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‘... on the feast of Stephen ...’

 

One of my favorite carols is “Good King Wenceslas.” Strictly speaking, it’s not a Christmas song, and it’s only applicable for a single day of the year -- not even an entire church season!

The song memorializes the Christian act of the 10th-century Duke of Bohemia, also known as “Vaclav the Good,” who led his servant on a trek the day after Christmas to deliver wood to a poor peasant they spied from the castle walls, gathering wood for his humble home.

The king’s actions are an inspiration to us, as Christians, to reach out to those in need all around us. Wenceslas, according to legend, was such a good and holy person that his very footprints were filled with warmth, that kept the servant who accompanied him warm when he felt overcome by the bitter cold on their mission of mercy.

The actions take place on the day after Christmas, “... on the feast of Stephen.” Dec. 26 is the feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr of the early church. St. Stephen was stoned to death (Acts, chapter 6), accused of blasphemy. As he was stoned, the cloaks of his accusers were reputedly held by one Saul of Tarsus, later to become St. Paul, who carried the Good News to the Gentiles; because of Saul’s conversion, we today share in your promise, Lord, of life eternal with you.

We celebrate your birth with family gatherings and gift-giving. The greatest gift is your presence among us, Son of God and Son of Man. You freely gave your life to win for us the chance of eternal salvation. And St. Stephen willingly gave his life for you, a faithful witness to your living presence and salvation.

The good king who went out on the Feast of St. Stephen to help the poor shared in St. Stephen’s fate. He was assassinated by his own brother, “Boleslaw the Bad.” The remains of Wenceslas are interred in St. Vitus’ cathedral in Prague. He is the patron saint of the Czech Republic.

How are we called to witness to you, Lord? What will you ask us to give up or give into that others may know of your love and your promises?

How can we bring your Good News to someone in need on this feast of Stephen, and each day?

Like good King Wenceslas, please bless us with eyes to see the needs around us, courage to set out in what may prove challenging circumstances, steadfast faith to keep us focused on bearing your Word, and the fire of your love in our hearts to warm us, as we work to bring the Good News of your life and love to others, as we live your love. Help us not to count the cost, but to count on your promise of life in your presence.

Continue the celebration of the Christmas season with the parishioners of St. Ann Catholic Church.

Masses at St. Ann Catholic Church are at 5:30 p.m. Saturdays, and Sundays at 7:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., noon (Spanish), and 5:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.stannslv.org. Homilies from the weekend Masses are available as full HD audio/video on the parish website. Click on “News” on the home page and scroll down.

On New Year’s Eve, Mass will be held at 7 p.m. and at 9:30 a.m. on New Year’s Day.

 
 
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