A dear friend of mine, Helen Rhodes, has died in Lufkin, TX, and today I will go there to officiate at her funeral tomorrow. She was eighty-two and lived a beautiful life with a devoted husband who is a retired dentist and four adult children of whom she was very proud and who have been a joy to her all their lives. I commend her to your prayers, and in particular I ask that you remember her husband, Bob, in your prayers. It is one thing to die and go into eternal rest. It is quite another to be left by the one who has been your constant companion for sixty years or so. Although I have never been married, I got a small taste of this sense of loss when my mother died at the age of 99 sixteen years ago. For months after her death, I would see some friend of ours, or hear something of interest, or recall some incident of the past. And my first reaction was always, “Oh, I must remember to tell Mama that when I talk to her next.” And then I would remember that she was gone, and it may be quite a while before I can communicate with her again. I can multiply that by many, many times, and imagine what it is like to lose a husband or wife after a lifetime of happiness when two persons grow ever closer together.
Today is also the commemoration day of Saint Thomas of Canterbury, or Thomas a Becket as he is also known. He was the archbishop of the leading archdiocese of England in those days before the Reformation tore England away from the Church. He was murdered by the selfish king Henry II in the year 1170 in his own cathedral. The tomb of the martyred archbishop immediately became an extremely popular place of pilgrimage for Christians from all the world. It remained so until another even more selfish king, Henry VIII, destroyed the saint’s body and the shrine and turned the great Canterbury Cathedral from a Catholic shrine to a Protestant church, which it is to this day. However, the Anglican/Episcopalian Church of which the Canterbury Cathedral, made holy by the blood of Saint Thomas over 800 years ago is the symbol, is suffering greatly right now because of disunity among its members, its doctrines, and its moral code. Let us pray for these separated brethren of ours: separated from us and from one another, that one day, with the help of God, these separations will be healed and there will again be, as Jesus prayed, “one flock and one shepherd.” Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This Message was composed some years ago.