Wednesday, December 16, 2009

St. Thomas More, Patron of Statesmen, Politicians and Lawyers, Pray for us.

"The laws of England are like a grove of oaks. Cut them down and...................." St. Thomas More

Looking back over my fifty years as a Catholic I recognise that not infrequently a certain phenomenon has re-occurred. This has always been manifest in the following way. Over a concentrated period of days or even weeks, a certain Saint or devotion keeps cropping up, quite outside anything for which I have been consciously searching. At first I am surprised and tend to think that it is merely coincidence, then as things develop and the saint seems to be refusing to go away, I realise that Cardinal Newman's term 'God's little providences' is more appropriate. Every time, I have thought, how could I have been so dull, so deaf and so blind? And yet it is good to realise my own spiritual disabilites because that means that I can never become blase, nor expect that these things may happen again. And yet they do. It's as if the saint is saying to me, particularly in this season of Advent, 'Look, you are supposed to be vigilant, awake and listening. Beg my intercession. Have you forgotten me?'

Readers who followed my reports on the recent EF weekend here in St. Romain, will know that the co-patron, of our house chapel, with and under the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, is St. Thomas More. Why St Thomas?

When I was sixteen and before we broke up from school in the summer of 1959 we were given a short preparatory reading list for the A level studies that would begin in September. In my case this included History, in particular of the Tudors and the Reformation.. For some months I'd been receiving instruction in the Faith. The reading I did at that time enraged me because I sensed it embodied, condoned and encouraged a lie. The 'establishment' of my own beloved country had been built on this lie ever since. I could write pages about the intellectual and spiritual contortions I went through in succeeding months. Suffice to say that it was the Holy Mass, the Real Presence of Jesus Christ within it, and the deaths of our Martyrs, notably of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher that made me Catholic. Perhaps I respect and love St. John Fisher in a different way because he was first a priest and then a bishop. I chose St. Thomas to be c0-patron of our chapel because he was the father of a family. There are many others of course but in my youth St. Thomas More was for me the quintessence of the English Catholic layman. He still is.

During the EF weekend I felt his presence and after Father had left although I was occupied with the reports and photos, I knew that I wanted to hang the reproduction of the Holbein portrait of St. Thomas in the study which I've been meaning to do for a long time. Then:

December 8:
I read that the Holy Father, during his visit to England in September 2010, will speak to both Houses of Parliament from the very spot in Westminster Hall where St. Thomas was condemned to death. I wept on reading this. St. Thomas More pray for us.

December 13:
In the morning I finally hung the portrait in the study.
In the afternoon did my daily check on Mulier Fortis, to find that she had posted about St. Thomas More. Quite unseasonally because as you know his feast is in June. Her post had been inspired by a conversation with Leutgeb and centred around one of my favourite films of all time 'A Man for all Seasons' in which St. Thomas makes the salutary quip to the betraying Richard Rich, ' But for Wales?' ( I wanted to email Mac there and then, but someone phoned or hammered on the front door and the moment passed. The person from Porlock is ever with us.) St. Thomas More pray for us.

December 14th
Read of the concern of our English and Welsh bishops about legislation that is being considered in UK parliament which would criminalise the Church for its opposition to women priests. (This is the same 'government' that will receive our Holy Father in Westminster Hall? If the legislation is allowed then they should arrest him on the spot for voicing the Church's teaching. Can things get any more illogical or just plain daft?
St. Thomas More pray for us.

December 15th
During a final trawl of my favourite blogs last night I was further disturbed to read on WDTPRS about the White House and Senator Ben Nelson.
And then thanks to Fr. Z, it was there, the thing that I suspect St. Thomas More wanted me to find, to pray and to encourage others to pray too. It is the Litany of St. Thomas More by the late Bishop Michael Salterelli and is at 'The Catholic Key Blog'. I cannot get a workable link and so will type it out tomorrow in a separate post. Please join me in praying it as a Novena between now and Christmas, and not just for Senator Nelson. We are indeed in evil case.

As for the quote which opens this post, I can't remember how it ends! I've searched unsuccessfully for years. If anyone is familiar with it, do please let me know.


pelerin said...

Yes indeed - how we need the prayers of St Thomas More. Thank you for putting up the litany. Where are the Thomas Mores of England today?

Have you read about the latest state interference in a religious school (see Fr Ray's blog).

Being half Welsh myself I am always amused when the quip in the film 'A Man for all Seasons' - 'But for Wales?' - is quoted! I wonder if he really said it?

A few weeks ago I went on one of Joanna Bogles walks in London and we were able to visit the Seminary in Chelsea and pray under the celebrated mulberry tree there where St Thomas More used to sit. We were even allowed to pick a leaf from the tree!

Congratulations Jane on your fiftieth anniversary - I reach 45 next year! Not sure what I shall do yet to celebrate. For my fortieth I decided to go to Lourdes for the first time and as you know that has lead to an
annual visit since.

SANDY said...

Jane.How strange this all is...I too have a love for St.Thomas More,and have been looking for a portrait of him to hang in my home!Cant help you with the quote,but my favourite quote of his is.."I die the kings man,but God's first".Is he asking us to pray for England?It seems so.
I will join you in saying the litany
every evening after vespers.

Jane said...

Yes, I read about the Jewish school on Fr Ray's blog.

As for the Wales quote I think it's in the play (will check next time I'm upstairs) but I'm not sure he actually said it.

I lived on the border of Chelsea and Pimlico for nearky 30 years and never made it to Allen Hall. What an amazing visit yours must have been. You will treasure that leaf I've no doubt!

Jane said...


Yes these things seem strange. I accept them as graces, as little spiritual nudgings if you like.
I am convinced St. Thomas is asking us to beg his intercession, and to pray with him, particularly for England. He probably objects to the fact that the Prayer for England has been dropped from the end of Benediction. I will add it to the end of the Litany! Thank you for joining me. It's wonderful to know that someone is praying with me. I'll do it every day after Vespers as well.