Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

8/10/2015 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Deacons go from the altar and the ambo into the world in order to bring the world into the new world of the Church.Deacons are to be witnesses of this new world - to use a term loved by the early fathers for the Church- the world being recreated in and through Jesus Christ. The Church is a seed of the kingdom to come. Deacons are invited to live as leaven in the loaf of human culture, elevating it from within by lives lived in the heart of the Church for the sake of the world.

On August 10 in the Roman Catholic Liturgical Calendar we  commemorate the Deacon named Lawrence. The situation we face in a declining western culture is not unlike the situation Lawrence and his companions faced. In fact, in some respects, we live in a New Rome, best with very similar signs of moral decay. Like the stories of all the heroes of the faith, the story of the Deacon named Lawrence is ever fresh and ever new. I have served as a deacon for twenty years and continue to draw great encouragement his heroic witness in the First Millennium as I seek to be faithful to my own vocation as a deacon in the Third millennium.

I love to tell the story of this Deacon/Martyr named Lawrence who helped to bring the entire pagan Roman Empire to Jesus Christ. It is particularly relevant because we are living in what could be called a modern Rome - the evidence of moral decline in the western culture in which we live and serve grows daily.

I love to tell the story of this Deacon/Martyr named Lawrence who helped to bring the entire pagan Roman Empire to Jesus Christ. It is particularly relevant because we are living in what could be called a modern Rome - the evidence of moral decline in the western culture in which we live and serve grows daily.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

8/10/2015 (1 year ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Deacons, Diaconate, Catholiic deacons, martyrs, Deacon Lawrence, Rome, New Rome, Missionaries, priests, new evangelization, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - On August 10 in the Roman Catholic Liturgical Calendar we commemorate the Deacon named Lawrence. The situation we face in a declining western culture is not unlike the situation Lawrence and his companions faced. In fact, in some respects, we live in a New Rome, best with very similar signs of moral decay.

Like the stories of all the heroes of the faith, the story of the Deacon named Lawrence is ever fresh and ever new. I have served as a deacon for twenty years and continue to draw great encouragement his heroic witness in the First Millennium as I seek to be faithful to my own vocation as a deacon in the Third millennium.

I regularly write about - and contend with - the challenges we currently face in this new missionary age of the Church. I find myself regularly reminding people that these times are not the most difficult the Church has faced. Nor is our situation new to the Church. We were born - and born again - for times such as these. However, the hostility toward the Christian faith is accelerating - and it will even get worse - before it gets better.

Deacons have a vital role to serve in the Church, and in the world into which she is sent, as an icon of Christ the Servant. They are called to give holy and heroic witness, in both word and deed. They live their lives in what is sometimes called the real world, but it is to be a life that is not of this world. (See, e.g. Romans 12:2, 1 John 2: 15 - 17)

Deacons go from the altar and the ambo into the world in order to bring the world into the new world of the Church.Deacons are  to be witnesses of this new world - to use a term loved by the early fathers for the Church- the world being recreated in and through Jesus Christ. The Church is a seed of the kingdom to come. Deacons are invited to live as leaven in the loaf of human culture, elevating it from within by lives lived in the heart of the Church for the sake of the world.

As a result of their lived experiences, deacons are often good homilists. Church history recounts the great homilies of Deacons, such as St. Ephrem, the "harp of the Holy Spirit" and others. Then there are the deacon martyrs, including Stephen and Lawrence and so many others. Their lives of sacrificial love continue to inspire the whole church as a perpetual homily!

In 1996, on the Feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ (Corpus Christi), I was ordained to the Order of Deacon in the Catholic Church. When I lay prostrate on the floor that day in preparation for the imposition of the hands of my Bishop and the reception of the Book of the Gospels, I knew my life would never be the same. My ordination did indeed create a mark on my soul as our theology teaches.

I love to tell the story of this Deacon/Martyr named Lawrence who helped to bring the entire pagan Roman Empire to Jesus Christ. It is particularly relevant because we are living in what could be called a modern Rome - the evidence of moral decline in the western culture in which we live and serve grows daily.

