This past Monday we celebrated the lives and martyrdom of two great saints of the Church – Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More. Curiously intertwined, both were prominent men in the England of Henry VIII – Fisher a bishop and More Chancellor of the Realm – who, in the end valued the truth over prominence, position, and even their very lives.
St. John Fisher was beheaded on June 22, 1535 and St. Thomas More a few days later on July 6, both for opposing the will of Henry VIII in matters stemming from his desire to divorce – in particular, his desire to be the final authority in religious matters, and therefore denying the authority and legitimacy of the universal Church.
Both lost absolutely everything in standing for the truth … More went from prominence and wealth to abject poverty, yet retained his joy, hope and complete trust in God.
The reading Monday morning was a selection from a letter by More to his daughter Margaret a short time before his beheading. In partcular, the last paragraph is well worth thinking about, particularly as we face the trials and sorrows of our own lives:
And, therefore, my own good daughter, do not let your mind be troubled over anything that shall happen to me in this world. Nothing can come but what God wills. And I am very sure that whatever that be, however bad it may seem, it shall indeed be the best.
And then he was beheaded … and gained his crown of glory.
Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More, pray for us!
The life of St. Thomas More was aptly portrayed in the film “A Man for All Seasons”, which was recently re-mastered and well, well worth watching.