Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Another look at noble men:  John Fisher and Thomas More.  Men of England, saints of the Church.  An interesting reality for my family.  My mother's family come to the United States from Great Britain.  My grandfather was named John Fisher.  Somewhere here might be a family link but highly doubtful.  You might click on the YouTube insert at the bottom to play as background while you read the reflection.

Born just after the middle of the 15th century, Fisher, a priest who was eventually ordained a bishop.  His prominence came about through his austere living -- perhaps a noteworthy fact that priests and bishops might consider.  Likewise, Bishop Fisher was known not as a skilled administrator or extraordinary preacher.  Rather he was greatly admired as a true shepherd for the people of his diocese, Rochester (Not NY!!).  As a bishop, John Fisher did not step back from challenging the departures from Roman Catholic theology and dogma.  He, together with his saintly colleague honored on this day, Thomas More, was imprisoned for strong opposition to Henry the VIII's divorce from Catherine.  Seemingly the opposition to leadership in matters of religion carried with it very weighty penalties.

Fisher's saintly partner, Sir Thomas More, was a married man and father of several children.  Like Bishop Fisher, More wrote and spoke publicly in defense of the faith despite his position as royal chancellor.  He publicly opposed the Act of Succession which earned for him a place in a London prison.  All Englishmen and women were required to sign an oath of loyalty invalidating the Church's refusal to grant and a divorce between Henry VIII and Catherine.  The act was designed to refute the actions of any foreign power, as in this case the Pope.

Both men were beheaded for their strong opposition to the refusal reject the Pope's not granting a divorce to the King.

From Fisher and More we can learn much ... especially the courage to stand up for what the Church teaches especially when it happens to be concerned with serious matters of Church discipline.  It is interesting to consider what these great saints might do were they living in our world today.  Regardless of such a inquiery, let's end the reflection with a hymn that came from England.