My Thoughts 29/12/2021

On this feast of the martyrdom of Thomas of Canterbury we will be celebrating Vespers in the crypt of the Canterbury Cathedral, with the kind permission of the Dean and Chapter at 8pm.

After singing the Magnificat and praying the intercessions, we will proceed to the place of the first shrine and then to the place of the martyrdom, where we will sing the Salve Regina. I always find it very atmospheric and moving, to be at the actual place where he freely chose to give his life for Christ and the Church.

This year there was a wonderful exhibition at the British Museum entitled ‘Thomas Becket murder and the making of a saint’. The exhibits were certainly spectacular. There were many artefacts from throughout Europe related to Becket, and also those things that expressed devotion to him as a saint.

What many people who visited the exhibition commented on were a number of large stained-glass windows on loan from Canterbury Cathedral itself, depicting the many miracles associated with St Thomas.

The Shrine was destroyed destroyed in 1538, and there were examples in the exhibition of missals and prayer books of the time where the text referring to Thomas had been blotted out or defaced.

Today we remember a man who described himself as “a proud, vain man, a feeder of birds and follower of hounds,” who had been made “a shepherd of sheep.” Thomas may not have always lived like a saint but who died like one.

As one commentator wrote,

“No one becomes a saint without struggle, especially with himself. Thomas knew he must stand firm in defence of truth and right, even at the cost of his life. We also must take a stand in the face of pressures—against dishonesty, deceit, destruction of life—at the cost of popularity, convenience, promotion and even greater goods.”

O God, who gave to your Bishop Saint Thomas
the grace to lay aside all earthly fear
and be faithful even unto death,
grant, we pray, at his intercession
that your people disregarding worldly esteem
may resist what is wrong, uphold your rule
and serve you to their life’s end.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever.

Canon Father Anthony
Canon Father AnthonyParish Priest