The First Martyr
THERE is good reason to believe that St. Stephen was one of the seventy-two disciples of our blessed Lord. After the Ascension he was chosen one of the seven deacons. The ministry of the seven was very fruitful; but Stephen especially, "full of grace and fortitude, did great wonders and signs among the people." Many adversaries rose up to dispute with him, but "they were not able to withstand the wisdom and the spirit that spoke." At length he was brought before the Sanhedrim, charged, like his divine Master, with blasphemy against Moses and against God. He boldly upbraided the chief priests with their hard-hearted resistance to the Holy Ghost and with the murder of the "Just One." They were stung with anger, and gnashed their teeth against him. But when, "filled with the Holy Ghost and looking up to heaven, he cried out, 'Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God,' they rushed upon him, and dragging him forth without the city, they stoned him to death"
Reflection. —If ever you are tempted to resentment, pray from your heart for him who has offended you. you!
Lives Of The Saints By Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. Edition www.globalgrey.co.uk
Prayers and Reading for Today’s MASS
Introit • Ps. 118, 23, 86. 23
Princes sat, and spoke against me; and the wicked persecuted me: help me O Lord my God, for Thy servant was employed in Thy justifications. Ps. 118, 1. Blessed are the undefiled in the way: who walk in the law of the Lord. Glory be …
Grant us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, to imitate what we venerate, that we may learn to love even our enemies; for we celebrate the birth to life everlasting of him who knew how to pray even for his persecutors to our Lord Jesus Christ, Who with Thee.
Epistle • Act. 6, 8-10; 7, 54-59
Lesson from the Acts of the Apostles.
In those days, Stephen, full of grace and fortitude, did great wonders and signs among the people. Now there arose some of that which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of them that were of Cilicia and Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit that spoke. Now hearing these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed with their teeth at him. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looking up steadfastly to heaven, saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. And he said: Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
And they crying out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and with one accord ran violently upon him. And casting him forth without the city, they stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, invoking, and saying: Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And falling on his knees, he cried with a loud voice, saying: Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep in the Lord.
Gradual • Ps. 118, 23, 86, 117
Princes sat, and spoke against me; and the wicked persecuted me. Help me. O Lord, my God: save me for Thy mercy’s sake.
Alleluia, alleluia. Acts 7, 56. I see the heavens opened, and Jesus standing at the right hand of the power of God. Alleluia.
Gospel • Matt. 23, 34-39
Continuation of the Holy Gospel According to St. Matthew.
[Christ admonishes the people to follow the good doctrine, not the bad example of the scribes and Pharisees. He warns his disciples not to imitate their ambition and denounces divers woes against them for their hypocrisy and blindness.]
At that time, Jesus said to the scribes and Pharisees. Behold I send to you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them you will put to death and crucify, and some you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city: That upon you may come all the just blood that hath been shed upon the earth, from the blood of Abel the just, even unto the blood of Zacharias the son of Barachias, whom you killed between the temple and the altar.
Amen I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered together thy children, as the hen doth gather her chickens under her wings, and thou wouldest not? Behold, your house shall be left to you, desolate. For I say to you, you shall not see me henceforth till you say: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
Offertory • Acts 6, 5: 7, 59
The apostles chose Stephen, a levite, full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, who the Jews stoned, praying and saying: Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Alleluia.
Receive our gifts, O Lord, for the commemoration of Thy saints, that, as suffering hath made them glorious, so devotion may render us blameless. Through our Lord.
Communion • Acts 7, 56, 59, 60
I see the heavens opened, and Jesus standing on the right had of the power of God: Lord Jesus, receive my spirit, and lay not this sin to their charge.
May the mysteries we have received aid us, O Lord; and by the intercession of blessed Stephen, thy martyr, may they confirm us in Thine everlasting protection. Through our Lord.