Optional Memorial of Sts. Thomas More (Martyr) and John Fisher (Bishop and Martyr); Optional Memorial of St. Paulinus of Nola (Bishop and Confessor)

Sir Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher via Wikipedia

Comfort in tribulation can be secured only on the sure ground of faith holding as true the words of Scripture and the teaching of the Catholic Church.

St. Thomas More

The story of Saint Sir Thomas More one for, pardon the pun, for all seasons. I recall watching the film version of the play mentioned below, A Man for All Seasons, and marveling at the conviction of this Catholic layperson.

Yes, St. Sir Thomas More was an attorney and a brilliant man but it is often these men that falter. Just look at the many Catholics that took this oath, saving their life in this world but at the risk of their souls in the next; Henry the VIII himself being the primary example of this.

I can not help but wonder, would I have such conviction under such circumstances? Would my wife and family rise to the occasion and support a call to conscience that leads to bloody martyrdom? Can we expect the same from those Catholic “rock stars” that speak, teach and preach around the country and the world today?

Saint Thomas More, pray for us.

Saint John Fisher, pray for us.

Saint Paulinus, pray for us.


Read the Bible at Mass

First Reading: Gn 15:1-12, 17-18

 

The word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision:

“Fear not, Abram! I am your shield; I will make your reward very great.”

But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what good will your gifts be, if I keep on being childless and have as my heir the steward of my house, Eliezer?” Abram continued, “See, you have given me no offspring, and so one of my servants will be my heir.”

Then the word of the LORD came to him:

“No, that one shall not be your heir; your own issue shall be your heir.”

He took him outside and said:

“Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can. Just so,” he added, “shall your descendants be.”

Abram put his faith in the LORD, who credited it to him as an act of righteousness.

He then said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as a possession.”

“O Lord GOD,” he asked, “how am I to know that I shall possess it?”

He answered him, “Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old she-goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”

Abram brought him all these, split them in two, and placed each half opposite the other; but the birds he did not cut up. Birds of prey swooped down on the carcasses, but Abram stayed with them. As the sun was about to set, a trance fell upon Abram, and a deep, terrifying darkness enveloped him.

When the sun had set and it was dark, there appeared a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch, which passed between those pieces. It was on that occasion that the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying:

“To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the Great River the Euphrates.”


Responsorial Psalm105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9

 

R. (8a) The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name;
make known among the nations his deeds.
Sing to him, sing his praise,
proclaim all his wondrous deeds.

R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Glory in his holy name;
rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!
Look to the LORD in his strength;
seek to serve him constantly.

R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.

You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the LORD, is our God;
throughout the earth his judgments prevail. 

R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.

He remembers forever his covenant
which he made binding for a thousand generations—
Which he entered into with Abraham
and by his oath to Isaac.

R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.


Gospel: Mt 7:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

So by their fruits you will know them.”


On Today’s Celebration

St. Thomas More

Sir Thomas More by Hans Holbein the Younger via Wikipedia

His belief that no lay ruler has jurisdiction over the church of Christ cost Thomas More his life.

Beheaded on Tower Hill, London, July 6, 1535, he steadfastly refused to approve Henry VIII’s divorce and remarriage and establishment of the Church of England.

Described as “a man for all seasons,” More was a literary scholar, eminent lawyer, gentleman, father of four children and chancellor of England. An intensely spiritual man, he would not support the king’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon in order to marry Anne Boleyn. Nor would he acknowledge Henry as supreme head of the church in England, breaking with Rome and denying the pope as head.

More was committed to the Tower of London to await trial for treason: not swearing to the Act of Succession and the Oath of Supremacy. Upon conviction, More declared he had all the councils of Christendom and not just the council of one realm to support him in the decision of his conscience.

Four hundred years later, in 1935, Thomas More was canonized a saint of God. Few saints are more relevant to our time. In fact, in 2000, Pope John Paul II named him patron of political leaders. The supreme diplomat and counselor, Thomas More did not compromise his own moral values in order to please the king, knowing that true allegiance to authority is not blind acceptance of everything that authority wants. Henry himself realized this and tried desperately to win his chancellor to his side because he knew More was a man whose approval counted, a man whose personal integrity no one questioned. But when Thomas resigned as chancellor, unable to approve the two matters that meant most to Henry, the king felt he had to get rid of Thomas.

Excerpted from Saint of the Day, Leonard Foley, O.F.M.

Patron: Adopted children; diocese of Arlington, Virginia; civil servants; court clerks; difficult marriages; large families; lawyers; diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee Florida; politicians; politicos; statesmen; step-parents; widowers.

Things to Do:


St. John Fisher

John Fisher by Hans Holbein the Younger via Wikipedia

John Fisher is usually associated with Erasmus, Thomas More and other Renaissance humanists. His life, therefore, did not have the external simplicity found in the lives of some saints. Rather, he was a man of learning, associated with the intellectuals and political leaders of his day. He was interested in the contemporary culture and eventually became chancellor at Cambridge. He had been made a bishop at thirty-five, and one of his interests was raising the standard of preaching in England. Fisher himself was an accomplished preacher and writer. His sermons on the penitential psalms were reprinted seven times before his death. With the coming of Lutheranism, he was drawn into controversy. His eight books against heresy gave him a leading position among European theologians.

In 1521 he was asked to study the problem of Henry VIII’s marriage. He incurred Henry’s anger by defending the validity of the king’s marriage with Catherine and later by rejecting Henry’s claim to be the supreme head of the Church of England.

In an attempt to be rid of him, Henry first had him accused of not reporting all the “revelations” of the nun of Kent, Elizabeth Barton. John was summoned, in feeble health, to take the oath to the new Act of Succession. He and Thomas More refused because the Act presumed the legality of Henry’s divorce and his claim to be head of the English church. They were sent to the Tower of London, where Fisher remained fourteen months without trial. They were finally sentenced to life imprisonment and loss of goods.

When the two were called to further interrogations, they remained silent. Fisher was tricked, on the supposition he was speaking privately as a priest, and declared again that the king was not supreme head. The king, further angered that the pope had made John Fisher a cardinal, had him brought to trial on the charge of high treason. He was condemned and executed, his body left to lie all day on the scaffold and his head hung on London Bridge. More was executed two weeks later.

Excerpted from Saint of the Day, Leonard Foley, O.F.M.

Patron: Those persecuted for the Faith.

Symbols: Palm

Things to Do:


St. Paulinus of Nola

Icon of St. Paulinus of Nola via All-Merciful Savior Orthodox Mission

In 353 Pontius Meropius Anicius Paulinus was born of a prominent Bordeaux family. He received his education in the school of the rhetorician Ausonius. At an early age he attained the dignity of senator and then of consul. As governor of Campania, he chose Nola as his seat. Here he was converted to the faith by St. Felix of Nola. He resigned his position and returned to Gaul, where St. Martin of Tours restored his eyesight.

Despite personal remonstrances, Paulinus was ordained a priest in Spain, and from there he returned to do honor at the grave of his sainted spiritual father. In 409 he became bishop of Tours. Paulinus was an author and poet; he corresponded with the great saints and scholars of his time, Ambrose and Augustine. During the Vandal invasion he used every possible means to feed the poor. When a poor widow asked for money to ransom her son, he gave himself into slavery. With God’s aid he returned to his flock and died at the age of seventy-eight in 431. His last words were: “I will prepare a lamp for My anointed” (Ps. 131). His particular virtue was love toward the poor.

Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.

Excerpts on the Saints via Catholic Culture | Liturgical Year

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