Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Saint Thomas More

Give me thy grace, good Lord,
To set the world at nought;
To set my mind fast upon thee,
And not to hang upon the blast of men's mouths;
To be content to be solitary;
Not to long for worldly company;
Little and little utterly to cast off the world,And rid my mind of all the business thereof;
Not to long to hear of any worldly things,But that the hearing of worldly fantasies may be to me displeasant;
Gladly to be thinking of God;
Piteously to call for his help;
To lean unto the comfort of God;
Busily to labour to love him;
To know mine own vility and wretchedness;
To humble and meeken myself under the might hand of God;
To bewail my sins passed;
For the purging of them, patiently to suffer adversity;
Gladly to bear my purgatory here;
To be joyful of tribulations;
To walk the narrow way that leadeth to life;
To bear the cross with Christ;
To have the last thing in remembrance;
To have ever afore mine eye my death that is ever at hand;
To make death no stranger to me;
To foresee and consider the everlasting fire of hell;
To pray for pardon before the judge come;
To have continually in mind the passion that Christ suffered for me;
For his benefits uncessantly to give him thanks;
To buy the time again that I before have lost;
To abstain from vain confabulations;
To eschew light foolish mirth and gladness;
Recreations not necessary to cut off;
Of worldly substance, friends, liberty, life and all, to set the loss at right nought, for the winning of Christ;
To think my most enemies my best friends;
For the brethren of Joseph could never have done him so much good with their love and favour as they did him with their malice and hatred.These minds are more to be desired of every man, than all the treasure of all the princes and kings, Christian and heathen, were it gathered and laid together all upon one heap.

from Prayers and Meditations

I should have known that my career as an Anglican was in trouble when I came to believe that the heroes of the English Reformation were SS. John Fisher and Thomas More. It did help that More is the central character in Robert Bolt and Fred Zinneman's masterpiece, A Man for All Seasons, especially with Paul Scofield playing. Learning about More was a central part of my becoming a Catholic, and I strongly recommend Peter Ackroyd's recent The Life of Thomas More.