Thursday, June 22, 2017

Feast of St. Thomas Fisher, St. Thomas Moore - and Mom!

St John Fisher
Father Lawrence Lew, OP via Flickr, licensed CC











Today is the feast of St. Thomas Moore and St. John Fisher.

St. Thomas is well known to us from the movie A Man for All Seasons, but St. John is an interesting saint as well. Blogger and author, Stephanie Mann  spoke on a Catholic  radio talk about how St. John had been friends with Henry VII and with Lady Margaret Beaufort (Henry VIII's grandmother). In fact, he said the funeral mass for both of them. He was very close to the family and knew young Henry from boyhood. It amazes me then that Henry VIII so could be so stiff necked in his views that he could have John Fisher executed! But he did. That would be like having one of our beloved parish priests killed over a difference of opinion - it's unthinkable.

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St Thomas More
Father Lawrence Lew OP, via Flickr, licensed CC

Thomas Moore was the epitome of a loving husband and father, as well as having a faithfulness to his position and a love and respect for knowledge.  But most of all he was "the King's good servant, but God's first."


The Last Prayer of St Thomas More, composed in the Tower of London.
"Give me the grace, Good Lord.
To set the world at naught. To set the mind firmly on You and not to hang upon the words of men’s mouths.
To be content to be solitary. Not to long for worldly pleasures. Little by little utterly to cast off the world and rid my mind of all its business.
Not to long to hear of earthly things, but that the hearing of worldly fancies may be displeasing to me.
Gladly to be thinking of God, piteously to call for His help. To lean into the comfort of God. Busily to labour to love Him.
To know my own vileness and wretchedness. To humble myself under the mighty hand of God.
To bewail my sins and, for the purging of them, patiently to suffer adversity.
Gladly to bear my purgatory here. To be joyful in tribulations. To walk the narrow way that leads to life.
To have the last thing in remembrance. To have ever before my eyes my death that is ever at hand.
To make death no stranger to me. To foresee and consider the everlasting fire of Hell.
To pray for pardon before the judge comes.
To have continually in mind the passion that Christ suffered for me. For His benefits unceasingly to give Him thanks.
To buy the time again that I have lost.
To abstain from vain conversations.
To shun foolish mirth and gladness.
To cut off unnecessary recreations.
Of worldly substance, friends, liberty, life and all, to set the loss at naught, for the winning of Christ.
To think my worst enemies my best friends, for the brethren of Joseph could never have done him so much good with their love and favor as they did him with their malice and hatred.
These minds are more to be desired of every man than all the treasures of all the princes and kings, Christian and heathen, were it gathered and laid together all in one heap.
Amen."
 



These are a few of my favorite scenes from A Man for All Seasons. I love the wit and the great logic of Thomas Moore. Please enjoy!


I am a big fan of Father Lawrence Lew on Flickr and feature many of his photographs on this blog too.  Here is an excerpt from his thought provoking homily for today.


Many stood up against this, and many stood for Christ against the State, and they were felled for it – martyred for Faith in Jesus Christ and for clinging to the Truth he taught – Truth handed on faithfully from generation to generation by Christ’s holy Church. 

But of the hundreds who were martyred for the Catholic Faith from 1535 onwards, two are especially eminent, and they were the first to be canonised by Pope Pius XI in 1935. 

St John Fisher was the saintly Bishop of Rochester, Chancellor of Cambridge University, Tutor to Henry VIII, Confessor to Lady Margaret,  mother of Henry VII. Erasmus considered him to be “incomparable for uprightness of life, for learning and for greatness of soul.” In short, he was an luminary of the Church. St Thomas More was a luminary of the State. He was Lord High Chancellor of England, a noted Humanist philosopher and lawyer, and a Scholar.

The combination of these two Saints reminds us that neither spiritual nor temporal lords could stand against the State and the will of the Crown. Nevertheless, both men remained steadfast in upholding the Truth of the Gospel, particularly concerning the indissolubility of Christian marriage. For their fidelity to Christ’s Word, they were executed in 1535, St John Fisher on this day (22 June), and St Thomas More on 6 July

In our own time, the teaching of Christ on the permanence of Christian marriage, and thus the refusal to accept divorce, is largely seen as irrelevant or outdated. And, it appears, that some, even within the Catholic Church, regard this stance to be “rigid” and lacking in “mercy”. And yet, today’s Saints clung to the perennial teaching of Christ, and they were willing to die for this Truth. They died not simply as ‘conscientious objectors’ but, more fundamentally, as witnesses to the Truth of the Gospel. Truth is everlasting and it is not changed to suit us, but rather, we must conform to the Truth, above all, to the Person of Jesus Christ and to his teachings. Today’s Martyrs taught this with their lives.



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Eight years ago today my mother died.  So many times I still want to pick up the phone and talk to her about just anything.  It has always been interesting to me that God took my mother home on this particular Feast day.  St. Thomas Moore and St. John Fisher really died for the sanctity of marriage.  



As I always try to find the reason for things and why they happen when they do, it finally  made sense to me why God would call my mother home on this day. Mom had not made a wise marriage choice and she did not have a happy marriage, in fact she spent more time alone than with my father. But she always loved him, she remained loyal to him, she never divorced, she took care of him when he got ill and she grieved his death. So if there was ever anyone that suffered for marriage- she did!  I guess that gives her something in common with St. Thomas Moore and St. John Fisher.

And if one of the primary ends of marriage was to have children and raise them to love the Lord - she did that too, not only with her daughters, but with her grandchildren as well.  She truly was God's good servant.

Over the years I have also pondered her death from ovarian cancer - she suffered so much in the last weeks of her life. I find comfort in St. Thomas More's prayer - and I hope that she suffered whatever purgatory she had, in those last few days and was released immediately to heaven.





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