December 2, 2016

George Weigel on Our Need for the Real Thomas More

St. Thomas More

Catholics for whom the faith is non-negotiable may feel with Mr. Trump's election that their precariously beleaguered religious liberty was given a much need reprieve. Prior to the vote, it seemed as if, for those who professed traditional Christian values, religious freedom was in grave danger. Indeed, last February, Father Paul Scalia, the son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, delivered a heartfelt eulogy at the funeral for his father in which he observed the following:

"[Justice Scalia] knew well what a close-run thing the founding of our nation was. And he saw in that founding, as did the founders themselves, a blessing, a blessing quickly lost when faith is banned from the public square, or when we refuse to bring it there. So he understood that there is no conflict between loving God and loving one's country, between one's faith and one's public service."

The problem is that the forces of secularization, and those who occupy the commanding heights of our culture, (i.e: Hollywood, the fourth estate and academia) profoundly disagree. Together they wage war on traditional Christian beliefs and practices. Despite Mr. Trump's pledge to protect such beliefs, are the times so perilous that men and women of faith cannot live openly without being prosecuted or persecuted? Will such societal oppression lead to red martyrdom?

George Weigel observes that in our unhappy modern situation we need the example of a Catholic willing to be martyred for his love of God and love of the truth. Contemplating the difficulties American Catholics face today,  he considers the heroic virtue and resolute faith of Saint Thomas More, the 16th century Catholic martyr who courageously defied King Henry VIII: Weigel calls More, "a Catholic willing to die for the truth, which has grasped him as the love of God in Christ.  Thus when More’s intellectually gifted daughter Margaret, having failed to argue him out of his refusal to countenance Henry VIII’s divorce and subsequent marriage to Anne Boleyn, plays her final card and cries, “But in reason! Haven’t you done as much as God can reasonably want?”, More replies, haltingly, “Well…finally…it’s isn’t a matter of reason; finally it’s a matter of love." Weigel explains:

"In this unhappy situation, we need the real Thomas More: the Thomas More who bore witness and ultimately 'grasped his death,' not to vindicate his sense of Self, but as the final and ultimate act of thanks for his having been grasped, and saved, by the truth itself, the Thrice-Holy God." Almighty God, who in martyrdom has brought true faith to its highest expression, graciously grant that through the intercession of Saint Thomas More, we may confirm by the witness of our life the faith we profess with our lips until we see you in glory. Read the full article here.

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