If I didn’t make you do a double-take with that title – well, I’m disappointed. Charles Carroll of Carrollton (1737-1832), the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, seems to have little in common with King Henry II’s 12th-century Chancellor and Archbishop of Canterbury, St. Thomas Becket. Obviously, Becket was a priest, while Carroll, a married layman, earned vast wealth through his plantations and business ventures. Carroll died in his bed at age 95, while Becket was murdered at the altar in his prime.
What follows is a piece I wrote as a small tribute to my own father for Father’s day 2015. The impact a father has on his child is immeasurable. A child’s entire development hinges on both parents, but on the father in a very special and particular way. The complete and entire self of the father is the base upon which a child forges and develops his own personality. It is as deep and as real as that.
A friend who was once an atheist told me he used to think that Christians were ignorant people who did not think for themselves, people who accepted doctrines without reasoning. Of course once he became a Christian, he realized this was a false generalization.
If it’s a mistake to add the burden of the past to the weight of the present, it’s a still worse mistake to burden the present with the future. The remedy for that tendency is to meditate on the lesson contained in the Gospel about abandonment to God’s Providence and ask for God’s grace to practice it.
MORE DIED FOR CONSCIENCE. He refused to accept that Henry VIII’s marriage to Anne Boleyn was legitimate and that the king in Parliament had the authority to compel a citizen to affirm the state’s pronouncement. For that he resigned, was arrested, convicted of misprision of treason, and sentenced to life in prison. While incarcerated, he refused to acknowledge that Henry VIII was Supreme Head of the Church in England. For that he was convicted of high treason and executed.
In 1523, Thomas More was chosen to be Speaker of the House of Commons of Parliament. Hesitant to accept the post, he asked King Henry VIII to release him from the duty. The king refused his request and, accepting the position, More made a second request to King Henry: a request for free speech, the first such request known to be made. Like the Coronation Ode, this petition is a fascinating and important example of communication between More and Henry, and so is included in this volume of letters. The text is from William Roper’s Life of Sir Thomas More, modernized by Mary Gottschalk.
God’s love is a jealous love. He is not satisfied if we come to meet him with conditions. He longs for us to give ourselves completely, without keeping dark corners in our heart where the joy and happiness of grace and the supernatural gifts cannot reach. Perhaps you are thinking, “If I say ‘yes’ to this exclusive Love, might I not lose my freedom?”
I have often reminded you of that moving scene in the Gospel where Jesus is in Peter’s boat, from which he has been speaking to the people. The multitude following him has stirred the eagerness for souls which consumes his heart, and now the Divine Master wants his disciples to share his zeal. After telling them to launch out into the deep, duc in altum,1he suggests to Peter that he let down his nets for a catch.
Whenever he would write on the Eucharist, the man of God would encourage a slow meditative reading of his words, so as to let their truth penetrate into the heart. He wrote:
I would like these notes to be read very slowly, so as to give time for the head to learn, for the heart to be moved, and for the grace of God to go to work. After they have been read in this way, then ponder them in prayer before the tabernacle.