In this lesson we will study the life and holiness in St. Thomas Becket, understand the importance of martyrdom in Christianity, and even touch on King David who is also celebrated annually on December 29th.
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INTROIT Let us all rejoice in the Lord as we celebrate the feast in honor of the blessed martyr Thomas, at whose martyrdom the angels rejoiced and praised the Son of God. Ps. 32:1. Rejoice in the Lord, you just; praise befits the upright. V. Glory be . . .
St. Thomas of Canterbury (1118-1170) — also known as St. Thomas Becket — was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 to December 29, 1170, the date of his assassination.
St. Thomas Becket grew into a dispute with King Henry II of England when Henry II wished for St. Thomas Becket to sanction customers contrary to the liberties of the Church - an action that would undoubtedly make the Church subservient to the secular rule of the King. In his defiance, St. Thomas Becket refused to consent to this request. As a result, St. Thomas Becket — ever faithful to the Lord — was slain in the Cathedral in Canterbury on December 29, 1170.
As sings the Introit for today's Mass Propers: "Let us all rejoice in the Lord, celebrating a festal day in honor of blessed Thomas the Martyr: at whose martyrdom the Angels rejoice, and praise the Son of God. Rejoice in the Lord, O ye just: praise becometh the upright."
Before we progress further, let us consult Lives of the Saints by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. 1894:
ST. THOMAS, son of Gilbert Becket, was born in Southwark, England, in 1117. When a youth he was attached to the household of Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, who sent him to Paris and Bologna to study law. He became Archdeacon of Canterbury, then Lord High Chancellor of England; and in 1160, when Archbishop Theobald died, the king insisted on the consecration of St. Thomas in his stead. St. Thomas refused, warning the king that from that hour their friendship would be broken. In the end he yielded, and was consecrated. The conflict at once broke out; St. Thomas resisted the royal customs, which violated the liberties of the Church and the laws of the realm. After six years of contention, partly spent in. exile, St. Thomas, with full foresight of martyrdom before him, returned as a good shepherd to his Church. On the 29th of December, 1170, just as vespers were beginning, four knights broke into the cathedral, crying: "Where is the archbishop? where is the traitor?" The monks fled, and St. Thomas might easily have escaped. But he advanced, saying: "Here I am-no traitor, but archbishop. What seek you?" "Your life," they cried. "Gladly do I give it," was the reply; and bowing his head, the invincible martyr was hacked and hewn till his soul... Please purchase this lesson to continue learning.
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