- The Holy Martyrs Archdeacon Lawrence; Sixtus, Pope Of Rome; And Others With Them
When Pope Stephen was slain (August 2), St. Sixtus, who was an Athenian by birth, was appointed in his place. Sixtus was at one time a philosopher and then became a Christian. This was a time in which the bishops of Rome were slain one after the other: to become Bishop of Rome meant to be consigned to martyrdom. Emperor Decius was determined to destroy Christianity. Pope Sixtus was quickly brought to trial, with two of his deacons–Felicissmus and Agapitus. As the three were led to prison, Archdeacon Lawrence said to the pope: “Where are you going, Father, without your son? Where, O bishop, without your archdeacon?” The pope consoled him, prophesying to Lawrence that he would undergo even greater tortures for Christ, and that he [Lawrence] would shortly take this path. And indeed, as soon as they had beheaded Sixtus and his two deacons, Lawrence was apprehended. Lawrence had presciently placed all of his affairs, and the affairs of the Church, in order. As treasurer and steward [oikonomos] of the church, he removed all of the church’s valuables to the home of the widower Cyriacus. (On that same occasion, he healed Cyriacus of a terrible head pain by the touch of his hand and restored the sight of a blind man, Crescention.) After being thrown into prison, Lawrence healed Lucillus, a prisoner of many years, of blindness; and then he baptized him. Witnessing this, Hippolytus, their jailer, was also baptized. He later suffered for Christ (August 13). Since Lawrence did not want to deny Christ–but on the contrary, advised Emperor Decius to reject his false gods–his face was beaten with stones, and his body was beaten with a scorpion (a chain with sharp teeth, and a curved handle like a scorpion’s tail). Romanus, a soldier present at the torture, converted to the Christian Faith, and was immediately beheaded. In the end, they placed Lawrence on a gridiron, naked, and lit a fire under him. Roasting in the fire, St. Lawrence thanked God and mocked the emperor for his paganism. After Lawrence gave his pure and heroic soul to God, Hippolytus removed his body under cover of night to the home of Cyriacus, and then to a cave, where Hippolytus honorably buried him. St. Lawrence, with the others, suffered in the year 258 A.D.
- Saint Hiron Hiron was a Christian philosopher. He is mentioned by St. Gregory the Theologian in his books. He died peacefully and took up his eternal habitation with the Lord.
Hymn Of Praise
The Holy Martyr, Saint Lawrence
The impious emperor asked Lawrence:
“Where are you from? What is your rank?”
To which Lawrence replied:
“From Spain, educated in Rome,
And, of the One God, a servant, I am.”
“Of the treasury of the Church, are you the guardian?”
“Of that good treasure, I am, O Emperor.”
“Give us the treasure, and your life, save!”
“The treasure of the Church is in heaven–
In the Lord Christ, if you too believe,
That treasure, you also will inherit!”
“Lawrence, renounce Christ!”
“O Emperor, renounce the idols!”
The Emperor, enraged, his servants summoned,
Who beat Lawrence and crushed him,
And on a burning grid, laid him.
“This fire, to me, is cool,
But the fire in hades is ready for you!”
“Lawrence, renounce Christ!
Do you not regret dying young?”
“Christ, on the Cross, suffered for me:
He died for me, and I will die for Him.”
With one side of his body consumed by the flames,
Lawrence, to his torturers, said:
“My body is just half cooked,
Turn me over, here is your food!
Turn me over, and cook the other side!”
He spoke and his soul departed
To the sweet heavenly mansions.
How can we overcome the antagonism of our enemies? By renunciation, meekness and prayer–renunciation in everything, except in faith and purity of life; meekness always; and prayer always. St. Ambrose writes: “This is the weapon of the righteous ones: that in retreating they conquer, just as the skillful archers are able to shoot those stronger than themselves, even as they themselves retreat.” A brother was offended by his friend, but, nevertheless, desiring peace with him, went to him to be reconciled. His friend did not even want to open the door for him and, scolding him from within, chased him away from his dwelling. The brother then complained to a spiritual elder, who said to him: “You were going to your friend to be reconciled; yet, all along the way there, you condemned him in your thoughts and justified yourself. Even though your friend sinned against you, I counsel you to establish the thought in yourself that you have sinned against him. Justify him and condemn yourself. In this manner, go to him again.” Thus, the brother proceeded. And what happened? Just as the brother approached his friend’s abode, his friend opened the door wide, ran up to him, embraced him, and made peace with him.
To contemplate the plagues that befell the Philistines because of the captured Ark of the Covenant (1 Samuel 5:6 [also known as 1 Kings 5:6]):
- How the people were afflicted with tumors [hemorrhoids], and mice devoured the crops, wherever the Philistines set down the Ark of the Covenant;
- How the Philistines, terrified, returned the Ark of the Covenant to the land of Israel;
- How the holy things of God punish those who keep them in an unclean land of idols, or in a heart defiled by passions.
About the weakness of sinful ones
“As for my people, children are their oppressors and women rule over them” (Isaiah 3:12).
All that is of God is most beautiful and most wise. Everything created by God travels obediently along the path for which God has ordained it. The stars move, animals live, and the atmospheric currents flow–all according to the order established by God. Only man, the most intelligent creature, frequently leaves the path of God, falling into ignorance and inventing strange paths according to his thinking. Because of this, it can be that children lead instead of elders, and instead of men, women rule. When children rule, oppression reigns. When women rule, disorder usually reigns. When this is permitted by God–as this does not occur unless the people sin, or by the permission of God–the people find themselves under punishment for their sins, in the same way that an enemy subdues the land in war; for all oppression is war, and every disorder is a punishment for sin. Just as oppression and disorder are able to reign in a nation, they are able to reign in the soul of man. Immature and impious thoughts are contributed by children; and physical, sensual theorizing is the contribution of women. When immature and impious thoughts prevail, they oppress man and drag him from evil to evil–like a vindictive child. When physical theorizing prevails over spiritual, masculine wisdom–which is from God–it rules over man like an evil woman. Under the spiritual concept of “women,” the prophet understands not only females, but also men with women’s weaknesses. So that children’s petulance and women’s whims do not overtake man (or a nation), it is necessary to adhere closely to the law prescribed by God for men–as all created things adhere to the law prescribed by God for them. O Lord, our Creator and our Lawgiver, illumine us and strengthen us. Illumine us with the grace of the Spirit, that we may always know Your law. Strengthen us with the power of the Spirit, that we may always adhere to Your law. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.