Step #1: Lectio / Read
Click the link below or open your Bible to the passage and read through the reading at least once, paying attention to what is happening in the text.
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Use the following meditation to help you reflect more deeply on the Scripture (you may want to read the passage again).
Here we are the day after Christmas, perhaps the most joyous day of the year, and Holy Mother Church gives us the Feast of Saint Stephen. Saint Stephen is the Protomartyr, that is, the first martyr of the Church. Now, this may seem strange to us, that in celebrating the Octave of Christmas we have also the feast of the first Christian who died for the Faith. However, as it is with other aspects of the Faith, the Church in her wisdom puts forth those things for the betterment of our spiritual lives.
The Church refers to the day of a saint’s death as their dies natalis, the day of their birth. The birth we see here is that into eternal life, beautifully seen in the life of Saint Stephen and the rest of the martyrs. These holy men and women who die for love of Christ and the Church conform themselves to Christ in the closest way. In giving the gift of their natural lives for the sake of Christ, they emulate He who gave His life on the Cross for all of us.
This death, though, did not have only a supernatural end for Stephen, but also for a young Pharisee who presided over the stoning of Stephen, namely, Saul of Tarsus. We know him better after his conversion by the name of Saint Paul the Apostle. There is an old saying in the history of the Church that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” Truly, this is the first instance of this to have taken place, and the effects of the planting of this seed have been felt worldwide. It was the journeys and preaching of Saint Paul that helped save cities, nations, and countless souls to Christ from their pagan roots. If the appearance of Our Lord on the road to Damascus was the flowering and cultivation of the Faith in Paul, then it is safe to say that the witness of the martyrdom of Stephen was surely the planted seed.
What then does this mean for us? Unless it be within the ultimate and perfect will of God, most of us will not be called to offer our lives unto death for the Faith as Stephen did, that is, in red martyrdom, but we very well could be called to a sort of white martyrdom, offering our own sufferings and trials for the same sake of Christ and the Church. We learn from the saints and martyrs, such as Saints Stephen and Paul, on how to follow Christ in our humanity that may share with His Divinity. This is the beautiful mystery of Christmas. How beautiful to have our very Lord and God come down and be present to us in His very flesh, Incarnate right before our own eyes. This was true two thousand years ago in a manger in Bethlehem and is true unto this very day present in every tabernacle, in every monstrance, and upon every altar at the Holy Mass.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
These questions are to be used to talk to God; have a conversation with the Lord about these questions and what is going on in your heart as you pray today.
How am I giving my life for Christ and for His Church?
How can I continue to give to those I love throughout the rest of this Christmas season?
How does the story of St. Stephen and St. Paul inspire me?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
In this step, you listen. Stop talking, let God speak to your heart. You may repeat one of these short phrases to focus your mind on the Lord.
"Here's my heart, Lord."
"I give you my life, Lord."
"God is with us."
Step #5: Actio / Act
In light of today's reading and your time spent in prayer with the Lord, what concrete action or actions will you take to let this encounter with the Lord bear fruit in you today?
Keep on giving of yourself, there are still 11 more days of Christmas!
Smartphone Lock Screen
The following image is here for you to save and use as a background or lock screen on your smartphone or device to help you carry today's Lectio Divina with you the rest of the day.
Today's prayer was prepared by Kevin Poynton, graduate of the University of Dayton with a Degree in Religious Studies.
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