THOMAS MORE (February 7th 1478 to 6th July 1535) is regarded as a champion of the rights of conscience. When he was asked to swear the Oath of Succession, he would neither swear the oath nor share his reasons for not swearing the oath. His silence, as he said at trial, implied his consent because he had never done or said anything to oppose any of Henry VIII’s actions. He had resigned as chancellor when he saw what Henry and Thomas Cromwell were about to do. More did not organize rebellion or raise protests against his sovereign. He just wanted to remain silent.
More told his questioners, “I do nobody harm; I say none harm; I think none harm, but wish everybody good” — but that was not enough for Henry VIII and Cromwell. Therefore, he was imprisoned, tried and executed. He was standing alone against his sovereign’s demands. Cromwell and others reminded him often that everyone else had signed the oath — why couldn’t he? Even his dearest daughter Meg tried to convince him to save his own life by just giving in. He refused to give in, and after imprisonment in the Tower of London, was executed on this day, July 6th, in 1535. While his death could not stop Henry, his faithfulness demonstrated that the state could not compel him to violate his conscience.
“I die the King’s good servant – but God’s first.”
O Lord, give us a mind that is humble,
patient and charitable,
and a taste of your Holy Spirit
in all our thoughts, words and deeds. O Lord, give us a lively faith,
a firm hope, a fervent charity,
a love of you.
Take from us
all lukewarm-ness in meditation
and all dullness in prayer.
Give us fervour and delight
in thinking of you,
and your tender compassion
Give us, good Lord, the grace to work for the things for which we pray.
A prayer of St.Thomas.
“Fare well my dear child and pray for me, and I shall for you
and all your friends, that we may merrily meet in heaven.”
Thomas More – last letter to his daughter Meg
Lord Jesus Christ, who granted Your blessed martyr, Thomas More, amidst the enticements of worldly power and the pain of imprisonment and death, to embrace Your Cross with fortitude. Grant, we pray, by his intercession and example, that striving eagerly for faith and justice, we may with him further the cause of the Kingdom of heaven on earth. This we ask through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.