For the Feast Day of St. Thomas the Apostle

Thomas the Apostle, whose feast it is today, is said to have traveled to India and planted Christianity there.  The church in Kerala, India, traces its lineage back to him.  Above is a religious song in the Malayalam language of Kerala.  Below are prayers in honor of St. Thomas, courtesy of here.

Prayer to St. Thomas the Apostle

Touching the Lord’s side, thou didst attain to the perfection of good things, for, as a sponge, thou drew therefrom the fount of all good and drank the draught of everlasting life, driving out ignorance from the minds of men and filling them with the doctrines of the knowledge of God.

First incredulous, then believing, thou strengthened those who were tempted, preaching to every creature how our Lord and God became flesh for us on earth and suffered death on the cross, being transfixed with nails and having His side opened with a lance, whence we draw life.

Most holy apostle, who dost rejoice in the vision of God, thou didst flood with light all the land of the Indies; when thou hadst enlightened these children of the light and the day, inspired by the Spirit, thou didst overthrow their pagan temples and didst raise their people in the love of God, to the praise and glory of the Church–O blessed intercessor for our souls.

Through a vision of the divine, thou didst become, O Thomas the Apostle, the mystic cup of the spiritual wisdom of Christ, in whom the souls of the faithful rejoice; a spiritual net, thou didst draw men from the abyss of ignorance. Hence thou became as a stream of charity from Sion, filling every creature with thy teachings of the divine. Thou didst imitate the Passion of Christ and, with thy side pierced for Him, didst put on immortality. Pray to Him for us, that He may have mercy on our souls.

_____________________________

St. Thomas, Apostle
by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

St. Thomas was a fisherman, born in Galilee. The divine Saviour received him among His Apostles, to announce His Gospel to the world, and to convert mankind. From the time that he was chosen to so high an office, Thomas followed his beloved Master everywhere, and feared no danger. One day, when Jesus spoke of going to Judaea, to awaken Lazarus from the dead, some of His disciples opposed Him, saying: “Rabbi, the Jews but now sought to stone Thee, and goest Thou thither again?” They probably feared that they would have to suffer with Him. Thomas, however, more courageous than the others, said: “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” By these words the Apostle manifested that no fear of death would separate him from Christ; and that, rather than leave Him, he would die with Him. It is true that later, with other disciples, he left Him on the Mount of Olives, when He was taken prisoner by the Jews; but he returned soon, and joined the rest of the Apostles.

On the day of His resurrection, Christ appeared to them. Thomas, however, was not with them. When they told him afterwards, that they had seen the Lord, he doubted, and said: “Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” By this, Thomas meant that he did not believe the resurrection of the Lord, although he had several times heard from the lips of Jesus, not only a prophecy of His sufferings and death, but also of His resurrection; and although the Apostles and several pious women had repeatedly assured him that they had seen the risen Lord. The Holy Fathers say that Christ permitted this unbelief in Thomas, not only that from it we might learn our own weakness, but also that all who believe in Him might be so much better instructed in the mystery of His resurrection, and strengthened in their belief in it. Hence, St. Gregory writes: “The unbelief of Thomas has been more useful to our belief than the belief of the other disciples of the Lord, who, without hesitation, received the news of His resurrection,” because the unbelief of Thomas gave occasion for new proofs of the resurrection of Christ.

The eighth day after that event, Christ came into the hall where Thomas was with the other Apostles, and greeted them with the words: “Peace be unto you.” Then, turning to Thomas, He said: “Put in thy finger hither, and see my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and put it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing.” What Thomas must have felt at these words, and at seeing his risen Saviour, each one may picture to himself. He saw himself suddenly convinced, not only of the resurrection, but also of the omniscience of his dear Master. With shame and fear at the remembrance of his fault, but also with love and confidence at the thought of the meekness of the Saviour, he touched, with deep veneration, the holy wounds, and exclaimed: “My Lord and my God!” In these few words he repented of his unbelief, and at the same time made a confession of his faith, in presence of those whom he had scandalized by his obstinacy. He remained until his end, constant in his belief; and, after the descent of the Holy Ghost, announced, not only the glorious resurrection of the Lord, but also the other mysteries and articles of the faith.

St. Thomas passed some time in Judaea, preaching the Gospel, and then went into distant countries, inhabited by savage races, as Parthia, Media, Persia, Hyrcania, and came, at last, to India. In all he preached the Gospel of the Lord, notwithstanding the manifold difficulties which the Evil One placed in his way, through the enemies of the faith, and the numerous persecutions which he everywhere endured. How many thousand souls this holy Apostle converted to Christ is known only to Him from whom nothing is hid. The many miracles which he almost daily performed, persuaded the people that the faith which he preached was truly divine: hence his success with the most embittered pagans. He made the largest number of converts in India. This immense territory he traversed in every direction, and established Christianity in it so firmly, that traces of it were found there in the sixteenth century, fifteen hundred years after his death. Even in China, indubitable signs of it were discovered. He erected many churches, and placed Christian teachers in them, that the faith he had personally preached during his life might be preserved after his death.

