Lawrence, 1559-1619. Doctor of Conversions and Missions, Feast Day
You have a valuable spiritual model and guide in
St Lawrence and will benefit tremendously to implore him for help.
He is sought by all especially appropriate would be military personnel, patriots, veterans,
diplomats, orphans, peacemakers, linguists and heads of religious
orders. Those engaged in conversion efforts and missions will
benefit immensely when they call upon Lawrence for God's blessing.
He, himself, was greatly helped and so will you too when you
There are many saints whose name is
Lawrence and one in particular was a deacon in the early church. St
Lawrence the deacon was martyred with his four companions. We know hardly
anything about him except that he was well known for service to the
poor and killed by being roasted on a gridiron. Devotion to him was
widespread by the fourth century.
There are extraordinary
manifestation of the gifts of God in Lawrence from Brindisi, Italy.
Normally when we speak of God, we speak of the spiritual life of
God. However, our natural gifts are a reflection of the more
interior life of our Sanctifier, Redeemer and Father. Lawrence
possessed abundant natural and supernatural gifts.
He lost his parents at an early age and was educated by his uncle. Brindisi
was first sent to the Conventual Franciscans for his early
education. His parents named him Julius Caesar. In many respects,
his presence was as a leading general as the famous Julius Caesar of
Rome. As appointed chaplain-general, he led armies during European
battles and skirmishes. The crushing defeat of the Turks was
attributed to Lawrence. Emperors, kings, popes, dukes and heads of
state requested his support. He gave advice to generals, rallied the
troops and led many missions carrying the cross of Christ as his
effective sign and weapon.
Our saint labored for the church, his
Franciscan Religious Order-the Capuchins, his country, those who supported
religion and all that Christ was sent to save. God would have sent
the Savior of the world, according to St Lawrence, even if Adam had
not sinned. That is how much God desires to share eternal love with us
even before we possess it later in eternity. God is, in a sense,
impatient, when it comes to love. He is an impetuous, impressive and
impassionate Lover first and foremost. God's Savior role came after sin entered into the soul of humankind.
According to this champion doctor, the
Father would have sent his Son if no original sin occurred. Perhaps
his main goal in his lifetime was to provide, preach, and expose
missions. It has been said that Lawrence was one of the greatest
preachers in the history of Christianity. Lawrence realized fully
that the Savior had been sent. His efforts were to talk, convert and
help people to be saved. In addition, for Lawrence, the Son was sent
to save all with no exceptions. We too, according to the degree of
our faith, have the same mission as Lawrence. We are called and
chosen to assist others as they need our help and according to our
Lawrence was gifted with remarkable talent,
intelligence and, most of all, language ability. He spoke eight
languages fluently. He served others through his preaching and missions. He
led missions against other religions and anywhere Catholicism needed
support. He performed reconciliation efforts against heretics all
over Europe and always with empathy, sensitivity and
In times past, religions would have been exceedingly hostile against others.
Persecutions, wars, and even brutual punishment among brothers, sisters and families within the same religion happened.
Times have changed hopefully if we have learned anything about authentic love. Charity and love must supersede all other religions.
Reverence not only for all religions but now we must have a whole new faternal attitude toward all people, nationalities, race, gender,
and elimination of sordid bias, prejudice and discrimination must be the new Christian motif of all future generations.
Respect for Hinduism, Buddist, Jainist, Muslims, Sikh, Baha'i, Sinto, African Native, Zoroastrian, Native American, Jewish and Christianity, to name but a few major religions, must be the obligation for all decent human beings.
Saint Lawrence was a biblical scholar and the pope requested
him to preach to the Jews. He spent much time in conversion
attempts. His language abilities were flawless and wherever he spoke
the people thought he was a native of that place. The rabbis felt he
was a Jew who had become a Christian.
This amazing Franciscan
wrote extensively filling many volumes including his sermons, which
were always substantiated by scriptural quotations. His brilliance
was matched with great human compassion and administrative skills.
He was quickly elected to the highest office in his religious order,
minister-general. He was responsible for the Capuchin's growth and
St Lawrence was appointed papal
emissary. He was a powerful peacemaker. His positions took him to
many foreign countries. He was so influential that he was asked to
settle royal quarrels, be a diplomat and work for pacification and
healing among many nations.
