Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith A. Fournier

12/29/2009 (5 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

‘There are a great many Bishops in the Church, but would to God we were the zealous teachers and pastors that we promised to be at our consecration.’

A late 15th century alabaster panel representing
the martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket.


'As successors of the Apostles, we hold the highest rank in our churches; we have accepted the responsibility of acting as ChristÂ’s representatives on earth; we receive the honor belonging to that office, and enjoy the temporal benefits of our spiritual labors. It must therefore be our endeavor to destroy the reign of sin and death, and by nurturing faith and uprightness of life, to build up the Church of Christ into a holy temple in the Lord.'

A late 15th century alabaster panel representing the martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket. 'As successors of the Apostles, we hold the highest rank in our churches; we have accepted the responsibility of acting as ChristÂ’s representatives on earth; we receive the honor belonging to that office, and enjoy the temporal benefits of our spiritual labors. It must therefore be our endeavor to destroy the reign of sin and death, and by nurturing faith and uprightness of life, to build up the Church of Christ into a holy temple in the Lord.'

Highlights

By Deacon Keith A. Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

12/29/2009 (5 years ago)

Published in U.S.


CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) – On December 29 we continue the celebration of the Octave (Eight days) of Christmas. The Church instructs us concerning the implications of the Nativity of the Lord in the selection of these feasts. In the Incarnation, which encompasses the entire saving life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, humanity was re-created in Christ the new Adam. He became like us in order to capacitate us to become like Him. That happens as we respond to the continual call of the Holy Spirit and receive the graces needed for our continuing conversion.

In our first reading for today’s Mass we find these words from the beloved disciple John: “Beloved: The way we may be sure that we know Jesus is to keep his commandments. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him. This is the way we may know that we are in union with him: whoever claims to abide in him ought to walk just as he walked.” (1 John 2)

As members of the Risen Body of Christ, the Church, we are called to continue His redemptive mission; making Him present in every age until he returns to complete his work of redemption. We are called to “walk the talk”, even when such a bold and brave witness of life places us at risk of being persecuted. The Saints reveal the heroic virtue which is to be manifested in the vocation to which we are all called in our Baptism. We are to become Saints, no matter what our state in life.

On this Octave day of Christmas we consider the life and martyrs’ death of a Bishop named Thomas Becket. He faced a hostile government and refused to bend. He teaches us in our own day how vital it is to stay faithful to the Truth. For the Christian, the Truth is a Divine Person named Jesus Christ. We are called to bear His name and, in the words of the Apostle, “walk just as he walked.”

However, Thomas Becket is a special witness for our beloved Bishops. Today they face the growing hostility of a State which has no tolerance for their insistence on the fundamental human right to life from conception to natural death.Like Thomas, they must refuse to bend.

Thomas Becket was born in London in 1118 to wealthy and respected parents. He was well educated and socially connected from his birth. At the age of 24 he obtained a coveted position with Theobald, the Archbishop of Canterbury. He quickly excelled in his work and climbed the ranks of ecclesiastical appointments. He was ordained a deacon in 1154 and appointed an Archdeacon of Canterbury.

At a time when Church and State were connected in a manner seldom seen any longer, he caught the attention of King Henry II who sought his advice and counsel regularly. He was appointed the Chancellor of England by the King and is noted to have grown quite comfortable with the trappings of office, living a rather lavish life.

When Archbishop Theobald died, Thomas Becket was nominated by the King for consideration as Archbishop. He was elected Theobald’s successor in 1162. The grace of Episcopal office deeply affected Thomas, as it so often does. After all, Bishops, are successors of the Apostles.

Accounts reveal that Bishop Thomas radically changed his lifestyle, embracing the way of simplicity. He adopted ascetical practices and sought to grow closer to the Lord, increasing his prayer and devotion. He began to sleep on the floor, and simplified his once lavish diet. He gave away many of his possessions to the poor and began to prefer their company.

