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Sancte Dei pretiose, Protomartyr Stephane, Qui virtute chantatis Circumfultus undiq^ue, Dominum pro inimico Exorasti populo.
Tu coelestis primitivus Signifer militiae, Veritatis assertivus, Testis primus gratiae, Fundamento lapis vivus, Basis patientiae.
Saxo caesus, non mucrone, Per saxorum cuspides, Corpus membri passione Circumcidi praevides: Ad decorem sunt coronae Rubricati lapides.
Tu coelorum primus stra-
Tibi primum reseratae Coeli patent januae, Jesum vides potentate, Cui pugnas strenue; Stans cum Patris majestate Tecum est assidue.
Funde preces pro devoto Tibi nunc collegio, Ut tuo propitiatus Interventu Dominus Nos purgatos a peccatis Jungat coeli civibus.
0 holy Protomartyr Stephen, most dear to God! in the virtue of charity, wherewith thou wast armed on every side, thou didst beseech the Lord to have mercy on thine enemies.
Thou art the Standardbearer of heaven's martyr-host; the herald of truth; the first witness of Christian grace; the living foundation-stone, and ground-work of martyrdom.
Stones were the instrument of thy martyrdom, not the sword. The sharp-edged stones, like knives of a second circumcision, tore thine innocent flesh; but, tinged in thy blood, they were made rubies for thy Crown.
Thou wast the first to tread the stony rugged path, that leads to heaven ; thou wast the first to breast that sword, which had slain our Lord and lost its keen edge by piercing Him; thou wast the earliest winnowed wheat, that graced the granaries of Christ.
To thee were heaven's gates first opened, showing thee Jesus in his power, for whom thou didst so bravely fight: He, standing at the right hand of his Father's majesty, is with thee incessantly.
Pray now for this thy devout people, that our Lord, through thy prayers, may mercifully forgive us our sins, and grant us fellowship with the citizens of heaven.
Glory and honour to the God who gave thee thy Crown of roses and thy throne above the stars. May he free us from the sting of death, and save us sinners. Amen.
Gloria et honor Deo, Qui te flore roseo Coronavit et locavit In throno sidereo: Salvet reos, solvens eos A mortis aculeo.
We will close our selection with a Sequence, composed by Notker; we find it in the collection of Saint-Gall.
Let us solemnise this Feast in the union of fraternal charity,
Instructed by the sweet example of its Saint,
Who prayed for his guilty persecutors.
Hear us, 0 Stephen, thou standard-bearer or the infinitely merciful King,
Who heard the prayers thou didst offer him for thine enemies.
By thy prayers, O Stephen, that very Paul, who once persecuted thee, was converted to believe in Jesus,
And now exults with thee in that Kingdom, nigh which no persecutors come.
Then, we who humbly cry to thee for pity, and besiege thee with our prayers,
We, surely, shall be reconciled to our God by thy most holy prayers.
Peter ordained thee as a minister of Christ: and thou to the faithful Peter didst affirm and show this truth, that He, whom the mad populace crucified. is at the right hand of the Father.
Hanc concordi famulatu, colamus solemnitatem,
Auctoris illius exemplo docti benigno,
Pro persecutorum precantis fraude suorum.
O Stephane, signifer Regis summe boni, nos exaudi:
Proficue qui es pro tuis exauditus inimicis.
Paulus tuis precibus, Stephane, te quondam persecutes Christo credit,
Et tecum tripudiat in regno, cui nullus persecutor appropinquat:
Nos proinde, nos supplices ad te clamantes et precibus te pulsantes,
Oratio sanctissima nos tua semper conciliet Deo nostro.
Te Petrus Christi ministrum statuit: Tu Petro normam credenti adstruis, ad dextram summi Patria ostendendo, quem plebs furens crucifixit.
Se tibi Christus eligit, Stephane, per quem fideles suos corroboret, se tibi inter rotatus saxorum solatio manifestans.
Nunc inter inclytas Martyrum purpuras coruscas coronatus.
Christ chose thee, O Stephen! as the example whereby he would give courage to his faithful ones, for he showed himself to thee amidst the shower of stones, and sweetly consoled thee.
Now amidst the red-robed army of the Martyrs thou shinest as The Crowned Prince.
We return thee our grateful thanks, 0 glorious Stephen! for the help thou hast given us in this great Feast of Christmas. It is thy yearly office to initiate us into the sublime mystery of the Birth of Jesus. Thy Feast ever brings us into the company of this Divine Child, and the Church trusts to thy revealing him to the hearts of her children, as thou heretofore didst to the Jews. Thou hast done thy work, dear Saint! and here is our faith :—we adore this Babe of Bethlehem as the Word of God; we hail him as our King; we offer ourselves to him, to serve him as thou didst; we acknowledge his absolute right over us, and our obligation of serving him even to the last drop of our blood, should he put our loyalty to that great test. Stephen, the Faithful Deacon! pray for us, that we may have the grace to give our whole heart to Jesus, from this time forward; that we may use our best efforts to please him; and that we may conform our lives and affections to his blessed will. Doing this, we shall have the grace to fight his Fight, if not before tyrants and persecutors, at least before the base passions of our own hearts. We are the descendants of the Martyrs, and the Martyrs conquered the world; for Jesus, the Babe of Bethlehem, had conquered it before them :— shall we, then, be cowards, and re-enslave ourselves to our eternal enemy? Obtain for us, also, that fraternal charity, which pardons every injury, and prays for them that hate us, and converts sinners and
heretics when all means else have failed.—0 valiant Martyr of Jesus! watch over us at the hour of our death; assist us in our agony; show us that Jesus, whom thou hast shown us so often as the dear Babe of Bethlehem; show us him then as the glorified, the triumphant, but, above all, as the merciful Jesus, holding in his divine hands the Crown he has prepared for us; and may our last words be those which thou didst utter when going to thy God: Lord Jesus! receive my Spirit I1
1 Acts, viL 58.
APOSTLE AND EVANGELIST.
The Octave of the Beloved Disciple closes to-day: let us devoutly offer him our parting homage. We shall meet him again, during the year; for, on the 6th of May, when the Resurrection of his Divine Master is gladdening the Church with the Easter joys, we shall have the Feast of our Apostle's Confession, made before the Latin Gate;—but his grand Feast ends to-day, and he has done too much for us this Christmas, that we should allow this Octave Day to pass without returning him our warmest thanks. Let us begin by exciting ourselves to a great reverence for our Saint; and for this end, let us continue the considerations, we were making this day week, on the favours conferred upon him by Jesus.
The Apostolate of St. John produced a plentiful harvest among the people to whom he was sent. The Parthians received the Gospel from him, and most of the Churches of Asia Minor were founded by him. Of these latter, seven, together with their Angels, were chosen by Christ himself,1 to typify the several kinds of Pastors; and probably, as some have interpreted this passage of the Apocalypse, these Seven may be taken as representing the seven Ages of the Church herself. Neither must we forget, that these Churches of Asia Minor, shortly after St. John had founded them, sent Apostles into our western
1 Apoc. i.