St. Thomas Becket

Thomas Becket (1118-1170) was the Archbishop of Canterbury, or the head of the English Church, during the reign of Henry II. Conflict arose between the two men over various instances of Henry overstepping what Thomas saw as the boundaries of the church. It is said that during one of these incidents Henry quipped, “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?” Four of his knights took this statement literally and attacked Thomas inside the cathedral, splitting open his head. After Thomas’ death, Henry publically repented in front of his tomb and made Thomas’ sister the abbess of Barking Abbey. He was canonized by Pope Alexander III only two years after his death. Thomas’ feast day is December 29.

“Hereafter, I want you to tell me, candidly and in secret, what people are saying about me. And if you see anything in me that you regard as a fault, feel free to tell me in private. For from now on, people will talk about me, but not to me. It is dangerous for men in power if no one dares to tell them when they go wrong.” — Thomas Becket said this to a friend just before his ordination.

Questions for Reflection

Our words are powerful, able to hurt or to heal, and they can have ramifications beyond our expectations. How have you seen the power of words in your life in positive and negative ways? Do you have someone in your life who tells you the truth?