Transparent with Temporalities

El Escorial
designed as a gridiron to honor St. Lawrence

We read in the Acts of the Apostles about the origin of the diaconate. Deacons took on the duty of administering the Church’s earthly goods, so that the Apostles could focus on the Word of God.

The deacon St. Lawrence administered the temporal goods of the Church in Rome. In AD 258, the Emperor Valerian ordered that all those goods be confiscated, and all the clergy executed.

St. Lawrence asked for three days to gather the Church’s possessions. He gave everything away to the poor. Then, when the Roman prefect asked Lawrence for the goods, the deacon pointed to a group of poor people and said: “Here is the Church’s treasure.”

Titian Martyrdom of St. Lawrence

On August 10, they burned Lawrence alive on a gridiron. Halfway through, Lawrence said: “Turn me over. I’m done on this side.”

Anyone ever visited Spain? King Philip II won a decisive victory over the French on St. Lawrence’s feast day in 1557. So the king ordered his palace built in the shape of a gridiron, in honor of the deacon martyr. The Escorial.

In my mind, a contrast immediately emerges: St. Lawrence’ faithful stewardship of the Church’s treasure, unto death. Versus: something we learned about recently. Two New-Jersey bishops entering into secret settlements with victims of Theodore McCarrick’s sexual abuse, apparently in order to protect the reputation of a criminal. So far no bishop has explained why this happened.

St. Lawrence intercedes in heaven on behalf of a lot of classes of people: the people of Rome, the people of Canada, the poor, students, firefighters, miners, chefs, roasters, and comedians. Let’s beg him to intercede for us, too: American Catholics looking for leadership in the wake of the McCarrick scandal. And not finding any. Looking for a just resolution to this case. And not finding any hope that justice will be done.

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