Our saint burned himself out with
goodwill for those whom he served. He realized how deeply God loved
all creations in sending Jesus Christ. He felt we too should ask to
be sent, as our Brother, to help others. This made sense to
Lawrenceís way of thinking because humankind had sinned and
committed original sin. His main goal was to give mission (talks and
instructions about the faith) to change hearts and be drawn back to
God. This is conversion. He decided early to be God's messenger and
We, today, generally are not gifted with
speaking multiple languages. Nor do we have diplomatic skills, as
Lawrence. However, in our own unique way, we too can be a champion
of our faith. Just as effectively as Lawrence, we can practice
charity, holy example and strong commitment to our church, country
and neighbor. This we do by living out our faith. That's our mission
and it all comes about through radical change of heart and openness
to God's Word in our lives. Jesus is the Word of the Father and this Word has become Flesh. What Jesus spoke was always the inspired word of God and
the Evangelists of the catholic church, Sts Matthew, Mark, Luke and John have recorded the four gospels and were commissioned to write those inspired words of Jesus for our imitation and enlightenment.
Christ is also, for Catholics, our real food and meal, offered to us daily, because Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist and gave his first Apostles the power to repeat what he did to perpetuate his sacramental presence on earth.
This is our real, and true, food
that we are charged with eating, for his sacremental food is his true and real Flesh that provides us with eternal life. That is
precisely what Jesus exclaimed. It includes not only the physical
eating but also the assimilation of the Word. The taking in of the
Word by what we see, hear, touch, smell, desire, taste, and feel.
The Word is the total communication, life and existence bestowed as
God's love. God wants to enter into us today totally. The Word
continually opens up new dimensions for us in order that the
complete absorption and assimilation is possible. We see this
accessibility, approachability and outpouring of God's communication
in everyday life through TV, the Internet and many other
God's Word is our life and it is everywhere.
The book of Job tells us: Ask the beast of the field to teach you and the birds of the air to tell you; or, the reptiles of the earth to instruct you and the fishes of the seas to inform you. Which of these do not know that the hand of God has done this and that in God's hand is the lifebreath of all living things. We see God's Word predominantly through God's many churches and their own sacramental sytems. The Catholic Church sacramentals and sacraments are extraordinarily unique and abundantly rich with the divine and human realities of the Word make Flesh.
Through the inspiration of profound
Franciscan women followers such as St Clare, St Colette and others who followed Christ in religion such as Sts Francis, Lawrence, and Joseph of Cupertino we have the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN).
Mother Angelica carries on the rich tradition which their founder,
St Clare, began. Clare is the Patroness of Television.
The Franciscan Monastery in Washington, DC and other Franciscan centers throughout the world carry on the rich Franciscan tradition. One example is
The Holy Land of America, a gem in The Nation's Capital at 1400 Quincy St. NE Washington, DC 20017, Phone: 202-526-6800, Fax: 202-529-9889.
By praying this peace prayer attributed to St Francis
of Assisi we will be communicating the spirit of conversions and
"Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy.
Divine Master, grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled
to console, to be understood as to
understand and to be
loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive, it is
pardoning that we are pardoned and in
dying that we are
born to eternal life."
Conversions can come immediately and
they can come with our last breath. We never know. Lawrence would
tell us that God is calling us daily to conversion of heart. God
calls everyone for special missions. We are called continually to be
Christ-like by exploring and living out our vocation daily.
examples of how God continually converts, calls us and sends us on
our missions can be seen in the lives of saints especially Raymond
Lull, Margaret of Cortona and Angela of Foligno. These three were
Franciscan tertiaries of the thirteen-century and are listed in
Secular Saints found in the Sources.
Don't expect to be called
by God as St Paul was. His dramatic conversion, celebrated on January 25th, is most unusual, but then again, God is
tremenously unusual and a tremendous Lover. You can find his complete conversion story in the link below.
APOSTLES OF THE LORD
Our missions are toward
our families, other religions, government, society, foreign counties
and people down the street. All are called to convert, have
spiritual conversions daily, and achieve our mission. We are all
called and chosen to be for others as Lawrence, Raymond and Angela
have so vividly demonstrated.
Missions are not only for
churches and people. In earlier generations missions were only given
and associated with spiritual functions. Not any more. Many
classifications such as corporations, organizations, companies, and
government, and all serious groups of people, who aim to achieve
objectives or goals have mission statements.
be associated with non-church or church groups who are attempting to
change bad habits or addiction. All conversions are spiritual
whether they are physical, psychological or mental. Authentic change
may come from the outside. Lasting change will surely come from the
inside. Not wanting to indulge in excessive drinking or smoking can be more enriching and
permanent than not having the urge to drink or
smoke uncontrollably. Our addictions make us slaves to habits.
