For me, the 26th of December is a very important day in our liturgical calendar for two reasons.

First, Saint Stephen is the patron of the parish I have called home for 32 years.

Second, bring an ordained deacon, he holds a special place as the patron saint of deacons, being one of the first seven chosen. He is who I hold in great esteem and pray that I can emulate in my calling.

Yet we all can draw inspiration and hope in how Stephen chose the Lord as the way, the truth and the life.

My pastor penned a short meditation about the Christmas season in relation to St. Stephen which is included below.

Feast of St. Stephen the First Martyr – Our Patron Saint!

Our parish feast unfortunately seems to occur as an after thought – the day after Christmas. As we “recover” from all the celebrations, now we face the death of the first martyr of the Church. But once we pause and think about it, it makes sense. After all, Jesus was born, one like us, to suffer and die. The little baby who the shepherds worshipped and the angels sang, would grow up to suffer and die for us all so that we could share in God’s divine life. 

St. Stephen’s life underscores what we heard at the Christmas Masses – that as we allow Jesus to be reborn in our hearts so we will have to serve those in need as the deacon Stephen did. But, like Stephen we will have to stand firm to our faith even when challenged. As we continue in these 12 days of Christmas, how personal it is for us in this parish that our patron – Stephen – grounds us in the reality of Christ’s coming amongst us.

“Lord Jesus, Receive my Spirit” (St. Stephen, Martyr)

Fr. Jack Arlotta is pastor of St. Stephen the First Martyr Parish. He has been the pastor of St. Stephen since 2014

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