As we enter the Fortnight For Freedom 2016: Witnesses to Freedom, which will last from today till July 4, we need to remember the sacrifices of other Catholics who have laid down their lives in defiance of tyrannical kingdoms and governments in the past. It is fitting, and obviously planned, by the United States Bishops to begin this fortnight in anticipation of the feast day of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More.
From the early Christian martyrs to Saints Fisher and More to the Mexican Martyrs (see the film, For Greater Glory) to Saints Maximilian Kolbe and Edith Stein to the Catholics and Orthodox that are being killed for their Christian faith around the world today, especially in the Middle East and Africa, it is fitting that it is now our time to Stand Up for the great injustices that have been promulgated by the current presidential administration; an administration that has tyrannical, socialistic, and anti-Christian tendencies rooted in its very foundation. They are a great threat to this nation and people of good conscience.
At this time, we may not be called to shed our blood for the faith (red martyrs), but we are being called to stand up for our faith and face social persecution (white martyrdom).
Over the next couple of weeks, we will celebrate the lives of martyrs in the liturgical calendar. During this time, we must pray, study, catechize, and engage in public action. Religious Freedom is at the heart and center of not only the United States of America, but it’s also fundamental to every human being by means of the Natural Law. I urge you during this time to pray hard for the conversion of the hearts of those seek to destroy the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has faced many tyrants in her past and every time has been victorious, for we have Jesus Christ and He has already conquered evil and death.
St. Thomas More is the key figure for us when we think of one who stands up to tyranny and injustice. St. Thomas More was wrongfully committed of High Treason by the Kingdom of England for not agreeing to the marriage of King Henry VIII. Below are the last few lines of St. Thomas More from the play, A Man For All Seasons. I think we need to remember these words and try to live up to them for ourselves and fights we may have ahead. This is a play I first read in college and many of the lines have stuck with me over the years. It’s a beautiful depiction of St. Thomas More as servant to the king, but God’s servant first. Always remember, we are Americans, but Catholic first.
Norfolk: Prisoner at the bar, you have been found guilty of High Treason. The sentence of the Court –
More: My Lord! My lord, when I was practicing the law, the manner was to ask the prisoner before pronouncing sentence, if he had anything to say.
Norfolk: Have you anything to say?
More: Yes. To avoid this I have taken every path my winding wits would find. Now that the Court has determined to condemn me, God knoweth how, I will discharge my mind…concerning my indictment and the King ‘s title. The indictment is grounded in an Act of Parliament which is directly repugnant to the Law of God. The King in Parliament cannot bestow the Supremacy of the Church because it is a Spiritual Supremacy! And more to this the immunity of the Church is promised both in Magna Carta and the King’s own Coronation Oath!
Cromwell: Now we plainly see that you are malicious!
More: Not so, Master Secretary! I am the King’s true subject, and pray for him and all the realm…I do none harm, I say none harm, I think none harm. And if this be not enough to keep a man alive, in good faith I long not to live…I have, since I came into prison, been several times in such a case that I thought to die within the hour, and I thank Our Lord I was never sorry for it, but rather sorry when it passed. And therefore, my poor body is at the King’s pleasure. Would God my death might do him some good…Nevertheless, it is not for the Supremacy that you have sought my blood – but because I would not bend to the marriage!
More: My Master had easel and gall, not wine, given him to drink. Let me be going.
Margaret: Father! Father! Father, Father, Father, Father!
More: Have patience, Margaret, and trouble not thyself. Death comes for us all; even at our birth – even at our birth, death does not stand aside a little. And every day he looks towards us and muses somewhat to himself whether that day or the next he will draw nigh. It is the law of nature, and the will of God. You have long known the secrets of my heart.
The Death Scene from the film, A Man For All Seasons.