Saint Thomas Becket, Sin and Contrition

Saturday, December 29, AD 2012

Today is the feast day of my confirmation saint, Saint Thomas Becket, the holy, blessed martyr.  His story tells us how foreign to our time the Middle Ages are.  Becket was a worldly cleric who had risen to be chancellor of England for Henry II.  Henry seized the opportunity to place his man, Becket, on the throne of Canterbury as Primate of England.  Becket had a sudden and complete religious conversion and fought Henry for the liberty of the Church for which Becket suffered exile and, ultimately, murder.  In penance for Becket’s murder Henry had himself beaten by the monks at Canterbury before the tomb of his former friend who, two years after his death, was canonized by the Pope.  For over three centuries his tomb became one of the major pilgrimage sites in Europe and inspired the immortal Canterbury Tales.

The Middle Ages were fully as immersed in sin as our own time, although with different mixtures of evil, but the sins of the Middle Ages were often followed by great penances and acts of contrition that brightened and inspired countless lives down through the centuries.  This we have lost and this we must regain.  G.K. Chesterton put what we lack in high relief when he wrote about Saint Thomas:

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4 Responses to Saint Thomas Becket, Sin and Contrition

  • St Thomas’s cultus was by no means confined to England.

    There are churches dedicated to him in Normandy (as one would expect) and in the Pas de Calais, but also in Sicily, where there was a strong Norman presence. The Duomo of Masala, where the wine comes from, is dedicated to him. The present Baroque church replaces a 12th century Norman one. I never eat zabaglione or tiramisu, which I do rather often, but I think of it.

  • The thing to do was owning up… ? Not pointing fingers?
    Yes, very different to our 21 century minds.

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  • Once a person, a Community, Country or a Nation has lost the sense of sin and, therefore, sees no need for repentance, convesion and reparation they then deliberately chose the road to Eternal Damnation. Let us never cease to pray for the sinners, especially the hardened sinners for whom Jesus dictated to Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska the Divine Mercy Chaplet. He also stated that this Chaplet should be prayed at the bedside of the dying so that they can be touched by His Grace and repent at that very, very final moment of their lives.

    How I wish in this Year of Faith the children of the Church would adopt this Prayer for the sinful Civil Leaders – and those who embrace their actions and who do not even accept they have done any wrong with their anti-God policies, Laws and disordered lifestyles.

    “For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have Mercy on us and on the whole world”