St Thomas More's Feast Day is on June 22, 2017.
G.K. Chesterson said it best in 1929:
"Thomas More is important today, but he is not as important now as he will be in 100 years from today."
In an age of moral and cultural relativism, it behooves us to remember why...
Quite simply, More stood up for the truth. For what he knew to be right. He sacrificed everything for his faith.
As a man of principle, he is recognized at as a champion of the rights of conscience. When asked to swear the Oath of Succession to Henry VIII, he sacrificed his life for the unity of the Church.
Here are 10 great books to celebrate the life of St. Thomas More:
Thomas More was the first English writer to use the word “integrity.” He worked to live as well as he wrote, with personal virtue, solid piety, and a well-formed conscience. These letters reflect all the facets of his humanity and personality, and through them, one may begin to glimpse the living face of this famous “man for all seasons,” as he was known even in his own time.
One of history’s most admired figures and one of the great lawyers and statesmen of all time, Thomas More was voted “Lawyer of the Millennium” by the Law Society of Great Britain and named “Patron of Statesmen” by John Paul II. More combined immense humanistic learning with an unequaled command of the legal and political traditions of Christendom, forging a profound philosophy of statesmanship and freedom.
More not only occupied England’s most powerful position under the king as Lord Chancellor, but was also a devoted family man, a Renaissance figure of renown throughout Europe, and the author of works of apologetics as well as poetry, fiction and plays. Even while awaiting execution in the Tower of London, his multi-volume "Tower writings" poured out, evidence of his deep faith and life of prayer.
Here in modern English is More’s examination of the comfort of God in times of difficulty. Written in the Tower of London while More was awaiting execution for refusing to betray his faith, this book is a fictional dialogue between a young man, Vincent, and his mortally ill uncle. Vincent is afraid that an impending Muslim invasion will force him to betray his faith or die a martyr. More shows how all suffering can be beneficial if you respond to it properly.
The persecution of Catholics began in 16th century England and tested the Church for over 250 years. Penal laws labeled Catholic believers as traitors and brought fines, imprisonment, and even execution. This book tells the story of the Catholic Church's survival and restoration in one land. It serves both as a lesson and a warning of the risks to faith and freedom when absolute power is given free reign.
Considered by C.S. Lewis as perhaps the best dialogue written in English, this friendly, spirited, and often merry exchange takes place at St. Thomas More’s peaceful and cultured home in Chelsea. Dialogue Concerning Heresies is a conversation between the experienced humanist and statesman More and an intelligent college student who has been influenced by the spirit and ideas of the new men and reformers, especially Martin Luther and William Tyndale.
Presented to modern readers in English for the first time in 500 years, The Life of Pico is a biography of one of the Renaissance’s most famous figures: Giovanni Pico de la Mirandola (1463-94). Given More’s demanding personal spiritual life, one would assume that More wishes to praise a famous and virtuous man. But what emerges from this book is quite different. Pico turns out to be an extraordinarily virtuous, talented, and wealthy man, but a man nonetheless, who is missing something essential. And so More calls Pico “a very spectacle” of virtue.
In The Four Last Things, More prescribes frequent meditation on Death, Judgment, Pain and Joy in order to combat the spiritual diseases of pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth.The Supplication of Souls is More's vigorous, humorous, and artful defense of one of the flashpoints of the Reformation: the Catholic dogma of Purgatory. It is his devastating response to a defamatory political tract that claimed that the greed and corruption of English clergymen stemmed from their insistence on being paid to pray for the dead.
This book was the last that St. Thomas More wrote in the Tower of London before he was executed for standing firm in his Catholic faith. In it, he explores the Gospel passages that depict the agony of Our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane. He depicts Christ as a model of virtue in the face of suffering and persecution. And along the way, he includes valuable and eternally relevant reflections on prayer, courage, friendship, statesmanship, and more. Here is an excellent resource for Lent or anytime!
ST. THOMAS MORE is best remembered as the great English statesman, humanist and scholar who refused to submit to Henry VIII and suffered death on the scaffold rather than compromise his belief in the spiritual supremacy of the Pope. It was a unique act of commitment to the Faith at a time when almost the entire English hierarchy, together with "all the best learned men of the realm," succumbed almost without a whimper.
The 100 year anniversary of what Chesterton said is coming up in 2029. Twelve years from now. Why is St. Thomas More important today? What did Chesterton foresee?