Friday, June 29, 2007


Justice is the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give proper due to God and neighbor. “Justice toward God is called the ‘virtue of religion.’ Justice toward men disposes one to respect the rights of each and to establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and to the common good.” (1)

Patristic tradition held that the cardinal virtues, like justice, all work together; so that there is no true justice unless it is prudent, strong, and temperate. Thus justice, prudence, fortitude, and temperance are known as “hinge” virtues.

SAINT OF THE MONTH - Lawrence of Brindisi

Patron of Conversions and Missions
Feast Day –July 21

Our saint for July is an exemplar of this patristic tradition. He strove for justice in his work with Catholics and non-Catholics and did so with fortitude, prudence and temperance.

St. Lawrence was born Julius Caesar Russo in 1559, in the kingdom of Naples. During his 60 years of life, he focused on evangelizing and bringing the Truth to people in lands hostile to and unfamiliar with Catholicism. He sought justice in all of these efforts and as a peacemaker between warring Christian factions in the capacity of a papal emissary. His own devotion to the Eucharist and to Our Lady imbued him with the desire to travel the known world to bring the Good News to the unsaved.

His parents died early in his life, and an uncle supervised his studies in Venice with the Clerics of St. Mark’s. He entered the Order of Capuchins in 1575 as Brother Lorenzo and soon was recognized for his extraordinary gifts of intellect and spirit. He completed his studies and was ordained in 1582.

“Owing to his wonderful memory he mastered not only the principal European languages, but also most of the Semitic tongues. It was said he knew the entire original text of the Bible. Such a knowledge, in the eyes of many, could be accounted for only by supernatural assistance…” (2)

He was named Chaplain to the Imperial Army in 1601 and undertook a crusade against the Turks who had conquered much of Hungary. Lawrence was then sent as a deputy to the German princes for their cooperation in halting further Turkish advances. The resulting battle pitted 18,000 Christian men against 80,000 Turks. Lawrence, himself, led the army on horseback holding a crucifix in hand shouting “Victory is ours” and inspiring the hesitant generals to action. Although placed in a most vulnerable position, he was miraculously not wounded; and, after a 2 day battle at Albe-Royal, the Christian army was victorious. This was attributed to the presence of St. Lawrence. (3)

In 1602 St. Lawrence was elected Minister General of his Order. He preached throughout Europe, bringing back to the Faith persons in Protestant land. He converted Jews who thought he himself must have been a convert from Judaism to Catholicism because of his linguistic gifts. He was instrumental in organizing the Catholic League to provide solidarity for the Catholic nations in Europe.

“In the life of St. Laurence of Brindisi, we see a man full of the courage and daring of Christ whose spirit carried him throughout the long and arduous years that he was engaged in a most trying apostolate. Of him it can be truly said that he possessed the special gifts that adorned the Churches' first Apostles and men were moved to the practice of virtue more by his example than by his words. Especially noticeable in Laurence's approach to life was his spirit of fortitude which enabled him to announce the Good News fearlessly and constantly, even among the very Jews of Rome. Laurence's power and effectiveness as a preacher which was witnessed to the Christian life derived from the intense interior life he managed to observe during the course of his busy life.” (4)

St. Lawrence died in Lisbon in 1619, was canonized in 1881, and was declared a Doctor of the Universal Church in 1959. It has been said that his writings may exceed all other Doctors. These include 8 volumes of sermons, 2 treatises on oratory, a commentary on Genesis and one on Ezechiel, along with 3 volumes of religious polemics.


“He will proclaim justice”

The law of the Gospel is given in order to rid human beings of ignorance and the vices; to enlighten them with knowledge of God, themselves, and good and evil; to make them perfect in the holy virtues and unimpeachable morals; and finally to bestow upon them unending happiness and everlasting blessedness. Thus the Gospel rids them of errors; it enlighten them with knowledge of the truth, showing them “what the good and acceptable and perfect will of God is”; it brings to completion charity, which is the “bond that makes perfect,” and shows the way to eternal happiness, namely, “by being children of your Father who is in heaven.”

"Because the initial light brought incomplete daylight, God created the sun which brought complete daylight. In like manner, because the law brought no one to perfection, God gave the supremely perfect law of the Gospel. This divine law of charity was observed by human beings like us: the apostles and martyrs under the regime of the Gospel, David, and the prophets under the law of Moses, the patriarchs under the law of nature. Why cannot we observe it with the grace and help of the Holy Spirit, Christ, and God? The commandments of God are not impossible but perfect. Christ sets apart and separates his faithful from Gentiles and tax collectors, because the former lack faith, while the latter are without justice and light of virtue. True Christians have both faith and justice; they hear God’s Word and keep it; they esteem the grace of Christ, their leader and Lord, above all else; they hope for everlasting salvation and desire it above everything." (5)

“God is love, and all his operations proceed from love. Once he wills to manifest that goodness by sharing his love outside himself, then the Incarnation becomes the supreme manifestation of his goodness and love and glory. So, Christ was intended before all other creatures and for his own sake. For him all things were created and to him all things must be subject, and God loves all creatures in and because of Christ. Christ is the first-born of every creature, and the whole of humanity as well as the created world finds its foundation and meaning in him. Moreover, this would have been the case even if Adam had not sinned.”
(St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Doctor of the Universal Church, Capuchin Educational Conference, Washington, D.C.) (6)


Lord, for the glory of your name and the salvation of souls you gave Lawrence of Brindisi courage and right judgment.
By his prayers, help us to know what we should do and give us the courage to do it.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
(Opening prayer for July 21 Liturgy)


1. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1991 Article VII,#1807
2. Catholic Encyclopedia
5. Magnificat Vol.9,No.5, pages 303-04