with three stones and the martyrs' palm.
THE FINDING OF THE BODY OF
SAINT STEPHEN, THE FIRST
In the year 415 the precious relics of St. Stephen, the first martyr, were miraculously discovered by a priest near the city of Jerusalem. The Church commemorates this event by celebrating a second feast in honor of Stephen, a man aflame with the charity of the Holy Spirit. In our efforts to follow after Christ in loving our enemies, we can turn to this martyr who died praying for his murderers and crying out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not lay this sin against them" (Acts 7:60).
INTROIT (Ps. 118:23, 86, 23)Princes met and spoke against me, and the wicked persecuted me. Help me, O Lord my God, because Your servant has followed Your commandments.
Ps. 118:1.Blessed are they who are undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.
V. Glory Be . . .
COLLECTO Lord, we celebrate the finding of his body, Stephen, who prayed for his persecutors. May we imitate this saint, whom we revere, and learn from him to love even our enemies. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Your Son . . .
LESSON (Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-60)
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 his sin to their charge": And when he had said this, he fell asleep in the Lord.
GRADUAL (Ps. 118:23, 86; 6:5)
Princes met and spoke against me, and the wicked persecuted me. V. Help me, O Lord my God! Save me for Your mercy's sake.
Alleluia, alleluia! V. (Acts 7:56)
I see the heavens opened, and Jesus standing at the right hand of the power of God.
GOSPEL (Matt. 23:34-39)
At that time, Jesus said to the scribes and pharisees,"Therefore 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 wouldst 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 ANTIPHON (Acts 6:5; 7:59)
The Apostles chose Stephen, a Levite, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, whom the Jews stoned while he prayed and said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Alleluia!
O Lord, receive our offerings in memory of Your saints; and as they were made glorious by their suffering, may we be made sinless by our devotion. Through Our Lord . . .
COMMUNION ANTIPHON (Acts 7:56, 59, 60)
I see the heavens opened, and Jesus standing at the right hand of the power of God. Lord Jesus, receive my spirit, and lay not this sin against them.
O Lord, through the intercession of Your beloved martyr Stephen, may we be aided by the reception of the Blessed Sacrament and rejoice in Your everlasting protection. Through Our Lord . . .
Holy Martyr Lydia
Saint Lydia, together with her husband, Philetas the Senator, and her two sons, Macedon and Theoprepius, were Christians from the city of Rome and lived during the reign of Emperor Hadrian (117-138 A.D.), a cruel persecutor of Christians. During one such persecution, Saint Lydia and her family members were seized and taken for interrogation by Hadrian. Unable to contradict the holy martyrs’ wise answers to his interrogation, Hadrian sent them to Illyria, to be tried by Amphilochius the Captain. The latter immediately ordered them to be hanged on a tree and their bodies scraped with knives, and afterwards to be thrown into prison. During the night, when the holy martyrs prayed and sang sacred hymns, an angel appeared before them and strengthened them for their forthcoming martyrdom.
The next morning the saints were again brought before their persecutor, who threatened them with many tortures. Then he ordered his servants to boil oil and sulphur in a huge copper pot, and to throw the holy martyrs into it. But when they were thrown in, right away the pot cooled off. Astonished at such a miracle, Amphilochius himself believed in Christ and, deciding to enter the pot, cried out: “O Lord, Jesus Christ, help me.” Straightaway a voice was heard, saying to him: “Thy prayer has been heard, enter fearlessly.”
After learning of all this, the Emperor Hadrian, breathing wrath and fury, came from Rome to Illyria and ordered a pot filled with oil to be boiled for seven days and then the holy martyrs to be thrown into it. However, when the saints were thrown in, they remained whole and unharmed. After that the disgraced emperor returned to Rome, while the holy martyrs began to pray and thank God, and amid their prayers they gave up their souls to the Lord.
Reading from The Acts of the Apostles: