Scripture readings for today's Mass are here
Life of St Stephen
Stephen is first mentioned in Acts of the Apostles as one of the first seven deacons appointed by the Apostles to distribute food and charitable aid to poorer members of the community in the early church. He is also the first Christian to be martyred for the Faith. Short history of his life here. and another lengthier one here.
Interesting commentary here by Fr. Ron Rolheiser who says " the description of St Stephen's dying is replete with metaphors that tell us what it means to pray and what it means to not pray."
Good King Wenceslas last looked out on the Feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even.
Brightly shone the moon that night, though the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight, gathering winter fuel.
“Hither, page, and stand by me, if you know it, telling,
Yonder peasant, who is he? Where and what his dwelling?”
“Sire, he lives a good league hence, underneath the mountain,
Right against the forest fence, by Saint Agnes’ fountain.”
“Bring me food and bring me wine, bring me pine logs hither,
You and I will see him dine, when we bear them thither.”
Page and monarch, forth they went, forth they went together,
Through the cold wind’s wild lament and the bitter weather.
“Sire, the night is darker now, and the wind blows stronger,
Fails my heart, I know not how; I can go no longer.”
“Mark my footsteps, my good page, tread now in them boldly,
You shall find the winter’s rage freeze your blood less coldly.”
In his master’s steps he trod, where the snow lay dinted;
Heat was in the very sod which the saint had printed.
Therefore, Christian men, be sure, wealth or rank possessing,
You who now will bless the poor shall yourselves find blessing.
Good King Wenceslas. Words: John M. Neale (1818-1866);
Music: Tempus Adest Floridum, 13th-century spring carol, 1582.
Some background to the meaning of this carol here.
Prayer For A Friendly World
The panic of fear, the torture of insecurity, the ache of hunger, all have fed and rekindled ancient hatreds and long-forgotten memories of old struggles, when the world was young and Your children were but dimly aware of Your Presence in the midst. For all this, we seek forgiveness.
There is no one of us without guilt and, before You, we confess our sins: we are proud and arrogant; we are selfish and greedy; we have harbored in our hearts and minds much that makes for bitterness, hatred and revenge.
While we wait in Your presence, search our spirits and grant to our minds the guidance and the wisdom that will teach us the way to take, without which there can be no peace and no confidence anywhere. Teach us how to put at the disposal of Your purposes of peace the fruits of our industry, the products of our minds, the vast wealth of our land and the resources of our spirit.
Grant unto us the courage to follow the illumination of this hour to the end that we shall not lead death to any man’s door; but rather may we strengthen the hands of all in high places, and in common tasks seek to build a friendly world, of friendly men and women, beneath a friendly sky. This is the simple desire of our hearts which we share with You in thanksgiving and confidence."