Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Angelus for the Feast of St. Stephen

From The Indian Catholic:
Praying the Angelus December 26th on the Feast of St. Stephen Martyr, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the many Christians who are still suffering persecution in
today’s world and commended them to the care of Mary.
The Pontiff pointed out how the celebration of the Feast of the martyr St. Stephen on the day after Christmas, “can surprise us, because it strikes the contrast between the peace and joy of Bethlehem and the drama of Stephen, stoned to death in Jerusalem in the first persecution against the newly born Church.”The Pope also noted that, “St. Stephen was the first to follow the footsteps of Christ with martyrdom; dying like the Divine Teacher, forgiving and praying for his executioners (cf Acts 7,60).”Moreover, he explained that during the first four centuries of the Church, when all of the Saints were martyrs, “their deaths were not instilled with fear or sadness, but with a spiritual enthusiasm which is always aroused in new Christians.”“For believers, the day of death, and even more so the day of martyrdom, is not the end of everything, but the “passing” into immortal life,
it is the day of their final birth, in Latin “dies natalis.”“We can understand
then, the link which exists between the ‘dies natalis’ of Christ and the ‘dies
natalis’ of St. Stephen. If Jesus was not born on earth, mankind would not be
able to be born in heaven. Because Christ is born, we are able to be “reborn!”
exclaimed the Holy Father.In conclusion the Pontiff entrusted to Mary “the many
who are persecuted and suffering, in various ways, for their testimony and
service to the Gospel.”