Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Time for a movie

Christmas like Easter is celebrated in the Catholic Church not for a single day, but for an octave, eight days. The theology goes back to an early Christian image of Sunday not as the first day, but the eighth day, that is, the first day of the new creation. Today is the fifth day of the octave of Christmas.

It also happens to be the commemoration of Thomas Becket, a wonderful saint for the beginning of a new year because he reminds us that conversion to Christ happens in stages and it is never to late. A close friend of Henry II of England, Thomas was ordained a deacon early in life but ordination did not seem to have much of an impact on his life and morals.

It was only much later when he was made archbishop of Canterbury that he truly came to understand the meaning of his ordination and experienced a true conversion of heart that would ultimately cost him his life.

Historical accounts of his life are conflicting, and like all movies, the 1964 movie Becket takes some license with the story but it can still be an inspiration to all of us, as we prepare to welcome 2011.

Truth be told all of us are in one way or another "cafeteria Catholics." We focus on those parts of the church's teaching with which we are most comfortable and shy away from the parts that would force us to sacrifice or change our lives. Perhaps today is the day for us to pray for the intercession of St. Thomas Becket to open our eyes that we may see clearly that where we most need conversion in our own lives.