Amy Welborn on St. Stephen
From Living Faith 2017. The devotional touches on the same theme as the NR piece below, but from the perspective of a visit to Tyburn Chapel last summer:
On the last day of our week in London, we rushed across Hyde Park. Our destination was a small rowhouse squeezed among others and just like them in all but one respect: the huge crucifix affixed to the exterior wall, hanging above the busy road.
A piece Amy Welborn wrote for the National Review years ago on these feasts that fall after Christmas, including St. Stephen.
We might forget, we might wrap up Christmas in good cheer, but Christian tradition doesn’t. It’s striking that the next day–the very next day–after Christmas, the Church remembers not glad tidings, angels, and shepherd boys, but a bloody death by stoning. St. Stephen it is, the first Christian martyr. St. Stephen is followed by St. John on December 27th, who may not have met a violent death, but who, the tradition tells us, died in a prison of sorts, in exile for his faith, far away from the “civilized” powers that had sent him there. December 28th brings us back to babies, but with no relief–it is the Feast of the Holy Innocents, remembering the children Herod ordered slaughtered, according to Matthew’s gospel, in his rabid fear of the rival king.
The message is clear and hard: Following this baby, as he reaches to us from the resin manger, looking out at us with the soft-eyed cattle and docile sheep, comes at a price.