Matins/Office of Readings of the Divine Office
From a sermon by St. Lawrence of Brindisi, priest and Doctor
Preaching is an apostolic duty
There is a spiritual life that we share with the angels of heaven and with the divine spirits, for like them we have been formed in the image and likeness of God. The bread that is necessary for living this life is the grace of the Holy Spirit and the love of God. But grace and love are nothing without faith, since without faith it is impossible to please God. And faith is not conceived unless the word of God is preached. Faith comes through hearing, and what is heard is the word of Christ. The preaching of the word of God, then, is necessary for the spiritual life, just as the planting of seed is necessary for bodily life.
Christ says: The sower went out to sow his seed. The sower goes out as a herald of justice. On some occasions we read that the herald was God, for example, when with a living voice from heaven he gave the law of justice to a whole people in the desert.
On other occasions, the herald was an angel of the Lord, as when he accused the people of transgressing the divine law at Bochim, in the place of weeping. At this all the sons of Israel, when they heard the angel's address, became sorrowful in their hearts, lifted up their voices, and wept bitterly. Then again, Moses preached the law of the Lord to the whole people on the plains of Moab, as we read in Deuteronomy. Finally, Christ came as God and man to preach the word of the Lord, and for the same purpose he sent the apostles, just as he had sent the prophets before them.
Preaching therefore, is a duty that is apostolic, angelic, Christian, divine. The word of God is replete with manifold blessings, since it is, so to speak, a treasure of all goods. It is the source of faith, hope, charity, all virtues, all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, all the beatitudes of the Gospel, all good works, all the rewards of life, all the glory of paradise: Welcome the word that has taken root in you, with its power to save you.
For the word of God is a light to the mind and a fire to the will. It enables man to know God and to love him. And for the interior man who lives by the Spirit of God, through grace, it is bread and water, but a bread sweeter than honey and the honeycomb, a water better than wine and milk. For the soul it is a spiritual treasure of merits yielding an abundance of gold and precious stones. Against the hardness of a heart that persists in wrongdoing, it acts as a hammer. Against the world, the flesh and the devil it serves as a sword that destroys all sin.
Saint Lawrence 1559 - 1619 was born in 1559 at Brindisi, Kingdom of Naples. He was educated by the Conventual Franciscans there and by his uncle at St. Mark's in Venice. At 16, he entered the Capuchin Friars at Verona. He pursued his higher studies in theology, philosophy, Sacred Scripture, along with several languages including Greek, Hebrew at the University of Padua. He was ordained a priest and taught theology to his fellow religious. He became the definitor general of his order in Rome in 1596 and would hold this position five times. He became famous throughout Europe as an effective and forceful preacher.
He was sent to Germany with Bl. Benedict of Urbino to combat Lutheranism. They founded friaries at Prague, Vienna and Gorizia. At the request of Emperor Rudolf II, Lawrence helped raise an army among the German rulers to fight against the Moslems, who were threatening to conquer all of Hungary. Lawrence became its chaplain as it was about to march against the Moslems. The Battle of Lepanto had only temporarily checked the Moslem invasion. Mohammed III had conquered a large art of Hungary. The emperor, determined to prevent a further advance, sent Lawrence to appeal to the German princes to join the imperial army to stop the Turks. He was successful recruiting the Germans and the daring attack against Moslem-held Albe-Royal in 1601 was on with 18,000 Christian soldiers against 80,000 Turks. In battle, Lawrence rode on horseback, crucifix in hand and took the lead in the battle, which drew an inspired army with him. The city was finally taken and the Turks lost 30,000 men. Many attributed the ensuing victory to Lawrence.
In 1602 Lawrence was elected vicar general of the Capuchins and was sent to Spain as a papal nuncio to the court of Maximilian of Bavaria. There he served as peacemaker in several royal disputes. In 1618 he was called again to meet with King Philip of Spain, but while there, he suffered from heat and exhaustion and at the age of 60, he died at Lisbon in 1619. Saint Lawrence wrote a commentary on Genesis and several treatises against Luther, but his main writing are in the nine volumes of his sermons. He was canonized in 1881 and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope John XXII in 1959. The above is one of his sermons.