My first book is now available for purchase on Amazon Kindle. It is entitled Torchbearers: Profiles in Christian Courage. It is priced at $3.99. I posted the link below.
If you like what you read on my blog, this book is very similar. If you are looking for your next devotional, this book is also for you. It is a “church history devotional.” Each of the 25 profiles have a scripture verse, bio on the saint, application and a concluding prayer. I am very excited to have this published and available to the masses. I hope you will consider purchasing it. Here is a sample. Enjoy!
LAURENCE Of ROME
The True Treasures of the Church
“Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs to the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?” James 2:5
Perhaps one of the most celebrated of all Roman martyrs, Laurence, was one of the seven deacons of Rome. He was put to death a few days after Pope Sixtus II, during the Valerian persecution. He was buried outside the road to Tivoli and the basilica of St. Laurence Outside the Walls was constructed over his tomb.
Laurence is thought to have been born in Spain, at Huesca, a town in the Aragon region. Here he encountered the future Pope Sixtus II, a highly esteemed teacher at that time. Eventually both left Spain for Rome. When Sixtus became pope in 257, he appointed Laurence a deacon. Though still young, the pope made him first among the seven deacons of Rome. He is therefore called “Archdeacon of Rome,” a position of great trust that included the care of the treasury and riches of the church and the distribution of alms among the poor.
The Roman authorities had established a norm that all Christians who had been denounced must be executed and their goods confiscated by the imperial treasury. At the beginning of August 258, the emperor Valerian issued an edict that all bishops, priests and deacons should immediately be put to death. Sixtus was captured on sixth of August 258, and was soon executed. After the death of Sixtus, the prefect of Rome demanded that Laurence hand over the riches of the Church. Laurence asked for three days to gather together the wealth. Laurence worked quickly to distribute as much wealth as he could to the poor, so as to prevent it being seized by the state. At the head of a small delegation, he presented himself to the prefect on the third day. When asked to present the treasures, he showed the prefect the poor, crippled, blind and suffering, saying that these were the true treasures of the Church. He then told the prefect, “The Church is truly rich, far richer than your emperor.” This act of defiance led to his death. On August 10, he suffered a martyr’s death. Legend has it that he was roasted alive on a gridiron. But most scholars agree he was beheaded.
Our culture celebrates the rich and powerful and when we think of treasure, we tend to think of money and material possessions. Laurence reminds us that Christ is not to be found among the rich and powerful, but among the poor and the pilgrim. These are the treasures of the Church. For our God is the “father of the fatherless and protector of widows.” (Ps. 68:5) Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves in heaven…For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:19-21). How do we store up such eternal treasure? By taking care of the poor and the destitute, the widow and orphan, and those less fortunate. It is so easy to forget about these folk. We often walk right by them on the street without giving them a second thought. But Christ reminds us that what we do for the least of these we did for Him. As James writes, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (1:27) May we take these words to heart and put them into practice. Let us store up for ourselves treasure in heaven.
Almighty and most merciful God, we remember before you all poor and neglected persons whom it would be easy for us to forget: the homeless and the destitute, the old and the sick, and all who have none to care for them. Help us to heal those who are broken in body or spirit, and to turn their sorrow into joy. Grant this, Father, for the love of your Son, who for our sake became poor, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, 826).