Thomas was drawn by the Holy Spirit and the grace of his office into a deeper conversion in Christ. He became an example to the faithful by “walking just as He walked” in the words of the beloved disciple John which we hear at Mass on his Feast. However, as is so often the case in the history of the relationship between the Church and the State, frictions began to emerge with the King. The Bishop’s loyalties were tested.

Within two years, the frictions boiled over. Bishop Thomas was hated by the King who had formerly been his benefactor and champion. Thomas opposed the King’s increasing infringements on the rights of the Church and the Clergy and the King grew angry and felt threatened.

As a result of his fidelity to placing the Lord first Thomas experienced a great spiritual renewal and earned the admiration of the faithful. However, this was accompanied by intense persecution from the King. He was forced into exile to France. Bishop Thomas returned six years later when it appeared that the King’s wrath had subsided. It was short-lived.

The Bishop continued to place the Lord and His Church first in his exercise of office. He refused to take sides with the King in his repeated efforts to assert the primacy of his crown - and undermine the authority, teaching, discipline and Canon law of the Church. An account tells us that an exasperated King shouted out in the company of some of his knights "will no-one rid me of this troublesome priest?"

Four knights took the exclamation to heart. They rode to the Cathedral of Canterbury to do just that; Reginald FitzUrse, William de Tracey, Hugh de Morville and Richard le Breton. On December 29th 1170 they murdered/martyred the Bishop right within Canterbury Cathedral. Reports are that after they committed the evil act one of them shouted "Let us away. He will rise no more."

One story recounts that while the Bishops body was still on the cathedral floor, the faithful had gathered to seek his intercession and collect portions of his clothing and drops of his blood. His heroic virtue in life and conformity to Jesus Christ in his martyrs’ death, led to his quick canonization.

He stands in our day as an example for all Bishops – indeed all who must endure a hostile State – of the apostles clear words “This is the way we may know that we are in union with him: whoever claims to abide in him ought to walk just as he walked.” In an excerpt from a letter the Bishop wrote to his Brother Bishops we read these words:

“If we who are called bishops desire to understand the meaning of our calling and to be worthy of it, we must strive to keep our eyes on Him whom God appointed High Priest forever, and to follow in His footsteps. For our sake He offered Himself to the father on the Altar of the Cross. He now looks down from heaven on our actions and secret thoughts, and one day He will give each of us the rewards his deeds deserve.

“As successors of the Apostles, we hold the highest rank in our churches; we have accepted the responsibility of acting as Christ’s representatives on earth; we receive the honor belonging to that office, and enjoy the temporal benefits of our spiritual labors. It must therefore be our endeavor to destroy the reign of sin and death, and by nurturing faith and uprightness of life, to build up the Church of Christ into a holy temple in the Lord.

"There are a great many Bishops in the Church, but would to God we were the zealous teachers and pastors that we promised to be at our consecration, and still make profession of being.”

Thomas of Becket - pray for us. With Bishop Thomas Becket, let us all pray for our Bishops!

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for January 2015
General Intention:
That those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will may work together for peace.
Missionary Intention: That in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal.



Comments


More U.S.

The Prophetic Connection Between the March for Life and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

It is no accident that the March for Life always falls within the National Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. It is prophetic.We have been thrown together in a common defense of life in a western culture which has lost its moral compass. Our Marching together ... continue reading


Early Christian Deacon and Martyr Vincent Calls Us to Heroic Christian Witness in a Hostile Culture Watch

Image of Vincent was born in the Third Century in Huesca, Spain and born again to eternal life only four days into the fourth century. He lived in Saragossa where he served the holy Bishop Valerius as a Deacon.He was one of the scores of Christians who suffered brutal persecution under the evil Roman emperor named Diocletian. Diocletian is associated with the last of the ten persecutions of the nascent undivided Christian Church of the first millennium of our history.  Like many early deacons of the undivided Church such as Stephen, Lawrence and Ephrem, the hagiography which has been passed down through the Church records his holiness of life and heroic virtue. He lived the way he died, as a sign of the power of the Gospel and the truth of the presence of the Risen Jesus Christ in our midst.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The Deacon Vincent was a man like us who encountered the same Risen Lord Jesus whom we have encountered. He struggled with the choices which always accompany living the Christian life in the midst of a culture which has squeezed God and His truth out of the ... continue reading


Caught in the act: Telephone scammers get comeuppance from plucky woman Watch

Image of Becoming pro-active, Rachel Fitzsimmons decided to take action in an effort to spread awareness so that others do not fall for the swindle.

