It’s that time of year when we gather family and friends into the back yard, pull out the cornhole set, and grill our food for dinner. It is a glorious season!
We should do these things, and do them often. And while we are doing them, we should seek the intercession of St. Lawrence. He was a 2nd-century deacon who was martyred by being roasted over a flame. While being tortured, he joyfully called out to his executors, “I’m done on this side, turn me over!” That’s why he’s the patron saint of chefs and backyard grilling.
As we engage in our fun and memorable summer rituals, it is right to keep our Catholic faith front and center. One of the ways we do this is by calling on the intercession of saints like Lawrence. But, that’s not the only way.
St. Lawrence was put to death specifically for mocking a Roman emperor. Valerian brought Lawrence before his court and instructed him to bring back all the treasure of the Church. Rather than bring back precious gold, Lawrence brought a group of poor beggars and told Valerian, “This is the Church’s treasure.” The emperor wasn’t amused and had Lawrence killed. Lawrence and the Church were most interested in caring for the poor, but Roman royalty was not.
This summer, we can seek to imitate the example of St. Lawrence by bringing God’s mercy to the poor among us. We can spend this summer engaging in works of mercy, which will help spread God’s reign and build his Kingdom on earth. Whether we help with summer literacy programs at our local library (instructing the ignorant), work with Habitat for Humanity (shelter the homeless), or make weekly visits to nursing homes (visit the sick and imprisoned), we are doing our part to establish the reign of God as Jesus instructed us.
Since summer usually brings a little more leisure time and a few more hours of daylight, we can use it to bring God’s mercy to people who need it around us.
The works of mercy are, in fact, among the most perfect God-like actions that we can take in this life. We ought to be doing them a little more, working to show God’s face to our neighbors and co-workers and strangers. That’s why St. Lawrence could have such joy while he was being grilled alive: he knew he had spent his life extending the reign of God’s infinite mercy.
Let’s figure out some ways to imitate Lawrence this summer.
The feast day of St. Lawrence is Tuesday, August 10, this year. Plan a big cookout to celebrate!
And, for what it’s worth, St. Augustine (whose feast is August 28) is the patron saint of brewers — who make that beverage that goes so well with a grilled feast!
I hope you find some truth, goodness, and beauty as you grill this summer!
Derek Rotty is a husband, father, historian, theologian, & Director of Evangelization & Discipleship at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Jackson, Tennessee. His first book, A Life of Conversion: Meeting Christ in the Gospels, is available from Our Sunday Visitor Press. Visit his website: www.derekrotty.com.