Though there is no commemoration for the historical traditional feast of Saint Thomas More, it is most important to know who this layman was, what he stood for, and why he was willing to die for Christ and holy Mother Church.
Ironic, is it not? We commemorate his on July 6. Here was a man who had everything and yet stood against a schismatic 'Defender of the Faith' Henry VIII on the eve of the anniversary when another so-called 'Defender of the Faith' has done all he can for the past 50 plus years to undermine the holy Faith with tomorrow being the 5th anniversary of the wretched 'motu mess' that has swayed many away from the true Faith with the promise of a return to the Latin Mass.
As we said back in 2007 - and repeated in the July 2012 edition in our Compendium on the Motu Mess - and as we pointed out several years even before that, beware of the wolf in sheep's clothing and we can see fifty-plus years later that if we do not have the principles of Sir Thomas More and, if the SSPX bishops do not have the fidelity of the only Bishop who refused to go along with a false religion (aka the Church of England) St. John Fisher (whose traditional feast was two weeks ago on June 22)...and if they do not realize one cannot recognize and resist, but must stand uncompromisingly for the true Faith and reject the Vatican 2 'popes' and their ilk fully in every way as heathen apostates and all the robber barons of the counterfeit church of conciliarism have foisted on the faithful in veering much, much, much further than the second Tudor king ever did and carrying out much, much, much more damage in the dissolution of not just monasteries, but every diocese, church and soul.
We all need to take a lesson from Saint Thomas More, the Chancelor of England and one of only two of the aristocracy that stood against the schismatic Henry VIII in his marriage to the wench Anne Boleyn which tore the marriage vows of Henry and his lawful wife Catherine of Aragon asunder. Thomas is also known for his literary and law works, most notably Utopia and The History of Richard III which was the source William Shakespeare relied on for his plays which have been proven to be pure propaganda and lies badly maligning a good king, an excellent Catholic King more in the mold of one of his ancient predecessors St. Edward the Confessor and likened quite a bit to another monarch - St. Louis IX.
So many have been duped. Even saints as we can see. It is in recognizing that fact and returning to what has always been true, willing to offer our very lives if necessary, that will provide our ticket to Heaven. That, today, is a long way off. Oh, how far we have fallen in 2012. When will those shepherds in wolves' clothing wake up and realize they can no longer pull the wool over the eyes of the faithful unless said faithful want to be stewed lamb...fair or not fair, it is a fare not on the menu in Heaven? St. Thomas More realized that. Do you?
You'll understand this better when you see who Thomas was. He was born on February 7, 1478 in London. In 1505, at the age of twenty-seven, More married his first wife, Jane Colt, ten years his junior. According to his son-in-law and first biographer William Roper, More wanted to marry Jane's second sister, but felt Jane would be humiliated if a younger sister married first. Their marriage was happy and bore four children; three daughters and a son - Margaret (Meg, his favorite), Elizabeth (Beth), Cicely (Cecy), and John (Jack); besides his children, More adopted an orphan girl, Margaret Giggs. As a very devoted father, he asked his children write to him when away, even if they had nothing particular to say, and did not beat them. Unusual for the era, he educated his daughters as he did his son, saying that women were just as intelligent as men, taking particular pride in eldest daughter Meg's achievements.
Jane Colt died in 1511, and More remarried almost immediately, so his children would have a mother. His second wife, Alice Middleton, was a widow seven years his senior; they bore no children, although he adopted her daughter, Alice; of wife Alice, he said: "nec bella, nec puella" - neither a pearl, nor a girl. Erasmus cruelly described her nose as "the hooked beak of the harpy". Despite very different characters, More and Alice were affectionate, though he was unable to educate her as he had educated Jane and his daughters. In his epitaph, which he wrote himself, More praised Jane for bearing him four children, and Alice for being a loving stepmother. He declared that he could not tell whom he loved best, and expressed the hope that they would all be reunited in death.
Despite his busy political career, he was a prolific scholar and literary man. His writing and scholarship earned him great reputation as a Christian Renaissance humanist in continental Europe, and his friend Erasmus of Rotterdam dedicated to him the masterpiece, In Praise of Folly; (the book's title puns More's name, "moria" is folly in Greek.) In his communications with other humanists, Erasmus described him as a model Man of Letters and as an omnium horarum homo. The humanistic project embraced by Erasmus and Thomas More sought re-examination and revitalization of Christian theology by studying the Bible and the writings of the Church Fathers in light of classical Greek literary and philosophic tradition. More and Erasmus collaborated on a Latin translation of the works of Lucian, published in Paris in 1506.
