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Catholic Activity: Nameday Celebration Prayers and Ideas for Saint Thomas

Helen McLoughlin shares nameday prayers and ideas for the name Thomas. This includes Thomas the Apostle, Thomas Aquinas, Thomas More, Thomas of Villanova and Thomas of Canterbury.

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THOMAS

St. Thomas the Apostle is called "Didymus," meaning "twin." All we know about him is derived from the Gospel narrative (John 20:24f). Patron of builders, he has as his emblem in art a red shield with a carpenter's square and a vertical spear, the instrument of his martyrdom. A fine example of this shield can be seen at St. Thomas' Episcopal Church in New York City. In Spanish the name is Tomas; in Polish, Tomasz; in Italian, Tommasso. St. Thomas is also the patron of girls called Tammie and Thomasina.

Father: The Lord and King of apostles.
All: Come, let us adore.
Father: You have learned to believe, Thomas, because you have seen Me.
All: Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have learned to believe, alleluia.
Father: Let us pray. Grant us, O Lord, to glory in the solemn festival of Your apostle Thomas. May his patronage ever help us and may we at all times imitate his faith with suitable devotion. Through Christ, our Lord.
All: Amen. Christ conquers, Christ reigns!

Hymn: Now Let the Earth with Joy Resound

(sung to the melody of: Come, Holy Ghost)
All: 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!

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 Paraclete forever one:
To Thee, O holy Trinity,
Be praise for all eternity. Amen.

Dessert and decorations. The lamb, ship, or crown cake are all suitable for St. Thomas' feast. A cake decorated with arrows is also meaningful. A statue of the saint is also available.

Among the saints who bear this name is St. Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican, Doctor of the Church, and patron of students. Surnamed the "Angelic Doctor," he is known for his work, the Summa Theologica. His wonderful learning was due less to his genius than to the effectiveness of his prayer. He derived more light from the crucifix than from books.

On his feast Dominicans sing a rhymed office which his namesakes might learn by heart. It can also be used for the family's prayers on his feast.

Father: This is St. Thomas' festal day,
Celestial doctor of the King;
Let Mother Church in prayerful lay
Devoutly all his praises sing.
All: While all the Church enjoys the aid
The Angelic Doctor doth bestow,
St. Dominic's fold by him is made
To share with glory's special glow.
Father: O Doctor of the faithful here below,
Fair blossom of virginity unstained,
St. Thomas, grant that we may come to know
The joys which thy triumphant state hath gained.
All: St. Thomas, Doctor of the Church divine,
Italia's star, to all the world a light,
A virgin with chaste lily shining bright,
The twofold crown of glory now is thine.7
Father: Let us pray. O God, You enlightened Your Church with the wonderful learning of blessed Thomas, Your confessor, and made it fruitful by his holy works; grant us, we pray, both to understand what he taught and to follow the example of his life. Through Christ, our Lord.
All: Amen. Christ conquers, Christ reigns!

The star, St. Thomas Aquinas' symbol, signifies the divine guidance given him in his work. A chalice and host are also used as symbols. A star cake-tin and a star cookie-cutter, or a sunburst dessert mold are a delight to a child who likes to help prepare nameday dessert; small children may cut out stars or stick gummed stars on place-mats or paper plates.

For dessert you might make a book cake inscribed with our Lord's words: "You have written well of Me, Thomas" (this can be done with Cake-Mate). A dove on a book cake, a rosary cake, or a crown cake are other suggestions.

St. Thomas More was an ideal Christian, a model husband and father. He was devout and cheerful, a scholar and a humanist, having been Lord Chancellor of England. He was beheaded in the Tower Hill. The Frick Collection (FC, see Abbreviations) exhibits a painting, St. Thomas More, by Holbein. It shows what a saint really looks like — not the sugar-coated figures we are accustomed to. For lawyer-fathers who claim this patron and for children named after him, reproductions of the Holbein’s painting could be obtained, from postcard to twenty-inch sizes.

St. Thomas of Canterbury, bishop and martyr at the hands of King Henry II's knights, was canonized by the people at once, and formally canonized by the Holy See three years later. His shrine has made Canterbury one of the most famous cities in Christendom. His symbol is a church or a sword.

St. Thomas of Villanova, an Augustinian bishop, is particularly remembered for his love of the poor. He has left a number of theological writings. The book cake is his dessert; a bag of foil-covered chocolate discs (coins) is his symbol.

Activity Source: My Nameday — Come for Dessert by Helen McLoughlin, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, 1962

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