Friday, August 10, 2012

The Story of St. Lawrence Told in Antiphons

Mural from the portico of the Basilica of St. Lawrence Outside the Walls.

Some days the Breviary antiphons tell a story.  Today's Feast of St. Lawrence is one of those days. Rather than betraying the Church or denying Christ in the persecution of Valerian in 258, Lawrence was roasted on a gridiron, famously saying, "I am done on this side, you can turn me over."  The antiphons take up the story as Lawrence encounters Pope Sixtus, who is being led to his execution.
Father, whither goest thou * without thy son? Holy Priest, where dost thou go without a deacon?

I do not leave thee, * my son, nor forsake thee, but a sterner struggle awaits thee for the faith of Christ.

Blessed Laurence said: The Darkness is no darkness with me, but all is as clear as the light.

They laid him * on the gridiron and stretched out his limbs: Christ’s Levite mocked those who brought fuel.

When I was asked, * I acknowledged thee to be the Lord; now that I am roasted, I give thee thanks.

The Levite Laurence, when roasted in the flames, did not deny the Lord.

Blessed Laurence prayed, saying, I thank You, Lord, for You have made me worthy to enter into Your gates.
-The Antiphons of Vigils

On the gridiron, O God, * I did not deny You. * When I was stretched over the flames, O Christ, * I bore witness to You. * You searched my heart, * You visited me by night, * You tested me, and found no wrong.

-Benedictus Antiphon
The deacon Lawrence * performed a good work; by the sign of the cross he gave sight to the blind, * and to the poor he gave the riches of the Church.

-Magnificat Antiphon for the Feast of St. Lawrence