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Ps. Exsultate justi in Do Ps. Rejoice in the Lord, O mino; rectos decet collau- ye just; praise becometh the datio. V. Gloria Patri. upright. Y. Glory, doc. Gaudeamus.
Let us, &c.
In the Collect, the holy Church emphasises the merit of the glorious Martyr, by saying, that it was for the very Spouse of the Son of God that he shed his blood. After this, she expresses the special confidence she has in his intercession.
Deus, pro cujus Ecclesia, O God, in defence of whose gloriosus Pontifex Thomas Church the glorious Pontiff gladiis impiorum occubuit ; Thomas fell by the swords of præsta quæsumus : ut om- wicked men : grant, we benes, qui ejus implorant auxi- seech thee, that all who imlium, petitionis suæ salu- plore his assistance, may find tarem consequantur effec- comfort in the grant of their tum. Per Dominum. petition. Through, dc.
If the Commemorations of the four Octaves are to be made, they will be found in the Mass of Holy Innocents, page 314.
Lectio Epistolæ beati Pauli Lesson of the Epistle of Saint Apostoli ad Hebræos. Paul the Apostle to the He
brews. Cap. V.
Ch. V. Fratres : Omnis pontifex Brethren: Every Highex hominibus assumptus, Priest taken from among men, pro hominibus constituitur is. ordained for men in the in iis, quæ sunt ad Deum, things, that appertain to God, ut offerat dona et sacrificia that he may offer up gifts and pro peccatis : qui condolere sacrifices for sins: who can possit iis, qui ignorant et have compassion on them that errant : quoniam et ipse are ignorant and that err : circumdatus est infirmitate : because he himself, also, is et propterea debet, quemad- compassed with infirmity : modum pro populo, ita etiam and therefore he ought, as for
the people, so also for himself, et pro semetipso offerre pro to offer for sins. Neither doth peccatis. Nec quisquam suany man take the honour to mat sibi honorem, sed qui himself, but he that is called vocatur a Deo, tamquam by God, as Aaron was. So, Aaron. Sic et Christus non also, Christ did not glorify semetipsum clarificavit ut himself that he might be made Pontifex fieret : sed qui loa High-Priest : but he that catus est ad eum : Filius said to him : Thou art my meus es tu, ego hodie genui Son, this day have I begotten te. Quemadmodum et in thee. As he saith, also, in alio loco dicit : Tu es Saceranother place : Thou art a dos in æternum, secundum Priest for ever, according to ordinem Melchisedech. the order of Melchisedech.
When we meet, in the Annals of the Church, with the names of those great Bishops, who have been the glory of the Christian Pontificate, we are at once sure, that these men, the true images of the great High-Priest Jesus our Lord, did not intrude themselves, uncalled, into the dread honours of the Sanctuary. The history of their Lives shows us, that they were called by God himself
, as Aaron was : and when we come to examine, how it was that they were so great—we soon find, that the source of their greatness was their humility, that led them to refuse the honourable burden, which others would put upon them. God assisted them in the day of trouble and trial, because their exaltation to the episcopacy had been his own work.
Thus was it with St. Thomas, who sat on his episcopal throne of Canterbury, the dignified and courageous Primate. He began by declining the high honour that was offered him. He boldly tells the King, (as St. Gregory the Seventh, before ascending the Papal Throne, told the Emperor who fain would see him Pope,) that, if forced to accept the proffered dignity, he is determined to oppose abuses. He thought by this to frighten men from putting him into the honours and responsibilities of the Pastoral charge, and hoped that they would no longer wish him
to be a Bishop, when they suspected that he would be a true one:—but, the decree of God had gone forth, and Thomas, called by God, was obliged to bow down his head, and receive the holy anointing. And what a Bishop he, that begins by humility, and the determination to sacrifice his very life in the discharge of his duty! He is worthy to follow, and that to Calvary, the God-Man, who, being called, by his Father, to Priesthood and to Sacrifice, enters this world, saying: Behold! I come to do thy will, O God !1
The Gradual, in its first Versicle, applies to St. Thomas, the encomium given by the Sacred Scripture to Abraham. These words, which speak the praises of one, who surpassed all others in merit, are singularly applicable to our illustrious Martyr, whose glory exceeds that of most other holy Bishops, whose memory is celebrated by the Church.
