ST. STEPHEN



Office of Readings



Invitatory
The Invitatory opens the first Office of the day. If Morning Prayer is the first Office of the day, begin below.

Lord, open my lips.
 - And my mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Psalm 95 is the traditional Invitatory Psalm. Psalm 24, 67, or 100 may be substituted.

Antiphon: Come, let us worship the newborn Christ who has given the glorious crown to St. Stephen.





Office of Readings

God, come to my assistance.
 - Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
 -  as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever.
Amen. Alleluia.


HYMN
-
Faith of our fathers! faith and prayer
shall win all nations unto thee;
and through the truth that comes from God,
mankind shall then indeed be free.

Refrain:
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our fathers! we will love
both friend and foe in all our strife:
and preach thee, too, as love knows how,
by kindly deeds and virtuous life.

Refrain

Melody: St. Catherine L.M.; Music: Henri F. Henny and James G. Walton, Text: Frederick W. Faber


PSALMODY

Antiphon: Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father.

Psalm 2    
Quare fremuerunt gentes


Why this tumult among nations,
among peoples this useless murmuring?
They arise, the kings of the earth,
princes plot against the Lord and his Anointed.
Come, let us break their fetters,
come, let us cast off their yoke.

He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord is laughing them to scorn.
Then he will speak in his anger,
his rage will strike them with terror.
It is I who have set up my king on Zion,
my holy mountain.

I will announce the decree of the Lord:

The Lord said to me: You are my Son.
It is I who have begotten you this day.
Ask and I will bequeath you the nations,
put the ends of the earth in your possession.
With a rod of iron you will break them,
shatter them like a potter's jar.

Now, O kings, understand,
take warning, rulers of the earth;
serve the Lord with awe
and trembling, pay him your homage
lest he be angry and you perish;
for suddenly his anger will blaze.

Blessed are they who put their trust in God. Glory...

Antiphon: Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father.


Antiphon: Stephen fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice: Lord Jesus, do not hold this sin against them.

Psalm 11    
In Domine confido


In the Lord I have taken my refuge.
How can you say to my soul:
Fly like a bird to its mountain.

See the wicked bracing their bow;
they are fixing their arrows on the string
to shoot upright men in the dark.
Foundations once destroyed, what can the just do?

The Lord is in his holy temple,
the Lord, whose throne is in heaven.
His eyes look down on the world;
his gaze tests mortal men.

The Lord tests the just and the wicked;
the lover of violence he hates.
He sends fire and brimstone on the wicked;
he sends a scorching wind as their lot.

The Lord is just and loves justice;
the upright shall see his face. Glory...

Antiphon: Stephen fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice: Lord Jesus, do not hold this sin against them.


Antiphon: No one was able to resist the wisdom of blessed Stephen, for the Holy Spirit spoke through him.

Psalm 17    
Exaudi Domine


Lord, hear a cause that is just,
pay heed to my cry.
Turn your ear to my prayer:
no deceit is on my lips.

From you may my judgment come forth.
Your eyes discern the truth.

You search my heart, you visit me by night.
You test me and you find in me no wrong.
My words are not sinful as are men's words.

I kept from violence because of your word,
I kept my feet firmly in your paths;
there was no faltering in my steps.

I am here and I call, you will hear me, O God.
Turn your ear to me; hear my words.
Display your great love, you whose right hand saves
your friends from those who rebel against them.

Guard me as the apple of your eye.
Hide me in the shadow of your wings
from the violent attack of the wicked.

My foes encircle me with deadly intent.
Their hearts tight shut, their mouths speak proudly.
They advance against me, and now they surround me.

Their eyes are watching to strike me to the ground,
as though they were lions ready to claw
or like some young lion crouched in hiding.

Lord, arise, confront them, strike them down!
Let your sword rescue my soul from the wicked;
let your hand, O Lord, rescue me from men,
from men whose reward is in this present life.

You give them their fill of your treasures;
they rejoice in abundance of offspring
and leave their wealth to their children.

As for me, in my justice I shall see your face
and be filled, when I awake, with the sight of your glory. Glory...

Antiphon: No one was able to resist the wisdom of blessed Stephen, for the Holy Spirit spoke through him.


Affliction and distress surround me.
     - Yet your law is my delight.


FIRST READING

From the Acts of the Apostles           6:6-7:2a, 44-59, 8:1a

Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people.  Certain members of the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen, Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and people from Cilicia and Asia, came forward and debated with Stephen,  but they could not withstand the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke.  