At the building of the church at Meliapor, one of the chief cities of India, a wonderful event took place. The sea had cast ashore a very large tree, which the king desired to make use of for the palace he was just erecting. But neither men nor many elephants could move the tree. The holy Apostle, full of trust in the Almighty, offered to draw the immense burden all alone, if the king would make him a present of it for the Christian church he was about to build. The king consented, and St. Thomas, loosening his girdle, tied the end of it to one branch of the tree, made the sign of the Cross, and drew the tree away from the place where it was lying. All present were greatly astonished at this miracle, and many were converted, and assisted the Apostle in building the church. In this church the Saint erected a cross of stone, which, it is said, is still to be seen at this day. Upon this cross he engraved the following words: “When the sea will have reached this spot, men will come from Europe to propagate the faith which I began to preach.” The sea was, at that time, far off, but at the time when St. Francis Xavier landed there, it had reached the cross, and the prophecy was fulfilled.

The idolatrous priests who could not contradict the faith which St. Thomas preached, and which he verified by so many miracles, were enraged at his success, as they lost considerably in temporal goods by the conversions that took place. They therefore endeavored to arouse the king’s wrath against him, or to make away with him in some other manner. Some write that they persuaded the king to pronounce his death-sentence, and that he was shot dead with arrows. Others relate that the Brahmins themselves took the life of the holy Apostle. They had ascertained that the Saint went every day, towards evening, to a cross which he himself had erected, and that he remained there a long time in prayer. This gave them a favorable opportunity to vent their wrath upon him. They came together silently to the place where, on bended knees, the Saint was saying his prayers. One of them thrust a lance into him so violently that he sank upon the ground; after which, the others continued to beat him and to trample on him until all signs of life ceased.

When St. Francis Xavier came to India, the signs of blood were still to be seen on the cross where this murderous deed was committed; and more than once drops of blood appeared on this cross during the celebration of Mass, when crowds of people were present. St. Xavier, shortly after his arrival in India, went to the tomb of St. Thomas, and passed many days and nights there in prayer. He begged God fervently to bestow upon him the Spirit and zeal of this holy Apostle, that he might be able to restore the Christian faith which St. Thomas had preached there, but which had gradually been entirely exterminated. Before undertaking any important work, he went, if possible, to the tomb of St. Thomas; and when this was impossible, he invoked the holy Apostle’s intercession, and endeavored to follow his example in all things.

PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS.

I. St. Thomas, for three years, accompanied Christ our Lord; was present at His divine instructions; saw the many miracles He wrought; and yet became incredulous and remained so for eight days, and might have remained still longer, had not Christ mercifully restored his faith. Go, O man, and build upon your own strength, or if you have lived piously for some time, imagine you are secure against falling! Oh! how foolish, how presumptuous you are! That which happened to an apostle may surely happen to you. The sad fall of our holy Apostle, ought not, however, to make you despondent or fearful; it ought only to incite you not to trust too much in your own strength, but to walk continually in the fear of the Lord, and to pray to Him daily, that He may give you the grace not to offend Him, but to remain constant in His service If you remain continually in the fear of the Lord, you will walk carefully and not fall into any great sin. For, it is written: “The fear of the Lord is unto life; and he shall abide in fulness without being visited with evil,” (without falling into sin.) (Proverbs, xix.) Tertullian writes: “Fear is the foundation of our salvation. Whoever fears is careful. Through fear we shall become careful, and through carefulness we shall be saved. Whoever is careful is sure.” If we cease to fear God, then we are near falling, even if we have reached the highest pinnacle of perfection. This the Holy Ghost indicates in the following words: “Unless thou hold thyself diligently in the fear of the Lord, thy house shall quickly be overthrown.” (Eccles. xxvii.)

II. Thomas is called unbelieving by Christ, although he disbelieved only one article, the resurrection. Hence, it is clear that he who doubts, or rejects only one article of faith, cannot be counted among true Catholics, although he believes all the others. A Catholic must believe every truth revealed by the Almighty, be it great or small, as God cannot fail either in small things or great. The offence which we do to God by denying even the smallest article of faith, is as great as if we denied an important one, or all of them together; for, it is just as if we said: God has been deceived, or He has deceived us in revealing this article. Whether this is said of great and important articles, or of one that is small, makes but little difference; or if we desire to make a difference, we must say that it is a greater offence to God to ascribe to Him a fault in a small matter than in a great; for, what can be more blasphemous than to maintain that the Almighty has been deceived in a trifling matter, or that He intends to deceive us? They should ponder on this, who sometimes entertain doubts about an article of faith, or even go so far as to say that in some matters, they agree with non-Catholics, and consider them right. These are no longer Catholics. Their faith is lost; and if they do not repent, as St. Thomas did, they will go to perdition, because they are incredulous. They are disobedient who obey nine of the Commandments but not the tenth. What is the fate of the incredulous? Christ Himself pointed it out when He said: “Who believes not in the Son, will not see life, but the wrath of God will remain with him.” (John viii.)

