26thDecember St Stephen

Stephen was one of the seven deacons chosen by the Apostles after the descent of the Holy Ghost. He announced the Gospel with such zeal and power that the wrath of the Jews was enkindled, and they dragged him before the judges, and preferred false charges against him. And speaking, Stephen confessed Christ, and openly rebuked the deicides there assembled. “And hearing these things” (says the Acts of the Apostles), “they were cut to the heart; and they gnashed with their teeth at him. . . . And he said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God. And they, crying out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and with one accord rushed in violently upon him. And having cast him out of the city, they stoned him, invoking and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And kneeling down, he cried out 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.” This was a.d. 34.

A Prayer by Deacon Keith Fournier

Lord Jesus, you chose Stephen as the first deacon and martyr of your One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. The heroic witness of his holy life and death reveals your continued presence among us. Through following the example of his living faith, and by his intercession, empower us by your Holy Spirit to live as witnesses to the faith in this New Missionary Age. No matter what our state in life, career or vocation, help us to proclaim, in both word and in deed, the fullness of the Gospel to a world which is waiting to be born anew in Jesus Christ. Pour out upon your whole Church, the same Holy Spirit which animated St Stephen, Martyr, to be faithful to the end, which is a beginning of life eternal in the communion of the Trinity.

Prayer To St Stephen

Stephen, Stephen, I say:
here is a place for goodness, here is a time for mercy,
here at least is an opportunity to show charity!
For I stand continually in danger
although I do not always recognize this,
and I am the more miserable and wretched
when I forget that it is so.

For God always sees my sins,
always his severe judgment threatens
the sinfulness of my soul,
always hell gapes and its torments are ready
to snatch my wretched soul away to that place.

Thus am I placed when I wake, thus when I sleep;
I am thus when I smile, thus when I jest;
thus when I am proud, thus when I am humiliated;
thus when angry, thus when vindicated;
thus, thus I am when I miserably love
the delights of the flesh.
Thus am I then always and everywhere.

So I pray you, Stephen, make haste
before I am condemned,
before the enemies of the human race
snatch me away to torment,
before the prison of hell swallows me up,
before the torments of eternal fire consume me.

Truly my need is great
when it impels me to ask for help
even of those by whom I deserve to be punished.
But you and all the saints are so full of such wealth
from the unending fount of all goodness,
that you delight rather to free by your goodness
those whom by justice you are able to condemn.

… St Stephen, Pray for Us …

Prayer to Saint Stephen, the First Martyr

O glorious St. Stephen, first Martyr for the Faith, filled with compassion for those who invoke you, with love for those who suffer, heavily laden with the weight of my troubles.
I kneel at your feet and humbly beg you to take my present need under your special protection …(mention here). Vouch safe to recommend it to our Lord Jesus. Cease not to intercede for me until my request is granted.
Above all, obtain for me the grace to one day meet God face to face, and with you and Mary and all the angels and saints praise Him through all eternity.
O most powerful Saint Stephen, Deacon and martyr, do not let me lose my soul, but obtain for me the grace of winning my way to heaven, forever and ever.
Amen.

Prayer to Saint Stephen, the First Martyr

O glorious St. Stephen, first Martyr for the Faith, filled with compassion for those who invoke you, with love for those who suffer, heavily laden with the weight of my troubles.
I kneel at your feet and humbly beg you to take my present need under your special protection …(mention here). Vouch safe to recommend it to our Lord Jesus. Cease not to intercede for me until my request is granted.
Above all, obtain for me the grace to one day meet God face to face, and with you and Mary and all the angels and saints praise Him through all eternity.
O most powerful Saint Stephen, Deacon and martyr, do not let me lose my soul, but obtain for me the grace of winning my way to heaven, forever and ever.
Amen.

Litany of St Stephen, protomartyr

Antiphon: 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.

V. I see the heavens opened,
R. And Jesus standing on the right hand of the power of God.

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Saint Stephen, First Martyr, Pray for us.
St. Stephen, who suffered for preaching the Name of Jesus Christ, Pray for us.
St. Stephen, who so closely imitated Jesus in that great virtue of charity for thine enemies, Pray for us.
St. Stephen, who when stoned by thine enemies, didst cast forth sparks, Pray for us.
St. Stephen, not of anger, but of love, to set on fire their hearts, harder than the stones which they threw, Pray for us.
St. Stephen, having recommended thy soul to God, cried for mercy on the souls of thine enemies, Pray for us.
St. Stephen, most zealous for the glory of God, Pray for us.
St. Stephen, most patient and constant, Pray for us.
St. Stephen, pattern of chastity and purity, Pray for us.
St. Stephen, whose heavenly fortitude caused admiration in all, Pray for us.
St. Stephen, by whom so many miracles were wrought, Pray for us.
St. Stephen, who, in the love of God, was not inferior to the Apostles themselves, Pray for us.
St. Stephen, who didst convert many to the faith of Christ, Pray for us.
St. Stephen, by whom the Church has received and continues to receive such singular benefits, Pray for us.
St. Stephen, of whom it is said, that the Holy Ghost, who inhabited thy soul, shone and darted forth His rays into thy body, Pray for us.
St. Stephen, whose face shone like that of an angel, Pray for us.
St. Stephen, filled with the faith and the Holy Ghost, Pray for us.
St. Stephen, dear to the Heart of Jesus, Pray for us.
V. Obtain for us, O blessed Stephen, the virtue of holy charity:
R. For which thou wast so eminent and we are so needy
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.

Let us pray

Grant to us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, so to imitate what we revere that we may learn to love even our enemies: for we celebrate him who could even plead on behalf of his persecutors with Thy Son Our Lord Jesus Christ. Who with Thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest God, world without end. R. Amen.