True change of heart enables us to want goodness for
goodness sake. Although it may sound strange, even holy things can
be addictive. We always need the spirit of poverty and detachment as
Lawrence, Francis and Clare advocated. The Franciscans are superb
models and embrace sister-poverty as a prized treasure.
Lawrence's missions focused on the spiritual. This can be most
rewarding and fulfilling. We can convert people in our own unique
way. God uses us according to divine wisdom and there are no
exceptions. None are exempt.
The bible informs us that we
can gain wisdom by observing one of the most insignificant of God's
creatures. For example, the ant is amazing not only for its
industriousness but also because of its strength. Thatís right,
strength. What appears weak in our eyes can be enormously strong.
Consider that a human being can hardly pick up his own weight.
However, the mighty ant can lift 52 times its own weight. Isnít that
ironic? God can use us in ways we can not imagine. When God
strengthens us, we can accomplish incredible deeds, as the ant so
vividly shows us. God makes straight lines with broken and crooked
lines. What appears to be weak is really strong.
insight and strength come to us from many sources if we allow God to
use us according to the divine plan rather than the human plan we
choose. We need to convert and be mission oriented as St Lawrence to
become divinized. Plead, pray, and ask for God's help, especially the
gift of fortitude. Fortitude or spiritual strength will enable us to
help ourselves and others overcome or cope with challenges and temptations. It will give us more
strength than we need to overcome all odds. Jesusí strength will be
There will not be anything we canít achieve to fulfill
the plan of God for us. Divine providence has its own timetable and
deadline for all. The more we allow that plan to unfold, the happier
we will become despite the mystery, the uncertainties, and the
unknown. Trust will give us assurance and more confidence to allow
God to use us as God used St Lawrence of Brindisi to complete our
mission and conversion and return to God as intended in the divine
Parishes conduct missions for renewal, reform and
conversion. In this manner they serve as retreats. Retreats aim to
reawaken in us spiritual dimensions to sanctify us. We can easily
become lax in our practice of prayer and virtue because we get
caught up excessively with our work, family and social involvement. We can always make
retreats by ourselves. Conversion is not necessarily a one-day
affair. It is a continual movement to surrender ourselves to God to
fulfill the divine will. The more we allow God to move our hearts
and souls in prayer and actions daily, the more we will be converted and
find our mission in life joyfully. Then we will reach the pinnacle or one notch higher for
our sanctification according to the designs of the Spirit of God. By our continual union with God
we will have converted as many
lives as St Lawrence or more. It's not a game of numbers or who is doing more. It's simply allowing
God to move and direct our lives because our God
loves to guide us through all the pathways of life and God can do a better job than we can. This also demonstrate
to God that we are trusting him more and that will
help us build up confidence in ourselves and others given to us by God.
It is through the Mystical
Body, the church, of whom we are all its members that God allows us to be most effective. Even
though we may be lacking in natural gifts, such as the ability to
speak many languages as this doctor, Lawrence, God will hear and answer all
our prayers when the mighty One raises us up to intimate
oneness with the infinite Godhead. God will always repay us with
spiritual gifts, although the natural gifts may not be forthcoming or
obvious to others. There is absolutely nothing we can not achieve in
terms of drawing others to God when we are totally joined to God's
own heart and mind. Love is most efficacious when it is done in One spirit. Then we share in the
eternal strength and love
of God's power and its effect is worldwide and beyond the time
dimensions. We can even pray and have our prayers positively
answered for people not yet born. The power and effectiveness of union is far reaching and incredibly
benefical both for ourselves and all creation.
Having personally visited
and read about the Capuchins, one can readily see the holiness and
distinction of an outstanding, holy religious Order. Recently, one
of their more celebrated and popular known members, Saint Padre Pio of
Pietrelcina, has been canonized. Padre Pio's holiness speaks
volumes and he has been a most charismatic priest whose influence
has been worldwide. His exterior mission in assisting the sick and
infirm has resulted in the building of a large medical and caring
facility in Italy. His interior mission of caring for others and the heavy cross of
Jesus in bearing Christ's wounds are well known. His followers and
those who visited Blessed Pio in his lifetime are legion. He is
perhaps the most celebrated Capuchin ever due to his extraordinary
service and holiness in the universal church. However, the Franciscan family have more saintly models
and examples of holiness than, I believe, any other religious order.
We can be sure
that Father Pio learned from St Lawrence and those who had gone before
him. It was the newly blessed Pope John XXIII, who was also a third order Franciscan
member, who proclaimed in 1959, St Lawrence of Brindisi, a doctor of the
catholic church. John also had the wisdom and courage to convene the Second Vatican
Council. This opened the door to worldwide changes, reforms and
renewals and none too soon for the people of God's church.
