Wednesday, July 6, 2011

St. Thomas More, Patron of Large Families

The Biography of St. Thomas  in the Catholic Encyclopedia

His story in a nutshell: St. Thomas More, the father of four children (plus the daughter of his second wife whom he adopted) and a highly respected lawyer and chancellor of England in the early 16th century, was imprisoned in the Tower of London and later martyred for his refusal to bend his religious beliefs for the pleasure of King Henry VIII.

Basic Stats:

•7 February 1478 at London, England

* 1505 Jane Colte, who bore their four children (three girls and a boy) before dying in 1511

•beheaded on 6 July 1535 on Tower Hill, London, England
•body taken to Saint Peter ad Vincula, Tower of London, England
•his head was parboiled and then exposed on London Bridge for a month as a warning to other “traitors”; Margaret Roper bribed the man whose was supposed to throw it into the river to give it to her instead
•in 1824 a lead box was found in the Roper vault at Saint Dunstan’s Church Canterbury, England; it contained a head presumed to be More’s

•1886 by Pope Leo XIII

•1935 by Pope Pius XI

•adopted children
•Arlington, Virginia, diocese of
•Ateneo de Manila Law School
•civil servants
•court clerks
•difficult marriages
•large families
•Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida, diocese of
•politicians (2000 by Pope John Paul II)
•politicos (2000 by Pope John Paul II)
•statesmen (2000 by Pope John Paul II)
•University of Malta
•University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Arts and Letters

To celebrate the feast day, A Man For All Seasons (1966, starring Paul Scofield) provides an excellent portrait of St. Thomas' life.  It can be found on Netflix!

Writings and Quotes of Saint Thomas More
Treatise on the Blessed Sacrament
"You must not abandon the ship in a storm because you cannot control the winds... What you cannot turn to good, you must at least make as little bad as you can."
From Utopia, 1516:
"Nothing can come except what God wills. And I make me very sure that whatsoever that be, even if nothing has ever appeared so bad, it shall indeed be the best... I never intend, God being my good Lord, to pin my soul to another man's back, not even the best man that I know this day living; for I know not where he may hap to carry it."

To his daughter, from prison 1534:
"What men call fame is, after all, but a very windy thing. A man thinks that many are praising him, and talking of him alone, and yet they spend but a very small part of the day thinking of him, being occupied with things of their own."

"I will not mistrust [God], though I shall feel myself weakening and on the verge of being overcome with fear... I trust he shall place his holy hand on me and in the stormy seas hold me up from drowning."

"If any man marvel that God made all His creatures such as they should always need aid of His grace, let him know that God did it out of His double goodness. First, to keep them from pride by causing them to perceive their feebleness, and to call upon Him; and secondly to do His creatures honor and comfort."
"Often, actually very often, God allows his greatest servants to make the most humiliating mistakes."
"A man buys hell here with so much pain, that he might have heaven with less than one-half. Occupy your minds with good thoughts, or the enemy will fill them with bad ones. Unoccupied, they cannot be."
"If I am distracted, Holy Communion helps me to become recollected. If opportunities are offered by each day to offend my God, I arm myself anew each day for the combat by the reception of the Eucharist. If I am in special need of light and prudence in order to discharge my burdensome duties, I draw nigh to my Saviour and seek counsel and light from him."

"The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest."

Erasmus' written portrait of St. Thomas More, written in July of 1519:
To begin then with what is least known to you, in stature he is not tall, though not remarkably short. His limbs are formed with such perfect symmetry as to leave nothing to be desired. His complexion is white, his face rather than pale and though by no means ruddy, a faint flush of pink appears beneath the whiteness of his skin. His hair is dark brown or brownish black. The eyes are grayish blue, with some spots, a kind which betokens singular talent, and among the English is considered attractive, whereas Germans generally prefer black. It is said that none are so free of vice. His countenance is in harmony with his character, being always expressive of an amiable joyousness, and even an incipient laughter and, to speak candidly, it is better framed for gladness than for gravity or dignity, though without any approach to folly or buffoonery. The right shoulder is a little higher than the left, especially when he walks. This is not a defect of birth, but the result of habit such as we often contract. In the rest of his person there is nothing to offend . . .He seems born and framed for friendship, and is a most faithful and enduring friend . . .When he finds any sincere and according to his heart, he so delights in their society and conversation as to place in it the principal charm of life . . .In a word, if you want a perfect model of friendship, you will find it in no one better than in More . . .In human affairs there is nothing from which he does not extract enjoyment, even from things that are most serious. If he converses with the learned and judicious, he delights in their talent, if with the ignorant and foolish, he enjoys their stupidity. He is not even offended by professional jesters. With a wonderful dexterity he accommodates himself to every disposition. As a rule, in talking with women, even with his own wife, he is full of jokes and banter. No one is less led by the opinions of the crowd, yet no one departs less from common sense . . .
 Prayer of St. Thomas More
Give me the grace good Lord,
to set the world at naught;
to set my mind fast upon Thee
and not to hang upon the blast of men's mouths.
To be content to be solitary.
Not to long for worldly company
but utterly to cast off the world
and rid my mind the business thereof.
Not to long to hear of any worldly things,
But that the hearing of worldly phantasies may be to me displeasant.
Gladly to be thinking of God,
Piteously to call for His help,
To lean unto the comfort of God,
Busily to labor to love Him.
To know mine own vility and wretchedness,
To humble and meeken myself under the mighty hand of God,
To bewail my sins passed;
For the purging of them, patiently to suffer adversity.
Gladly to bear my purgatory here,
To be joyful of tribulations,
To walk the narrow way the leadeth to life.
To bear the cross with Christ,
To have the last thing--death--in remembrance,
To have ever afore mine eye my death, that is ever at hand;
To make death no stranger to me;
To foresee and consider the everlasting fire of hell;
To pray for pardon before the Judge come.
To have continually in mind the passion that Christ suffered for me;
For His benefits uncessantly to give Him thanks,
To but the time again that I before have lost.
To abstain from vain confabulations,
To eschew light foolish mirth and gladness;
Recreations not necessary, to cut off.
Of worldly substance, friends, liberty, life and all--to set the loss at nought
for the winning of Christ.
To think my most enemies my best friends,
For the brethren of Joseph could never have done him so much good
with their love and favor as they did him with their
malice and hatred.
- Saint Thomas More

Check out:
St. Thomas More Pro Life Law Center
St Thomas More: Model For Modern Catholics by John F. Fink


perelandra30 said...

Lisa, I don't know if you remember me, I used to have a blogger site and am now on xanga. I have something that I would like to send to you. I have made you an apron and bag with some chicken fabric that you once admired. My xanga site is If you want you can message me there with your address so I can send them. Perhaps after visiting me you might remember my family.

Rosary said...

I've always heard his name, but haven't really had time to know what his life was. Thanks for this, his life was really remarkable. I'd have to include him in my prayers for my family.