St. Thomas More: Five Questions for You

St. Thomas More, whose feast day was last Friday, lived a life full of tough choices, culminating in his decision to stand up to King Henry VIII when he severed the church of English from the Catholic Church, over the issue of divorce. Most people who have heard of him at least know two things More—that he was the author of Utopia and that he was ultimately executed for his beliefs.

St. Thomas More lived an incredible life—one filled with many material blessings and moral achievements, as well as major setbacks and spiritual challenges. It’s hard to imagine how anyone but a saint could have handled these with such grace. What can we learn from More? What questions does his life and work pose for us? Below are five questions based on his bio (available here on EWTN) to ask yourself.

(A disclaimer: I have adapted and revised these questions from one of the discussion coordinators at a local young adult I attend. So credit goes to her for coming up with these stimulating questions!)

1. Spiritual self-awareness: St. Thomas More reportedly thought long and hard about entering the priesthood, with vigils, fasts, prayers, and similar austerities, according to his friend Erasmus. But he “proved himself far more prudent than most candidates who thrust themselves rashly into that arduous profession without any previous trial of their powers”—ultimately deciding to be a “chaste husband rather than an impure priest.” Do we seek the same self-awareness and honesty about our lives, our gifts, our strengths, and our weaknesses? If so, have we taken the appropriate actions to make the necessary changes in our lives?

2. Self-mortification: More, like a number of other saints, practiced self-mortification, as a reminder of his love for Christ and a way to offer his suffering for the good of others. How can we mortify ourselves to “bring about the kingdom”?

3. Gratitude for and detachment from worldly gain: More rose to the highest ranks of English society in terms of political power and wealth—only to lose it all. How can we maintain an ‘attitude of gratitude’ for what we have without becoming attached to our material blessings?

4. Faithfulness in the face of persecution: More stood against the king in his decision to break off from Rome and appoint himself head of the church in England. He persevered through trials to the very end—a treason trial, imprisonment in the tower of England, and his eventual beheading. How can his life help us in our current battle for religious freedom?

5. Love of neighbor: It’s a true mark of his charity that More was not merely concerned about preserving the integrity of the Church in England—he also took great personal concern with Henry VIII and how his actions would affect his salvation. Do we have a similar love for our neighbors? Do we care about their salvation?

Stephen Beale

By

Stephen Beale is a freelance writer based in Providence, Rhode Island. Raised as an evangelical Protestant, he is a convert to Catholicism. He is a former news editor at GoLocalProv.com and was a correspondent for the New Hampshire Union Leader, where he covered the 2008 presidential primary. He has appeared on Fox News, C-SPAN and the Today Show and his writing has been published in the Washington Times, Providence Journal, the National Catholic Register and on MSNBC.com and ABCNews.com. A native of Topsfield, Massachusetts, he graduated from Brown University in 2004 with a degree in classics and history. His areas of interest include Eastern Christianity, Marian and Eucharistic theology, medieval history, and the saints. He welcomes tips, suggestions, and any other feedback at bealenews at gmail dot com. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/StephenBeale1

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  • Gilplyn

    It’s St. Thomas MORE not Moore. Doesn’t anyone in journalism know how to spell or check facts anymore? I’m sorry to sound like a crank, but this is so common in media that it’s embarrassing. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/xuedebox Cate Brunner

    Really interesting, More was an outstanding percon. I adore his coolness and sense of humour. Lately I read a story about him – http://www.fampeople.com/articles-thomas-more-execution-it-must-be-very-cheerful

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