Our celebration of the Octave of Christmas continues until the end of the day January 1, 2020. Our celebration of the Christmas Season extends until the end of the day January 12, 2020 (which is Feast of the Baptism of our Lord).
I also wish you a happy and blessed New Year! Remember, January 1 is the Solemnity of the Mary, the Mother of God and it is a Holy Day of Obligation (same obligation to attend Holy Mass as a Sunday). Please find in this bulletin the schedule for Holy Mass times.
This past Thursday, December 26, we celebrated the Feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr. It may seem strange that the day after Christmas, the Catholic Church celebrates the martyrdom of St. Stephen. However, our Lord wants us to remember that He entered the world to embrace the Cross and offer salvation to us. This weekend I share with you the account of the martyrdom of St. Stephen from the Acts of the Apostles and a sermon on the martyrdom of St. Stephen by St. Fulgentius of Ruspe, Bishop (b. 468-d. 533):
And Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, arose and disputed with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth against him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, “Behold, I see the Heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God." But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together upon him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them”; and when he said this, he fell asleep. (Acts of the Apostles 6:8-10; 7:54-60)
“Yesterday we celebrated the birth in time of our eternal King. Today we celebrate the triumphant suffering of His soldier. Yesterday our King, clothed in His robe of flesh, left His place in the Virgin’s womb and graciously visited the world. Today His soldier leaves the tabernacle of his body and goes triumphantly to Heaven. Our King, despite His exalted majesty, came in humility for our sake; yet He did not come empty-handed. He brought His soldiers a great gift that not only enriched them but also made them unconquerable in battle, for it was the gift of love, which was to bring men to share in His divinity. He gave of His bounty, yet without any loss to Himself. In a marvelous way He changed into wealth the poverty of His faithful followers while remaining in full possession of His own inexhaustible riches. And so the love that brought Christ from Heaven to earth raised Stephen from earth to Heaven; shown first in the King, it later shone forth in His soldier. Love was Stephen’s weapon by which he gained every battle, and so won the crown signified by his name. His love of God kept him from yielding to the ferocious mob; his love for his neighbor made him pray for those who were stoning him. Love inspired him to reprove those who erred, to make them amend; love led him to pray for those who stoned him, to save them from punishment. Strengthened by the power of his love, he overcame the raging cruelty of Saul and won his persecutor on earth as his companion in Heaven. In his holy and tireless love he longed to gain by prayer those whom he could not convert by admonition. Now at last, Paul rejoices with Stephen, with Stephen he delights in the glory of Christ, with Stephen he exalts, with Stephen he reigns. Stephen went first, slain by the stones thrown by Paul, but Paul followed after, helped by the prayer of Stephen. This, surely, is the true life, my brothers, a life in which Paul feels no shame because of Stephen’s death, and Stephen delights in Paul’s companionship, for love fills them both with joy. It was Stephen’s love that prevailed over the cruelty of the mob, and it was Paul’s love that covered the multitude of his sins; it was love that won for both of them the kingdom of Heaven. Love, indeed, is the source of all good things; it is an impregnable defense, and the way that leads to Heaven. He who walks in love can neither go astray nor be afraid: love guides him, protects him, and brings him to his journey’s end.
My brothers, Christ made love the stairway that would enable all
Christians to climb to Heaven. Hold fast to it, therefore, in all
sincerity, give one another practical proof of it, and by your progress
in it, make your ascent together.”
Through the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God, St. Joseph, St.
Michael and St. Paul may the newborn Christ-child grant us all the