Friday, March 6, 2009


Last spring I watched a play “A Man for All Seasons” about the true life of St. Thomas More. He lived at the time of King Henry VIII. He rose in rank to being the Chancellor for England – the top Catholic and head judge. The story is that Henry wanted him to annul his marriage to Catherine so he could then marry Anne Boleyn. More, on the basis of his beliefs and conviction as a Catholic refused. Angered, Henry then demanded that More take an oath that would have had him renounce his allegiance to the Pope. More refused that as well. Ultimately, he was jailed, and executed for treason.

There is one great line in which his wife is jesting, asking him if he wishes to rule the King – to which More responds “I neither could nor would rule my king. But there's a little...little area...where I must rule myself."

Thomas More could not, and would not, abdicate himself to anyone.

He was a man, deeply committed to God and his church, who also took complete responsibility for his actions and lived by his conscience. There is not, in the life history of More, or in the play or movie anywhere where More says “Why me God?” or “it’s unfair”.

I am responsible for what I know to be right and true. I am wholly responsible for myself. I believe that as I grasp that, I know myself better. I also believe that by being responsible I have to take much more seriously what it is I believe. There are no loopholes, spiritual or otherwise.

The world is set before me. The precepts of right and wrong, good and evil, noble and, and, not-so-noble. I don’t need to wait to be told. What’s more freeing – taking responsibility for my own actions and desires, or giving that responsibility away to someone else?

St. Thomas More was free. There was that 'tiny area' of his own life that he ruled. He knew who he was. He knew what he believed. He took full responsibility. That’s the challenge before me.

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