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Thought for the Day – 29 December – Fifth Day of the Octave and the Memorial of St Thomas a Becket

Thought for the Day – 29 December – Fifth Day of the Octave and the Memorial of St Thomas a Becket

I think we know that the twentieth century is probably the century of the greatest flowering of Christian martyrs:  across Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, Vietnam, in communist regimes in Latin America and other places too.   Now the twenty-first century is following a similar pattern in other parts of the world:  the Middle East, parts of Africa, Pakistan.   This moment of prominence for St Thomas a Becket helps us to remember and focus on this fruitfulness of courage and faith which is always the seed of the Church.

For some, Thomas died a traitor, betraying the loyalty they believe he owed to the King. For others he died a martyr, put to death for his defence of the things of the Lord, in this case the honour and rights of the Church.

We know that this relationship between the role and powers of the state on the one hand and the role and commitment of the Church on the other, is never an easy one.   It is always a point of tension, a daily struggle in conscience and in public debate.   But Thomas’ martyrdom reminds us what can happen when the state seeks to dominate religious belief and reshape it to its own ends, to its own selection of values.   When observance of those particular values becomes absolute requirement then we are on a path of confrontation.   The example of Thomas a Becket stands before us as a reminder to every age that the point may come where there is no longer any space left for that religious freedom, such a basic human right, which permits the holding and expressing of religious belief in word and action in the public forum.

The tensions that can lead to that point were well delineated in the speech given by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 when he spoke in Westminster Hall. He said:

‘Each generation, as it seeks to advance the common good, must ask anew:  what are the requirements that governments may reasonably impose upon citizens, and how far do they extend?   By appeal to what authorities can moral dilemmas be resolved.   These questions take us directly to the ethical foundations of civil discourse.   If the moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process becomes all too evident – herein lies the real challenge for democracy.’    Pope Benedict called modern democracies, including our own, to engage in constructive dialogue which brings together faith and reason, affirming that ‘religion is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to national conversation.’

I have only to think of another Thomas, four hundred years after Becket, whose dilemma and heroism echoes that of the earlier Thomas.  Thomas More was also asked to show where his fundamental loyalty lay and he too, lacking support from his fellow clergy, stood alone, an uncompromising figure, yet never seeking conflict or confrontation. What was well summed up of him, in words beautifully attributed to him, can also be applied to Thomas a Becket. ‘I am indeed the King’s good servant, but God’s first.’

Excerpt from the Archbishop of Westminister at the Symposium on St Thomas a Becket at Lambeth Palace on 27 May 2016.

St Thomas a Becket, God’s good servant, pray for us!st thomas a becket pray for us no 2 - 29 dec 2017


Quote/s of the Day – 29 December – Fifth Day of the Octave and the Memorial of St Thomas a Becket

Quote/s of the Day – 29 December – Fifth Day of the Octave and the Memorial of St Thomas a Becket

“If all the swords in England were pointed
against my head,
your threats would not move me.
I am ready to die for my Lord,
that in my blood the
Church may obtain liberty and peace.”

“Many are needed to plant and water
what has been planted now,
that the faith has spread so far
and there are so many people…
No matter who plants or waters,
God gives no harvest,
unless what is planted is the faith of Peter
and unless he agrees to Peter’s teachings.”

“All important questions that arise
among God’s people
are referred to the judgment of Peter,
in the person for the Roman Pontiff.
Under him the ministers of Mother Church
exercise the powers committed to them,
each in his own sphere of responsibility.”quots st thomas a becket - 29 dec 2017

“Hereafter, I want you to tell me,
candidly and in secret,
what people are saying about me.
And if you see anything in me,
that you regard as a fault,
feel free to tell me in private.
For from now on, people will talk about me
but not to me.
It is dangerous for men in power,
if no-one dares to tell them, when they go wrong.” 
 (St Thomas to a friend on his ordination)

St Thomas a Becket (1118-1170)it is dangerous - st thomas a becket - 29 dec 2017


One Minute Reflection – 29 December – Fifth Day of the Octave and the Memorial of St Thomas a Becket

One Minute Reflection – 29 December – Fifth Day of the Octave and the Memorial of St Thomas a Becket

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.   From now on a merited crown awaits me….2 Timothy 4:72 timothy 4-7 - 29 dec 2017 - thomas a becket

REFLECTION – “Remember then how our fathers worked out their salvation;  remember the sufferings through which the Church has grown and the storms the ship of Peter has weathered because it has Christ on board.   Remember how the crown was attained by those whose sufferings gave new radiance to their faith.   The whole company of saints bears witness to the unfailing truth, that without real effort no-one wins the crown.”……….St Thomas a Becket (1118-1170)remember then how our fathers - st thomas a becket 29 dec 2017

PRAYER – Almighty God, you enable st Thomas a Becket to lay down his life with undaunted spirit for the rights of Your Church.   May his prayer help us to deny ourselves for Christ in this life and so find our true life in heaven.   Through our Lord Jesus Christ, in union with the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever, thomas a becket - pray for us 2017


Our Morning Offering – 29 December – Fifth Day of the Octave and the Memorial of St Thomas a Becket

Our Morning Offering – 29 December – Fifth Day of the Octave and the Memorial of St Thomas a Becket

