Monday, August 10, 2015

"the sort of thing he received at that table, that sort of thing he prepared [to offer]"

     “How glorious a wreath is worn by Lawrence the martyr, and with what a multitude of virtues it is adorned, as with a variety of flowers, the whole city of Rome can testify.  It was in that Church, you see, as you have regularly been told, that he performed the office of deacon; there that he administered the sacred chalice of Christ’s blood; there that he shed his own blood for the name of Christ.
     “He had been prudent as he approached the table of a potentate; that table about which the Proverbs of Solomon were just now speaking to us, where it is written, If you sit down to dine at the table of a potentate, observe what is set before you; and so stretch out your hand, knowing that it behooves you to prepare similar dishes (Prv 23:1-2 LXX).  Saint Lawrence understood this, brothers and sisters, and he did it; and he undoubtedly prepared things similar to what he received at that table.  He loved Christ in his life, he imitated him in his death.  And we too, brothers and sisters, if we truly love him, let us imitate him [(Intellexit hoc, fratres, sanctus Laurentius; intellexit, ac fecit:  et prorsus qualia sumpsit in illa mensa, talia praeparavit.  Amavit Christum in vita sua, imitatus est eum in morte sua.  Et nos ergo, fratres, si veraciter amamus, imitemur)].  After all, we won’t be able to offer a better proof of love than by imitating his example.  For Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example, so that we might follow in his footsteps (1 Pt 2:21).  In this sentence the apostle Peter appears to have seen that Christ suffered only for those who follow in his footsteps, and that Christ’s passion profits none but those who follow in his footsteps.  The holy martyrs followed him, to the shedding of their blood, to the similarity of their sufferings.  The martyrs followed, but they were not the only ones.  It’s not the case, I means to say, that after they had crossed, the bridge was cut; or that after they had drunk, the fountain dried up.
     “. . . what hope for all of us, if the only ones who follow Christ are those who shed their blood for him? . . .
     “That garden of the Lord’s, brothers and sisters, includes, yes it includes, it certainly includes not only the roses of martyrs, but also the lilies of virgins, and the ivy of married people, and the violets of widows.  There is absolutely no kind of human beings, dearly beloved, who need to despair of their vocation; Christ suffered for all [(Habet, habet, fratres, habet hortus ille dominicus, non solum rosas martyrum, sed et lilia virginum, et conjugatorum hederas, violasque viduarum.  Prorsus, dilectissimi, nullum genus hominum de sua vocatione desperet:  pro omnibus passus est Christus)].  It was very truly written about him:  who wishes all men to be saved, and to come to the acknowledgment of the truth (1 Tm 2:4).
     “So let us understand how Christians ought to follow Christ, short of the shedding of blood, short of the danger of suffering death.”

     St. Augustine, Sermo 304.1-3, as translated by Edmund Hill in WSA III/8 (1994), pp. 316-317;  PL 38, col. 1395-1396.

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