Homily of St. Gregory, Pope on the Feast Day of St. Thomas the Apostle

What, dearest brethren do you notice in this passage? Do you think that it happened by chance, that this chosen disciple was absent at that time, and afterwards coming, heard the news, and hearing doubted, that doubting, he touched, and touching, he believed? This did not happen by chance, but by divine dispensation. For the divine clemency brought it about in a wonderful way that the doubting disciple, while touching the wounds in his master’s flesh, should thereby heal the wounds of our unbelief. The unbelief of Thomas is more to our faith than the faith of the believing disciples. While he is brought back to faith by touching, our minds are set free from doubt and established in the faith.

So the Lord indeed after his resurrection permitted his disciple to doubt, but he did not leave him in unbelief; just as before his birth he wished Mary to have a spouse, who however never attained to the married state. The disciple who doubted and touched his risen Lord thus became a witness to the truth of the resurrection, just as the spouse of his mother was the guardian of her inviolate virginity. Thomas touched, and cried out: My Lord, and my God. Jesus said to him: Because you have seen me, you have believed. But since the Apostle Paul says: Now faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not; it is certainly clear that faith is the evidence of those things which cannot appear. The things which appear are the object, not of faith, but of knowledge.

Why then is it said to Thomas, who saw and touched: Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed? But he saw one thing and believed another. Indeed, mortal man cannot see the divinity. So Thomas saw a man, and confessed him to be God, saying: My Lord and my God. He therefore believed through seeing, for, looking upon one who was truly man, he cried out that this was God, whom he could not see. The words which follow are cause of great joy to us: Blessed are they who have not seen, and have believed. These words are meant especially for us who cherish in our minds him, whom we do not see in the flesh. They are meant for us; but only if we carry out our faith in works. For he truly believes, who puts his faith into practice.


_____________________________

Hymn: Exsultet orbis

Now let the earth with joy resound,
And heaven the chant re-echo round;
Nor heaven nor earth too high can raise
The great Apostles’ glorious praise.

O ye who, throned in glory dread,
Shall judge the living and the dead,
Lights of the world forever more!
To you the suppliant prayer we pour.

Ye close the sacred gates on high;
At your command apart they fly:
O loose for us the guilty chain
We strive to break, and strive in vain.

Sickness and health your voice obey;
At your command they go or stay:
From sin’s disease our souls restore;
In good confirm us more and more.

So when the world is at its end.
And Christ to Judgment shall descend,
May we be called those joys to see
Prepared from all eternity.

Praise to the Father, with the son,
And Holy spirit, Three in One;
As ever was in ages past,
And so shall be while ages last. Amen

(Roman Breviary for the Common of Apostles)

______________________________

St. Thomas, Apostle
from the Liturgical Year, 1870

This is the last Feast the Church keeps before the great one of the Nativity of her Lord and Spouse. She interrupts the Greater Ferias in order to pay her tribute of honour to Thomas, the Apostle of Christ, whose glorious martyrdom has consecrated this twenty-first day of December, and has procured for the Christian people a powerful patron, that will introduce them to the divine Babe of Bethlehem. To none of the Apostles could this day have been so fittingly assigned as to St. Thomas. It was St. Thomas whom we needed; St. Thomas, whose festal patronage would aid us to believe and hope in that God whom we see not, and who comes to us in silence and humility in order to try our Faith. St. Thomas was once guilty of doubting, when he ought to have believed; and only learnt the necessity of Faith by the sad experience of incredulity: he comes then most appropriately to defend us, by the power of his example and prayers, against the temptations which proud human reason might excite within us. Let us pray to him with confidence. In that heaven of Light and Vision, where his repentance and love have placed him, he will intercede for us, and gain for us that docility of mind and heart, which will enable us to see and recognise Him, who is the Expected of Nations, and who, though the King of the world, will give no other signs of His majesty, than the swaddling-clothes and tears of a Babe.

Prayer:

O glorious Apostle Thomas! who didst lead to Christ so many unbelieving nations, hear now the prayers of the faithful, who beseech thee to lead them to that same Jesus, Who, in five days, will have shown Himself to His Church. That we may merit to appear in His divine presence, we need, before all other graces, the light which leads to Him. That light is Faith; then, pray that we may have Faith. Heretofore, our Saviour had compassion on thy weakness, and deigned to remove from thee the doubt of His having risen from the grave; pray to Him for us, that He will mercifully come to our assistance, and make Himself felt by our heart. We ask not, O holy Apostle! to see Him with the eyes of our body, but with those of our faith, for He said to thee, when He showed himself to thee: Blessed are they who have not seen, and have believed!

Of this happy number, we desire to be. We beseech thee, therefore, pray that we may obtain the Faith of the heart and will, that so, when we behold the divine Infant wrapped in swaddling-clothes and laid in a manger, we may cry out: My Lord! and my God! Pray, O holy Apostle, for the nations thou didst evangelise, but which have fallen back again into the shades of death. May the day soon come, when the Sun of Justice will once more shine upon them. Bless the efforts of those apostolic men, who have devoted their labours and their very lives to the work of the Missions; pray that the days of darkness may be shortened, and that the countries, which were watered by thy blood, may at length see that kingdom of God established amongst them, which thou didst preach to them, and for which we also are in waiting.

Litany of the Resurrection
(Approved by the Most Rev. John Hughes, Archbishop New York 1853)

Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of heaven,
have mercy on us. *

God the Son, Redeemer of the world,*
God the Holy Ghost,*
Holy Trinity, one God,*
Jesus, Redeemer of mankind,*
Jesus, Who hast cleansed us by Thy blood,*
Jesus, Conqueror of sin and death,*
Jesus, the Holy One and the Just,*
Jesus, the First-Born from the dead,*
Jesus, the Second Adam,*
Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life,*
Jesus, the Author of our salvation,*
Jesus, the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob,*
Jesus, Who by death didst destroy him who had the empire of death,*
Jesus, Who didst bring life and immortality to light,*
Jesus, Who didst lay down Thy life for Thy sheep,*
Jesus, Who hadst power to lay it down, and hadst power to take it up again,*
Jesus, Who, after three days, didst rise again from the dead,*
Jesus, Who didst rise very early in the morning on the first day of the week,*
Jesus, Who didst hasten to visit Thy blessed Mother in her solitude,*
Jesus, Who didst appear to Mary Magdalen while it was yet dark,*
Jesus, Who didst send Thy angels to announce to the women, that thou wast risen as thou hadst said,*
Jesus, Who didst suffer Thyself to be seen of the women, and to be adored by them,*
Jesus, Who didst appear to Peter, the chief of the Apostles,*
Jesus, Who didst appear, in another shape, to the two disciples going to Emmaus,*
Jesus, Who didst make Thyself known unto them in the breaking of bread,*
Jesus, Who didst appear to the eleven, saying, Peace be unto you,*
Jesus, Who didst breathe upon them, and give unto them the Holy Ghost,*
Jesus, Who didst confirm the faith of Thomas, by showing unto him Thy hands and Thy feet,*
Jesus, Who didst commission Peter to feed Thy lambs and Thy sheep,*
Jesus, Who didst converse with Thy disciples, upon the mountain of Galilee,*
Jesus, Who was seen by more than five hundred brethren at once,*
Jesus, Who wast seen by James,*
Jesus, Who didst to in and out among Thy apostles, speaking to them of the kingdom of God, and eating with them,*
Jesus, Who didst lead them out as far as Bethany, and, while they looked on, wast carried up to heaven,*
Jesus, Who shalt come again with great power and glory, to judge the living and the dead,*
Jesus, Son of God, *

We sinners,
Beseech Thee, hear us. **

That we may put off the old man with his acts,**
That we may put on the new man, who is created in justice and holiness of truth,**
That we may walk in newness of life,**
That we may grow in grace, and in the knowledge of thee,**
That we may persevere unto the end,**
That, having risen with Thee, we may die no more,**
That we may attain unto the resurrection of the just,**
That Thou wouldst vouchsafe to feed us continually with the bread of life,**
That Thou wouldst reform the body of our lowliness, and make it like unto the body of Thy glory,**
That we may behold Thy face with joy,**
That we may be placed on Thy right hand in the Judgment,**
That we may hear those words of joy: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess ye the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,**
That Thou wouldst give us part in Thy heavenly glory,**
That Thou wouldst give rest and peace to the faithful departed,**
That with them we may obtain everlasting life,**
That we may be with Thee always, forever, and ever,**

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

V. Christ is risen. Alleluia.
R. He is risen indeed, and hath appeared unto Simon. Alleluia.

Let us pray:

O God, Who, by Thine only-begotten Son, hast (this day) opened the passage to eternity, through His victory over death; vouchsafe, we beseech Thee, so to confirm us by Thy grace, that we may walk in all our ways like those who have been redeemed from sin. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

 

Posted on 03/07/2014, in Catholicism, Christianity, religion and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Thank you so much for the Litany of the Resurrection! Sometimes I think we focus on the crucifixion to the exclusion of the resurrection.

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