Saint John Fisher (1469-1535)
for June 22
Saint John Fisher was an academic who was associated with the intellectuals and politicians of his time. He acted as chancellor at the University of Cambridge in England and was elected bishop. John's scholarly background helped mold him into a celebrated writer and preacher. He was well known for his sermons on the penitential psalms and for his books against heresy. In 1521 he was summoned to look into the validity of Henry VIII's marriage to Catherine of Aragon. He stated that the marriage was valid and indissoluble, which incurred the wrath of the king, and later he also renounced the king's claim that he was supreme head of the Church in England. Henry tried to dispose of John, first by accusing him of not transcribing all of the "revelations" of Sister Elizabeth Barton, and then for refusing to take the oath of the Act of Succession, which declared Henry's divorce from Catherine legal and made him the head of the Church of England. John's friend Thomas More also refused to take the oath. They were both sent to the Tower of London, where they were sentenced to life imprisonment. When he was called for further questioning, John once again refused to recognize Henry VIII as the head of England's Church. John was also accused of high treason, because he had been made a cardinal by the pope. He was condemned to death and executed.
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Saint John Fisher 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 his religious views for the sake of his own security. Consequently, he was executed. Saint John Fisher 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.
Dear Jesus, help me to always follow my conscience and, through my conscience, follow you.