Monday, December 26, 2011

St. Stephen Being Led to His Martyrdom,  Fra Angelico

     Today is the feast of St. Stephen, the Proto-Martyr (or first witness). His courage and conviction are clearly show to us in the Book of Acts, chapters  6 and 7.  His faithful witness ultimately won to Christ one of his own murderers, the great Apostle, St. Paul. 

Coronation of St. Stephen, Annibale Carracci

     Although it is not his feast day,  it was also on this day that, according to legend,  Saint Wenceslas I , Duke of Bohemia (in the area of the modern day Czech Republic) trudged out on a snowy night to feed the poor.  This charitable ruler was renowned for such acts of generosity, as the 12th-century author of the Cosmas of Prague recounts:

      But his deeds I think you know better than I could tell you; for, as is read in his Passion, no one doubts that, rising every night from his noble bed, with bare feet and only one chamberlain, he went around to God’s churches and gave alms generously to widows, orphans, those in prison and afflicted by every difficulty, so much so that he was considered, not a prince, but the father of all the wretched.

St. Stephen and St. Wenceslas, pray for me that I might, by the power of the Holy Spirit, grow in charity, generosity, and compassion.  Help me to give even when it is not easy or convenient; make me more aware of the needs of the people who surround me in my daily life.  May all of my giving be done as if I were giving to Jesus Himself.  In His service, you were willing to offer even your lives.  Pray for me that I may offer myself as completely to God as you did.

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