A blessed feast of St. Stephen to you all! St. Stephen is the patron saint of the Cathedral and Diocese of Owensboro, KY. He was the first martyr of the early Christian church, and was also a deacon. His death (by stoning) is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, having been witnessed by Saul of Tarsus (St. Paul). Stephen’s name is derived from the greek Stephanos, meaning “crown”. Traditionally, Stephen is invested with a crown of martyrdom; he is often depicted in art with three stones and the martyr’s palm. (In our Cathedral image, though he is just shown wearing a dalmatic (the vestment of the deacon in the Mass.) I keep a small statue of St. Stephen on my nightstand at the seminary, reminding me to ask for his intercession and to pray for the people in the diocese who are praying for me.
Our Cathedral was restored as part of the Diocesan celebrations for our 75th anniversary. Sam and I who were the only college seminarians for the diocese at Bishop Bruté, were able to take part in the historic, Solemn dedication of the renovated cathedral. You can see pictures from the day, by visiting my old Flickr profile, which is the last link on my photos page.
https://flic.kr/p/9r2m8Q (To find photo, search “St. Stephen Cathedral” on Flickr.com)
The Cathedral renovation was done by the Talleres Art de Granda studio out of Spain. The work they do is absolutely beautiful, and it really showed with our Cathedral. Part of the renovation project included a new Allen 3-manual organ. We already have a Wicks Pipe Organ in the Choir Loft of the cathedral, so having two organs, both of which are magnificent instruments, really makes an organ nerd(and novice) like me happy!
The cathedral renovation included a reredos, containing three sculptures of the life of St. Stephen. It is a beautiful piece!
So, the next time you are in Owensboro, I encourage you to stop by and visit our lovely cathedral. It will be well worth your time and I am positive that you will enjoy your time with our Lord!
The historic octave of Christmas is one of my favorites. (Yes, in the modern Roman Calendar, there are only two octaves (Easter & Christmas), but the octave of Christmas is one of great rejoicing, in a different sense. Monsignor Charles Pope, of the Archdiocese of Washington wrote a beautiful meditation on what he calls the Bloody Octave. What is the Bloody Octave? Monsignor Pope states: “It is one of the bloodiest weeks of the Church’s years. Thus, on December 26th, when we have hardly digested our Christmas dinner, we celebrate the Feast of St. Stephen, the Martyr who was stoned to death. On December 28th we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents, the young and infant boys who were murdered by Herod seeking to kill Christ. On December 29th we celebrate the feast of St. Thomas Becket who was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral. (I’m planning on watching the great film Becket 1964, starring Richard Burton & Peter O’Toole. You can watch the whole movie free on Youtube here.) Even St. (King) Wenceslaus of whom we happily sing “on the Feast of Stephen” was brutally killed by his brother.”
So, we have a week of blood, a week of remembrance of those who gave their lives for the faith. (Remember Pope Benedict wearing red shoes? It was a tradition in the church of showing the blood of the martyrs, which he (the pope) would be willing to accept in a moment for the sake of Christ. (JPII and Pope Francis are the first pope in hundreds of years not to wear the shoes))
Christ was born, as a sacrifice, he came to bring peace, through the offering of his life. “He who knew no sin, was made sin for us…” -2 Corinthians 5:12. Christ came to die, he was born into a world, so that he could give his life for it. Christ was born into the wood of the crib, only to be killed on the wood of the cross. This “bloody octave” teaches us that our faith is not that requires no effort, rather it is one that requires a total gift of self like the martyrs. Maybe we aren’t called to be killed physically for Christ, but we are called every day to pick up our cross, face the challenges of life, battle sin and temptation, and work toward our goal of Heaven. May these blessed “bloody” martyrs help us ever in our path toward Heaven as we continue on this Christmas Season, proclaiming: Glory to god in the Highest, and on earth peace to men of good will…
I hope that you and your families have a blessed Christmas Season! Remember, it’s not over until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord if you follow the Novus Ordo Mass, and then not until February 2nd (The Purification of Mary, Candlemas) in the Extraordinary form. Also, this Friday ranks as a solemnity (it falls in the Octave of Christmas) so go ahead and eat meat, enjoy a piece of cake, Christ the savior is born and we are celebrating!
St. Stephen, martyr, deacon, and patron of the Diocese of Owensboro, pray for us who have recourse to thee!