Since faith is one, it must be professed in all its purity and integrity". Pope Francis/Pope Benedict

Monday, 19 August 2019

St. Thomas a Becket's example

 
The story of St. Thomas a Becket is well-known.

How he was murdered while saying Vespers in Cantebury Catherdral on December 29th, 1170, by the followers of Henry II, a result of having exerted what the king felt to be too much power. (Power, one should note, he had all rights to bear.)

I bring up this significant murder because the Saint exemplified a willingness to sacrifice himself for the sake of the Church, a notion of sacrifice which seems to be absent in the developed countries of the West today.

I have not been posting much over the past couple of weeks. It is high summer here in Canada. There are much better things to do than sit here and blog. Since my posts surrounding Michael Voris, I have also been given to think that much of what I think and reason does not need to be said aloud. Especially some of my more dangerous opinions about the papacy and other such things.

Fellow Catholics, we are in scary times. It is in times like these - as St. Thomas a Kemphis alludes to in The Imitation of Christ - that, to relieve our wearied hearts and minds, we turn to our fellow man and express them, our worries and cares.

But - I ask - how often do we come back feeling any better?

I am not discounting the cathartic release that comes with voicing this or that frustration. I have done so on this blog, with a priest, and with a host of other people. Venting and talking out one's experiences with others is important from time to time. It is how we learn.

But, so often, we run the risk of turning things into mindless chatter. We ought to speak our mind, but we do not need to say everything that is on our mind. Sometimes it is better to keep silent for its own sake, and this is in itself a form of dying to one's self, for we learn to curb our own appetites for gossip and love of one's own opinion.

However, it does not mean we should keep silent every waking moment of the day. There are times - often mandated by charity - that we must speak.

It takes a lifetime to master this balance. A lifetime. St. Thomas a Becket spoke those ringing words in the image above when it was appropriate for the edification of all. If he had spoken them at some other time, they would not be as effective.

While we ponder his words, let us resolve to lay down our swords, tongues, and accept whatever the Lord has deigned to give us, speaking only when we must.

Indeed, let us repeat those same words our saintly predecessor said.

It is long past time for us to be counter-cultural, and give the world the water it is gasping for, even though they don't know it.

Part of that is learning when to hold our tongue.

8 comments:

John Haggerty said...

The martyrdom and apotheosis of Thomas a Becket was significant because it marked the triumph of Church over State.
The tension between the two caused unrest in medieval times.
And there's a lesson for us today in the post-Christian West.

Thomas was remembered for his prophetic words: 'Who shall resist the Anti-Christ if we show such patience towards the vices and crimes of his precursor?'

His murder before the altar sent shock waves throughout Europe. The top of his skull had been severed in the ferocious attack which he suffered so bravely.

The four thugs who slew him in such a cowardly way were excommunicated by the Pope.

King Henry walked barefoot to Canterbury wearing a common woollen tunic, and had himself scourged at the tomb of Thomas before which he prostrated himself in anguish.
An extraordinary act of repentance for any king.

Three years after the murder the Pope made Thomas a saint. Miracles had been reported before his tomb.

Cathedrals across France installed stained glass windows depicting the martyrdom.
Ancient church bells calling the faithful to Mass and devotions were christened Thomas.

After the murder King Henry became depressed by political disasters and by the rebellion of his wife and son.
His plans to curb the Church ended in failure.
As will the plans of meddlesome politicians and policy-shapers today.

I recall passing a swanky cinema in Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, where the Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole film 'Becket' was showing.

The cinema is long gone, and Sauchiehall Street's grandeur is gone too.
But the story of Thomas a Becket remains in the mind as a terrible warning from history.

The anniversary of Saint Thomas Becket occurs just after Christmas.
He used to say how reassuring it was to stand before the Nativity figures of the Crib with the cold night shut out.

In Canada you know all about winter nights.
An apt metaphor for the spiritual winter through which the West is now passing.

Saint Thomas Beckett, please pray for the Church.

J Haggerty said...

There's a blog on the other Thomas, Saint Thomas Kempis:

Twelve Things You May Not Know About Thomas a Kempis and The Imitation of Christ (Baker Deep End Blog) 23 May 2012.

I left a comment on the post three years ago, suggesting that Christians could organise reading groups in public libraries and bookshops, using Christian texts.
The idea is to attract people who would never go to church.

My suggestion was that such groups could become centres of Christian learning just like the monasteries (Skellig Michael off the coast of Ireland) which kept the light of faith burning during the Dark Ages.

People resist anyone who preaches at them.
A woman from China told me recently: 'The more someone tries to convert me, the more I draw away.'

But through a reading group people could be drawn to books they would not otherwise read.
Such groups would be blessed by the Holy Spirit.

J Haggerty said...