Recently, my wife and I visted the National Centre of Padre Pio, Inc., in Barto Pennsylvania. The car
ride was about 3 hours from Columbia, MD. It was most exciting for us and more information can be found at 2213
Old Route 100-Barto,
PA 19504, and phone: 610-845-3000. Their web site is:
There are also more Franciscan family members than any other
Catholic religious order. Their goals are to be instruments and
ambassadors of peace. Christ has generously given the gift of peace
to us but we will never be able to appreciate this gift fully unless
we imitate the life, words and actions of Jesus.
We must be
rethinking the words of Jesus often. Listen to what he said one day.
This is taken from Matthew. ďDo not suppose that my mission on earth
is to spread peace. My mission is to spread not peace, but division.
I have come to set a man at odds with his father, a daughter with
her mother, a daughter-in-law with her mother-in-law: in short, to a
manís enemies those of his own household.
How is it that
Christ can say, peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you on
the one hand and then on the other hand, he states about what seems
to be the opposite? There are really two types of peace: the peace
that God gives and the peace that the Ďworldí gives. One is false
and short-lived and the other is lasting and true.
If we are
to act in the spirit of Lawrence, in a spirit of poverty, surrender,
goodwill and abandonment to Godís holy Will, we must not hate, but
show love. When confronted with despair, hardship and lost causes,
we must retain hope. When we have doubt, we must practice more
faithfulness. Where there is darkness about us, we must show the
light of Christ in goodness and kindness.
This action no one
can do, not even St Lawrence and the saints, unless they are gifted
and graced by almighty God. And we know that God will always give
the necessary help when we turn to the blessed One. St Lawrence and
all the saints surmounted many crosses, hardships, and hostile odds.
They all achieved spiritual victory and God also permitted some
earthly ones too. We can do the same when we attempt to imitate
their virtues and goodwill toward others, pray continually as the
Spirit moves us, and live out our duties and responsibilities to the best of our abilities and strength.
Our daily mission is give
ourselves to God wholeheartedly. Who knows, this may cause a pain or
conflict with family members or loves ones. Jesus didnít say it was
going to be easy. We canít have it both ways. Some of the people in
his own town of Nazareth attempted to throw him off the cliff as he started his public mission. Some
hated Him. Jesus said give honor to God first and do not be too upset when family, friend or any others are hostile or try to kill you. Focus on the will of God primarily.
We have a
conscience. We mustnít be afraid of division. Christianity is a
contradiction; itís a cross; there is going to be misunderstanding.
Be brave; Christ overcame the world and so can we when we are
converted from our selfish ways and surrender to the ways of Jesusí
Spirit. Conversion is not a one-time event. It is a daily battle,
struggle and upward movement to the spiritual heights. We do not
like to give up our old ways. We feel comfortable and they are easy.
Itís hard to be unselfish at times. It requires sacrifice.
It is only when we possess the fullness of charity that God
allows us to feel joy through the pain and the sacrifices. Suffering
then becomes meaningful and even sought after. That is why
conversion is so important and powerful. It leads to life and the
mission that God is calling us towards. They both work together. Our
missions convert us and our daily conversion gives new meaning to
our mission. St Lawrence is a marvelous example.
Capuchin order completed a compilation of 15 volumes of Lawrence's
writings in 1956. 11 of these 15 volumes contain his sermons. I quote
from another Franciscan, Father Foley, OFM, about St Lawrence: "His
constant devotion to Scripture, coupled with great sensitivity to
the needs of people, present a life-style which appeals to the
20th-century Christians. He had a balance in his life that blended
self-discipline with a keen appreciation for the needs of those whom
he was called to serve."
We are all called to serve ourselves
and others. In fact, we can't really have a mission to serve others
unless we take care of our selves first. It has to begin with
ourselves and then extended. When we find ourselves authentically,
we will be able to help others in a genuine manner. Our mission and
conversion efforts must be continually. All have a lasting mission
as long as we live. Our hearts burn with God's love and we can offer
it to God as Jesus and Lawrence did. It matters not if we help but
one person or a million persons. God sees the intensity and quality
of our service and love to others and not necessarily the quantity.
Our spiritual light will be seen and understood by others the more
the perfect light of God dwells within us. It is a great honor to
share it with others according to the gifts that have been given
Inasmuch as the Lord keeps coming to us daily, we need to
turn those gifts around for others so that our conversion becomes a
daily event, fruitful and thankful. The more we get from God, the
more God expects us to share with others.
