Pope Benedict said at his Wednesday general audience that the modern world needs “zealous” disciples of Christ, who will fight religious indifference with the “light and beauty” of the Gospel.
The Pope dedicated his teaching at the Vatican on March 23 to St. Lawrence of Brindisi, who was born in Italy in 1559 and was named one of the Doctors of the Church for his expertise in preaching Catholic doctrine and Sacred Scripture.
St. Lawrence is known for his “clear and tranquil” explanations of the Christian faith to his surrounding culture, the pontiff noted, particularly to those who had left the Church in the wake of the Reformation.
“Even today, the new evangelization needs well-trained, zealous and courageous apostles, so that the light and beauty of the Gospel may prevail over the cultural trends of ethical relativism and religious indifference,” he said. This effort will help transform the various ways people think about life and help them act with an “authentic Christian humanism.”
St. Lawrence, who lost his father at the age of seven, was entrusted by his mother to the care of the Franciscan Friars Minor Conventuals. He later entered the Order of Capuchins and was ordained a priest in 1582.
The saint acquired a deep knowledge of ancient and modern languages, which enabled him to “undertake an intense apostolate among various categories of people,” the Pope explained.
He was also an effective preacher, who was so well versed in the Bible and rabbinic literature “that rabbis themselves were amazed and showed him esteem and respect.”
“The success enjoyed by St. Lawrence helps us to understand that even today, as the hope-filled journey of ecumenical dialogue continues, the reference to Sacred Scripture, read in the Tradition of the Church, is an indispensable element of fundamental importance,” Pope Benedict said.
He added that even “the lowliest members of the faithful” benefited “from the convincing words of St. Lawrence, who addressed the humble in order to call everyone to live a life coherent with the faith they professed.”
The Pope then noted another prominent aspect of St. Lawrence's life, which was his tireless work to promote political and religious peace.
Popes and Catholic princes “repeatedly entrusted him with important diplomatic missions to placate controversies and favor harmony between European States, which at the time were threatened by the Ottoman Empire,” he said.
“Today, as in St. Lawrence's time, the world has great need of peace, it needs peace-loving and peace-building men and women,” Pope Benedict said. “Everyone who believes in God must always be a source of peace and work for peace.”
St. Lawrence was canonized in 1881 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1959 by Blessed John XXIII, who recognized not only the saint's personal sanctity, but his numerous contributions to biblical scholarship.
“St. Lawrence of Brindisi,” Pope Benedict said, “teaches us to love Sacred Scripture, to become increasingly familiar with it, daily to cultivate our relationship with the Lord in prayer, so that our every action, our every activity, finds its beginning and its fulfillment in Him.”