Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Saint December 29 : St. Thomas Becket : #Archbishop of #Canterbury : Martyr : Patron of #Clergy

21 December 1118 at London, England
29 December 1170 in the Cathedral at Canterbury, England
21 February 1173 by Pope Alexander III
Patron of:
Martyr, Archbishop of Canterbury, born at London, 21 December, 1118 (?); died at Canterbury, 29 December, 1170. St. Thomas was born of parents who, coming from Normandy, had settled in England some years previously. No reliance can be placed upon the legend that his mother was a Saracen. In after life his humble birth was made the subject of spiteful comment, though his parents were not peasants, but people of some mark, and from his earliest years their son had been well taught and had associated with gentlefolk. He learned to read at Merton Abbey and then studied in Paris. On leaving school he employed himself in secretarial work, first with Sir Richer de l'Aigle and then with his kinsman, Osbert Huitdeniers, who was "Justiciar" of London. Somewhere about the year 1141, under circumstances that are variously related, he entered the service of Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, and in that household he won his master's favour and eventually became the most trusted of all his clerks. A description embodied in the Icelandic Saga and derived probably from Robert of Cricklade gives a vivid portrait of him at this period. To look upon he was slim of growth and pale of hue, with dark hair, a long nose, and a straightly featured face. Blithe of countenance was he, winning and loveable in his conversation, frank of speech in his discourses, but slightly stuttering in his talk, so keen of discernment and understanding that he could always make difficult questions plain after a wise manner.  Theobald recognized his capacity, made use of him in many delicate negotiations, and, after allowing him to go for a year to study civil and canon law at Bologna and Auxerre, ordained him deacon in 1154, after bestowing upon him several preferments, the most important of which was the Archdeaconry of Canterbury (see Radford, "Thomas of London", p. 53). It was just at this period that King Stephen died and the young monarch Henry II became unquestioned master of the kingdom. He took "Thomas of London", as Becket was then most commonly called, for his chancellor, and in that office Thomas at the age of thirty-six became, with the possible exception of the justiciar, the most powerful subject in Henry's wide dominions. The chroniclers speak with wonder of the relations which existed between the chancellor and the sovereign, who was twelve years his junior. People declared that "they had but one heart and one mind". Often the king and his minister behaved like two schoolboys at play. But although they hunted or rode at the head of an army together it was no mere comradeship in pastime which united them. Both were hard workers, and both, we may believe, had the prosperity of the kingdom deeply at heart. Whether the chancellor, who was after all the elder man, was the true originator of the administrative reforms which Henry introduced cannot now be clearly determined. In many matters they saw eye to eye. The king's imperial views and love of splendour were quite to the taste of his minister. When Thomas went to France in 1158 to negotiate a marriage treaty, he travelled with such pomp that the people said: "If this be only the chancellor what must be the glory of the king himself?" In 1153 Thomas acted as justice itinerant in three counties. In 1159 he seems to have been the chief organizer of Henry's expedition to Toulouse, upon which he accompanied him, and though it seems to be untrue that the impost of "scutage" was called into existence for that Occasion (Round, "Feudal England", 268-73), still Thomas undoubtedly pressed on the exaction of this money contribution in lieu of military service and enforced it against ecclesiastics in such a way that bitter complaints were made of the disproportionately heavy burden this imposed upon the Church. In the military operations Thomas took a leading part, and Garnier, a French chronicler, who lived to write of the virtues of St. Thomas and his martyrdom, declares that in these encounters he saw him unhorse many French knights. Deacon though he was, he lead the most daring attacks in person, and Edward Grim also gives us to understand that in laying waste the enemy's country with fire and sword the chancellor's principles did not materially differ from those of the other commanders of his time. But although, as men then reported, "he put off the archdeacon", in this and other ways, he was very far from assuming the licentious manners of those around him. No word was ever breathed against his personal purity. Foul conduct or foul speech, lying or unchastity were hateful to him, and on occasion he punished them severely. He seems at all times to have