Today we celebrate St. Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury and martyr. In the strange and worrisome times that we live in, this Saint is a beacon of hope for us faithful, and also for the clergy of the Church.
I will just leave a few bits of what Dom Prosper Gueranger has written about this saint for he has spoken far better than I ever could.
Speaking of the liberty of the Church, he writes:
"But in what does this sacred liberty consist? It consists in the Church's absolute independence of every secular power in the ministry of the Word of God, which she is bound to preach in season and out of season, as St Paul says, to all mankind, without distinction of nation or race or age or sex: in the administration of the Sacraments, to which she must invite all men without exception, in order to the world's salvation: in the practice, free from all human control, of the Counsels, as well as of the Precepts, of the Gospel: in the unobstructed intercommunication of the several degrees of her sacred hierarchy: in the publication and application of her decrees and ordinances in matters of discipline: in the maintenance and development of the Institutions she has founded: in holding and governing her temporal patrimony: and lastly in the defense of those privileges which have been adjudged to her by the civil authority itself, in order that her ministry of peace and charity might be unembarrassed and respected."
"Such is the Liberty of the Church. It is the bulwark of the Sanctuary. Every breach there imperils the Hierarchy, and even the very Faith. A Bishop may not flee, as the hireling, nor hold his peace, like those dumb dogs of which the prophet Isaias speaks, and which are not able to bark. He is the Watchman of Isreal: he is a traitor if he first lets the enemy enter the citadel, and then, but only then, gives the alarm and risks his person and his life. The obligation of laying down his life for his flock begins to be in force at the enemy's first attack upon the very outposts of the City, which is only safe when they are strongly guarded."
"The consequence of the Pastor's resistance may be of the most serious nature; in which event we must remember a truth which has been admirably expressed by Bossuet in his magnificent panegyric of St. Thomas of Canterbury, which we regret not being able to give from beginning to end. 'It is an established law,' he says, ' that every success the Church acquires costs her the life of some of her children, and that in order to secure her rights she must shed her own blood. Her Divine Spouse redeemed her by the Blood He shed for Her; and He wishes that she should purchase on the same terms the graces He bestows upon her. It was by the blood of the Martyrs that she extended her conquests far beyond the limits of the Roman Empire. It was her blood that procured her both the peace she enjoyed under the Christian, and the victory she gained over the Pagan Emperors. So that as she had to shed her blood for the propagation of her teaching, she had also to bleed in order to make her authority accepted. The discipline, therefore, as well as the faith of the Church, was to have its Martyrs.'"
Let us all consider these words and this Saint's testimony in these strange times where the sacraments are being with held from so many all over the world. Saint Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, pray for us!