after hearing a call to dedicate himself totally to God. He entered the monastic community of St George, where he learned modesty, humility, and trust in God. He used to beg alms for his brother monks, and his fervor won the hearts of many who answered his requests. He was so exemplary a Christian that he soon was named bishop of a nearby diocese. There he dedicated himself to caring for the poor and making himself available to men and women of every rank who needed spiritual guidance and attention. Some miracles accompanied his endless stream of good works, but above all it was his meekness and patience, his sincere but active humility that renewed his diocese inside and out. He won the respect and admiration of statesmen and churchmen alike, until the Pope named him Patriarch of Venice, a position that the humble cleric tried to decline. But his speech before the Venetian senate, in which he tried to convince them to request someone else to lead their church, manifested such integrity and gentleness that the Doge himself (doges were like presidents, but more magnificent) begged him to stay on, and the senators seconded the motion.
Towards the end of this holy Prelate’s life, a hermit on the Island of Corfu informed a traveling Venetian merchant that Venice had been spared from violent conquest (the Mediterranean was a liquid battlefield in those days, and Venice would have been a pretty prize for any of the up and coming powers) only by the prayers of St Lawrence.
And that’s my point. The Venetians had no idea that they owed their peace and prosperity to Lawrence’s prayers, and yet they did. When we get to heaven (may God grant it!), how many more such hidden wonders will we discover?
So, my dear niece, keep on praying. Pray always and everywhere, for everyone and everything. God is always at your side and in your heart, and he wants to talk. Don’t let him down.