had clear principles with regard to the claims of the Church, and even during this period of his chancellorship he more than once risked Henry's grievous displeasure. For example, he opposed the dispensation which Henry for political reasons extorted from the pope, and strove to prevent the marriage of Mary, Abbess of Romsey, to Matthew of Boulogne. But to the very limits of what his conscience permitted, Thomas identified himself with his master's interests, and Tennyson is true to history when he makes the archbishop say: I served our Theobald well when I was with him: I served King Henry well as Chancellor: I am his no more, and I must serve the Church. Archbishop Theobald died in 1161, and in the course of the next year Henry seems to have decided that it would be good policy to prepare the way for further schemes of reform by securing the advancement of his chancellor to the primacy. Our authorities are agreed that from the first Thomas drew back in alarm. "I know your plans for the Church," he said, "you will assert claims which I, if I were archbishop, must needs oppose." But Henry would not be gainsaid, and Thomas at the instance of Cardinal Henry of Pisa, who urged it upon him as a service to religion, yielded in spite of his misgivings. He was ordained priest on Saturday in Whitweek and consecrated bishop the next day, Sunday, 3 June, 1162. It seems to have been St. Thomas who obtained for England the privilege of keeping the feast of the Blessed Trinity on that Sunday, the anniversary of his consecration, and more than a century afterwards this custom was adopted by the papal Court, itself and eventually imposed on the whole world. A great change took place in the saint's way of life after his consecration as archbishop. Even as chancellor he had practised secret austerities, but now in view of the struggle he clearly saw before him he gave himself to fastings and disciplines, hair shirts, protracted vigils, and constant prayers. Before the end of the year 1162 he stripped himself of all signs of the lavish display which he had previously affected. On 10 Aug. he went barefoot to receive the envoy who brought him the pallium from Rome. Contrary to the king's wish he resigned the chancellorship. Whereupon Henry seems to have required him to surrender certain ecclesiastical preferments which he still retained, notably the archdeaconry, and when this was not done at once showed bitter displeasure. Other misunderstandings soon followed. The archbishop, having, as he believed, the king's express permission, set about to reclaim alienated estates belonging to his see, a procedure which again gave offence. Still more serious was the open resistance which he made to the king's proposal that a voluntary offering to the sheriffs should be paid into the royal treasury. As the first recorded instance of any determined opposition to the king's arbitrary will in a matter of taxation, the incident is of much constitutional importance. The saint's protest seems to have been successful, but the relations with the king only grew more strained. Soon after this the great matter of dispute was reached in the resistance made by Thomas to the king's officials when they attempted to assert jurisdiction over criminous clerks. The question has been dealt with in some detail in the article ENGLAND. That the saint himself had no wish to be lenient with criminous clerks has been well shown by Norgate (Angevin Kings, ii, 22). It was with him simply a question of principle. St. Thomas seems all along to have suspected Henry of a design to strike at the independence of what the king regarded as a too powerful Church. With this view Henry summoned the bishops at Westminster (1 October, 1163) to sanction certain as yet unspecified articles which he called his grandfather's customs (avitæ consuetudines), one of the known objects of which was to bring clerics guilty of crimes under the jurisdiction of the secular courts. The other bishops, as the demand was still in the vague, showed a willingness to submit, though with the condition "saving our order", upon which St. Thomas inflexibly insisted. The king's resentment was thereupon manifested by requiring the archbishop to surrender certain castles he had hitherto retained, and by other acts of unfriendliness. In deference to what he believed to be the pope's wish, the archbishop in December consented to make some concessions by giving a personal and private undertaking to the king to obey his customs "loyally and in good faith". But when Henry shortly afterwards at Clarendon (13 January, 1164) sought to draw the saint on to a formal and public acceptance of the "Constitutions of Clarendon", under which name the sixteen articles, the avitæ consuetudines as finally drafted, have been commonly known, St. Thomas, though at first yielding somewhat to the solicitations of the other bishops, in the end took up an attitude of uncompromising resistance. Then