Deacon Lawrences' heroic life and death commend him to all who see the Third Christian Millennium as a new missionary age. We are called to sacrifice all for the love of Jesus Christ and His Church.However, the witness of Lawrence is of particular importance for contemporary deacons. I ask our readers to pray for all Deacons of the Church, that we all may cultivate, by cooperating with grace, the courage, character and holiness of Deacon Lawrence.

The Catholic Church is facing growing hostility from those who grow 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 a free society. They seek to silence us and engage in a soft persecution, at least so far. 

They focus their animosity on the Catholic Church, because she will not compromise the truth. It is in just such times that we need for the Lord to raise up Deacons like Lawrence to stand strong in their uncompromising fidelity to the ancient yet ever new Catholic Christian faith in this new missionary age.

The same God Lawrence loved and served is pouring out his Holy Spirit in this hour upon His Church. History will record the story of when this Rome of the West returned to Jesus Christ! For now, let me share with you the story of the Deacon Martyr Lawrence, through whom all of Rome became Christian.

*****

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.

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 Moral Law and embraced debauchery. Sound familiar?

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 then - by assembling before Valerian the real gold and silver of the Church, the poor.

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 Lawrence a way out of sure death. If he would show him where the Church's great gold and silver were located, he would issue an order of clemency, sparing his life so that he could continue his work.

Valerian was delighted when the deacon asked for three days to gather all the gold and silver of the Church together in one central place! His pride and greed filled blinded him from seeing the truth. 

For three days, Deacon Lawrence went throughout the city and invited all the beloved poor, handicapped, and misfortunate  to come together. They were being supported by a thriving early Christian community who understood the Gospel imperative to recognize Jesus in the poor.

When Valerian arrived, Deacon Lawrence presented him with the true gold and silver of the Church, the poor! The emperor was filled with rage! Beheading was not enough for this Christian Deacon. He ordered Deacon Lawrence to be burned alive, in public, on a griddle. Witnesses recorded the public martyrdom. The deacon cheerfully offered himself to the Lord Jesus and even joked with his executioners!

The tradition records massive conversions to the Christian faith as a result of the holy life and death of one Deacon who understood the true heart of his vocation. He was poured out, like his Master, Jesus Christ the Servant, in redemptive love, on behalf of others. It is still said to this day that all of Rome became Christian as a result of the faithful life, and the death, of this one humble deacon. He was buried in a cemetery on the Via Tiburtina. On that spot, Constantine would later build a Basilica.

A special devotion to Lawrence, deacon and martyr, spread throughout the entire Christian community. Early Christians had no doubt that those who had gone to be with the Lord continued to pray for those who still struggled in this earthly life. They saw in Lawrence a great example of how to live, and how to die, faithful to the Gospel. Years later,

St Augustine reflected on the heroism of this great deacon in a sermon preached on his feast day, emphasizing that his life and death were an example for all Christians to emulate: "I tell you again and again my brethren, that in the Lord's garden are to be found not only the roses of His martyrs. In it there are also the lilies of the virgins, the ivy of wedded couples, and the violets of widows. On no account may any class of people despair, thinking that God has not called them."

The life and death of Deacon Lawrence speaks the timeless message of the Gospel to all who will listen.  Whether we are ever called to shed our blood in what has traditionally been called red martyrdom or simply called to offer our sacrifices daily in a continuous life of poured-out love, traditionally called white martyrdom, we continue the redemptive work of the Lord.

The Deacon and martyr Lawrence offered himself fully to Jesus Christ - and shows us the way.

-----

Deacon Keith Fournier is Founder and Chairman of Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance. A married Roman Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, he and his wife Laurine have five grown children and seven grandchildren. Fournier is also a constitutional lawyer who serves as Special Counsel to Liberty Counsel and Chief Counsel to the Common Good Legal Defense Fund.

---


'Help give every student and teacher Free resources for a world-class moral Catholic education'


Copyright 2017 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for DECEMBER 2016
Universal:
End to Child-Soldiers: That the scandal of child-soldiers may be eliminated the world over.
Evangelization: Europe: That the peoples of Europe may rediscover the beauty, goodness, and truth of the Gospel which gives joy and hope to life.



