Thought for the Day – 26 December – St Stephen, the First Martyr

Thought for the Day – 26 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)

St Stephen, the First Martyr

“Among the original seven Deacons nominated by the Apostles, there was one name Stephen, who was outstanding for his sanctity and extraordinary spiritual gifts.
Being enlightened by God, this young man dared to rebuke the Jews in public for their hardness of heart and openly defended the doctrine of Christ, Whom he proclaimed to be the Saviour and Redeemer of the world.
One day when he was threatened by his foes, Stephen raised his eyes trustfully towards Heaven and said: “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
The Jews could no longer restrain their fury and proceeded to drag the young man outside the city.
There they left their garments in the care of a youth named Saul, while they savagely stoned Stephen to death.
Stricken to his knees by the force of the missiles, the saintly young disciple continued to look towards Heaven.
“Lord Jesus,” he cried, “receive my spirit.”
Before he breathed his last, he forgave his enemies in the manner of his divine Master.
“Lord,” he prayed, “do not lay this sin against them.”
And with these words he fell asleep (Cf Acts 7:51-60; 8:1-2).

Let us admire and imitate the courage of this Martyr.
We may never be called on, to endure a martyrdom of blood on behalf of our faith but, we shall almost certainly be obliged to undergo the martyrdom of the assault of the passions on our purity of soul, or of severe physical or mental suffering…
If we accept these trials from God with perfect resignation and love, they will certainly prove as valuable to us, as real martyrdom.
If we endure them with the courage and fortitude of St Stephen, we shall be rewarded as he was, by seeing Jesus standing at the right hand of God and offering us the palm of victory!”

Antonio Cardinal Bacci

Posted in "Follow Me", MARTYRS, QUOTES on LOVE, QUOTES on LOVE of GOD, SAINT of the DAY

Quote/s of the Day – 26 December – “Love was Stephen’s weapon …”

Quote/s of the Day – 26 December – Feast of St Stephen the ProtoMartyr and The Second Day in the Christmas Octave

“And so the love that brought Christ
from heaven to earth,
raised Stephen from earth to heaven;
shown first in the King,
it later shone forth in his soldier.”

“Love was Stephen’s weapon
by which he gained every battle
and so won the crown
signified by his name.”
(The meaning of the anme
STEPHEN is “crown/wreath”)

“His love of God
kept him from yielding
to the ferocious mob;
his love for his neighbour
made him pray for those
who were stoning him.”

“Love inspired him
to reprove those who erred,
to make them amend;
love led him to pray for those
who stoned him,
to save them from punishment.”

“Strengthened by the power of his love,
he overcame the raging cruelty of Saul
and won his persecutor on earth
as his companion in heaven.
In his holy and tireless love he longed,
to gain by prayer,
those, whom he could not convert,
by admonition.”

More here:

St Fulgentius of Ruspe (460-533)


One Minute Reflection – 26 December – “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” – Acts 7:60

One Minute Reflection – 26 December – Feast of St Stephen the ProtoMartyr and The Second Day in the Christmas Octave, Readings: Acts 6:8-107: 54-59Psalms 31:3-46 and 816 and 17Matthew 10:17-22

“Lord, do not hold this sin against them” – Acts 7:60

REFLECTION – “Let us imitate our Lord and pray for our enemies … He was crucified yet, at the same time, prayed to His Father for the sake of those who were crucifying Him. But how could I possibly imitate our Lord, one might ask? If you want to, you can. If you weren’t able to do it how could He have said: “Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart”? (Mt 11:29) …

If you have difficulty in imitating our Lord, at least imitate him who is also His servant, his deacon. I would speak of Stephen. Just as Christ, in the midst of those crucifying Him, without considering the cross, without considering His own predicament, pleaded with the Father on behalf of His tormentors (Lk 23:34), so His servant, surrounded by those who were stoning him, attacked by all, crushed beneath a hail of stones and without taking any account of the suffering they were causing him, said: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60). Do you see how the Son spoke and how His servant prayed? The former said: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,” and the latter said: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Moreover, to make us realise better the fervour with which he was praying, he did not just pray as he stood beneath the blows of the stones but he spoke on his knees with sincerity and compassion …

