Thomas Becket and the Need for Holy, Heroic Bishops
tells us that an exasperated King shouted out in the company of some of his knights "will no-one rid me of this troublesome priest?"
Four knights took the exclamation to heart. They rode to the Cathedral of Canterbury to do just that; Reginald FitzUrse, William de Tracey, Hugh de Morville and Richard le Breton. On December 29th 1170 they murdered/martyred the Bishop right within Canterbury Cathedral. Reports are that after they committed the evil act one of them shouted "Let us away. He will rise no more."
One story recounts that while the Bishops body was still on the cathedral floor, the faithful had gathered to seek his intercession and collect portions of his clothing and drops of his blood. His heroic virtue in life and conformity to Jesus Christ in his martyrs' death, led to his quick canonization.
He stands in our day as an example for all Bishops - indeed all who must endure a hostile State - of the apostles clear words "This is the way we may know that we are in union with him: whoever claims to abide in him ought to walk just as he walked." In an excerpt from a letter the Bishop wrote to his Brother Bishops we read these words:
"If we who are called bishops desire to understand the meaning of our calling and to be worthy of it, we must strive to keep our eyes on Him whom God appointed High Priest forever, and to follow in His footsteps. For our sake He offered Himself to the father on the Altar of the Cross. He now looks down from heaven on our actions and secret thoughts, and one day He will give each of us the rewards his deeds deserve.
"As successors of the Apostles, we hold the highest rank in our churches; we have accepted the responsibility of acting as Christ's representatives on earth; we receive the honor belonging to that office, and enjoy the temporal benefits of our spiritual labors. It must therefore be our endeavor to destroy the reign of sin and death, and by nurturing faith and uprightness of life, to build up the Church of Christ into a holy temple in the Lord.
"There are a great many Bishops in the Church, but would to God we were the zealous teachers and pastors that we promised to be at our consecration, and still make profession of being."
Thomas of Becket - pray for us. With Bishop Thomas Becket, let us all pray for our Bishops!
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Becket, Thomas, Bishops, Church/State, Religious Freedom, heroic virtue, martyrdom, Bishops, Archbishops, Deacon Keith Fournier
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