The Feast Of Stephen

St-stephen.jpgSomewhere in my deep memory, there was a preacher who spoke with approval of the dropping of the observance of Christendom’s first martyr the day after the festivity of the Nativity. Let’s not get caught up too much in celebrations, he chided. We are still Christians. We are not always about feasting and revelry. The Church places this martyr’s observance on the day after Christmas for a reason. Except when it falls on a Sunday. Like 2021.

Some discussion on PrayTell from folks. Maybe we shouldn’t lose Stephen. Maybe we should elevate this martyr’s day to a solemnity.

I think nearly two milennia have moved Christians from observing martyrs as a whole and Stephen first of many. Instead, I think we admire martyrs as they reflect our own experiences and bias. We like Third World martyrs because we favor social justice. We like Maximilian Kolbe because one man stood up for one other man. We like John Paul II because of his struggle with Parkinson’s Disease. At worst, our taste in saints reflects our own experiences with suffering.

I think we’ve lost perspective and respect on martyrs that second- and third-century Christians may have had. What do you think?

Image credit of Saint Stephen with rocks: painted in the late 15th century by Carlo Crivelli – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Wlkernan. description page is/was here. Taken on 14 May 2005, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1987898

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Christmas, Saints. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Feast Of Stephen

  1. Liam says:

    The traditional view of the three Companions of Christ following Christmas Day:

    S Stephen, proto-deacon and proto-martyr (martyr by will, love, and blood), S John the Evangelist (martyr by will and love, but not blood, so celebrated as an apostle, evangelist and confessor), and SS Innocents of Bethlehem (martyrs by blood alone).

    • Liam says:

      Clarification: before Pius XII, SS Holy Innocents was a penitential observance in the Roman Rite, with violet vestments and no Gloria.

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