Saturday, July 17, 2010
A Man for All Seasons is the name of a movie that inspired many about the heroic acts of St. Thomas More. Sir Thomas More, chancellor of 16th-century England, was a humanist and intellectual married man whose commitment to the faith never affected his devotion to his family, king, and country. On the contrary his well-formed conscience allowed him to face up to the powers of his time.
In his conversation with Cardinal Woolsey, More showed the primacy of his conscience over and against the "pressures" that Woolsey, a cleric of the Church, wanted to exert on the pope in order to obtain a divorce for King Henry VIII. The king wanted a heir to the throne since his wife Queen Catherine was barren. Thomas More's response was prayer for the king. Again his defiance of civil authorities when they trample upon the dignity of human people is supremely evident in his trial instigated by Secretary Cromwell and the betrayal of More by his friend Richard Rich who lied under oath. Thomas More was executed for "treason" along with thousands who refused to bend to the king's new unlawful laws as Supreme Head of the Church in England and his unlawful second marriage.
Today, the Church (i.e., the People of God) need another Thomas More to stand for human dignity in face of the new tyrants: Capitalist corporations whose main purpose is to gain excessive profits at the expense of poor classes and poor countries, competing for the resources of the earth. Under globalization, the entire economic world is shifting to the powerful desire for swallowing the weaker economies. On the other hand, poor countries are governed by dictators who would swallow their own people.
More to the point, we see selfishness arising from insecurity in the hearts in every land (particularly after the global recession), shyless pornography over the Internet, media catering to the powerful, division among Christians, stubborn fundamentalism in many areas of the world especially in Islamic countries, and a huge carelessness for pro-life issues. The U.N. with a liberal Western mentality is pressing women all over the world to use contraceptives and otherwise perform abortion.
In spite of the above bleak information, we believe that Christ who works in the hearts has conquered the world. In time, the world will realize the truth that Thomas More defended.
What can we do?
1. Pray more in church, at home, at work, and on the way to work. Give room to God in your heart.
2. Read and learn the teachings of Christ. You will find them in the Bible and the Church Tradition as interpreted by the Church. Recall that the Church grows in its understanding of the words and realities of the deposit of faith (Vatican II, Dei Verbum, 8). Form your conscience based on your search for the truth. A good conscience takes time to be formed. When you learn the truth from the Church, pass it on to your family and invite your friends to share it too.
3. Imitate the good shepherds and servants who work for Christ. Help the Church by offering services through her to the poor, the sick, and the alienated.
4. The hardest thing is to love the true love. Love is more than feelings. Love is an act of the will. It is shown in the experience of God's love who loved us first. We cannot love if we are not loved. God loves you. Return that love in love to everyone you encounter: Your family, your friends, your people, your co-workers, your managers, and the world. Love does not mean that you must agree with what people do but that you will their eternal salvation. Start with the little love that you offer when you sacrifice some time for another person. Offer your love in little things you do in an extraordinary way (the little way of St. Therese of Lisieux). The love of Christ did not stop there for he did not only love everyone, but also forgave them on the cross. He, the innocent lamb, did not will to retaliate nor revenge. Christ loved his enemies: the Samaritans he taught and healed, the Canaanite whose son he healed, and the Jewish authorities who condemned him to death.
Love is eternal - God is Love.