Wednesday, June 22, 2005

A Man For All Seasons

So today is the memorial feast of St Thomas More: along with St John Fisher. Alongside St Paulinus of Nola. Optional all: so I suppose we get to celebrate the memory and inspiration of whichever one or ones we like. So I'm choosing St Thomas More.

Like many folks my age, I got to know St Thomas More through the magnificent movie "A Man For All Seasons" based on the equally magnificent Robert Bolt play. What a movie! Paul Scofield has forever embodied the voice, the serenity, the wit, the heroism of the great martyr! And Bolt's dialogue has captured the two-edged sword of so many of More's sayings!

More is especially significant as a saint for us lay Catholics alive and and working in the World of today, because that's exactly what he was--not a monk, not a cleric, but a hardworking talented lay man involved in bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ into the world. That the world killed him for it is a fact that confirms the old saying: the seed of the Church is the blood of the martyrs.

It is also telling for us that More died precisely on the point of such controversy today--the primacy of the Petrine Office. He is a particularly papal martyr--a witness to the Witness, as it were--a witness to the Rock who is the Witness to Christ.

For me, there are many moving passages in Bolt's play--not least, the final dialogue between More and his beloved daughter Meg. "Finally, it's a matter of love!"

Go rent the DVD tonight. You won't be let down!


Anonymous said...

I have to agree. I was shown this movie many years ago by a good friend who has taught me about the meaning of the word "vocation." It isn't necessarily easy, but it is the call that God has given us and if we truly believe, we have to choice because it is through our vocations that we can praise God all the more with our lives and labors.

Anonymous said...

"finally it is a matter of Love." That is a very complex statement that can trip off the tongue too easily. So much has been written and misunderstood about love - a feeling, a sensation, a desire for something other. Though these ideas may be an aspect of love, they are not wholey Love for in the end, Love is something more, it is the choice to love. Many would argue that love is feeling that you can't fight, that it is like the tossing of a rock into the air, it inevitably must fall into the pool of water and make a splash but this is not true about love. Love is not like gravity, it doesn't HAVE to fall, it chooses to fall, it chooses where it is to be directed, to whom it's gift is to be given. Christ showed us that through his teaching and example when he tended those seemingly unworthy of love. It might be bare some truth to equate of the undesirables of society: the poor, the elderly, the sick, the mentally disabled or worse - as man's overarching judgement upon their worthiness of love. But Christ preached just the opposit, he showed us that it was these very people, these very Lambs who were most in need of a doctor, to tend their spirit, to bring them healing by perhaps offering the very thing they have been denied, the gift of someone's love.
Now I know this appears to Holy for Words and rather impractical in the real world, and wouldn't it be better to simply start by loving the people we live with or work with??? but I thinkn St. Thomas More would say, "no, it is not enough, it is not about loving that which is around you." The Catholic Church is the Universal Church, it is the visible reminder of the God's covenant on earth, it holds all of us in its bosom and therefore, there is where our family begins and it is this family we should want to increase so that our love grows stronger in numbers instead of dimished. It should be all our goals to say like St. Pia, "here comes one who will increase our love," but only if we Choose to love them first.

Perry Lorenzo said...

We have to look at the dialogue between Meg and More in the context of the play: she is trying to talk him out of staying in prison by persuading him, herself under pressure, to take the Oath of Succession. She asks his reasons for be such an obstinate witness and staying in prison . ..and she tries to put his witness "but within reason!" As if relationship with God can be bounded by practical reason (as Immanuel Kant attempted). That evokes More's wonderful response: "Finally Meg it isn't a matter of reason: it's a matter of Love."