Installation Scene From Becket

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If we who are called bishops desire to understand the meaning of our calling and to be worthy of it, we must strive to keep our eyes on him whom God appointed high priest for ever, and to follow in his footsteps. For our sake he offered himself to the Father upon the altar of the cross. He now looks down from heaven on our actions and secret thoughts, and one day he will give each of us the reward his deeds deserve.

Saint Thomas Becket


In honor of the feast day of Saint Thomas Becket, a reminder of the history of Catholic England, when Catholics were willing to stand against the State if need be to protect the Honor of God.   Becket (1964), although inheriting the historical howlers that existed in the play, and were known by the playwright Jean Anouilh who wisely preferred a poetic story to prosaic fact,  (Becket was Norman not Saxon, Henry II was not a crowned juvenile delinquent, the armor, as is usual in medieval epics, is all wrong for the period, etc.), this classic film helped awaken in me a desire to learn about the history of the Church.  With masterful performances by Richard Burton as “the holy blessed martyr” and Peter O’Toole as Henry II, the film brought alive to me as a child the high Middle Ages.  The installation sequence brought home to me the important role of ceremony, tradition and symbolism in our Faith, a lesson I have never forgotten.

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  1. I remember going to see the movie “Becket” as if it was yesterday. Actually, it was nearly 50 years ago. I had been discharged from the U.S. Air Force that Fall and was attending College on the G.I. Bill. I was lonely because everyone I knew in High School had married and/or moved to parts unknown. I had been gone for four years.
    To my great delight, I discovered that there was this one girl, whom I had always had my eye on, but never could get up the moxie to ask out, a beautiful and poised young lady, that was still available and unattached ! I asked her out, and she said “yes” !
    Well sir, I cleaned up the eight year old Impala that I had saved for to attend College with. And she sparked and shined. All except the one frayed patch on the passenger seat. I couldn’t afford new seat covers.
    We attended the movie “Becket”, the one with Burton and O’Toole. And the acting was great. I felt great. And I hoped that Virginia was as impressed with me, as I was with her !
    When we arrived back at her place, I noticed that she seemed kind of angry. I was trying to suggest that we go elsewhere for a bite. But she said no.
    Actually, as I helped her out of the car, she shouted, “Don;t ever pick me up again in that piece of crap !” And she gestured towards the Impala.
    Yessir, the movie was great. I never saw her again.
    Timothy R.

  2. In high school we were encouraged to see Becket and a Man For All Seasons which encouraged my interest in English saints. Two thomases martyred by the two Henrys. Having attended St. Thomas More grade school and with a birthday of December 29th I was already partial to these great saints who refused to compromise their faith by acquiescing to the Crown. Years later while on leave in England another WAVE and I caught the last train to Canterbury. We arrived just in time for Vespers/Evensong. It was an awesome experience to listen to the choir near the site of Thomas a Becket’s martyrdom.

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