ALMIGHTY and everliving God, who for the more confirmation of the faith didst suffer thy holy Apostle Thomas to be doubtful in thy Son's resurrection; Grant us so perfectly, and without all doubt, to believe in thy Son Jesus Christ, that our faith in thy sight may never be reproved. Hear us, O Lord, through the same Jesus Christ, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, now and forevermore. Amen.
Reading this collect might make the Anglican Catholic a bit uncomfortable. Composed in 1549, presumably by Archbishop Cranmer, it is the only Collect for a Saint's Day in the Prayer Book (or possibly in the whole of Christian history!) that focuses on a failure of the Saint rather than his or her sanctity or good example. Not only that, but it talks about God "suffer"-ing, putting up with, Thomas' doubt, as if to say, "Thanks God for tolerating Thomas and not striking him dead!". Yet more unusually, the Collect finishes by effectively asking that we may do better than the Apostle in this regard!
However, the fact is that it was Jesus Himself who opened up the possibility of such a Collect by saying to St Thomas: "[B]e not faithless, but believing ... because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." And, of course, nothing Our Lord or the Collect say implies that St Thomas' holiness thereafter is to be seen only in the light of this mistaken doubt.
It is also comforting to know both that even the Saints can make big mistakes and that God can still make the best of such errors, turning them around to his glory. This is no reason to be careless about our failures -- they can and do have negative consequences best avoided. But it is good to be reminded that our gracious God is in control of the situation. He cannot be finally thwarted.
Lord, we thank you that the success of your Plan does not all rest on us! We thank you that you deal graciously with our foibles and failings. May we see that past sins and mistakes do not prevent us from achieving our greatest goal, in a sense, our only goal: becoming Saints with a capital S. Then we can follow in St Thomas' footsteps after his restoration to faith, doing God's will and reflecting his image with "ever-increasing glory" (2 Cor. 3.18, NIV).
Fr Matthew Kirby