From 1510 to 1518, Thomas More was one of the two undersheriffs of the city of London, a position of much responsibility, wherein he earned a reputation as an honest and effective public servant. In 1517 More entered the King's service as counselor and personal servant.
Between 1513 and 1518, More worked on a History of King Richard III, an unfinished historiography, based on Sir Robert Honorr's Tragic Deunfall of Richard II, Suvereign of Britain (1485), that also greatly influenced William Shakespeare's play Richard III. Both More's and Shakespeare's works are controversial to contemporary historians for their unflattering portrait of King Richard III, a bias totally due to both authors' allegiance to the reigning Tudor dynasty that wrested the throne from Richard III with the Wars of the Roses. More's work, however, little mentions Henry VII, the first Tudor king, perhaps for having persecuted his father, Sir John More. Some historians see an attack on royal tyranny, rather than on Richard III, himself, or on the House of York.
As way of note, this editor has done extensive research into Richard of Gloucester and he has been greatly maligned, not only because of Tudor propaganda bitterly passed down, but more importantly because Richard was, in truth, the last Catholic King of England. He sought to curb abuses that were creeping into a lukewarm hierarchy in England itself as well as Rome. One of the great offenders and shepherds in wolves' clothing was More's own tutor when Thomas was a mere youngster in Bishop John Morton's court. Morton was a cad who had a fetish for pedophilia long before anyone ever heard of the word. Richard was wise to Morton's cunning and appealed to Rome to no avail. Morton openly aligned with Henry Richmond (Henry VII) against Richard Plantagenet for political purposes and maligned the good name of a good man. This is fact! That is why More was badly tainted by the prejudice passed down by Morton and others to cover up the truth. Because Morton and many of the other bishops had deviated from the Faith in those years leading up to the laxity and lechery in Rome and the Protestant Revolution, their appointments had no authority as Pope Paul IV infallibly declared on February 15, 1559 in Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio. Thus, in light of that decree, the consecration of Henry VII would be null and void as well as all succeeding monarchs including his son Henry VIII and all who would follow up to today's current "queen" Elizabeth and her line. Historians will not admit this because of the repercussions on history and admittance that indeed the Roman Catholic Church, as appointed by Christ, has authority over all nations and sovereigns.
As an English lawyer, author, and statesman he earned throughout his life a reputation as a leading humanist scholar, and occupied many public offices, including Lord Chancellor (1529 - 1532). Sir Thomas coined the word "utopia", a name he gave to an ideal, imaginary island nation whose political system he described in the eponymous book published in 1516.
Utopia, a novel, was his most famous and controversial work, wherein a traveller, Raphael Hythloday (in Greek, his name and surname allude to the Archangel Raphael, purveyor of truth, and mean "speaker of nonsense"), describes the political arrangements of the imaginary island country of Utopia (Greek pun ou-topos [no place], eu-topos [good place]) to himself and to Peter Giles. This novel presents the city of Amaurote as "of them all this is the worthiest and of most dignity".
Utopia is evidence that he greatly valued harmony and a strict hierarchy. All challenges to uniformity and hierarchy were perceived as dangers; practically, the greatest danger he saw was the challenge that heretics posed to the established faith. For Thomas More, the most important thing was maintaining the unity of Christendom; to his mind, the Lutheran Reformation's fragmentation and discord were dreadful.
His personal counter-attack began in the manner expected from a writer. He assisted Henry VIII (read he wrote the whole thing) with writing the Defence of the Seven Sacraments (1521), a polemic response to Martin Luther's On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church. When Luther replied with Contra Henricum Regem Anglie (Against Henry, King of the English), More was tasked with writing a counter-response, Responsio ad Lutherum (Reply to Luther). This violent exchange had many intemperate personal insults; it deepened More's commitment to the order and discipline outlined in Utopia.
Things began going sour and "utopia" took on a different light when Henry's base instincts began to take hold. Until then More had been fully devoted to Henry and to the cause of royal prerogative. He initially cooperated with the king's new policy, denouncing Cardinal Wolsey in Parliament and proclaiming the opinion of the theologians at Oxford and Cambridge that the marriage of Henry to Catherine of Aragon had been unlawful. But as Henry began to deny the authority of the Pope, More's qualms grew.
