Leading the great saints who radiate from the Christ-Child is St. Stephen, whose feast is December 26.
First of the martyrs, he was stoned by the Jews because he courageously proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah. His name signifies the crowned.
In a day like ours, when hatred of enemies floods the minds of children, the soldier-saint Stephen, who loved his enemies, is an excellent model for them and for us.
On St. Stephen's Day our night prayers at the crib are varied in this fashion from the previous night prayers:
Father: Christ, the New-born, today crowned blessed Stephen.
All: Come, let us adore Him.
Mother: Stephen, full of grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people.
All: Thanks be to God.
Father: You crowned him with glory and honor, O Lord.
All: You have given him rule over the works of Your hands.
Father: Let us pray.
Grant, O Lord, we beseech Thee, that we may imitate him whose memory we celebrate, so as to learn to love even our enemies; because we now solemnize his martyrdom who knew how to pray even for his persecutors to our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth forever. Alleluia.
Prayer to St. Stephen
We give thee thanks, O Lord of glory, for the example of the first martyr Stephen, who looked up to heaven and prayed for his persecutors to thy Son Jesus Christ, who standeth at thy right hand: where he liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting.
Prayer of Saint Stephen Martyr
Loving God, Saint Stephen was one of the first deacons in the Church. The Apostles ordained him with six others because they needed ministers who wouldoversee the needs of the poor and the widowed.
His holiness was so evident that when he preached to his enemies, his face glowed brightly like an angel's.
I ask him to pray for those who have been called to a life of service as ordained deacons. O Lord, help them to be a sign of Your love in their parishes and in the world where they live and work.
Bless them with a vision of their ministry that stirs them to passion and tireless effort.
Saint Stephen, pray for us. Amen.
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