St. Lawrence Justinian
Lawrence was born in Venice, Italy, in 1381. His mother sometimes thought her son was aiming too high. He always told her that he wanted to become a saint. When he was nineteen, he felt he should serve God in a special way. He asked the advice of his uncle, a holy priest of the community of St. George. "Do you have the courage to turn down the delights of the world and to live a life of penance?" asked his uncle. Lawrence was quiet a long time. Then he looked up at a crucifix and said, "You, O Lord, are my hope. In this cross there is comfort and strength."
His mother wanted him to marry, but Lawrence joined the community of St. George. His first assignment was to go out among the people of his city and seek donations for the support of the order. Lawrence was not ashamed to beg. He realized that the offerings of money or goods would help God's work. He even went in front of his own home and asked charity. His mother would try to fill up his sack with food, so that he could go back to the monastery early. But Lawrence would only accept two loaves of bread and then would be off to the next house. In this way, he learned how to make little acts of self-denial and grew very dear to God.
One day a friend of his came to try to persuade Lawrence to leave the monastery. Instead, the saint spoke of how short life is and how wise it is to live for heaven. His friend was very impressed and was persuaded to become a religious himself.
Later, Lawrence was made a bishop, even though he was not happy about it. His people soon learned what a kind and holy man their bishop was. Crowds came to him for help every day. When he was dying, he would not lay on a soft bed. "That shall not be!" he exclaimed humbly. "My Lord was stretched out on a hard and painful tree." St. Lawrence Justinian died in 1455.
Reflection: How has my life of faith challenged me to be courageous?