Living fully up to
one's potential is a tremendous daily mission and a great gift to share. The
more we mature in charity, the more charity will be tasted and
become pleasing to ourselves and others. Charity renews us, forgives
us (covers a multitude of sins) and affords us a zealous prayer-life
that St Lawrence was unmistakably imbued with during Mass and his
It is so tragic and sad that many never
reached maturity either physically or spiritually. Life is full of
surprises and each day 139,000 die because of unknown diseases or
infectious diseases. And that's only in the USA. Over 25,000
children, under five years of age, die daily because of diseases.
That is a fact of life that seems unfair and a mystery. What can we
do to change these facts?
The deaths due to spiritual
diseases are even more rampant than physical diseases. By seeking
out our mission and living it fully, we will gain peace of mind and
heart for ourselves and others. Our contributions to the human race
can be monumental when we maximize our potential. God can do it in
us. We can't do it by ourselves alone.
I have saved the best
for last regarding this holy Capuchin. In fact, another living, holy
Capuchin, Fr. Christoper Rengers, O.F.M. Cap. has written
beautifully and inspiringly about St Lawrence. His recently
published book is entitled: The 33 Doctors of the Church. It is
listed in the doctoral sources. He allocates around 35 pages on this saintly
diplomat and his works in Germany, Italy, Spain and many other
countries. Fr. Christopher rightly categories St Lawrence as "The
Perhaps no other doctor traveled so far
and spoke more languages toward the spreading of the faith as
Lawrence. As the great missionary apostle, St Paul, Lawrence's
influences are world known. His writings on Sts. Mary and Joseph
alone are entire Mariologies and Josephologies in themselves. His
preaching, popularity and miracles are vast. Rengers informs us that
it would be a hard choice to decide if Lawrence was a greater Marian
Scholar or a greater lover of the Blessed Virgin Mary. St Lawrence's
writing entitled the Mariale consist of 84 sermons and is the
outstanding Mariological work of his time. Pope John XXIII said that
that this work contains "the most complete doctrine regarding the
Mother of God"
Christopher undertook writing his book on the
doctors in 1959, the year that Pope John XXIII declared him a
doctor. Blessed John XXIII was recently declared a blessed and he
was also a Franciscan secular and a great admirer of Lawrence of
The paltry effort I have made on this website about
the doctors would hardly be but a footnote in The 33 Doctors of the
Church. It is published by TAN and Fr Christopher has filled the
stories with charming anecdotes and memorable stories. It also
includes writings on all the Doctors, and the events and happenings during their lives. No one will be disappointed with this
book. Any one story on a particular doctor is worth the value of this
book which contains about 700 inspiring pages. The author's
insights and tremendous sensitivity will greatly enrich, motivate
and bless the reader.
The following hymn is from Gather Comprehensive, a GIA Publications, Inc. CIA Publications, Inc. Chicago 1994.
Text George B. Timms, born 1910, copyright 1975, from Oxford University Press.
Sing We of the Blessed Mother
Sing we of the blessed Mother who
received the angel's word,
And obedient to the summons bore in love
the infant Lord;
Sing we of the joys of Mary at whose breast that
child was fed
Who is Son of God eternal and the everlasting
Sing we, too, of Mary's sorrows, of the sword that
pierced her through,
When beneath the cross of Jesus she his weight
of suff'ring knew,
Looked upon her Son and Savior reigning from the
Saw the price of our redemption paid to set the sinner
Sing again the joys of Mary when she saw the risen
And in prayer with Christ's apostles, waited on his promised
from on high the blazing glory of the Spirit's presence came,
heav'nly breath of God's own being tokened in the wind and flame.
Sing the greatest joy of Mary, when on earth her work was done,
And the Lord of all creation brought her to his heav'nly home:
Virgin Mother, Mary blessed, raised on high and crowned with grace,
May your Son, the world's redeemer, grant us all to see his face.
These verses form a complete mariology on Mary regarding her role with her Son in our salvation.
The following is a most comprehensive link.
The Night of the Prophet, is the story of Padre Pio from Pietrelcina on VHS tape. It can be order by calling 205-951-2194 9am-6pm at EWTN. It is approximately 90 minutes.
The below web site contains comprehensive resources on our church, faith, the bible, saints, writings, apologetics, evangelization, family issues, links, and many pertinent services. This superior and highly organized web site (see Table of Content) is a most fascinating site with beautiful prayers, devotions, and really too much to enumerate. A truly universal catholic site.
This Doctor of the Church, proclaimed by the last Pope John XXIII, was a Third Order Franciscan.