Saint Stephen of Mar Saba (725-794). Stephen was a nephew of John of Damascus who spent a half-century as a monk in the convent of Mar Saba overlooking the Kidron Valley in the West Bank, east of Bethlehem. Entering the monastery to train with his uncle when he was just 10 years old, Stephen was the youngest to do so (as traditionally, men were not allowed into the monastery until they were old enough to grow a beard.)
His biographer and disciple Leontius wrote about Stephen: "Whatever help, spiritual or material, he was asked to give, he gave. He received and honored all with the same kindness. He possessed nothing and lacked nothing. In total poverty he possessed all things."
Saint Stephen of Mar Saba was likely persecuted near the end of his life, as the Islamic faith began spreading through the region. The Saracens, spreading that faith, attacked many of his brethren, and many monks of Mar Saba were slain. Despite this growing threat, his heart remained strong in service to the Lord. While the details of his death are unknown, Stephen left behind a life rich with faith and miracles, a legacy of faith, and several hymns which demonstrate endurance in times of sadness.
Art thou weary, art thou languid,
Art thou sore distressed?
“Come to Me,” saith One, “and coming,
Be at rest.”
Hath He marks to lead me to Him,
If He be my Guide?
In His feet and hands are wound prints
And His side.
Hath He diadem, as monarch,
That His brow adorns?
Yes, a crown in very surety,
But of thorns.
If I find Him, if I follow,
What His guerdon here?
Many a sorrow, many a labor,
Many a tear.
If I still hold closely to Him,
What hath He at last?
Sorrow vanquished, labor ended,
If I ask Him to receive me,
Will He say me nay?
Not till earth and not till Heaven
Finding, following, keeping, struggling,
Is He sure to bless?
Saints, apostles, prophets, martyrs,
Day 90 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Endurance; Those serving the Lord; Our brothers of the Islam faith tradition.
Requested Intentions: For Healing (A); The blessing of children (S); Safety of travelers (J); Improved family relationship with the Lord, using gifts for His glory (L); For a restorative, faith-deepening Lent for all those who are struggling (L).
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."