followed a period of unworthy and vindictive persecution. When opposing a claim made against him by John the Marshal, Thomas upon a frivolous pretext was found guilty of contempt of court. For this he was sentenced to pay £500; other demands for large sums of money followed, and finally, though a complete release of all claims against him as chancellor had been given on his becoming archbishop, he was required to render an account of nearly all the moneys which had passed through his hands in his discharge of the office. Eventually a sum of nearly £30,000 was demanded of him. His fellow bishops summoned by Henry to a council at Northampton, implored him to throw himself unreservedly upon the king's mercy, but St. Thomas, instead of yielding, solemnly warned them and threatened them. Then, after celebrating Mass, he took his archiepiscopal cross into his own hand and presented himself thus in the royal council chamber. The king demanded that sentence should be passed upon him, but in the confusion and discussion which ensued the saint with uplifted cross made his way through the mob of angry courtiers. He fled away secretly that night (13 October, 1164), sailed in disguise from Sandwich (2 November), and after being cordially welcomed by Louis VII of France, he threw himself at the feet of Pope Alexander III, then at Sens, on 23 Nov. The pope, who had given a cold reception to certain episcopal envoys sent by Henry, welcomed the saint very kindly, and refused to accept his resignation of his see. On 30 November, Thomas went to take up his residence at the Cistercian Abbey of Pontigny in Burgundy, though he was compelled to leave this refuge a year later, as Henry, after confiscating the archbishop's property and banishing all the Becket kinsfolk, threatened to wreak his vengeance on the whole Cistercian Order if they continued to harbour him. The negotiations between Henry, the pope, and the archbishop dragged on for the next four years without the position being sensibly changed. Although the saint remained firm in his resistance to the principle of the Constitutions of Clarendon, he was willing to make any concessions that could be reasonably asked of him, and on 6 January, 1169, when the kings of England and France were in conference at Montmirail, he threw himself at Henry's feet, but as he still refused to accept the obnoxious customs Henry repulsed him. At last in 1170 some sort of reconciliation was patched up. The question of the customs was not mentioned and Henry professed himself willing to be guided by the archbishop's council as to amends due to the See of Canterbury for the recent violation of its rights in the crowning of Henry's son by the Archbishop of York. On 1 December, 1170, St. Thomas again landed in England, and was received with every demonstration of popular enthusiasm. But trouble almost immediately occurred in connection with the absolution of two of the bishops, whose sentence of excommunication St. Thomas had brought with him, as well as over the restoration by the de Broc family of the archbishop's castle at Saltwood. How far Henry was directly responsible for the tragedy which soon after occurred on 29 December is not quite clear. Four knights who came from France demanded the absolution of the bishops. St. Thomas would not comply. They left for a space, but came back at Vesper time with a band of armed men. To their angry question, "Where is the traitor?" the saint boldly replied, "Here I am, no traitor, but archbishop and priest of God." They tried to drag him from the church, but were unable, and in the end they slew him where he stood, scattering his brains on the pavement. His faithful companion, Edward Grim, who bore his cross, was wounded in the struggle. A tremendous reaction of feeling followed this deed of blood. In an extraordinary brief space of time devotion to the martyred archbishop had spread all through Europe. The pope promulgated the bull of canonization, little more than two years after the martyrdom, 21 February, 1173. On 12 July, 1174, Henry II did public penance, and was scourged at the archbishop's tomb. An immense number of miracles were worked, and for the rest of the Middle Ages the shrine of St. Thomas of Canterbury was one of the wealthiest and most famous in Europe. The martyr's holy remains are believed to have been destroyed in September, 1538, when nearly all the other shrines in England were dismantled; but the matter is by no means clear, and, although the weight of learned opinion is adverse, there are still those who believe that a skeleton found in the crypt in January, 1888, is the body of St. Thomas. The story that Henry VIII in 1538 summoned the archbishop to stand his trial for high treason, and that when, in June, 1538, the trial had been held and the accused pronounced contumacious, the body was ordered to be disinterred and burnt, is probably apocryphal. Text shared from the Catholic Enclyclopedia

