Friday, June 22, 2007

"Enemies of Christ...are wide awake"

Adoration tonight, 7-8 pm, SAA Church. All are invited!!
Today is the memorial of one of my favorite saints, St. Thomas More. St. Thomas (d. 1535) was a lawyer in England who was married with four children. He ardently lived and taught the Faith, especially in the situation involving King Henry VIII’s divorce. He defended the Church’s teaching on marriage to death; he was beheaded for not supporting the king. The 1966 movie, “A Man For All Seasons”, is a beautiful and powerful depiction of St. Thomas’s life and death.

The following are excerpts from a letter from St. Thomas to his daughter, Margaret, written while he was in prison:

“I will not mistrust (God), Meg, though I shall feel myself weakening and on the verge of being overcome with fear. I shall remember how Saint Peter at a blast of wind began to sink because of his lack of faith, and I shall do as he did: call upon Christ and pray to him for help. And then I trust he shall place his holy hand on me and in the stormy seas hold me up from drowning.

And if he permits me to play Saint Peter further and to fall to the ground and to swear and forswear, may God our Lord in his tender mercy keep me from this, and let me lose if it so happen, and never win thereby! Still, if this should happen, afterward I trust that in his goodness he will look on me with pity as he did upon Saint Peter, and make me stand up again and confess the truth of my conscience afresh and endure here the shame and harm of my own fault…”

Our good friend, Fr. Wells, once commented on the life and writings of St. Thomas More:

“As St. Thomas faced his own death, it is no surprise that much of his prayer focused on the passion and death of Christ, but his meditations were not only personal. He saw how the players in the drama of Christ’s death were present in his day – and ours. I was particularly struck by his meditation on the sleep of the Apostles while the Lord was in agony on the garden. He contrasts the sleep of Peter, James, and John with the zeal of Judas who was scurrying about in efforts to betray Christ. As More says, ‘For very many are sleepy and apathetic in sowing virtues among the people and maintaining the truth, while the enemies of Christ in order to sow vices and uproot the faith, are wide awake’.

It becomes difficult to ignore the real hatred of the message of Christianity, and especially the Catholic Church. As a priest, I must examine how hard I work to teach and preach the good, but confrontational, news which is the Gospel. Thomas More recognized how easily fear can influence our living of the faith. He wrote, for example, of Jesus’ fear and dread in the Garden as He contemplated His death. He recognized that fear is, first, a temptation, but like all temptations, can be overcome especially with prayer. Those who oppose the message of Christ are wide awake, just as they were in Thomas’ time. Pray God that those who have the gift of faith will give in neither to sloth nor fear as they are challenged to live fully the Christian life”.

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