Monday, November 30, 2009
Saint Thomas More
Patron of Lawyers
Thomas was born in 1478. His father, Sir John More, is a judge at the royal court. While still a child, Thomas was sent to St. Anthony's School in London and at 13, was placed in the household of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The boy’s merry disposition and brilliant intellect attracted the notice of the archbishop, who sent him to Canterbury College of the Benedictines at Oxford. Thomas took interest in law, French, Greek, Latin, history, math and learned to play the flute as well as the violin. He also involved himself in mini-comedies and epigrams.
His father sent him to law school in London and at the age of 21, Thomas More was a lawyer himself. His great abilities had attracted attention and he was appointed lecturer on law and his lectures were highly esteemed that the appointment was renewed for three successive years. At 26, he joined the House of Commons wherein he began to oppose the large and unjust exactions of money which King Henry VII was making from his subjects.
By 1510, Thomas became a legal advisor to the mayor and a judge in civil cases.
He went to live near the London Charterhouse and has taken part in the spiritual exercises of the monks there. His mind wavered for some time between joining the Carthusians or the Franciscans. In the end, he abandoned the hope of becoming a priest or religious and married Jane Colt, the 17-year-old daughter of a country squire. Of it were born three daughters, Margaret, Elizabeth, and Cecilia, and a son, John. After about 6 year, Jane More died. Thomas married again very soon after his first wife's death and he chose a widow named Alice Middleton, who became devoted to the care of More's young children.
Despite his busy political career, he is a devoted family man and has maintained the deep ascetical life. Thomas was good humored and can pull out jokes and find laughter even from things that are most serious.
The Mores kept an open house and invited poor neighbors in for dinner and even let them sleep over at their house. He also put up a hospital. Thomas is known for his sense of justice, humor and integrity.
In 1521, Thomas was knighted; made sub-treasurer to the king and was nominated speaker in Parliament. Sir Thomas More came to be the favorite of the King.
Thomas had purchased a piece of land in Chelsea. Here, he built himself a mansion about a hundred yards from the north bank of the Thames, with a large garden stretching along the river. The king would sometimes visit without previous notice and he loved to dine with Thomas or walk in the garden with his arm amicably flung over More's shoulder, enjoying his brilliant conversation. In 1525, Sir Thomas More became Chancellor, controlling the courts of Lancaster and managing the properties of the king.
Sights Set on God
But the Chancellor had no illusions about the royal favor he enjoyed.
When Henry VIII appealed to Rome for a dispensation from his marriage with Catherine of Aragon, Henry hoped to have a powerful support from his close friends. Sir Thomas, however, denied him that, firmly believing that a valid marriage can never be annulled.
A few months later came the royal proclamation ordering the clergy to acknowledge Henry as "Supreme Head" of the Church. Thomas at once filed his resignation as chancellor and for the next eighteen months, Thomas More lived in seclusion and gave much time to writing. He stayed away from Anne Boleyn's coronation despite an expressed invitation, and adapted silence as the least offensive manifestation of his protest.
In 1534, the king passed a law imposing upon all the demand to abjure the authority of the Pope. Sir Thomas More adhered to his conscience and refused to make this oath.
Thomas spent his days of imprisonment in prayer and recollection. After 15 months of imprisonment, he was beheaded.
Thomas More was beatified by Pope Leo XIII, in 1886 and was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1935.
St Thomas More was concerned with the unity of the church and what the church teaches. He was against intimidation and would rather displease the King than to cowardly conform and give displeasure to God.
Please feel free to share your reflections/insights/inputs in the comment box below. Thank you and God Bless
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