The Prayer of Saint Stephen
Saint Stephen had so patterned his life after that of our Lord Jesus Christ — Witness, Priest and Servant — that at the hour of his death, he prayed in the same words as Jesus Crucified: “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Ps 30:5). Saint Stephen, however, directs his prayer to the Lord Jesus, knowing that it will be carried by Christ to the Father in the Holy Spirit: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
The Monk: Witness, Priest, and Servant
In the Benedictine monastic tradition, we offer ourselves, on the day of our profession, to the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit with similar words: Suscipe me, Domine, secundum eloquium tuum, et vivam (Ps 118:116). We offer ourselves because we have caught a glimpse, however fleeting, of “the heavens thrown open” (Ac 7:56), and we are compelled to bear witness to it. We offer ourselves because the glory of the Father shining on the Face of Christ compels us to spend a lifetime singing his praise. We offer ourselves, because we have been served by a Lord who lowers Himself to wash our feet, and we accept a share in His suffering servanthood.
Yielding to the Holy Spirit
When we bear witness, we rely on the Spirit of Our Father to express through us the wisdom of the Crucified Son: “the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you” (Mt 10). When we celebrate the praise of the glory of the Father, we rely on the Holy Spirit to form in us the very prayer of Christ the Eternal High Priest. When we serve and when we suffer, we rely on the Holy Spirit to make us servants and oblations in the image of the Suffering Servant, and in the image of the Handmaid of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary.