Life and Soul

Omnium Gatherum

Did you know that the annual Perseid meteor shower is nicknamed “the Tears of St Lawrence”? The shower occurs every year around the feast of the great deacon and martyr, August 10, when our planet zooms anew through debris in the wake of the comet Swift-Tuttle. The shower is called the “Perseids” because the meteors appear to zing out of the constellation Perseus.

If you have children, take them outside and show them the meteors, even if you have to get them out of bed. There can be some 60 per hour at the peak, so you won’t have to wait long. One of the great memories of my childhood was being roused in the dead of night in the bleak midwinter and being led out on to a frozen lake in northern Minnesota. Following my father’s pointing finger, I saw for the first time a bright comet hanging motionless in the sky, about three feet, as it seemed, over my head. Gazing upward at the beautiful stars and other celestial phenomena, like flowers in the garden of the sky, can give a child life-spanning memories – of you. Watch the streaking fireballs and tell them the story of Lawrence, the great heavenly intercessor, who in 258 was clawed with iron rakes, beaten, roasted alive on a grate, out of hatred for the Faith.

Speaking of flowers, St Augustine of Hippo preached in 417 about St Lawrence. He said: “In the Lord’s garden are to be found not only the roses of his martyrs. In it there are also the lilies of the virgins, the ivy of wedded couples, and the violets of widows. On no account may any class of people despair, thinking that God has not called them.” Most of us live simple, peaceful lives. We are nonetheless called to be witnesses, martyrs, to the love of God in our own way, according to His will. Fathers of the Church Ss Gregory the Great (d 604) and Jerome (d 420) distinguished martyrdom in three colours: red for a violent death while showing love for God and enemies, green for those who bear daily crosses and love God through self-denial and white for those who retreat from the busy world. Some, like the lately murdered Fr Jacques Hamel, are called to bloody red martyrdom.

God plants us, waters and weeds us, and then picks us where and when and how He chooses.