Hymn/Prayer from the Common of Martyrs

The martyrs living now with Christ
in suffering were tried,
their anguish overcome by love,
when on His cross they died.
Across the centuries they come,
in constancy unmoved,
their loving hearts make no complaint,
in silence they are proved.
No man has ever measured love,
or weighed it in his hand
but God who knows the inmost heart,
gives them the promised land.
Prais Father, Son and Spirit blest
who guide us through the night,
in ways that reach beyond the stars
to everlasting light.
Amenthe martyrs living now with christ - 29 dec - st thomas a becket - 2017




Saint of the Day – 29 December – St Thomas à Becket (1118-1170)

Saint of the Day – 29 December – St Thomas à Becket (1118-1170) – Born on 21 December 1118 at London, England and was murdered on 29 December 1170 in the Cathedral at Canterbury, England.   Patronages – • clergy• Exeter College, Oxford, England•Portsmouth, England• secular clergy.   Attributes – Sword, Martyrdom, episcopal vestments.   St Thomas was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until his murder in 1170.   He engaged in conflict with Henry II, King of England, over the rights and privileges of the Church and was murdered by followers of the King in Canterbury Cathedral.   Soon after his death, he was Canonised by Pope Alexander III.   Someof his relics are enshrined at the Ladyewell Shrine in Lancaster, England.


Thomas was appointed Chancellor of England in 1155 and was a close associate of King Henry II.   However, shortly after Thomas was named Archbishop of Canterbury, their relationship soured, eventually resulting in Thomas’ six-year exile in France.   Not long after his return to England, Thomas was murdered by four of the King’s knights inside Canterbury Cathedral, making him an instant martyr.   Miracles began to occur soon after his death and Canterbury became one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in Europe.

Excerpt from The Golden Legend

And forthwith four knights took their counsel together and thought they would do to the king a pleasure and [devised] to slay St Thomas and suddenly departed and took their shipping towards England.   And when the king knew of their departing he was sorry and sent after them but they were on the sea and departed [before] the messengers came, wherefore the king was heavy and sorry … And these four knights aforesaid came to Canterbury on the Tuesday in Christmas week about Evensong time and came to St Thomas and said that the king commanded him to make amends for the wrongs that he had done and also that he should assoil all them that he had accursed anon, or else they should slay him … And then smote each at him, that they smote off a great piece of the skull of his head, that his brain fell on the pavement.   And so they slew and martyred him and were so cruel that one of them [broke] the point of his sword against the pavement.

And thus this holy and blessed Archbishop St Thomas suffered death in his own church for the right of all holy church…And anon it was known all about, how that he was martyred and anon after took this holy body and unclothed him and found bishop’s clothing above and the habit of a monk under.    And next his flesh he wore hard hair, full of knots, which was his shirt.   And his breech was of the same and the knots slicked fast within the skin and all his body full of worms;  he suffered great pain.   And he was thus martyred the year of our Lord one thousand one hundred and seventy-one and was fifty-three years old.   And soon after tidings came to the king how he was slain, wherefore the king took great sorrow and sent to Rome for his absolution.

DSC04170 Thomas Becket

Below is the Reliquary Chasse with Scenes of the Martyrdom of Thomas Becket.


Memorials of the Saints and the 5th Octave Day of Christmas – 29 December

St Thomas a Becket (Optional Memorial) –
St Aileran of Clonard
St Albert of Gambron
St Aproniano de Felipe González
St David the King
St Ebrulf of Ouche
St Enrique Juan Requena
St Florent of Bourges
Bl Francis Ruiz
St Girald of Fontenelle
St Jacinto Gutiérrez Terciado
Bl José Aparicio Sanz
Bl José Perpiñá Nácher
St Juan Bautista Ferreres Boluda
St Libosus of Vaga
St Marcellus the Righteous
St Martinian of Milan
Bl Paul Mary
Bl Peter the Venerable
St Quartillosa of Carthage
St Thaddeus of Scythia
St Trophimus of Arles
St Trophimus of Ephesus
Bl William Howard

Martyrs of North Africa – (8 saints): A group of Christians executed together for their faith. The only details to survive are eight names – Crescentius, Dominic, Honoratus, Lybosus, Primian, Saturninus, Secundus and Victor.

Martyrs of Rome – (3 saints): A group of Christians executed together for their faith. The only details to survive are three names – Boniface, Callistus and Felix.

Martyrs of Seoul – (7 saints): Additional Memorial – 20 September as part of the Martyrs of Korea.
A group of seven lay woman in the apostolic vicariate of Korea who were martyred together.
• Barbara Cho Chung-I
• Barbara Ko Sun-I
• Benedicta Hyong Kyong-Nyon
• Elisabeth Chong Chong-Hye
• Magdalena Han Yong-I
• Magdalena Yi Yong-Dok
• Petrus Ch’oe Ch’ang-Hub
They were born in South Korea and were martyred by beheading on 29 December 1839 at the Small West Gate, Seoul, South Korea. They were Canonised on 6 May 1984 by St Pope John Paul II.

Martyred in the Spanish Civil War:
Thousands of people were murdered in the anti-Catholic persecutions of the Spanish Civil War from 1934 to 1939.
• Blessed Aproniano de Felipe González
• Blessed Enrique Juan Requena
• Blessed Jacinto Gutiérrez Terciado
• Blessed Juan Bautista Ferreres Boluda