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Sunday, 28 December 2014

Feast Day of Thomas a Becket

Tomorrow is the feast day of Thomas a Becket. Those of us in the modern world do not appreciate that his shrine was one of the largest and most popular pilgrimage destinations in Europe until Henry VIII ruined it.

The shrine appealed to all those who saw the tensions between Church and State as realities, and that Thomas represented the true hierarchy of Church over State.

The Church has the right and duty to not only educate those who work for the State, but to actually help form the basis for State government.

This simple fact has been lost by the Protestant emphasis on the separation of Church and State, a false teaching meant to diminish the authority of the Church in government, politics, the economy and society in general.

How common but how silly it is to think that man is only material, and without a soul. All laws and customs of a State must be built on this fact-that the goal of life is heaven, not earth.

Becket's life and death remind us that we need to make choices daily which include the realization that we are not dualistic beings, but persons with spiritual and physical needs. Becket reminds us that the Church is first and States are second in the hierarchy of truth, morals, virtues, and organization.

The City of God dwells within the City of Man, but sadly, too many people, including clerics, have wanted the Church to serve the State instead of having the State protect the Church.

That is the duty of a true State-to protect God's one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church from Her enemies. Becket points to the sad truth that too often the State persecutes the Church.

It is easy to see why the shrine at Canterbury was one of the first to be destroyed by the very king who took the Church and crushed it in order to make a new one, a false one, totally under the power of the State.

Becket's tomb and shrine would have been a constant reminder of Henry's sins and his taking authority away from the Pope and clergy.

So, the shrine, the tomb, the relics had to go.

Many years ago, I was at the Venerabile in Rome for this feast day. The Anglican cleric in charge of keeping the skull of Becket at the Anglican parish in Rome brought the glass casket to the seminary for all of us to venerate. I remember as if it were yesterday going up to the altar and looking at the skull with the mark of the broad sword, and kissing the glass case.

Honor Becket. His presence in the Church Victorious will be more and more a sign for us in the time to come.