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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Saint Thomas More, June 22

Saint Thomas More
Optional Memorial June 22
Patron of Attorneys

By their fruits you will know them.” (Matthew 7:20)

Some people believe that if you do the right thing, everything will go well for you. If Jesus suffering or the final moments of any of the martyr’s are any indication, this statement isn’t true. Still, it is always right to do what is right and be "God’s servant first", for in time, by God’s grace and for His glory, the fruits of suffering will be revealed.

“Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer things and enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:26) “Who then can be so shameful as to desire to enter into the Kingdom of Christ with ease, when He Himself did not enter into His own Kingdom without pain.” (Fr. James Kubicki, S.J.)

Today is the optional memorial of Saint Thomas More, devoted husband and father, martyr and a “man for all seasons.” Born in London in 1478, the son of a judge, Saint Thomas More became a lawyer in 1501 and quickly rose and fell through British political ranks.

He was selected for Parliament in 1504, became member of the Mercers’ Guild in 1509, elected to Parliament again in 1510 and became undersheriff of London then by 1518 employed in the service of King Henry VIII. In 1521 Saint Thomas More became the King’s private secretary and knighted for his services. In 1523 he became the Speaker of the House of Commons and by 1529 the first layman to become Chancellor of England.

Shortly after attaining this post, a royal proclamation was made ordering the clergy to acknowledge King Henry VIII as “Supreme Head” of the Church, “as far as the law of God will permit.” Saint Thomas More quickly tendered his resignation as Chancellor, but it was not accepted. Finally his opposition to King Henry VIII’s desire to divorce Catherine of Aragon in order to marry Anne Boleyn lost Saint Thomas his favor with the King. In 1532 his resignation as Chancellor was accepted.

In 1534, the Act of Succession was passed requiring any who were called upon, to take an oath acknowledging any child of King Henry and Anne as a legitimate heir to the throne. Saint Thomas More was called upon to take that oath, he refused. He was accused of treason, found guilty and executed on Tower Hill July 6, 1635. Pope Pius XI canonized him in 1935.

“I die the king’s good servant, and God’s first.”
(Thomas More from the scaffold, July 6, 1535)

“This great and learned Man was famous for enlivening his ordinary Discourses with Wit and Pleasantry…He died upon a Point of Religion, and is respected as a Martyr by that Side for which he suffer'd. The innocent Mirth which had been so conspicuous in his Life, did not forsake him to the last: He maintain'd the same Chearfulness of Heart upon the Scaffold, which he used to shew at his Table; and upon laying his Head on the Block, gave Instances of that Good-Humour with which he had always entertained his Friends in the most ordinary Occurrences. His Death was of a piece with his Life. There was nothing in it new, forced, or affected. He did not look upon the severing of his Head from his Body as a Circumstance that ought to produce any Change in the Disposition of his Mind; and as he died under a fixed and settled Hope of Immortality, he thought any unusual degree of Sorrow and Concern improper on such an Occasion, as had nothing in it which could deject or terrify him.” (Joseph Addison, No. 349 from The Spectator, April 10, 1712)

For items related to Saint Thomas More
Portrate Thomas More - Hans the Younger Holbein
Thomas More Defending the Liberty of the House of Commons - Vivian Forbes

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