Yesterday it was the feast of our Parish Patron Saint. Daily mass was full! I wrote about him for our parish magazine--the issue is coming soon. Writing about him made me want to write a book of saints' biographies for kids! Sneak peek below.
Saint Thomas More parishioners may have noticed the framed portrait of our patron saint in the gathering space in our church, as well as the stain glass window above the altar in the chapel. Yet many parishioners may not know much about this famous saint, a saint who is so relevant for today’s world. For instance, did you know that Saint Thomas More is also known in the secular world as Sir Thomas More, Chancellor of the King of England, and, the author of one of Western Civilization’s “Great Books”, Utopia? He was also a layman, married twice, and had several children!
Unfortunately, the good Thomas More, who was a lawyer, served under a king who was the one and only King Henry the Eighth. Yes, the very king who wanted to get rid of his wife and marry again against the rules of the Catholic Church. King Henry decided to have his own way instead, starting the Anglican church in the process. King Henry' rule began well and at first he was a faithful and good Catholic. But things didn’t go well once he didn't get what he wanted. He ended up having six wives, and his reign was followed by fierce persecution of the Catholic faith. This was a horrific and unparalleled time in history. Abbeys and religious houses all were taken from their rightful owner--the Catholic Church--and handed as gifts to his personal buddies. The priests, friars and nuns were killed, the saints’ relics housed in them were desecrated and scattered, our sacred heritage thrown to the wind. To this day, there are wealthy estates in England named “Abbey” so-and-so. (Downton Abbey is a fictional example among many.) Untold suffering plagued the faithful Catholics in the British Isles for a long time after his reign. Many English people, themselves, think the king was very bad--and no king since his reign has been named "Henry". The custom in Britain has always been to "retire" regnal names of Kings that were disagreeable.
Our parish patron saint, Saint Thomas More, was one of the most famous martyrs of this time, along with Saints Thomas Becket and John Fisher. Thomas More was executed when he would not turn his back to his Catholic Faith to join the newly made-up church of the disobedient king. Saint Thomas More’s famous last words, “I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first”, have been remembered often in history, and immortalized in theater and film, especially in the award winning film, “A Man for All Seasons”. Our library has the book with the same title.
This all happened some five and a half centuries ago, and yet our good and holy patron saint is as relevant today as can be. We should ask him to pray for us, in the 21st century, and help us adhere to the teachings of the Catholic Church against the many trends and pressures of today’s world, especially when it concerns to the sacredness of life and marriage. May he inspire us with his example, giving us courage to speak and stand with what is true, good and beautiful!