August 11 – Second Day Within the Octave of St. Laurence; Saints Tiburtius and Susanna, Martyrs
Laurence is followed today by the son of Chromatius, prefect of Rome, Tiburtius, who also suffered upon burning coals for the confession of his faith. Though forty years intervened between the two martyrdoms, it was the same Holy Spirit that animated these witnesses of Christ and suggested to them the same answer to their executioners. Tiburtius, walking upon the fire, cried out: “Learn that the God of the Christians is the only God, for these hot coals seem flowers to me.”
Equally near to the great Archdeacon stands an illustrious virgin, so bright herself as not to be eclipsed by him. A relative of both the Emperor Diocletian and the holy Pope Caius, Susanna, it is said, one day beheld the imperial crown at her feet. But she obtained a far great nobility; for, by preferring the wreath of virginity, she won at the same time the palm of martyrdom.
Now, as St. Leo remarks, on the glorious solemnity whose Octave we are keeping, if no one is good for himself alone, if the favors of Divine Wisdom profit not only the recipient, then, no one is more wise than the martyr, no eloquence can instruct the people so well as his. It is by this excellent manner of teaching that, as the Church tells us today, “Laurence enlightened the whole world with the light of his fire, and by the flames which he endured he warmed the hearts of all Christians. By the example of his martyrdom, faith is enkindled and devotion fostered in our souls. The persecutor lays no hot coals for me, but he sets me on fire with desire of my Savior.” If, moreover, and it is not mere theory to repeat it in our days, if, as St. Augustine remarks, “circumstances place a man in the alternative of transgressing a divine precept or losing his life, he too must know how to die for the love of God, rather than live at enmity with him.” Morality does not change, neither does the justice of God, who in all ages rewards the faithful, as in all ages he chastises cowards.
The Mozarabic Missal eloquently expresses the grandeur of St. Laurence’s martyrdom in this beautiful formula which precedes the Consecration on the day of this feast.
|Hosanna in excelsis: very dignum et justum est, omni quidem tempore, sed præcipue in honorem Sanctorum tuorum, nos tibi gratias, consempiterna Trinitas et consubstantialis et cooperatrix omnium bonorum Deus, et pro beatissimi Martyris tui Laurentii celeberrimodie, laudum hostias immolare. Cujus gloriosum passionis triumphum, anni circulo revolutum, Ecclesia tua læta concelebrat: Apostolis quidem tuis in doctrina supparem: sed in Domini confessione non imparem. Qui niveam illam stolam. Levitaicam, martyrii cruore purpureo decoravit: cujus cor in igne tuo, quem veneras mittere super terram, ita flammasti: ut ignem istum visibilem non sentiret: et appositas corpori flammas mentis intentione superaret: ardentemque globum fide validus non timeret.||Hosanna in the highest. It is truly meet and just, at all times, but especially in honor of thy saints, to return thanks to thee, O God, co-eternal and consubstantial Trinity, cooperator of all good things, and to offer sacrifice of praise on this illustrious day of thy most blessed martyr Laurence. The glorious triumph of whose passion brought round again by the circle of the year, the Church doth joyfully celebrate: for in teaching he was nearly equal to thine Apostles; but in the confession of Lord not unequal. He adorned the snow-white robe of the Levite with the purple of the blood of martyrdom: thou didst so inflame his heart with thy fire which thou camest to cast on the earth, that he felt not the invisible fire; by the strong purpose of his mind he overcame the flames that surrounded his body; and strong in faith, feared not the burning coal.|
|Quique craticulæ superpositus, novum sacrificium tibi semetipsum castus minister exhibuit: et veluti super aram holocausti more decoctus, saporem Domino suavitatis ingessit. In quo incomparabilis Martyr prædicordiis pariter ac visceribus medullisque liquescentibus desudavit, ac defluentia membra torreri invicta virtute patientiæ toleravit. In quo extensus ac desuper fixus, subjectis jacuit ac pependit incendiis: et holocaustum pietatis cruda coxit impietas: quæ sudorem liquescentium viscerum bibulis vaporibus suscepit. Supra quam velut super altare corpus suum, novi generis sacrificium celebrandum minister imposuit: et Levita prædicandus ipse sibi Pontifex et hostia fuit. Et qui fuerat minister dominici corporis, in offerendo semetipsum officio functus est sacerdotio.||Placed upon the gridiron, thy chaste minister offered himself a new sacrifice to thee: and burnt as a holocaust upon the altar, sent up a sweet savor to the Lord. There the incomparable Martyr, while his heart and bowels and the marrow of his bones were melting away, suffered his limbs to be roasted, with invincible virtue of patience. There stretched out he lay hanging over the fire: crude impiety broiled the holocaust of piety, and inhaled the hot vapors from the liquefying members. Thy minister laid his own body on the altar, a new kind of sacrifice to be celebrated. The praiseworthy Levite was to himself both pontiff and victim. And he who had been a minister at the offering of the Lord’s Body, in offering himself performed the office of priest.|
|Tuam igitur Domine in eo virtutem, tuamque potentiam prædicamus. Nam quis crederet corpus fragili compage conglutinatum, tantis sine te sufficere conflictibus potuisse? quis incendiorum æstibus humana æstimaret membra non cedere: nisi flagrantior a te veniens interiorem hominem lampas animasset: cujus potentia factum est, ut læta rore suo anima, coctione proprii corporis exsultaret: dum versari se Martyr præcipit, et vorari: ne et paratam coronam uno moriendi genere sequeretur: et sic lenitate cruciatuum vitalis tardaret interitus, non existeret gloriosus cornatus. Per te Dominum qui es Salvator omnium et Redemptor animarum.||It is therefore, O Lord, thy power and thy might that we praise in him. For who would believe that a body formed of fragile structure could, without thee, endure such torments? Who would not think that human members would yield before the heat of the fire, had not a fiercer flame, coming from thee, fired the interior man? By thy power it was, that the soul, rejoiced with spiritual dew, exulted at the broiling of its own body: the Martyr bade them turn him and devour him: lest he should obtain the crown by only one death; and thus, the mildness of the torments should retard life-giving death, and he should be less gloriously crowned. Through thee, our Lord, who art the Savior and Redeemer of all souls.|
The following commemoration is made of SS. Tiburtius and Susanna:
|Ant. Istorum est enim regnum cœlorum, qui contempserunt vitam mundi, et pervenerunt ad præmia regni, et laverunt stolas suas in sanguine Agni.||Ant. Theirs is the kingdom of heaven, who despising an earthly life, have obtained heavenly rewards, and washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb.|
|℣. Lætamini in Domino, et exsultate justi.||℣. Be glad in the Lord and rejoice ye just.|
|℟. Et gloriamini omnes recti corde.||℟. And glory all ye right of heart.|
|Sanctorum Martyrum tuorum Tiburtii et Susannæ nos, Domine, foveant continuata præsidia: quia non desinis propitius intueri, quos talibus auxiliis concesseris adjuvari. Per Dominum.||May the constant protection of Thy holy martyrs Tiburtius and Susanna, support us, O Lord: for Thou never ceasest mercifully to regard those whom Thou grantest to be assisted by such helps. Through, etc.|
This text is taken from The Liturgical Year, authored by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)