S. Stephen| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
(d. 36 A.D.?)
All we know of Stephen is found in Acts of the Apostles, chapters Six and Seven. It is enough to tell us what kind of man he was:
At that time, as the number of disciples continued to grow, the Hellenist (Greek-speaking) Christians complained about the Hebrew-speaking Christians, saying that their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. So the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said, “It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table. Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” The proposal was acceptable to the whole community, so they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit... (Acts 6:1-5).
Acts says that Stephen was a man filled with grace and power, who worked great wonders among the people. Certain Jews, members of the Synagogue of Roman Freedmen, debated with Stephen but proved no match for the wisdom and spirit with which he spoke. They persuaded others to make the charge of blasphemy against him. He was seized and carried before the Sanhedrin.
In his speech, Stephen recalled God’s guidance through Israel’s history, as well as Israel’s idolatry and disobedience. He then claimed that his persecutors were showing this same spirit. “[Y]ou always oppose the holy Spirit; you are just like your ancestors” (Acts 7:51b).
His speech brought anger from the crowd. “But [Stephen], 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....’ They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him.... As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.... Lord, do not hold this sin against them’” (Acts 7:55-56, 58a, 59, 60b).
“The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul....
“Now Saul was consenting to his execution. On that day there broke out a severe persecution of the church in Jerusalem.... Saul, meanwhile, was trying to destroy the church; entering house after house and dragging out men and women, he handed them over for imprisonment....
“...[S]till breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord...as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around [Saul]. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ He said, ‘Who are you, sir?’ The reply came, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting’ ” (Acts 7:58b; 8:1, 3; 9:1a, 3–5).
Stephen died as Jesus did: falsely accused, brought to unjust condemnation because he spoke the truth fearlessly. He died with his eyes trustfully fixed on God, and with a prayer of forgiveness on his lips. A “happy” death is one that finds us in the same spirit, whether our dying is as quiet as Joseph’s or as violent as Stephen’s: dying with courage, total trust and forgiving love.
Patron Saint of:
Life in Action:
Remember that the Christian Life is one of action; not of speech and daydreams. Let there be few words and many deeds, and let them be done well.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
The Holy Spirit is so wise and gentle and discreet that he never brings about anything but good.
Divine Mercy Reflection
Reflections on Notebook Six: 327-365
We enter, now, the last of the six notebooks that Saint Faustina filled with revelations from our Lord about His unfathomable and perfect Mercy. At this point, the Message of Mercy should be clear and evoking of a deep trust in the incomprehensible love of God. All that has been shared to this point reveals that God is relentless in His pursuit of you, seeking only to love you unconditionally and to draw you into His glorious life for all eternity.
The greatest obstacle to this call to holiness is sin. But it is abundantly clear that sin is no match for the Mercy of God. His Mercy dispels your sin in an instant, disposing of your past errors forever. God’s only desire is the present moment, for in this present moment He comes to you, descending from the heights of Heaven, entering into the inner core of your soul so as to form a perfect communion with you, lifting you up to share in His divine life.
This final notebook will be reflected upon as a summary of all that has been reflected upon thus far. Just like the reflections on the first notebook, the reflections for this notebook will be short and to the point. Once you finish this chapter you are invited to return to it often as a way of quickly and easily reminding yourself of the abundant Mercy of God. The Lord’s love is perfect in every way. Allow Him to speak this truth to you with clarity and conviction.
Reflection 360: Spiritual Battle
The tempter, satan, is real, but he is no one to fear. You should pay no attention to him. You should not engage his ideas. You should not bargain with him. In the face of temptations you should have courage, trust in the Mercy of God, and hope. Do not become curious about the sins of others, do not talk about them, do not be upset when mistreated, and do not complain. Seek wise counsel from others when confused and listen to their advice, as long as it leaves you at peace and is from the Lord. Have strong convictions and do not worry about the battles of this world. Keep your mind and heart on Jesus and let Him defend you (See Diary #1760).
When you feel the oppression of the evil one, how do you react? Do you allow your feelings to take over and enter into anger, despair and doubt? When a spiritual battle rages within, there is one defense. Put your eyes on Jesus and not on the temptations or evils. Seek out His peace and remain sheltered in His Mercy. Reflect upon how well you do this. If you struggle, then resolve to pray, pray and pray some more.
Lord, You and You alone can fight off the temptations of the evil one. Give me the grace to keep my eyes on You and to trust in Your abundant Mercy. Give me Your peace in times of adversity and courage to face all that I may endure. Jesus, I trust in You.