Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

war against the Liberty of the Church with less violence and more intrigue—the intrigue of enslaving her by political administration. It was this crafty diplomacy which forged the chains, wherewith so many Churches are now shackled, and which, be they ever so gilded, are insupportable. There is but one way to unlink such fetters—to break them. He that breaks them, will be great in the Church of heaven and earth, for he must be a Martyr: he will not have to fight with the sword, or be a political agitator, but simply, to resist the plotters against the Liberty of the Spouse of Christ, and suffer patiently whatever may be said or done against him.

Let us give ear once more to the sublime Panegyrist of our St. Thomas: he is alluding to this patient resistance, which made the Archbishop triumph over tyranny.

"My Brethren, see what manner of men the "Church finds rising up to defend her in her weak"ness, and how truly she may say with the Apostle: "When 1 am weak, then am I powerful} It is this "blessed weakness, which provides her with invinci"ble power, and which enlists in her cause the "bravest soldiers and the mightiest conquerors this "world has ever seen—I mean, the Martyrs. He "that infringes on the authority of the Church, let "him dread that precious blood of the Martyrs, "which consecrates and protects it."

Now, all this Fortitude, and the whole of this Victory, come from the Crib of the Infant Jesus: therefore it is, that we find St. Thomas standing near it, in company with the Protomartyr Stephen. Any example of humility, and of what the world calls poverty and weakness, which had been less eloquent than this of the mystery of God made a Little Child, would have been insufficient to teach man what real

1II. Cor. xii. 10.

Power is. Up to that time, man had no other idea of power than that which the sword can give, or of greatness than that which comes of riches, or of joy than such as triumph brings: but when God came into this world, and showed himself weak, and poor, and persecuted—every thing was changed. Men were found who loved the lowly Crib of Jesus, with all its humiliations, better than the whole world besides: and from this mystery of the weakness of an Infant God they imbibed a greatness of soul, which even the world could not help admiring.

It is most just, therefore, that the two laurelwreaths of St. Thomas and St. Stephen should intertwine round the Crib of the Babe of Bethlehem, for they are the two trophies of his two dear Martyrs. As regards St. Thomas, divine Providence marked out most clearly the place he was to occupy in the Cycle of the Christian Year, by permitting his martyrdom to happen on the day following the Feast of the Holy Innocents; so that, the Church could have no hesitation in assigning the 29th of December as the day for celebrating the memory of the saintly Archbishop of Canterbury. As long as the world lasts, this day will be a Feast of dearest interest to the whole Church of God; and the name of Thomas of Canterbury will be, to the day of judgment, terrible to the enemies of the Liberty of the Church, and music breathing hope and consolation to hearts that love that Liberty, which Jesus bought at the price of his Precious Blood.

We will now listen to this dear Mother of ours, the Church, who gives us, in her Divine Office, a short history of the life and sufferings of St. Thomas.

Thomas, Londini in An- Thomas was born in Eng

glia natus, Theobaldo sue- land, in the city of London.

cessit Cantuariensi epis- He succeeded Theobald as

copo : et qui antea in admi- Bishop of Canterbury. He

nistrando Cancellaria3 mu- had previously acquitted himself with much honour as nere praeclare se gesserat, in Chancellor, and was strenuous Episcopali officio fortis et and unflinching in his duty invictus fuit. Cum enim as Bishop; for when Henry Henricus Secundus Angliae 2nd, King of England, in an Rex, convocatis ad se Episassembly of the Bishops and copis, et Proceribus regni, Nobles of the realm, passed leges ferret utilitati ac digcertain laws inconsistent with nitati Ecclesiastica a repugthe interests and the honour nantes, adeo constanter obof the Church, the Bishop stitit regiae cupiditati, ut withstood the King's avarice neque pollicitationibus, neso courageously, that neither que terroribus de sententia fair promises nor threats could decedens proxime conjiciendraw him over to the King's dus in carcerem clam recesside, and, being in danger of serit. Inde propinqui ejus imprisonment, he privately omnis aetatis ejecti, amici,

his relatives young and old, per aetatem liceret, jureju

all his friends, and household, rando adstrictis, universos

were banished, and such of Thomam adituros, si for

them, as had attained the age tasse miserabili suorum ca

of discretion, were made to lamitatis aspectu movere

would go to Thomas, as per- privatis incommodis deterhaps he, who could not be reri minime potuisset. Non made to swerve from his respexit carnem aut sanholy purpose, by any personal guinem, neque ullus in eo consideration, might relent at humanitatis sensus, pastothe heart-rending spectacle of ralis officii constantiam lathe sufferings of them who befactavit. were dear to him. But he regarded not the demands of flesh and blood, neither did he permit the feelings of natural affection to weaken the firmness required of him as Bishop.

