Traditional Mass

Thursday, August 03, 2017



Saint Stephen, depicted by Carlo Crivelli in 1476
with three stones and the martyrs' palm.



(1st Century)

[See below]

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 . . .

O 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.' "

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 . . .



THIS second festival, in honor of the holy protomartyr St. Stephen, was instituted by the Church on the occasion of the discovery of his precious remains. His body lay long concealed, under the ruins of an old tomb, in a place twenty miles from Jerusalem, called Caphargamala, where stood a church which was served by a venerable priest named Lucian. In the year 415, on Friday, the 3d of December, about nine o'clock at night, Lucian was sleeping in his bed in the baptistery, where he commonly lay in order to guard the sacred vessels of the church. Being half awake, he saw a tall, comely old man of a venerable aspect, who approached Lucian, and, calling him thrice by his name, bid him go to Jerusalem and tell Bishop John to come and open the tombs in which his remains and those of certain other servants of Christ lay, that through their means God might open to many the gates of His clemency. This vision was repeated twice. After the second time, Lucian went to Jerusalem and laid the whole affair before Bishop John who bade him go and search for the relics, which, the Bishop concluded, would be found under a heap of small stones which lay in a field near his church. In digging up the earth here, three coffins or chests were found. Lucian sent immediately to acquaint Bishop John with this. He was then at the Council of Diospolis, and, taking along with him Eutonius, Bishop of Sebaste, and Eleutherius, Bishop of Jericho, came to the place. Upon the opening of St. Stephen's coffin, the earth shook, and there came out of the coffin such an agreeable odor that no one remembered to have ever smelled any thing like it. There was a vast multitude of people assembled in that place, among whom were many persons afflicted with divers distempers, of whom seventy-three recovered their health upon the spot. They kissed the holy relics, and then shut them up. The Bishop consented to leave a small portion of them at Caphargamala; the rest were carried in the coffin, with singing of psalms and hymns, to the Church of Sion at Jerusalem. The translation was performed on the 26th of December, on which day the Church hath ever since honored the memory of St. Stephen, commemorating the discovery of his relics on the 3d of August probably on account of the dedication of some church in his honor.

REFLECTION.-St. Austin, speaking of the miracles of St. Stephen, addresses himself to his flock as follows : "Let us so desire to obtain temporal blessings by his intercession that we may merit, in imitating him, those which are eternal."

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.

Saint Lydia
Saint Lydia

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:
On the sabbath we went outside the city gate along the river where we thought there would be a place of prayer. We sat and spoke with the women who had gathered there. One of them, a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth, from the city of Thyatira, a worshiper of God, listened, and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying. After she and her household had been baptized, she offered us an invitation, "If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my home," and she prevailed on us.
-Acts 16:13-15