Saint Thomas More (1478-1535)
for June 22
Saint Thomas More is perhaps the most famous English saint because of the play and subsequent movie based on his life, A Man for All Seasons. Thomas More was an educated man who was also deeply religious. He considered becoming a priest before deciding on the married vocation and a career as a lawyer. He had a rich family life, raising three daughters and one son, and after his first wife died he married again. Thomas spent every Friday in prayer, and his family read Scripture at mealtimes and shared evening prayer. Unfortunately Thomas More, along with many others, was the victim of King Henry VIII's persecution of Catholics. The unusual thing was that Thomas More was a good friend of the king, who admired Thomas More's wit and loyalty. King Henry rapidly promoted Thomas through a series of public offices to chancellor, a position second only to the king's in power and authority. Then King Henry made a series of demands that in essence declared the king to be the supreme religious leader of the Church of England, instead of the Pope. Thomas More refused to give in to the king's demands. As a result Thomas was imprisoned for 15 months, lost all his titles and lands, was convicted of treason in a bogus trial, and was beheaded. His last words were that he remained "the king's good servant, but God's first." His feast day is June 22. (Taken from "The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth.")
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Saint Thomas More is a remarkable example of courage, faith and perseverance. As a highly educated and sociable man, he was well acquainted with the customs and powers of his time. He knew the risks of opposing the king. Despite his power and comfortable lifestyle, he was unwilling to forsake his conscience and religious views for the sake of his own security. Consequently, he was executed. Saint Thomas More is a reminder to us that, regardless of what we must sacrifice, our integrity and conscience must always be followed. Think of times when you followed your conscience and suffered negative repercussions. Can you think of situations where it would be especially difficult to follow your conscience? How would you respond? Would you have the steadfastness of St. Thomas More?
Dear Jesus, help me to always follow my conscience and, through my conscience, follow you.