Kelly Guest recounts the story of St. Lawrence and explores the gift of laughter.
Laughter is a gift from God. None of His other creatures have the wonderful ability to laugh. I am sure that a good sense of humor is one of God's ways to help lighten the burden that life can sometimes bring.
One of my favorite things to do is watch a good stand-up comedian with friends and family. There are a few my family really enjoys watching: Tim Hawkins, Taylor Mason, and Frank King. Google any one of them if you are in need of a good laugh.
A good comedian can see the humor in everyday life. They help us to take the situations in which we find ourselves often exasperated, step back, look at it in the bigger picture, and see the funny side of that very same exasperating situation. A good comedian helps us laugh at, well, ourselves. It is a good thing not to take ourselves too seriously. After all, is not God ultimately in control of every situation we find ourselves in?
Which leads me to today's saint. Today, August 10, is the feast day of one of my favorite saints, St. Lawrence, the patron saint of comedians (and in the Church's own sense of humor, patron of chefs and cooks, as well)! By having so much trust in God's Divine Providence, he could keep his sense of humor even in the most dire of situations.
St. Lawrence was the archdeacon of Rome under Pope St. Sixtus II during the persecution of Emperor Valerian. As an archdeacon, St. Lawrence was in a position of great trust. It was his responsibility to disperse help from the Church to the poor, sick and needy. When the Pope was arrested by Roman authorities while saying Mass, St. Lawrence wanted very much to be lead away with his holy father. "In three days, you will follow me," Pope Sixtus assured him.
Lawrence began to give away all the wealth at his disposal. When Christians were executed, all their goods were confiscated for the emperor's treasury. Therefore, Lawrence even sold some objects in order to be able to give even more to the poor. Valuable vessels (not in terms of money but in sentiments), he sent away for safekeeping. When the prefect of Rome demanded that Lawrence gather all the treasure of the church to lay before him, St. Lawrence asked for three days' time, noting that "the Church is truly rich, far richer than your emperor."
When his time was up, Lawrence appeared before the prefect with the poor, the sick, the widows and orphans of Rome. "This is the Church's treasure!" he declared.
Apparently the prefect did not have the wisdom or sense of humor to appreciate Lawrence's gesture. Instead, for his insolence towards the Roman Emperor, Lawrence was sentence to be roasted "little by little" on the gridiron, as opposed to beheaded as was the custom. Still, with his sense of humor on the gridiron, after, literally, facing the fire for a good long time, Lawrence declared, "I am well-done on this side. You can turn me over." The incredible trust in God's Providence and the burning fire of love inside him allowed Lawrence to laugh even as he was being tortured! A miracle of great grace.
After praying for the conversion of Rome, St. Lawrence said, "It is cooked enough now," and died a martyr's death.
St. Lawrence and other good comedians teach us to see the humor in tough situations, everyday situations, almost any situation we find ourselves in.
St. Teresa of Avila, once, after being thrown from her horse on her way to visit a convent and finding herself sitting in the middle of a huge mud puddle, looked to heaven and said, "If this is the way you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few!"
My own mother, upon examining the results of the reconstruction surgery after her battle with breast cancer, declared to us, "Well, now I have a 20-year-old boob and a 60-year-old boob!"
The grace of a sense of humor enables us to laugh at ourselves and to appreciate the bright side of life. Through the gift of laughter, the yoke becomes easy and the burden light. Praise the Lord for his gift of humor.
St. Lawrence, pray for us.
Copyright 2022 Kelly Guest
Originally published on CatholicMom.com in August 2015.
About the Author
Kelly Guest was blessed to be a Dominican Sister of St. Cecilia for five years. There she received the many graces she draws upon today as a wife and mother of nine children. Wishing to share with other moms encouragement on our quest to become holy through motherhood, she blogs at Nun2Nine.com and CatholicMom.com. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram @nun2nine. Kelly's book, Saintly Moms: 25 Stories of Holiness, is due out October 1, 2021.