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Wednesday, August 16, 2000

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St. Stephen of Hungary

Ezekiel 9:1-7; 10:18-22
Psalm 113
Matthew 18:15-20

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"Pass through the city [through Jerusalem] and mark an X on the foreheads of those who moan and groan over all the abominations that are practiced within it." —Ezekiel 9:4

Ezekiel prophesied that those who are marked with an X (literally, a T-shaped, cross-shaped letter) will be spared destruction. John prophesied that those whose foreheads are imprinted with "the seal of the living God" will be spared (Rv 7:2ff). These prophecies help us appreciate the necessity and significance of Baptism and of renewing our Baptisms, for at Baptism we are sealed as belonging to God (see 2 Cor 1:22).

Every time we make the Sign of the Cross we can renew our Baptisms. For example, before hearing the Gospel reading at Mass, we make crosses on our foreheads, lips, and hearts. The cross on our foreheads marks our commitment to "acquire a fresh, spiritual way of thinking" by living our baptismal graces (Eph 4:23). The cross on our lips marks our commitment to "say only the good things men need to hear, things that will really help them" (Eph 4:29). In this way, we won't grieve the Holy Spirit with Whom at Baptism we "were sealed against the day of redemption" (Eph 4:30). By making the sign of the cross on our hearts, we commit ourselves to live fully our baptismal promises by loving the Lord with all our hearts (Mt 22:37; Dt 6:5).

You are marked, sealed, signed in Baptism. Live accordingly, and you will be delivered "from the wrath to come" (1 Thes 1:10).

Prayer:  Father, may I do whatever it takes to lead as many people as possible to salvation and Baptism (see 1 Cor 9:19).

Promise:  "Where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I in their midst." —Mt 18:20

Praise:  St. Stephen, who was the king of Hungary, would sometimes wear disguises so that he could distribute alms to the poor.

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Edward J. Gratsch, March 8, 2000

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, March 9, 2000