Christ said: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Stephen cried out: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Paul, in his turn, said: “I offer up this sacrifice for my brethren, my kin according to race” (cf. Rm 9:3). Moses said: “If you would only forgive their sin! And if you will not, then strike me out of the book that you have written!” (Ex 32:32). David said: “May your hand fall on me and my kindred,” (2 Sam 24:17). … What kind of forgiveness do we think we shall get if we ourselves do the opposite of what is asked of us and pray against our enemies, when the Lord Himself and His servants of both Old and New Testaments, direct us to pray on their behalf?” – St John Chrysostom (345-407) Father and Doctor of the Church – Sermon for Good Friday “The Cross and the bandit”

PRAYER – Grant us Your Grace, Lord God Almighty, to practise what we worship. Teach us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. As we keep the feast of Saint Stephen, may we learn from him, who learned from You and prayed, even for the men who stoned him to death. Through Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God now and forever, amen.


Our Morning Offering – 26 December – Sleep, Holy Babe

Our Morning Offering – 26 December – Feast of St Stephen the ProtoMartyr and The Second Day in the Christmas Octave

Sleep, Holy Babe
By Fr Edward Caswell C.Orat. (1814-1878)

Sleep, holy Babe, Upon Your Mother’s breast!
Great Lord of earth and sea and sky,
How sweet it is to see You lie
In such a place of rest!
Sleep, holy Babe, Your angels watch around,
All bending low with folded wings
Before th’incarnate King of kings
In rev’rent awe profound!
Sleep, holy Babe, While I with Mary gaze
In joy upon that face awhile,
Upon the loving Infant smile
Which there divinely plays.
Sleep, holy Babe,
And take Your brief repose;
Too quickly will Your slumbers break
And You to lengthened pains awake,
That death alone shall close.

Posted in SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 26 December – St Pope Dionysius (Died 268)

Saint of the Day – 26 December – St Pope Dionysius (Died 268) Bishop of Rome from 22 July 259 to his death on 26 December 268. According to early Church records, Dionysius was the first pope not Martyred for his Faith.

Historians know very little about the early life of Dionysius except that he was Greek and Italian. Though his family came from Greece, he was born in Italy sometime around 200. Some believe that he was born in the small town of Terra Nova but others think that he was born in Magna Graecia. During his early years, he used the name Dionusius, which he changed to Dionysius upon becoming Pope.

Dionysius was not the first man chosen for the next Pope after the death of Sixtus II. Pope Sixtus II was Martyred as were many other Christians at the time. It took nearly a year before Dionysius became the Pope and the Bishop of Rome.

Pope Dionysius had an easier time than Sixtus II did, mainly because of the murder of Emperor Valerian. Valerian was known for the persecution of Christians but the King of Persia issued orders in 260 that led to his capture and murde. Gallienus then became Emperor and issued orders that called for the tolerance of Christians. The new Emperor helped rebuild churches and allowed Christians to practice again. This period became known as the Little Peace of the Church, which lasted for nearly four decades.

Though his predecessor ruled for less than one year, Pope Dionysius reigned for more than nine years and a total of 3,445 days. He was likely in his late 50s when he assumed the throne and in his late 60s when he died. Due to his age, many historians believe that he died of old ages or natural causes. As with previous popes, the Church had his body interred in the Cemetery of Callistus. Many recognise him as a calm and peaceful man who worked hard to reorganise the Church after the many years of persecution and to care for the Christians under his care, in his role as the Holy Vicar of Christ.

Posted in MARTYRS, SAINT of the DAY

Memorials of the Saints – 26 December

St Stephen the ProtoMartyr (c 05-c 34) (Feast) The Second Day in the Christmas Octave
St Stephen’s Story:

St Abadiu of Antinoë
Bl Agata Phutta Bi
Bl Agnès Phila
St Amaethlu of Anglesey
St Archelaus of Mesopotamia
Bl Bibiana Khamphai
Bl Cecilia Butsi
Bl Daniel of Villiers
St Pope Dionysius (Died 268)
St Euthymius of Sardis
St Evaristo of Constantinople
Bl Giovanni Orsini
Bl Jean of Hainaut
Bl Lucie Khambang
St Margaret of Hohenfels
Bl Maria Phon
Bl Marinus of Rome
Bl Paganus of Lecco
Bl Pierre Boffet
St Tathai of Wales
St Theodore the Sacristan
St Vincenza Maria Lopez (1847- 1890)
St Zeno of Gaza
St Pope Zosimus