Sunday, June 21, 2015

Memorial of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More

What does it cost to take a stand for one’s faith?  What does it cost to go against the court of public opinion?  What does it cost to believe?  It costs a lot.  Today we celebrate the memorial of two great English martyrs. Both died because they held to the principles of their faith.  Bishop John Fisher and Sir Thomas More were both martyred in 1535.  Their deaths were ordered by King Henry VIII because they opposed his plan to name himself head of the church so that he could divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn.  Of course Henry went on to marry as many times as Elizabeth Taylor thereby making a mockery of the sacrament.  But, that is a different homily.

Both men had the courage of their convictions.  They stood alone in defying the king.  Fisher was the only bishop to speak out against the king’s plan.  But he did not criticize those bishops who lacked the courage to speak out.  Thomas More, who had held the highest legal post in England, would not budge from his principles.  He bore no ill will toward the judges who condemned him to death.  Neither man wavered in his beliefs.  Both died for them.  The courage of these two great saints should be a model for us when we have to speak out against the abuses of our age.  

We don’t face martyrdom in quite the same way.  We face something we may dread more.  Criticism.  We face being considered hopelessly “behind the times.”  We face ostracism or exclusion because of our beliefs. We face the public execution by the perpetually aggrieved. Trying saying in the public that Bruce Jenner is not a woman. The demands for apologies, groveling, and job loss would reach a fever pitch immediately.

Confucius described  “the rectification of names.”  One explanation of this key concept of Chinese philosophy is that the corruption of society begins with the failure to call things by their proper names… and its reconstruction begins with reattaching words to real things and precise concepts.   Is it women’s health care or abortion?  Is it death with dignity or killing a sick old man?  Is it just a little affair or is it adultery?  We cannot afford euphemisms that deny the reality of sin or rationalize it into something else.  We cannot bear the cost of words that normalize wrong or evil action. 

John Fisher and Thomas More died because they called the king’s actions what they were.  Sin. We should expect no less of ourselves.  We should expect no less of our Church.  

The cold is letting up.  Slowly.  The timing was perfect as I'd planned on being away for a few days but then canceled the plans after Lorraine died.  Thus I had no Mass commitments.  Good thing.  I can barely speak a sentence without coughing, much to the chagrin of some of my friends.  Going to Regina Laudis for a few days later.  I assume the chanting voice will have returned by then.  

When I was at Longwood I took over 400 photos.  Besides the water lilies a must stop is the orchid room.  Orchids are very different on the stem than leering up from the left shoulder of a prom gown.  In the sixties if it wasn't an orchid is was carnations died colors that God never planned for a carnation or any other flower.  As long as it matched the dress.  Bridezillas in training.  

Herewith, the orchids. 

+Fr. Jack, SJ, MD

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