Sunday, February 3, 2008

St. Thomas á Becket

And again . . .

While writing about politics, faith, and murder it occurred to me that today is the memorial of St. Thomas a Beckett, King Henry II of England's chancellor for eight years, who was later named archbishop of Canterbury, thus succeeding to the See of St. Anselm of Canterbury, that great bishop who gave us the most accurate definition of theology- fides quaerens intellectum - faith seeking understanding. In addition to serving as King Henry's chancellor, St. Thomas was his companion, his pal, his drinking buddy, if you will. Despite all this, as a result of his conversion of heart that occurred upon his receiving ordination, which prevented him from being the dupe King Henry thought his old buddy would be, he was murdered in his cathedral in 1170 CE by henchmen of King Henry who took it upon themselves to answer to the now (in)famous question, "Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?"

Of course, all of this occurred in England prior to the Reformation. For anybody interested in the era of the English Reformation, Professor Eamon Duffy's The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400-1580 is must read. One must not forget T.S. Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral about the murder of Beckett nor the classic film Becket, starring Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole as Thomas a Beckett and King Henry II respectively.

The violent inflicting suffering and bearing away those working to usher in a brighter day is nothing new, just as Herod killed John the Baptist. As the Holy Father said upon leaning of th assassination of Ms. Bhutto, "peace further removes itself". As Christians we interpret human events in light of reality. This brings me to a quote shared by Sharon yesterday from Msgr. Giusanni: "The Christian looks at all of reality in the same way as a non-Christian, but that which reality tells him or her is different and he or she reacts in a different way". Indeed, upon his ordination and consecration as archbishop, St. Thomas a Beckett had the encounter necessary to enter into reality. He embraced reality.

St. Thomas a Beckett pray for us

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