Thoughts for December 29 (St Thomas Becket) from Fr Willie Doyle

Jesus, you know my longing to become a saint. You know how much I thirst to die a martyr. Help me to prove that I am really in earnest by living this life of martyrdom.

O loving Jesus, help me now not to fight any longer against You. I really long to do what You want, but I know my weakness so well and my inconstancy. I have made so many generous resolutions which I have never kept that I feel it is almost a mockery to promise more. This record of my feelings and desire at this moment will be a spur to my generosity; and if I cannot live up to the perfection of what You want, at least I am now determined to do more than I have ever done before. Help me, Jesus!

COMMENT: The cross is always at the centre of the Christian life, in one way or another. It was present in Bethlehem with its poverty and lack of comfort. The day after Christmas we celebrate the feast of the first martyr, St Stephen. Two days later we celebrate the feast of the Holy Innocents and today we celebrate the feast of St Thomas Becket, the martyred Archbishop of Canterbury who was killed because he defended the freedom of the Church against the dictates of the State.

St Thomas’ example is very relevant for us today. A form of aggressive secularism seeks to squeeze the Church from the public square; this is becoming especially acute in Ireland. We may not have to face physical martyrdom like St Thomas, but we are called to stand firm and defend the Church against unjust restrictions on its freedom. Sometimes this may mean a kind of dry martyrdom which may lead to a loss of career opportunities or public scorn and abuse. For some people this dry martyrdom may be harder to bear than the loss of one’s life. If we find it hard to stand firm, let us copy the example of Fr Doyle and call to the Lord to help us: “Help me, Jesus!”