The Alleluia-Verse repeats the words of our Saviour, in which he declares himself to be the Good Shepherd. Why does the Church ise them on this Feast? She would, thereby, tell us, that St. Thomas was a faithful representation of Him, whom St. Peter calls the Prince of Pastors.?
Ecce Sacerdos magnus, Behold a great Prelate, who qui in diebus suis placuit in his days pleased God. Deo.
Ñ. Non est inventus simi Ň. There was none found lis illi, qui conservaret legem like him in keeping the law of Excelsi.
the Most High. Alleluia, alleluia.
Alleluia, alleluia. Ñ. Ego sum Pastor bonus : Ñ. I am the Good Shepherd : et cognosco oves meas, et and I know my sheep, and my cognoscunt me meæ. Alle- sheep know me. Alleluia. luia.
1 Heb. x. 9.
2 I. St. Pet. v. 4.
Sequel of the holy Gospel Sequentia sancti Evangelii according to John.
secundum Joannem. Ch. X.
Cap. X. At that time : Jesus said to In illo tempore : Dixit Jethe Pharisees : I am the Good sus Pharisæis : Ego sum Shepherd. The good shepherd Pastor bonus. Bonus pasgiveth his life for the sheep. tor animam suam dat pro But the hireling, and he that ovibus suis. Mercenarius is not the shepherd, whose own autem, et qui non est pastor, the sheep, are not, seeth the cujus non sunt oves propriæ, wolf coming, and leaveth the videt lupum venientem, et sheep, and flieth: and the dimittit oves, et fugit ; et wolf catcheth and scattereth lupus rapit, et dispergit the sheep ; and the hireling oves : mercenarius autem flieth, because he is a hireling, fugit, quia mercenarius est, and he hath no care for the et non pertinet ad eum de sheep. I am the Good Shep- ovibus. Ego sum Pastor herd : and I know mine, and bonus : et cognosco oves mine know me. As the Father meas, et cognoscunt me knoweth me, and I know the Sicut novit me Pater, Father; and I lay down my et ego agnosco Patrem : et life for my sheep. And other animam meam pono pro sheep I have, that are not of ovibus meis. Et alias oves this fold : them, also, I must habeo, quæ non sunt ex hoc bring, and they shall hear myovili : et illas oportet me voice, and there shall be one adducere, et vocem meam fold, and one Shepherd. audient, et fiet unum ovile
et unus Pastor.
All the strength of the Pontiffs and Pastors of the Church consists in their imitation of Jesus. It is not enough, that they have in them the character of
his Priesthood; they must, also, be ready, like Him, to lay down their lives for their sheep. The Shepherd who thinks more of his own life than of the salvation of his flock, is a hireling-he is not a shepherd: he loves himself, and not his sheep. His flock has a claim upon his shedding his blood for them; and if he will not, he is no longer an image of the Good Shepherd, Jesus. See how calmly St. Thomas lays down his life! He bows down his 'head to
receive the blows of his executioners, as though he were simply acquitting himself of a duty, or paying a debt. After the example of Jesus, he gives his blood for the deliverance of his people; and no sooner has the sword done its work, than the Church, over which God had placed him, is set free: his blood has brought peace. He withstood the wolf, that threatened destruction to his flock; he vanquished him ; the wolf himself was turned into a lamb, for the king visited the Tomb of his victim, and sought, in prostrate supplication, the Martyr's blessing.
Thomas knew his sheep, that is, he loved them ; it was a happiness to him, therefore, to die for them. He was made Pastor, on the condition that he would die for them ; just as our Emmanuel was made High-Priest in order that he might offer Sacrifice, in which, too, he was both Priest and Victim. Jesus' sheep know their divine Shepherd—they know that he came in order to save them; therefore is it, that his Birth at Bethlehem is so dear to them. The Shepherd of Canterbury, too, is also known by his sheep; and, therefore, the Feast of his triumphant martyrdom is very dear to them, not only in the century when it happened, but even now, and so will it ever be, even to the end of time. In return for this love and devotion, paid him by the Church on earth, Thomas blesses her from heaven. We cannot doubt it—the wonderful return to the ancient Faith, which we are now witnessing in our dear England, is due, in no little measure, to the powerful intercession of St. Thomas of Canterbury, and this intercession is the return, made by our glorious Martyr, for that fervent and filial devotion, which is shown him, and which the faithful will ever show to him who was so heroically, what only the true Church can produce—a true Pastor.
1 Col. i. 20.