Comments


More Living Faith

Pope Francis to bless Philippines President after receiving letter of peace Watch

Image of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte offers peace to Pope Francis and the Catholic Church.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has made several negative comments about Pope Francis and the Catholic Church - So why is he suddenly writing the pontiff a letter of reconciliation? LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Duterte's violent war on drugs has been a ... continue reading


Nebraska law created by KKK forces nuns to remove habits in the classroom Watch

Image of Nuns are not allowed to wear their habits in Nebraska classrooms (not pictured).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Sister Madeleine Miller applied for a teaching job at a Nebraska high school. Unbeknownst to her, a shocking, nearly century-old, law calls for her to remove all religious clothing before stepping foot on school grounds. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The law bans ... continue reading


This pope is about to do something controversial when the Virgin Mary sends a message... Watch

Image of Pope Pius XII saw the Miracle of the Sun as he debated affirming the Assumption of Mary.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Pope Venerable Pius XII saw the Miracle of the Sun in 1950, which he took as confirmation of an important declaration. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) -- Pope Venerable Pius XII saw the Miracle of the Sun in 1950. At that time, he faced a decision. He wanted to ... continue reading


Catholic school faces lawsuit for firing gay teacher Watch

Image of Charlotte Catholic High School is involved in a discrimination case against a teacher involved in a same-sex civil marriage.

By Kevin J. Jones (CNA/EWTN News)

A lawsuit against a Catholic high school claims that it was illegal discrimination to fire a teacher for contracting a same-sex civil marriage, but a law professor suggests the case will not make any progress. Charlotte, NC (CNA/EWTN News) - "What they're trying to do ... continue reading


Dominicans celebrate 800-year anniversary with special reflection and prayers Watch

Image of Dominicans celebrate 800 year anniversary with reflection and prayer.

By Hannah Brockhaus (CNA/EWTN News)

As the Order of Preachers, better known as the Dominicans, celebrate the 800th anniversary of their founding, they gather in Rome from around the world to reflect on their history, their charism of preaching, and how they can continue to put this charism at the service ... continue reading


Our Lady of Fatima will be crowned by Cardinal Nichols at initiation of the 100-year anniversary Watch

Image of An Our Lady of Fatima statue still be crowned to begin the centenary year (Mary Anne Urlakis).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The World Apostolate of Fatima National Pilgrim Virgin statue will be received, blessed and crowned by Cardinal Nichols on Saturday February 18, 2017. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This year is the 100th anniversary of Our Lady's appearance to three children in ... continue reading


Bishops of Malta suggest it may be 'impossible' for people to abstain from sex? Watch

Image of The bishops of Malta have issued a document to convey their understanding of Amoris Laetitia.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The debate over Amoris Laetitia may not be over. Last week the head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Gerhard Muller, declared that the document was "very clear" and did not require correction. But now the bishops on Malta have issued their own ... continue reading


Pope Francis reminds us what it means to be Christian Watch

Image of Being a real Christian is witnessing to nonbelievers.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Pope Francis was at St. Mary's Parish in Rome on Sunday, where he spent over three hours explaining the basics. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to the Catholic Herald, Pope Francis delivered an important message to children, young adults and adults as ... continue reading


Pope Francis meets with Palestinian President to open Palestinian Embassy Watch

Image of Pope Francis meets with Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas at the Vatican.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Pope Francis has met with Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas at the Vatican during a ceremony to unveil the new Palestinian embassy there. The meeting comes as the world wonders is the incoming Trump administration will move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. LOS ... continue reading


Join us in praying a novena for Fr. Tom's safe release, as he remains captive for the 10th month Watch

Image of Salesians prepare novena for Fr. Tom's safe return.

By (CNA/EWTN News)

On the 10 month anniversary of the kidnapping of Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil in Yemen, the Salesians are inviting people around the world to join them in praying a novena for the priest's safety and release. Vatican City, Italy (CNA/EWTN News) - The Salesian order, to which Fr. ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Hebrews 8:6-13
6 As it is, he has been given a ministry as far superior as is the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 85:8, 10, 11-12, 13-14
8 I am listening. What is God's message? Yahweh's message is peace for ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 3:13-19
13 He now went up onto the mountain and summoned those he wanted. So they ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for January 20th, 2017 Image

St. Fabian
January 20: Eusebius, born just a few years after Fabian's ... Read More