St. Stephen

Friends in the Lord, today is the Feast of St. Stephen, and this feast always is the day after Christmas.
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Jesus Christ is born for us, he leads the way for us. We are to follow, and be ‘other christs.’ Well, today Mother Church holds up for us St. Stephen, as the first example of the ideal Christian. He gave his all, even his life for Jesus.
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St. Stephen was the first martyr, and he was also a Deacon. We read in the Book of Acts, that the Apostles needed help in their duties, so that they could spend more time in prayer, for this reason they ordained 7 Deacons, one of whom was Stephen. Stephen was a great leader and because of this, the enemies of the church went after him. They debated with him about the Catholic Faith, brought false witnesses against him, and stoned him to death. While they were killing him, he prayed for his enemies, that God would forgive them. As he died, he said: ‘Lord Jesus receive my spirit.’
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St. Stephen was a solid Christian, who listened to the Holy Spirit, and won every debate he was in. He is an example to us, that we should walk in the Spirit, and not be afraid to speak up about our Faith, no matter the cost, even giving our life if necessary.
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In the book ‘the Golden Legend, it is said so beautifully, that ‘Stephen ‘fell asleep’ – rather than saying that he died. This was a favorite expression of the early Church, and is used still today in Eucharist prayers, and in funeral liturgies: to fall asleep – we say that death is merely to fall asleep, because we believe in our resurrection.
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It is said that in his life, St. Stephen raised 6 persons back to life, and did countless miracles. But these wonders continued on after his death. St. Augustine tells, that flowers which had been laid on the altar of St. Stephen, cured sick persons to whom they were touched. A blind woman recovered her sight when flowers taken from the altar of Stephen were applied to her eyes. In the same book it says, that a man named Martial, an unbeliever, fell gravely ill, but refused to be converted. His son-in-law went to the Church of St. Stephen, took some flowers from the altar, and placed them secretly on the sick man’s bed. The sick man slept on them, and when he awoke, he called for a priest and was baptized. Afterward, as long as he lived, the man kept repeating the words: ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit; he said this, not knowing that these were the same words of St. Stephen himself.
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St. Stephen is the patron saint of Deacons, of casket makers, of horses, and headaches.

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