The first martyr of the Christian Church was St. Stephen.
I spoke about him back on his feast day in December and also showed you an icon of him drawn by another artist. Well, this is my drawing and I drew it so that I could include St. Stephen in my new book of saints with their novena prayers. Let me briefly explain the symbols present in this icon.
St. Stephen was one of the first deacons in the new sect which would eventually become the Catholic Church. The symbols showing that he was a deacon are the tonsured hair and the stole across one shoulder only. The placement of the stole especially shows that he was not a priest (our English translation of the Latin Presbyter).
The miniature church on his left indicates that he was serving the Church at the time of his death and that the growth of the Church, Catholics believe, occurs through the blood of its martyrs. The censor held in his right hand shows his liturgical function at the celebration of the Mass plus it indicates that he offered his life like sweet smelling incense to our God.
In the Book of Acts which describes the activities of the early Church, we find a full description of the martyrdom of St. Stephen in Chapter 7. Stephen had been arrested for preaching about Christ Jesus and he spoke so boldly in his defence that his words infuriated many of his listeners. Some of them dragged him outside the city and began to stone him. As he was dying, he, like his Master, cried out: "Lord, do not hold this sin against them" and then he died.
One other significant comment in that chapter reads: "... and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul." At that time, Saul (later known as St. Paul) was a zealous persecutor of this Jewish sect which would later be known as the Christian Church.
The other item I want to show you tonight is a photograph taken by a wonderful "wave artist" from Hawaii by the name of Clark Little.
He takes the most amazing photographs of the monster waves that you find off the Hawaiian Islands -- often shooting from underneath the wave just moments before it crashes on the shore. This is very dangerous since he has to shoot and get out of the way before the wave hits the beach or else he could be badly injured.
This photograph is of what happens when two massive waves meet, causing a beautiful swirl of water. It is a powerful event in the water but the result looks almost like a delicate flower.
I hope everyone who normally reads my blog is still alive and doing well. I say this as I have had no comments or emails regarding my blog for some time now and I am beginning, once again, to feel that I am talking to myself! Are you out there?
If you are, may peace be with you.