I seem to like to reflect often on Saint Stephen‘s martyrdom. So again we’re at that point. Yesterday we celebrated Life itself born on earth, and today we have the entry into the life of Heaven by the first martyr.
Stephen loved his neighbours, indeed his persecutors, to death. There is a beautiful phrase of Saint Fulgentius of Ruspe, which struck me long before I was Catholic:
Stephen went before, wounded by the stones that Paul [Saul] threw; Paul followed after, aided by Stephen’s prayers… Hold on to love, then, brothers and sisters; show it to one another; advance and ascend to heaven by it.
That is the divine power of failure in the world, total failure without a shred of success by the world’s standards, if it can be founded in love, prayer, mercy, and faith. That’s an important lesson for contemplatives thrown into the world.