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Feast of St. Stephen of Hungary

by Very Rev. Chrysostom Baer, O.Praem.

 

Today we here at St. Michael’s Abbey hold the celebration of St. Stephen, King of Hungary, at the rank of feast, with Gloria and incense.  This is to show in the manner we do best that we gratefully acknowledge our history, our roots.  When our spiritual forebears realized that communistic tyranny was ending their religious life, they fled to the land of the free and the home of the brave, and replanted their flag.  We did not arise out of a vacuum.  Divine providence uses real people and circumstances to work out our salvation.

St. Stephen, like Moses in the first reading, led his people to the shores of the Promised Land.  The missionary effort that turned the kingdom of Hungary into a Catholic land, whose only hiatus was those dark years of communism, was under St. Stephen’s inspiration, by his instigation, using his sword.  Obedient to the Old Testament lawgiver, he loved the Lord, his God, with all his heart, soul, and strength.  He drilled this lesson into his children, from Bl. Emeric down to our seven founding fathers.

And in so doing, he likewise gave us the lesson that even more important than knowing where we came from is knowing where we’re going.  Here in this church we too stand on the bank of the Jordan River, looking into the Promised Land, to where the Virgin Mother of God has been assumed, and angels gaze with rapture.

Accepting our spiritual inheritance from St. Stephen, then, doesn’t just mean identifying his picture in the refectory or recognizing the emblem of the kingdom of Hungary impaled on the sinister of Abbot Parker’s escutcheon.  It means taking to heart the words of Moses, speaking of them at home and abroad, so that we can spend our strength to form a culture imbued with the love of Christ, removing the darkness of pagan error and scattering abroad the light of the Gospel—all this with the conviction that, because we have here no lasting city or kingdom but seek the one that is to come, all that we do in this life has every possible impact on the life to come.

 

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