Thomas a Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, martyr-29 December 2016

Readings:

Psalm 125
2 Esdras 2:42-48
1 John 2:3-6, 15-17
Mark 11:24-33

Preface of a Saint (3)

[Common of a Martyr]
[Common of a Pastor]
[For the Ministry II]
[Of the Holy Cross]

PRAYERS (traditional wording)


O God, our strength and our salvation, who didst call thy servant Thomas Becket to be a shepherd of thy people and a defender of thy Church: Keep thy household from all evil and raise up among us faithful pastors and leaders who are wise in the ways of the Gospel; through Jesus Christ the shepherd of our souls, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

PRAYERS (contemporary wording)
O God, our strength and our salvation, who called your servant Thomas Becket to be a shepherd of your people and a defender of your Church: Keep your household from all evil and raise up among us faithful pastors and leaders who are wise in the ways of the Gospel; through Jesus Christ the shepherd of our souls, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
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Last updated: 29 October 2016

Lessons revised at GC 2009.

THOMAS OF CANTERBURY

ARCHBISHOP AND MARTYR (29 DEC 1170)

Becket Window 1

Stained glass window of Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral

On December 29, we remember Thomas a Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, slain in his own cathedral in 1170, for his defiance of King Henry II. The death of Thomas reminds us that a Christian, even when safe from pagans, can be in danger from his fellow-Christians. It also reminds us that one can be martyred in a cause where the merits of the particular issue at hand are not obvious to all men of good will. The issue here, or one of the issues, was one of court jurisdiction. King Henry claimed that a cleric accused of an ordinary crime ought to be tried in the King’s Courts like any layman. Thomas, who was Henry’s Chancellor and his close friend, vigorously upheld the king’s position. However, when he was made Archbishop of Canterbury with the king’s support, he reversed himself completely and upheld the right of clergy to be tried only in Church courts, which could not inflict capital punishment. (This reversal does not imply fickleness or treachery. As Chancellor, Thomas was bound to serve the king. Now, as Archbishop, he was bound to defend the Church.) Henry wanted an arrangement by which (for example) a priest accused of murder would be tried by a Church Court, which if it found him guilty would degrade him to the rank of a layman, whereupon a King’s Court would try him, and if it found him guilty would order him hanged. Thomas objected that a man could not be tried and punished twice for the same offense.[ continued]

Source: Thomas a Becket


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