AnneMarie Miller discusses three lessons married couples can learn from the example of St. Lawrence.
Throughout childhood, I thought of St. Lawrence only for a comment he made while being martyred on a grill. I knew he was a deacon in the early Church, but I didn’t think much of this saint or what I could learn from him. It wasn't until I was preparing for marriage that I was truly impacted by this saint.
For various reasons, my wedding was scheduled for August 10, the Feast of St. Lawrence. Initially, I didn't think much of this, aside from the fact that I was excited to be married on a saint's feast day. However, when my fiancé and I visited Rome during the spring before our wedding, we were able to visit the Basilica of St. Lawrence Outside the Walls. As we prayed before his tomb and heard about this saint's life, I began thinking more intently about his example.
In the years of our marriage following this pilgrimage, I have continued to reflect on the significance of St. Lawrence's feast coinciding with our anniversary. I've come to realize that there are specific ways in which all married couples can learn from his life and witness.
He models a life of service.
St. Lawrence a deacon in Rome during the third century. The word "deacon" comes from the Greek word, "diakonos," which means "servant" or "helper." Sacred Scripture recounts how deacons served the needs of widows in the early Church (see Acts 6:1-6). Thus, as a deacon, St. Lawrence's life was dedicated to serving the poor and needy. I may have a different role from St. Lawrence since I'm a wife and mother, but my life still needs to be full of service and selfless love. I may not be called to dedicate my entire life and ministry to serving the poor and needy in my city, but I am called to love and serve my husband, family, and community each day.
He exemplifies the devotion and sacrificial love that we are called to.
St. Lawrence was appointed a deacon by Pope Sixtus II, and worked closely with the Holy Father in bringing the Faith to the people of Rome. During the persecutions under the Emperor Valerian, Pope Sixtus was put to death, and just a few days later, St. Lawrence was killed as well. This deacon's enthusiasm to work with the Pope and bring others to God is a great reminder that not only do we need to grow closer to God, but we need to bring others to Him as well. As a married woman, I need to bring myself and my husband closer to God. Furthermore, through our teaching and example, we bring our children closer to God, too. I may not face physical martyrdom like St. Lawrence, but each day, I have opportunities when I can die to myself and sacrifice for my husband.
He shows us the importance of joy and humor.
St. Lawrence is famously known for his remark about being “done on this side” while he was grilled alive. Even at the brink of death, his peaceful joy shone through. In Scripture, "joy" is listed as a fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23), and St. Lawrence certainly possessed this joy! Thinking about this saint's humor and lightheartedness in the face of intense persecution and suffering, I ponder how these traits are vital in marriage, as well.. Every married couple undergoes trials and difficulties together. It is vital to trust in the Lord and live under the guidance of the Holy Spirit -- and it’s also good to not take ourselves too seriously. Humor has a way of bringing calmness into stressful situations, and it’s even been scientifically proven that laughter is healthy!
We are so blessed to be able to learn from the lives of the saints. While there are many wonderful married saints we can look to for inspiration and guidance, all saints can teach us how to seek God and grow in sacrificial love. St. Lawrence, pray for us and all married couples!
Copyright 2020 AnneMarie Miller
Image: Pixabay (2015)
About the Author
A bibliophile, wife, mother of young children, and lover of the Liturgy, AnneMarie Miller enjoys exploring the manifold—and quirky—ways in which God speaks. She can often be found reading books to her kids, burrowing her toes in the red Oklahoma dirt, or sipping black coffee. Her reflections on Catholicism, literature, and hope can be found on her blog, Sacrifice of Love.