He, therefore, repaired to Contulit igitur se ad AlexPope Alexander 3rd, from andrum Tertium Pontifiwhom he met with a kind re- cem, a quo benigne accepception, and who commended tus est: et inde profectus, him, on his departure, to the monachis Pontiniacensis Cistercian Monks of Pontigny. monasterii, Cisterciensis OrAs soon as Henry came to dinis, ab eodem commendaknow this, he strove to have tus. Quod ut cognovit HenThomas expelled from Pon- ricus, missis ad Conventum tigny, and, for this purpose, Fratrum Cisterciensium misent threatening letters to the nacibus litteris, Thomam e

[graphic]

fautores omnes, iis, quibus

promise on oath that they

[graphic]

Pontiniaco monasterio exturbare conatur. Quare vir sanctus veritus ne sua causa Cisterciensis familia pateretur, sponte di^cessit, et Ludovicum Galliae regem, ejus iuvitatu convenit: ubi taiudiu fuit, quoad, Pontifice Maximo, et ipso Rege agentibus, ab exilio summa totius regni gratulatione revocatur. Qui dum boni pastoris officium securus exsequitur, ecce calumniatores ad regem deferunt eum multa contra regnuin et publicam quietem moliri: ut propterea saepius conquereretur rex, se in suo regno cum uno sacerdote pacem habere non posse.

Ex qua regis voce nefarii satellites sperantes gratum se regi facturos, si Thomam e medio tollerent; clam convenientes Cantuariam, Episcopum in templo vespertinis horis operam dantem aggrediuntur. Qui clericis templi aditus praecludere conantibus accurrens, ostium aperuit, illis usus verbis ad suos: Non est Dei Ecclesia Dei custodienda more castrorum; et ego pro Ecclesia Dei libenter mortem subibo. Tum ad milites : Vos Dei jussu cavete ne cuipiam meorum noceatis. Deinde flexis genibus, Deo, beatae Mariae, sancto Diony

General Chapter of Citeaux. Whereupon, the holy man, fearing lest the Cistercian Order should be made to suffer on his account, left the Monastery of his own accord, and betook himself to the hospitable shelter to which he had been invited by Louis, King of France. There he remained, until, by the intervention of the Pope and Louis the King, he was called home from his banishment, to the joy of the whole kingdom. Whilst resuming the intrepid discharge of the duty of a good Shepherd, certain calumniators denounced him to King Henry as one that was plotting sundry things against the country and the public peace. Therefore, the King was heard frequently complaining, that there was only one Priest in his kingdom with whom he could not be in peace.

Certain wicked satellites concluded from this expression of the King, that he would be pleased at their ridding him of Thomas. Accordingly, they stealthily enter Canterbury, and finding the Bishop was in the Church, officiating at Yespers, they began their attack. The Clergy were using means to prevent them from entering the Church, when the Saint, coming to them, forbad their opposition, and, opening the door, thus spoke to them : The Church is not to be guarded like a citadel, and I am glad to die for God's Church. Then turning to the soldiers, he said: I command you, in the

name of God, that you hurt not any of them that are with me. After this, he knelt down, and commending his Church and himself to God, to the Blessed Mary, to St. Denis, and to the other Patron Saints of his Cathedral, with the same courage that he had shown in resisting the King's execrable laws, he bowed down his head to the impious murderers, on the Fourth of the Calends of January (December 29th), in the Year of our Lord 1171. His brains were scattered on the floor of the entire Church. God having shown the holiness of his servant by many miracles, he was canonised by the same Pope, Alexander 3rd.

sio, et reliquis Sanctis, ejus Ecclesiae patronis, Ecclesiam et seipsum commendans, sacrum caput eadem constantia, qua iniquissimi regis legibus restiterat, impio ferro praacindendum obtulit, quarto Kalendas Januarii, anno Domini millesimo centesimo septuagesimo primo, cujus cerebro respersum est totius templi pavimentum. Quem multis postea illustrem miraculis idem Alexander Pontifex retulit in Sanctorum numerum.

MASS.

The solemn Introit of to-day's Mass shows the transport of joy, wherewith the Church celebrates the Feast of our holy Martyr. The words, and the chant, which accompanies them, are only used about four times in the year. Both words and music bespeak enthusiasm and joy: and the Church on earth is elated at the thought, that she and the Angels are making one choir to the praise of the victory of Thomas of Canterbury.

INTROIT.

Let us all rejoice in the Gaudeamus omnes in DoLord, and celebrate this festi- mino, diem festum celeval in honour of Blessed brantes sub honore beati Thomas the Martyr: for Thomas Martyris: de cujus whose martyrdom the Angels passione gaudent Angeli, et rejoice, and praise the Son of collaudant Filium Dei. God.

« PoprzedniaDalej »