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Thursday, 9 August 2012

A Cheeky Saint

Fra Angelico's St. Lawrence

St. Lawrence, Deacon, is one of those saints we all seem to know. His story was one of the first I remember as a child. He has many churches in England named after him. He has been painted over and over again through-out the ages. He is so loved, that my Monastic Diurnal has vigil prayers for him.

His popularity has to do with his sense of humor. But, I want to highlight something which makes him a real saint for today.

Last Winter, a friend of mine was in a discussion with rather important Catholics at a dinner. They were complaining about the riches of the Church and how Rome should sell its finery, jewels, artworks, Papal vestments and give the money to the poor.

There is a heresy hidden in this so-called charitable point of view.

When the evil Prefect of Rome demanded that the Church give over its riches to the State, St. Lawrence said he would show them the riches. He gathered up the poor and irritated the Prefect with the answer that the poor were the riches of the Church.

What a cheeky saint! But, he was making two points. One, that the real riches of the Church are hidden in the lives of those who suffer daily. Those to whom we must and are called to give to daily give us riches in return. God allows poverty for our sanctification.

Also, the Church has a right to worship God in a manifestly beautiful way. God is Beauty. He is Almighty, and He deserves the best.

If I really love someone, I dress and act my best in their company. I am raised above myself to a higher standard. I am made into a better person through love.

So, too, the Church is made holy by real love of the poor and love of God.

I wish I could have been at the dinner, but it was above my social standing! Ironic. It is always the rich who want to take away from the Church, instead of looking at themselves. My friend, who was the lone voice of Catholic reason, could discern the avarice in the people who were protesting too much. Funny thing is that most of them are socialists.

St. Lawrence would have a quip for them as well. Happy Feast of St. Lawrence.