#PopeFrancis "To believe, it is necessary to be able to see with the eyes of faith..." #Angelus FULL TEXT + Video

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
In his Letter to the Romans, Saint Paul recalls for us the great figure of Abraham, to indicate to us the way of faith and hope. Of him, the Apostle writes: “In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations” (Romans 4:18); “firm in hope against all hope.” This concept is strong: and even when there is no hope, I hope. So is our Father Abraham. Saint Paul is referring to the faith with which Abraham believed in the word of God, who promised him a son. But it was truly a trust hoping “against hope,” so unlikely was what the Lord announced to him, because he was elderly — he was almost one hundred years old — and his wife was sterile. He was unable, but God said it and he believed. There was no human hope because he was elderly and his wife was sterile: but he believed.
Trusting in this promise, Abraham starts out, accepts leaving his land and becoming a foreigner, hoping in this “impossible” son that God wished to give him despite Sarah’s womb being now as dead. Abraham believed; his faith opened to a hope that seemed unreasonable; that is, the ability to go beyond human reasoning, the wisdom and prudence of the world, beyond what is normally regarded a good sense, to believe in the impossible. Hope opens new horizons, makes one capable of dreaming what is not even imaginable. Hope makes one enter the darkness of an uncertain future to walk in the light. The virtue of hope is beautiful; it gives us so much strength to walk in life.
However, it is a difficult way. And the moment of the crisis of dejection came also for Abraham. He trusted, he left his home, his land, his friends … everything. He left and arrived in the country that God had indicated to him; time passed. At that time, to undertake such a trip was not as today with airplanes – now it is done in a few hours; then it took months, years! Time passed, but the <promised> son did not come; Sarah’s womb remained closed in its sterility.
And Abraham — I do not say that he lost patience but he complained to the Lord. We learn this also from our Father Abraham: to complain to the Lord is a way of praying. Sometimes I feel when I confess that I have complained to the Lord …” and [I answer]: “but no! Do complain, He is a Father!” And this is a way of praying: complain to the Lord, this is good. Abraham complained to the Lord saying: “’ Lord God, […], I am leaving without children and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus” (Eliezer was the one who governed everything). Abraham added: “Behold, you have not given me descendants and my slave will be my heir.” And behold, this word of the Lord was addressed to him: ‘He shall not be your heir; but one born of you shall be your heir.” And then He led him outside and said, ‘Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them’; and He added: ‘So shall your descendants be.’ And yet again Abraham believed the Lord; and he reckoned it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:2-6).
The scene unfolded at night; outside it was dark, but in Abraham’s heart there was also the darkness of disappointment, of discouragement, of difficulty in continuing to hope in something impossible. By now, the Patriarch was very advanced in years, there seemed to be no more time for a son, and it will be a slave who will take over, inheriting everything.
Abraham is addressing the Lord, but God, although He is present there and speaks with him, seems as though He is distancing Himself, as if <Abraham> had not had faith in His word. Abraham feels alone, he is old and tired, death looms. How can he continue to trust?
Yet, his lament is already a form of faith, it is a prayer. Despite everything, Abraham continues to believe in God and to hope that something can still happen. Otherwise, why question the Lord, why complain to him, why remind Him of His promises? Faith is not only silence, which accepts everything without replying; hope is not certainty that makes one immune to doubt and to perplexity. But so often, hope is darkness; but hope is there … which leads one forward. Faith is also to struggle with God, to show Him our bitterness, without “pious” pretenses. “I was angry with God and I said this and this and this to Him … But He is a Father, He has understood you: go in peace! One must have this courage! And this is hope. And hope is also not to be afraid to see reality for what it is and to accept its contradictions.
Therefore, Abraham turns to God in faith to help him continue to hope. It is curious; he does not ask for a son. He asks: “Help me to continue to hope,” the prayer to have hope. And the Lord responds insisting on His unlikely promise: a slave will not be the heir but in fact a son, born of Abraham, generated by him. Nothing has changed on God’s part. He continues to confirm what He already said, and he does not offer footholds to Abraham to feel reassured. His only security is to trust in the Lord’s word and to continue to hope.

