Today is the Feast of St. Lawrence, the Patron Saint of Rome, who was put to death rather than give up the Faith in 258. He is best known for his manner of death which had him spread out on a grate above a fire. He is reported to have said, “Turn me over, I’m done on this side.”
My folks, who were married a hundred years ago next month, often spoke of a St. Lawrence parish in St. Louis where they attended Mass and went to dances before World War I. In the nineteen sixties I was riding around with my brother Frank when we parked opposite St. Lawrence’s grand old church. Frank left me in the car while he made a business call, and I sat there delighted: after all those years I was getting to see my parent’s favorite church. But something happened. The front doors swung open, and a moving van rolled out.
“Hey,” I shouted to a passerby, “What’s a van doing coming out of the church?” The answer came back, “Oh, people stopped coming, and it aint a church no more. It’s a warehouse.”
All over America beloved inner-city parishes are closing down, with parishioners in some cases suing bishops who say there isn’t the money to keep them open.
For bearing with such disappointments we could remember St. Ignatius Loyola. In just twenty years after the founding of his Jesuits he saw them converting pagan lands and founding great European universities. On being asked if he could put up with it if his beloved Jesuits were forced to close down, he said it would take him ten minutes alone with God to make him willingly accept whatever God lets happen.
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