A Successful Man in the Eyes of the World
From the world's perspective, St. Thomas More (1478-1535) was a successful man. The second of six children, he received a top-notch early education from the prestigious St. Anthony's School in London and at Oxford University. After two years in college, he heeded the advise of his father, Sir John More, who was a lawyer and judge, and began his legal training at Lincoln Inn in London. After completing his legal education, he was called to the bar in 1502.
Marriage and Family Life
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Raised Up by the King and Then Imprisoned
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Why did St. Thomas More Die?
In the end, St. Thomas was willing to die for two important teachings of the Catholic Church. First, he believed in the unity of the Church which we proclaim every time we recite the Nicene Creed. In that creed, we say, "I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church." The Church is one, not many. It is united under the successor to Peter. The moment, someone breaks away from the successor to Peter, that person has broken with the unity of the Church. St. Thomas was unwilling to join Henry VIII and Parliament as they broke away from Church, and because of that stance, he was executed.
Secondly, St. Thomas died for his belief in the indissolubility of marriage. When the Church reviewed the marriage between Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, it found no reason for the marriage to be considered invalid. Therefore, the marriage between Henry and Catherine was indissoluble. Consequently, St. Thomas stood by the decision of the Church against the will of Henry VIII who believed that he was not validly marriage and could enter into another marriage. In order to circumvent the teaching of the Church on marriage, Henry found clerics who would grant him an annulment. When St. Thomas would not confirm that decision by taking an oath, Henry saw fit to have St. Thomas killed.
St. Thomas Shows us the Way
In another important way, we can relate to St. Thomas. He was forced to make a choice between obeying his conscience or not. Whether we like or not, we all have to make those kind of choices all of the time. We might not face martyrdom as he did, but they are important choices all the same. Each one of our small decisions adds up over time and prepares us for remaining faithful to Christ to the end or turning away from him when the going gets tough.
Finally, in one other crucial way, we need to be able to relate to St. Thomas. He had to make this decision without much support from friends or family. Most of those around him did not think that his stand was necessary. Their consciences did not bother them like his did. We cannot always expect to receive the support we would like for standing fast for the teachings of the Church even from our closest family and friends. We pray to the Lord that although that might be true, we will still remain faithful to the Lord and His Church. St. Thomas More, pray for us!
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