“I die the king’s good servant, and God’s first.” ~ St. Thomas More
Thomas More was at the pinnacle of success — by all earthly standards — when he was made Lord High Chancellor by King Henry VIII. He was a man of swift mind and a staunch supporter of the king. However, Thomas More’s first loyalty was to his Catholic faith.
He refused to sign the Oath of Supremacy which swore allegiance to the King of England as Supreme Governor of the Church of England. Several times, the king attempted to get Thomas More to change his stance. He wanted him to sign the Oath as a mere formality but Thomas More would not do so. Ultimately, Thomas More was tried for treason and beheaded.
He always saw himself as the King’s servant but he valued the King of Heaven more than he valued Henry VIII. In being told to sign something that would reject his faith in the Catholic Church, Thomas More indicated where his true allegiance was placed. Today is the feast of St. Thomas More, Martyr.
Even at death, Thomas More showed his intellect and his keen sense of humor. Just as it was reported that St. Lawrence, martyred on the gridiron, told his tormentors, after he had suffered pain for a long time: “I’m well done on this side. Turn me over!”, Thomas More, as he positioned his head on the chopping block made a show of moving his beard out of the way stating that his beard should not be chopped as it did not make offence at the king.
Life throws us a lot of curve balls. We need to remain firm in our faith, willing to sacrifice ourselves if need be rather than give up all that we have held so dear. The example of the martyrs teaches all of us what it means to be people of courage as well as people of faith.
FAITH ACTION: Ask God for the grace that is needed in time of strife, that you may remain faithful to Him.