April 20, 2021
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 31 whose verses carry the echo of Jesus on Calvary.
The psalm, following the reading from Acts describing Stephen’s martyrdom, creates a sacred link between these two deaths. Ever since, that link has sanctified every Christian martyr’s death.
We might think that martyrdom is an atrocity only of the early Christian times. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Throughout the centuries and today, Christians die in witness to their faith.
Today, we might pray to St. Stephen for all throughout the world who suffer for their faith and their commitment to social justice.
Be my rock of refuge,Psalm 31:3-4
a stronghold to give me safety.
You are my rock and my fortress;
for your name’s sake you will lead and guide me.
We might pray as well for a conversion of heart for those who persecute, shun and disrespect others because of their own fears and insecurities. The psalmist chose to curse them with the literary chutzpah common in the psalms:
Do not let me be put to shame,Psalm 31: 18-19
for I have called to you, LORD.
Put the wicked to shame;
reduce them to silence in Sheol.
Strike dumb their lying lips,
which speak arrogantly against the righteous
in contempt and scorn.
But in our charity, let us pray for their enlightenment and repentance:
Love the LORD, all you who are faithful to him.Psalm 31:24
The LORD protects the loyal,
but repays the arrogant in full.
Poetry: Be Soft not Stony-Hearted – from Rumi
… may Jesus’s breath serve as your cure,
make you, like Itself so blessed and pure.
Don’t claim in spring on stone some verdure grows;
be soft, like soil, to raise a lovely rose.
For years you’ve been a stony-hearted man,
Try being like the soil now if you can!
Music: Sancte Dei Pretiosi
Saint of God, elect and precious,
Protomartyr Stephen, bright
With thy love of amplest measure,
Shining round thee like a light;
Who to God commendest, dying,
Them that did thee all despite.
Glitters now the crown above thee,
Figured in thy honored name:
O that we, who truly love thee,
May have portion in the same;
In the dreadful day of judgment
Fearing neither sin nor shame.
Laud to God, and might, and honor,
Who with flowers of rosy dye
Crowned thy forehead, and hath placed thee
In the starry throne on high:
He direct us, He protect us,
From death’s sting eternally.
Sancte Dei, pretiose,
Qui virtute caritatis
Dominum pro inimico
2. Et coronae qua nitescis
Almus sacri nominis,
Nos, qui tibi famulamur,
Fac consortes fieri:
Et expertes dirae mortis
In die Judicii.
3. Gloria et honor Deo
Qui te flora roseo
Coronavit et locavit
In throno sidereo :
Salvet reos, solvens eos
A mortis aculeo. Amen.