To mark the Feast of St. Stephen, first deacon and first martyr, I’m reposting a prayer I first put up at “The Deacon’s Bench” last year. It’s credited to Deacon Lazaro J. Ulloa.
A Deacon’s Prayer
Come to my assistance my Lord and my God, that I may do for You all that you ask. Strengthen me in adversity and do not let me succumb to my feelings of worthlessness. Help me to feel in my heart all that You speak to me, and help me to understand. May I be to others what they need: a body to work when others cannot; a heart to love those who are forgotten; a shoulder to console those whose soul is in need; a smile to brighten the most somber of Your children; a mouth to proclaim Your love. Let me be to You, as a brush is to a painter, worthless without You, but capable of transforming the human heart by the power of Your mercy. Send me, my Lord if you need me, to touch others as You would touch them, to hold them as You would, to love them as only You can. Make my heart like Yours, that I may forgive everything and love beyond my own human frailty. Come live within me, that I may die to myself so You may fill my very being. Let me serve others as You would serve them, that in doing so I may serve You. Do not let me fail, oh Lord, or lead Your people astray. Allow me to live in Your presence today, that tomorrow I may die in Your hands and may You raise me one day that I may touch your face and live in Your glory.
St. Stephen, pray for us!
Fr. Steve Grunow adds this reflection:
The affirmation of our faith in Christ’s power to save us from death is not the only lesson that we recall on the Feast of St. Stephen. We remember not only that St. Stephen died, but the manner in which he died. Treated unjustly and with abject cruelty, St. Stephen was willing to forgive those who had persecuted and harmed him, and it is his willingness to forgive that displays to us how faith in Christ transforms us, and sets the disciples of the Lord Jesus apart from world. We are called by the Lord to resist evil, bear witness to the truth, and protect the innocent and vulnerable. But how precisely? The way of a disciple of the Lord Jesus is not one of vengeance and retribution, but of a willingness to forgive. May St. Stephen intercede for us today, help us to bear witness to Christ’s power to redeem and save, and to give us courage to forgive one another and seek to make amends for the what we have done and what we have failed to do.