By Troy Dredge, Catholic Online

Telephone solicitors threatening phony legal action are the bane of many people's existence. They typically prey upon "old-timers" who still have landlines in their homes and are home in the evenings. Rachel Fitzsimmons, of Denver, Colorado received such a call ... continue reading


Is Israel beholden to Obama? Should the president be able to hold the American people hostage via threat of veto? Republicans and Israeli prime minister say no! Watch

Image of Benjamin Netanyahu is set to speak before a joint session of Congress on March 3 about keeping nuclear capabilities out of the hands of Iran.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

On March 3, Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu will speak before the a joint session of the U.S. Congress, a move which is as much a show of support for Israel from the Republican dominated legislature as it is a rebuff of President Obama. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


Upset over private donations, Liberal protestors barged in on the Supreme Court Watch

Image of Members of 99rise during a protest.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As the Supreme Court opened on January 21, a rare disturbance broke out which caused seven protesters to be removed. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Chief Justice John Roberts was about to announce the day's opinions when a protester stood up and began shouted: "We ... continue reading


The First Right is the Right to Life. It is Time to End Legal Abortion on Demand Watch

Image of The great human rights movement of our age is the struggle to restore to the Civil and positive law the legal recognition of the fundamental Human Right to Life. It is already a fundamental human right, and one which can never be taken away. This Right to Life is the foundation of all other rights. It is the first solidarity issue. The child in the womb is our innocent neighbor. It is wrong to kill any innocent neighbor. We know this and we have perpetuated the lie for too long.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

No one with integrity any longer argues that the little girl or little boy killed through procured abortion is not a human being. When the abortion occurs through miscarriage we properly enter into the mourning of the mother over the loss of the one we call - her ... continue reading


Archbishop José H. Gomez: OneLife LA and 9 Days for Life Watch

Image of Archbishop Gomez - In granting a legal right for some people to take the lives of others, the Supreme Court in effect decided that human rights are granted by government - not by God. That gives the government the final say - not only in defining what is right and wrong, but also in deciding who gets to live and who does not. There are many injustices in our society, but the most fundamental is the one our society rarely acknowledges - the routine taking of innocent human life every day through abortion.

By Archbishop José H. Gomez

Roe v. Wade continues to shape American consciousness and public life. At the political level, from debates in state legislatures to federal questions about health insurance, our country is clearly still divided over whether to allow abortion and what limits ... continue reading


The Dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Must Include Our Youngest Neighbors in the Womb Watch

Image of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. - Remember his words,

By Deacon Keith Fournier

On this day when we remember the dream and honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. we must continue his work and not succumb to the counterfeit agendas which seek to leech upon his noble memory. There is no doubt that any positive or civil law which ... continue reading


Roe v Wade, Doe v Bolton: The Deception Continues

Image of

By Catherine Contreras

The abortion lobby, their media lapdogs, and pro abortion politicians have been able to continue the deception that there is a "right" to take innocent human life in the womb because of a scam perpetrated by the United States Supreme Court in 1973.  On ... continue reading


Filing for bankruptcy, St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese owns up to sexual abuse lawsuits Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Taking responsibility for myriad abuses of the past, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has filed for bankruptcy. Archbishop John Nienstedt of the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese says that the financial reorganization will help pay each of its ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jonah 3:1-5, 10
1 The word of Yahweh was addressed to Jonah a second ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
4 DIRECT me in your ways, Yahweh, and teach me your ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 1:14-20
14 After John had been arrested, Jesus went into ... Read More

Reading 2, First Corinthians 7:29-31
29 What I mean, brothers, is that the time has become ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for January 25th, 2015 Image

St. Peter Thomas
January 25: Carmelite Latinpatriarch and papal legate. Peter was born in ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter