A stained-glass window depicting the image of St. Thomas Becket is seen in this photo. Cardinal O'Malley was gratified by the White House statement marking the 850th anniversary of his death and holding him up as an icon of religious freedom. Pilot photo/CardinalSeansBlog.org
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Last week, I received a call inviting me to receive the vaccine. Some doctor friends had contacted me, urging me to do it not just because of my advanced age but to try to dispel people's fear of the vaccine and encourage people to make use of the vaccine.
So, I was very grateful to Dr. Joseph Weinstein, chief physician executive of the Steward Health Care Network, and Mr. James Terwilliger, president of St. Elizabeth's Medical Center, who very kindly offered to facilitate my inoculation at St. Elizabeth's on Christmas eve.
I want to encourage all people to be vaccinated as the opportunity is presented, as an important action of care and concern for our loved ones, our communities, and our nation. With the help of God and the excellent medical care provided at St. Elizabeth's and many other hospitals, we will make our way through and beyond the pandemic.
This year, our midnight Mass was virtual over CatholicTV, and then we rebroadcast the next day on channel 56, channel 7, and CatholicTV.
I was very edified that so many people were able to tune in. Many members of my family and other friends contacted me from different parts of the world to say that they were watching and praying with us during this time when, because of the pandemic, we can't always gather with our loved ones. At least we had this opportunity to pray and to be able to announce the Good News of the Gospel over the airwaves to many people who perhaps would not ordinarily have come to celebrate the Eucharist with us but were hearing the message of the Gospel by their participation online or on television.
The cathedral was beautifully decorated. Msgr. Kevin O'Leary does a great job each year to make the cathedral shine during Christmas.
St. Thomas Becket
In the English-speaking world, St. Thomas Becket is very well known because of the play and the film about his life and because so much of our literature, like the Canterbury Tales, is about pilgrimages to his place of burial, the Canterbury Cathedral, which I have visited myself.
So, I was very gratified by the White House statement marking the 850th anniversary of this death and holding him up as an icon of religious freedom.
Unfortunately, in our country, religious freedom has become sort of a political football and a partisan issue but, in fact, it is a very important issue for all of us as Americans. Our country, in many ways, came about as a result of people looking for religious freedom and coming to these shores to be able to practice their faith. We also live in a world where there is so much persecution of Christianity -- and other religions -- so, it is vital to remember the figure of St. Thomas Becket and to be reminded of how important religion is in society and of our duty to protect people's rights of conscience and to practice their religion.
Honoring the lives lost to COVID-19
On Thursday, the archdiocese joined with other dioceses throughout the country in ringing bells to honor the more than 300,000 lives lost to COVID-19 this year in the US.
In our own Commonwealth, 12,000 people have died so far. So, the bells were an invitation for us to pray for all our beloved dead who were victims of this terrible pandemic and to pray for their families and loved ones as well as for all the people who put themselves in harm's way to take care of the sick and the dying during this time.