And that sign that God gives to Abraham is a request to continue to believe and to hope: “Look toward heaven and number the stars […] So shall your descendants be” (Genesis15:5). It is, again, a promise; it is something to wait for in the future. God leads Abraham out of the tent, in reality out of his narrow visions, and He shows him the stars. To believe, it is necessary to be able to see with the eyes of faith, they are only stars, which all can see, but for Abraham they must become the sign of God’s fidelity.
This is faith; this is the way of hope that each one of us must follow. If for us also the only possibility remains to look at the stars, then it is time to trust God. There is nothing more beautiful. Hope does not disappoint. Thank you.
[Original text: Italian] [Working Translation by ZENIT]
In Italian
I receive with the joy of the Christmas atmosphere the dear Italian-speaking pilgrims. I greet the artists and workers of the Golden Circus of Liana Orfei, and I thank them for their pleasing exhibition. Beauty always brings us closer to God! I greet the parish groups, particularly the faithful of Supino and of Sant’Andrea delle Frate in Rome, who have come with the effigy of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, which will be exhibited in Saint Peter’s Basilica. In this Christmastide we have before our eyes the wonderful mystery of Jesus, child and adolescent, who, as the evangelist Luke recounts, “increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man.” (2:52).
It gives me pleasure to express a special greeting to young people, the sick and newlyweds, I call them the courageous ones, because one needs courage to marry and to do so for the whole of life: good ones. May the Holy Innocent Martyrs, whom we remember today, help us all to be strong in faith, looking at the divine Child, who in the mystery of Christmas offers himself for the whole of humanity. Dear young people, may you also be able to grow like Him: obedient to parents and quick to understand and follow the will of the Father who is in heaven. Dear sick, I hope you can discern, in the vivid light of Bethlehem, the meaning of your suffering. And I exhort you, dear courageous newlyweds, in building your family to keep love and dedication constant, beyond all sacrifice, and not to end your day without making peace between you.
[Original text: Italian] [Working Translation by ZENIT]

Amazing Version of Little Drummer Boy by #Pentatonix - SHARE A Present for Baby Jesus! #DrummerBoy

Incredible A Cappella Version Of ‘Little Drummer Boy’ –  SHARE this beautiful Song!

#CatholicQuote to SHARE by St. #MotherTeresa "The time you spend with Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament will be the best..."

"The time you spend with Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament will be the best; the most profitable time you will ever spend here on earth." ~ Saint Teresa of Calcutta 

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Wed. December 28, 2016

Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs
Lectionary: 698

Reading 11 JN 1:5–2:2

This is the message that we have heard from Jesus Christ
and proclaim to you:
God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.
If we say, “We have fellowship with him,”
while we continue to walk in darkness,
we lie and do not act in truth.
But if we walk in the light as he is in the light,
then we have fellowship with one another,
and the Blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin.
If we say, “We are without sin,”
we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just
and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing.
If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar,
and his word is not in us.

My children, I am writing this to you
so that you may not commit sin.
But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous one.
He is expiation for our sins,
and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.

Responsorial PsalmPS 124:2-3, 4-5, 7CD-8

R. (7) Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.
Had not the LORD been with us—
When men rose up against us,
then would they have swallowed us alive,
When their fury was inflamed against us.
R. Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.
Then would the waters have overwhelmed us;
The torrent would have swept over us;
over us then would have swept the raging waters.
R. Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.
Broken was the snare,
and we were freed.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
R. Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.

Alleluia - See Te Deum

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
We praise you, O God,
we acclaim you as Lord;
the white-robed army of martyrs praise you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMT 2:13-18

When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.
Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
Out of Egypt I called my son.

When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi,
he became furious.
He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity
two years old and under,
in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.
Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:

A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loud lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she would not be consoled,
since they were no more.