For More, heresy was a disease, a threat to the peace and unity of both Church and society. His early actions against the Protestants included aiding Cardinal Wolsey in preventing Lutheran books from being imported into England. He also assisted in the production of a Star Chamber edict against heretical preaching. Many literary polemics appeared under his name. After becoming Lord Chancellor of England, More had six Lutherans burned at the stake and imprisoned many more. His chief concern in this matter was to wipe out collaborators of William Tyndale, the exiled Lutheran who in 1525 had published a Protestant translation of the Bible in English which was circulating clandestinely in England (Tyndale had also written The Practyse of Prelates (1530), opposing Henry VIII's divorce on the grounds that it was unscriptural and was a plot by Cardinal Wolsey to get Henry entangled in the papal courts).
When Henry went too far in 1530, More refused to sign a letter by the leading English churchmen and aristocrats asking the Pope to annul Henry's marriage to Catherine. In 1531 he attempted to resign after being forced to take an oath declaring the king the Supreme Head of the English Church "as far as the law of Christ allows." In 1532 he asked the king again to relieve him of his office, claiming that he was ill and suffering from sharp chest pains. This time Henry granted his request.
The last straw for Henry came in 1533, when More refused to attend the coronation of Anne Boleyn as the Queen of England. Technically, this was not an act of treason as More had written to Henry acknowledging Anne's queenship and expressing his desire for his happiness - but his friendship with the old queen, Catherine of Aragon, still prevented him from attending Anne's triumph. His refusal to attend her coronation was widely interpreted as a snub against the marriage wrecker Boleyn, who, through the influence of her own father, prompted Henry to punish More.
Shortly thereafter More was charged with accepting bribes, but the patently false charges had to be dismissed for lack of any evidence. In 1534 he was accused of conspiring with Elizabeth Barton, a nun who had prophesied against the king's divorce, but More was able to produce a letter in which he had instructed Barton not to interfere with state matters. On April 13 of that same year More was asked to appear before a commission and swear his allegiance to the parliamentary Act of Succession. More accepted Parliament's right to declare Anne the legitimate queen of England, but he refused to take the oath because of an anti-papal preface to the Act asserting Parliament's authority to legislate in matters of religion by denying the authority of the Pope, which More would not accept. On July 1, 1534 Sir Thomas More was tried before a panel of judges that included the new Lord Chancellor, Sir Thomas Audley, as well as Anne Boleyn's father, brother, and uncle. He was charged with high treason for denying the validity of the Act of Succession.
More believed he could not be convicted as long as he did not explicitly deny that the king was the head of the church, and he therefore refused to answer all questions regarding his opinions on the subject. Thomas Cromwell, at the time the most powerful of the king's advisors, brought forth the Solicitor General, Richard Rich, to testify that More had, in his presence, denied that the king was the legitimate head of the church. This testimony was almost certainly perjured (witnesses Richard Southwell and Mr. Palmer both denied having heard the details of the reported conversation), but on the strength of it the jury voted for More's conviction. More was tried, and found guilty, under a newly concocted Treason Act of 1534.
Before his sentencing, More spoke freely of his belief that "no temporal man may be the head of the spirituality". He was sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered (the usual punishment for traitors) but the king commuted this to execution by beheading. The execution took place on July 6, 1534. When he came to mount the steps to the scaffold, he is widely quoted as saying (to the officials): "See me safe up: for my coming down, I can shift for myself"; while on the scaffold he declared that he died "the king's good servant, but God's first."
More's body was buried at the Tower of London, in the chapel of St Peter ad Vincula. His head was placed over London Bridge for a month after which it was rescued by his daughter, Margaret Roper, before it could be thrown in the River Thames. The skull is believed to rest in the Roper Vault of St. Dunstan's at Canterbury.
More was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1886 and canonized four hundred years after his death by Pope Pius XI in 1935 along with Bishop John Fisher after a mass petition of English Catholics to honor these two stalwarts who were the only two who would not abandon Eternal Rome. His Holiness Pius XI declared him a 'patron saint of politics' in protest against the rise of secular, anti-religious Communism raising its ugly head in the mushrooming 20th century. The Oscar-winning film A Man for All Seasons in the mid sixties before Vatican II ever got a firm foothold still stands as a stirring tribute to St. Thomas More, played so adroitly by Paul Scofield
Note: Some of the above material was gleaned from the Catholic Enyclopedia, 1913 and The Life of Sir Thomas More.
Traditional Feast of St. Thomas More