Monday, July 21, 2008

Back again . . . in time for St Lawrence of Brindisi!

I do apolgise to those who look at this blog regularly for the absence of any posts over the last 17 days. When the blog began, it was as a vehicle of inspiration - something positive - and not a means of participating in the ongoing theological and political disputes among Anglicans. So over the last couple of weeks while these disputes have been to the fore, necessitating a good deal of reflection with others on the outcome of GAFCON and then the surprisingly rabid anti-catholic C. of E. GENERAL SYNOD, together with a surge of local pastoral matters, and my absence for some days, I've only today returned to the blog. In due course I WILL provide an article with links to some of the helpful responses to both Gafcon and the General Synod.


(1 Corinthians 9:16)
Today in the Calendar we celebrate the work of God's grace in the life and ministry of St Lawrence of Brindisi. Born at Brindisi, in the kingdom of Naples in 1559, he was educated by the conventual Franciscans there and by his uncle at St Mark's in Venice. When sixteen, he joined the Capuchin Order at Verona. After further studies at the University of Padua (in theology, the Bible, French, Greek, Syriac, German, Hebrew, and Spanish) he was ordained to the priesthood. He taught theology, and he served as a military chaplain and linguist. (He was asked to lead the German army into battle against the Turks and did so successfully, carrying only a crucifix!)

In 1602
Lawrence was elected Vicar General of the Capuchins. He was a successful Diplomat on peace missions to Madrid and Munich. He preached powerfully in all of the languages he knew, and wrote a number of instructions on the Faith. Eyewitnesses say that Lawrence would kneel in prayer to write his sermons and that he journeyed on foot from one European capital to another, singing hymns to Our Lady.

In 1618 Lawrence retired from worldly affairs to the friary at Caserta. But he was recalled to travel to Spain so as to smooth out some problems with King Philip thereby averting a bloody uprising. This journey in the sweltering heat of summer exhausted him, and he died a few days after his meeting with King Philip at Lisbon on 22nd July 22, 1619.

Lawrence's main writings are his nine volumes of sermons. He was canonized in 1881, and Pope John XXIII proclaimed him to be a Doctor of the Church in 1959.

Here is a famous passage about preaching the Word. It is from the writings of St Lawrence, and is, in fact, included in the Office of Readings for today:


There is a spiritual life that we share with the angels of heaven and with the divine spirits, for like them we have been formed in the image and likeness of God. The bread that is necessary for living this life is the grace of the Holy Spirit and the love of God. But grace and love are nothing without faith, since without faith it is impossible to please God. And faith is not conceived unless the word of God is preached. Faith comes through hearing, and what is heard is the word of Christ. The preaching of the word of God, then, is necessary for the spiritual life, just as the planting of seed is necessary for bodily life.

Christ says: The sower went out to sow his seed. The sower goes out as a herald of justice. On some occasions we read that the herald was God, for example, when with a living voice from heaven he gave the law of justice to a whole people in the desert.

On other occasions, the herald was an angel of the Lord, as when he accused the people of transgressing the divine law at Bochim, in the place of weeping. At this all the sons of Israel, when they heard the angel's address, became sorrowful in their hearts, lifted up their voices, and wept bitterly. Then again, Moses preached the law of the Lord to the whole people on the plains of Moab, as we read in Deuteronomy. Finally, Christ came as God and man to preach the word of the Lord, and for the same purpose he sent the apostles, just as he had sent the prophets before them.

Preaching therefore, is a duty that is apostolic, angelic, Christian, divine. The word of God is replete with manifold blessings, since it is, so to speak, a treasure of all goods. It is the source of faith, hope, charity, all virtues, all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, all the beatitudes of the Gospel, all good works, all the rewards of life, all the glory of paradise:
Welcome the word that has taken root in you, with its power to save you.

For the word of God is a light to the mind and a fire to the will. It enables man to know God and to love him. And for the interior man who lives by the Spirit of God, through grace, it is bread and water, but a bread sweeter than honey and the honeycomb, a water better than wine and milk. For the soul it is a spiritual treasure of merits yielding an abundance of gold and precious stones. Against the hardness of a heart that persists in wrongdoing, it acts as a hammer. Against the world, the flesh and the devil it serves as a sword that destroys all sin.


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