Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Saints John Fisher & Thomas More
The end of More's trial from the film 'A Man for All Seasons.' I very nearly included a clip from slightly earlier in the same scene where Sir Thomas says to Sir Richard Rich who is in the process of giving perjured evidence: 'Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world... but for Wales?' To whom could that possibly apply today? Answers on a postcard........
Today's feast of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More is an uncomfortable one for Anglicans (even if the two saints are now officially commemorated in the Common Worship calendar - on July 6th, ironically the date of More's martyrdom rather than Fisher's: for some reason the Church in Wales only commemorates More ) and for Anglo-Catholics and Anglo-Papalists it is especially uncomfortable. It not only emphasises just how long our separation from Rome has been and what were the original reasons for it, but also that we are in some way, whether we like it or not, the heirs of those who, unlike Fisher & More, did submit to Tudor tyranny and stood by silently while violence was done to the Body of Christ - another contradiction in a historical legacy which sometimes gives the appearance of turning contradiction into an art form. But I suppose we can make our stand on this - that the Church (even such a small part of it as ours) still belongs to God even if it is dragged through the dirt, dismembered and subject to the most abject of humiliations. We are never completely cut off from God's grace. It's a serious question and a real problem for us as we now explore the possibilities of re-union with Peter as to how much of our tradition / patrimony we can celebrate and just how much we will have to discard as being fatally compromised.
We need the prayers of St John Fisher and St Thomas More particularly today. May their prayers help the healing of the wounds which still divide us from one another, and the present moves towards the greater unity of Catholic Christians. We need their prayers to guide us home.
This post also published on The Anglo-Catholic