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 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.'

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 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.'

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'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2015
Universal:
That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.



Comments


More U.S.

ATHEISTS LOSE: A big win for religion as Big Mountain Jesus remains Watch

Image of Big Mountain Jesus statue looks upon the earth.

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Atheist activists lost a years-long battle this week over the "Big Mountain Jesus statue," which has been standing for over 60 years on public land near the Big Mountain ski resort in Montana. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - The statue was made to ... continue reading


Excitement builds with massive mural of Pope Francis before his midtown Manhattan visit Watch

Image of Commissioned by DeSales Media Group, the communications and technology arm of the Diocese of Brooklyn, the mural is drawing positive attention to the pending papal visit.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Excitement is building in New York City with the visit of Pope Francis this September 24. A massive, hand-painted mural, 225-feet tall has been placed in midtown Manhattan at the corner of Eighth Avenue and 34th Street, close to Madison Square Garden, where the ... continue reading


Five Chinese warships sail near Alaskan coast during Obama's visit Watch

Image of The nation of China has increased defense spending to modernize its forces. China is set to hold a massive military parade this week featuring some 12,000 troops this week, marking the 70 years since World War II ended in Asia.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Unnamed defense officials have identified a Chinese amphibious ship, a replenishment vessel and three surface combatant ships - altogether five Chinese warships in the Bering Sea off Alaska. The ships were sighted during U.S. President Barack Obama's three-day ... continue reading


Immigrants on welfare: Relevant factors often ignored Watch

Image of Workers harvest plants.

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Center of Immigration Studies, a group that advocates for lower levels of immigration, released a report showing 51 percent of immigrant-led households receive some kind of welfare benefit. Benefits include Medicaid, food stamps, school lunches, housing assistance ... continue reading


Pope Francis to give United States Mass in Spanish Watch

Image of Pope Francis to deliver Washington Mass in Spanish.

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Cardinal Donald William Wuerl has announced Pope Francis' decision to give his Washington Mass on September 23 in Spanish. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "It's a recognition of how large the Hispanic population in the United States is," Wuerl said. "And he's ... continue reading


Obama gets votes to protect Iran nuclear deal Watch

Image of Barbara Mikulski becomes the 34th vote for the nuclear deal.

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The nuclear deal between the United States, China, Britain, France, Russia, Germany and Iran has been under intense scrutiny from Republicans and some Democrats, however Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski has agreed to pledge support. Mikulski's support means ... continue reading


Pope Francis asks American teenager to sing for him Watch

Image of Valerie Herrera sings

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

17-year-old Valerie Herrera, a senior at Cristo Bey Jesuit High School, was asked by Pope Francis to sing a song. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Americans were invited to a virtual meeting with Pope Francis via satellite, which was moderated from inside the ... continue reading


Making the punishment fit the crime - Ohio judge doles out unusual sentences Watch

Image of Judge Michael Cicconetti's type of justice seems to be working, as only 10 percent of those who complete the judge's unusual sentences wind up in court a second time.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Making the punishment fit the crime seems to be the method behind Judge Michael Cicconetti's madness. The Ohio judge metes out unusual sentences in lieu of hefty fines and jail time. It must be working, as those sentenced to perform the unlikely, court-mandated ... continue reading


Pope Francis holds virtual audience with Americans prior to U.S. visit Watch

Image of Pope Francis participated in a virtual audience hosted by ABC News. Moderated inside the Vatican by ABC News'

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Speaking to Americans nationwide, Pope Francis participated in a virtual audience hosted by ABC News. Moderated inside the Vatican by ABC News' "World News Tonight," the segment will air this Friday, September 4, on ABC's "20/20" news program. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


'It just fell out': Latest Planned Parenthood hidden-camera footage reveals a sickening lack of human values (WARNING: Graphic Video) Watch

Image of Procurement Manager, Perrin Larton

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Planned Parenthood is exposed once again in another undercover video from the Center for Medical Progress. A conversation with Dr. Katharine Sheehan, long-time medical director of Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest until 2013, Perrin Larton, the Procurement ... 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, Colossians 1:9-14
9 That is why, ever since the day he told us, we have ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 98:2-3, 3-4, 5-6
2 Yahweh has made known his saving power, revealed ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 5:1-11
1 Now it happened that he was standing one day by the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 3rd, 2015 Image

Pope Saint Gregory the Great
September 3: St. Gregory, born at Rome about the year 540, was the son of ... 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