Saturday, August 16th, 2008
Today’s feast of St. Stephen, King of Hungary, reminds us not only of the holiness we should aspire to as Christians in the world, but also the high standard of excellence and virtue to which we should hold our leaders and elected officials. The life and example of St. Stephen confirms the fact that virtue and piety can only strengthen, not weaken, one’s public service of the common good. This is an important lesson to ponder during this election year.
The Office of Readings today has us reflect on St. Stephen’s words of counsel to his son regarding the interior dispositions necessary to rule with justice:
My beloved son, delight of my heart, hope of your posterity, I pray, I command, that at every time and in everything, strengthened by your devotion to me, you may show favor not only to relations and kin, or to the most eminent, be they leaders or rich men or neighbors or fellow-countrymen, but also to foreigners and to all who come to you. By fulfilling your duty in this way you will reach the highest state of happiness. Be merciful to all who are suffering violence, keeping always in your heart the example of the Lord who said: I desire mercy and not sacrifice. Be patient with everyone, not only with the powerful, but also with the weak.
Finally be strong lest prosperity lift you up too much or adversity cast you down. Be humble in this life, that God may raise you up in the next. Be truly moderate and do not punish or condemn immoderately. Be gentle so that you may never oppose justice. Be honorable so that you may never voluntarily bring disgrace upon anyone. Be chaste so that you may avoid all the foulness of lust like the pangs of death.
All these virtues I have noted above make up the royal crown and without them no one is fit to rule here on earth or attain to the heavenly kingdom.
Almighty Father, grant that Saint Stephen of Hungary, who fostered the growth of your Church on earth, may continue to be our pwoerful helper in heaven.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.