The Treasure of the Church

St Lawrence, whose feast we keep today, was one of the seven deacons of Rome martyred during the persecution of Valerian in 258. When the prefect of Rome demanded that he should give up the treasure of the Church, Lawrence asked for three days in which to gather it together (or so St Ambrose says). When the day came to deliver it up, he presented the poor, the disabled, and the needy. They, he said, were the treasure of the Church.

As someone who loves the artistic and cultural riches of the Church, its intellectual and musical wealth, I find Lawrence’s action a challenge. I don’t myself think we should divest the Church of everything material, but it is a powerful reminder of the importance of what we in the monastery call ‘detachment’. We are stewards for a short while, and it is important that we should be honest and trustworthy, not storing up treasure for ourselves on earth but treasure in heaven through generous and selfless service of the poor and needy. Poverty and neediness take many forms, and are not always to be identified with material want. Indeed, spiritual poverty can lead to terrible evils, as we saw yesterday in the life of St Teresa Benedicta and all those destroyed by the Nazis.

So, the question for today is: how am I to serve, who are the poor and needy I must reach?


5 thoughts on “The Treasure of the Church”

  1. Wonderful thoughts. Our Church hordes old sound systems, projection material and too many other things members of the congregation have decided the church needs and they don’t need-I know we need to clear ou the cluttert so His work can be done effectively. On the artistic side, many churches have priceless plate stored at the bank and never used. I have a problem with burying the Church’s talents in the ground where they don’t earn interest. If we have great and beautiful things they should b part of the churche’s very fabric drawing poeple in to Him and if they fail to do this they should be sold and the proceeds used to care foe the poor and needy. Some may say but the insurance and security- isn’t that what Les Miserables was all about? Finally, if like St Lawerence, the Church were required to produce the poor and the needy depending on the congregation, I wonder if this would be a three day exercise?

  2. I attended the funeral of my cousin yesterday. She had been fighting cancer for some years and died last month. Her funeral was well attended and the church was packed with people of all generations and races. It was a lovely Christian service which I found strangely uplifting and joyful. At the reception afterwards in conversation with with an elderly lady and her middle aged daughter I learned of some of the many acts of kindness my cousin had showed them over the years
    She would have been one of the treasures St Lawrence would have presented to the prefect of Rome had she been living at that time in his parish!St Lawrence was quite right the treasures in the Kingdom of Heaven are not those rich in material possessions.Like all treasures too they are hidden away from view and on rare occasions is there splendour put on show.
    Thank you Lord for Cousin Stella and her life well lived in your service.

  3. It’s not always just the act of love that sends a sweet fragrance around God’s house, but also the precious gifts we put aside especially for the love of Him. Such things are a curiosity and draw people into His house. As long as they serve as an embrace of love and not a distraction, then I am sure they are pleasing to Him. If a whole years worth of oil (or more) was deemed worthy to pour over Jesus, then we have been given a measure of love that we too can pour without being plied with a guilt trip.

    If such an act of love draws others to Jesus and they then go on to provide for the poor, then the act of love has been multiplied many times over.

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