Then they instigated some men to say, "We have heard him speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God."  They stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes, accosted him, seized him, and brought him before the Sanhedrin.  They presented false witnesses who testified, "This man never stops saying things against this holy place and the law.  For we have heard him claim that this Jesus the Nazorean will destroy this place and change the customs that Moses handed down to us."  All those who sat in the Sanhedrin looked intently at him and saw that his face was like the face of an angel.  

Then the high priest asked, "Is this so?"  And he replied, "My brothers and fathers, listen.     

"Our ancestors had the tent of testimony in the desert just as the One who spoke to Moses directed him to make it according to the pattern he had seen.  Our ancestors who inherited it brought it with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out from before our ancestors, up to the time of David,  who found favor in the sight of God and asked that he might find a dwelling place for the house of Jacob.  But Solomon built a house for him.  Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says:  

'The heavens are my throne,
  the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house can you build for me?
  says the Lord,
or what is to be my resting place?  
  Did not my hand make all these things?'  

"You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always oppose the holy Spirit; you are just like your ancestors.  Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They put to death those who foretold the coming of the righteous one, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become.  You received the law as transmitted by angels, but you did not observe it."  

When they heard this, they were infuriated, and they ground their teeth at him.  But he, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up intently to 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 in a loud voice, covered their ears, and rushed upon him together.  They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul.  

As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, "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.  Now Saul was consenting to his execution.


RESPONSORY          
While the Jews were stoning Stephen, God's servant, the heavens opened before him;
he saw, he entered in.
- Happy the man to whom the heavens opened.
As the stones crashed upon him,
from the depths of heaven the living splendor shone on him.
- Happy the man to whom the heavens opened.


SECOND READING

From a sermon by St. Fulgentius of Ruspe, bishop
(Sermo 3,1-3,5-6: CCL 91A,905-909)

The armament of love

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 virginís 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 marvellous 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 Stephenís 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 neighbour 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 Stephenís death, and Stephen delights in Paulís companionship, for love fills them both with joy. It was Stephenís love that prevailed over the cruelty of the mob, and it was Paulís 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 defence,- 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 journeyís 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.


RESPONSORY          
Yesterday, the Lord as born of earth that Stephen might be born in heaven;,
   - The Lord entered into our world that Stephen might enter into heaven.

Yesterday, our king, clothed in flesh came forth from the virgin's womb to dwell among us.
   - The Lord entered into our world that Stephen might enter into heaven.


CANTICLE          TE DEUM

You are God: we praise you;
You are the Lord; we acclaim you;
You are the eternal Father:
All creation worships you.
To you all angels, all the powers of heaven,
Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise:
  Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
  heaven and earth are full of your glory.
The glorious company of apostles praise you.
The noble fellowship of prophets praise you.
The white-robed army of martyrs praise you.
Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you;
  Father, of majesty unbounded,
  your true and only Son, worthy of all worship,
  and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.

You, Christ, are the king of glory,
the eternal Son of the Father.
When you became man to set us free
you did not shun the Virgin's womb.
You overcame the sting of death
and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
You are seated at God's right hand in glory.
We believe that you will come and be our judge.
Come then, Lord, and help your people,
bought with the price of your own blood,
and bring us with your saints
to glory everlasting.

V.  Save your people, Lord, and bless your inheritance;
R.  govern and uphold them, now and always.
V.  Day by day we bless you;
R.  we praise your name for ever.
V.  Keep us today, Lord, from all sin;
R.  have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy.
V.  Lord, show us your love and mercy;
R.  for we put our trust in you.
V.  In you, Lord, is our hope;
R.  and we shall never hope in vain.

The concluding part of the hymn may be omitted.


COLLECT
Grant, Lord, we pray,
that we may imitate what we worship,
and so learn to love even our enemies,
for we celebrate the heavenly birthday
of a man who knew how to pray even for his persecutors.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


Let us praise the Lord.
- And give him thanks.






The English translation of Psalm Responses, Alleluia Verses, Gospel Verses from Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL); the English translation of Antiphons, Invitatories, Responsories, Intercessions, Psalm 95, the Canticle of the Lamb, Psalm Prayers, Non-Biblical Readings from The Liturgy of the Hours © 1973, 1974, 1975, ICEL; excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 2010, ICEL. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

 
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