Remembering the martyrdom of Thomas a Becket and the the saints who died and still die for the faith, please watch YouTube:

Pope Francis and the attempt to destroy the crown jewel of Pope John Paul II's legacy.
The John-Henry Westen Show. 21 August 2019.

Missionary of Tradition: Michael Matt interviews American priest in Japan.
Remnant Video. 19 August 2019.

The priest in Japan is Fr. Patrick Summers of the SSPX, which Michael Matt says is NOT in schism.

The Holy Spirit is saving the Church even in these evil times.

John Haggerty said...

YouTube.

Strength and Honor Interview: Jesse Romero.
Church Militant. 19 August 2019.

*Modernism: The synthesis of all errors.*
Saint Pope Pius X.

A large statue of Pope Pius X stood in an alcove in my school, near our assembly hall, where we attended Mass on the first Friday of every month.

Those days (1963-69) seem closer in time than yesterday or tomorrow.

J Haggerty said...

A future post for Toronto Catholic Witness?

The theology of the Real Presence in the Eucharist in the spiritual life of the saints.

This thought came to mind after watching YouTube:
News Report - Priest blames Catholic theology for lack of faith.
Church Militant 21 August 2019.

The priest is Father Thomas J Reese, S.J. who makes to this puzzling statement:
*The Mass is not about adoring Jesus or even praying to Jesus. Ultimately, the Mass is more about us becoming the body of Christ than it is about the bread becoming the body of Christ.*

Whose Mass?
Pope Paul VI's New Order of the Mass?
Or Archbishop Lefebvre's Tridentine Mass?
Maybe Bishop Robert Barron will talk us through this difficulty. As Americans say, 'Good luck with that!'

One is left with the prophetic remark of Father William Jenkins of the Society of Pius V, which I quoted on your recent post:
*It is impossible to appease Modernists. They will not be appeased because their ultimate objective is to replace Modernism with the Catholic faith.*

The Modernist Jesuit Reese was in Rome reporting on the conclave that led to the election of the Modernist Jesuit, Bergoglio.
YouTube.

Irenaeus said...

John,

Barona and I are quite busy with our own affairs. We write on this blog when we are able, and lately, as I have indicated, I have been given to think that much of what I say in a public forum such as this one doesn't need to be said.

That being said, thank you for the suggestion. The Eucharist is a wonderful topic to talk about. I can't read enough about it. One of the best works on the Host is The Holy Eucharist by St. Alphonsus.

You can find it here.

http://www.saintsbooks.net/books/St.%20Alphonsus%20Maria%20de%20Liguori%20-%20Complete%20Works%20-%206%20-%20The%20Holy%20Eucharist.pdf

John Haggerty said...

Thank you for the thread on Saint Alphonsus.

I am now consulting two books from my shelves -

'Alphonsus de Liguori, The Saint of Bourbon Naples 1696-1787' by Frederick M Jones (1992) and 'Moral Choices - The Moral Theology of Saint Alphonsus Liguori' by Theodule Rey-Mermet (an Alphonsus scholar) translated by Paul Laverdure (1998).

I appreciate that you have family and professional obligations.

God forbid that commentators like me should join the chattering classes or sound like one of those newspaper columnists who prattle on like tiresome scolds!

Order online a small book which looks at silent prayer in both the Greek and Latin traditions:

'Into the Silent Land - A Guide to the Christian Practice of Contemplation' by Martin Laird O.S.A.

The title carries echoes of Christina Rossetti's poem: *Remember me when I am gone away/ Gone far away into the silent land ...*

Christina Rossetti had a haunted life.
We remember her at Christmas when we sing her carol 'In the Bleak Midwinter'.
Her above poem carries echoes of Ecclesiastes 3 (KJV).

*To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted ...
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.*

John Haggerty said...

And finally ... good reasons why Toronto Catholic Witness should not to be too silent for too long ...

What Should We Make Of Bishop Robert Barron?
Jonathan B Coe. Crisis Magazine. 26 March 2019.

A Response to Bishop Robert Barron's Letter To A Suffering Church.
Gene Gomulka. July 9 2019. Church Militant.

News Report - Detroit's Open Arms to Gay Clergy.
Church Militant. 22 August 2019. YouTube.

Jesuit Thomas Reese Against Transubstantiation. Wherein Fr. Z Responds.
20 August 2019. Fr. John Zuhlsdorf.
Fr. Z's Blog.

With *charlatans* (Father Zuhlsdorf's word) like Reese around, we desperately need bold voices like Toronto Catholic Witness.
And we need faithful priests such as Father Joseph Illo. Watch -

Fr. Joseph Illo's 8/9/18 homily about clerical abuse.
Star of the Sea Church. 21 August 2018. YouTube.

Irenaeus and Barona:
Come back after a good holiday, refreshed by the Holy Spirit.