Restoring the Kingship of Christ in Great Britain

St Thomas More

St Thomas More: A Model of Catholic Political Engagement – “God’s Servant First”

St Thomas More, the patron saint of Civitas Great Britain, serves as a timeless inspiration for Catholics who recognize the importance of acknowledging reality and actively participating in genuine political battles to establish the reign of Christ the King. Throughout his life, More was deeply involved in political struggles, placing his faith in God above all else as he tirelessly sought to realize a true Christian politics under the divine authority of Christ the King. His unwavering commitment to his principles, his refusal to yield to oppressive powers, and his ultimate sacrifice as a martyr make him a remarkable figure. Even without his martyrdom, the way in which St Thomas More lived his life aligned closely with that of numerous other saints, highlighting his profound understanding of Catholic political principles. Therefore, those earnestly seeking to transform British politics in line with a serious Catholic perspective can find valuable lessons to learn from the life and teachings of St Thomas More. In this essay, we will explore the remarkable life and political struggles of this saint, and reflect on the enduring relevance of his message.

I. The Political Struggles of St Thomas More

St Thomas More was born in London in 1478 during a tumultuous period in English history. He was educated at Oxford and later became a prominent lawyer and scholar. More’s involvement in politics began when he entered the service of King Henry VIII and rose to the position of Lord Chancellor. However, it was during this time that his commitment to his Catholic faith would be tested, as Henry VIII sought to separate from the Catholic Church and establish himself as the supreme head of the Church in England. More, a devout Catholic, refused to support Henry’s actions and opposed his annulment from Queen Catherine of Aragon.

More’s principled stance against Henry’s divorce and subsequent break with Rome led to his resignation as Lord Chancellor and his withdrawal from public life. Nevertheless, his withdrawal did not signal a retreat from the political sphere. Instead, it allowed More to engage in a different kind of political battle—one that took place on the intellectual and spiritual battlegrounds.

II. God Above All: The Pursuit of True Christian Politics

St Thomas More’s unwavering commitment to God above all else was the guiding principle of his life. He recognized that true political engagement, far from being divorced from religious faith, must be grounded in a deep understanding of Catholic teachings. For More, the establishment of a just society required the recognition of Christ as the true King and the adherence to His teachings.

In his renowned work, “Utopia,” More presented his vision of an ideal society, one that embodied the principles of justice, equality, and communal harmony. Yet, he did not view Utopia as a blueprint for political action but rather as a critique of the corrupt and flawed systems of his time. More believed that true Christian politics could only be realized when individuals embraced moral integrity and prioritized the common good over personal ambition.

III. Fearless Resistance and Martyrdom

St Thomas More’s refusal to compromise his principles and submit to the whims of power stands as a testament to his courage and unwavering faith. Despite intense pressure from King Henry VIII and his supporters, More remained resolute in his opposition to the King’s actions. He chose to remain loyal to his Catholic convictions and refused to acknowledge Henry as the head of the Church in England.

As a consequence of his steadfastness, More was charged with treason and imprisoned in the Tower of London. Throughout his trial, he eloquently defended his faith and asserted his allegiance to the authority of the Pope. Despite the opportunity to save his own life by accepting Henry’s supremacy, More remained steadfast, stating, “I am the King’s good servant, but God’s first.”

Ultimately, St Thomas More paid the ultimate price for his fidelity to his faith and his refusal to compromise his principles. On July 6, 1535, he was executed, becoming a martyr for the Catholic Church. His martyrdom serves as a powerful reminder that true Christian politics often requires sacrifice and a willingness to stand up against oppressive powers against Christianity.

William Frederick Yeames, The meeting of Sir Thomas More with his daughter after his sentence of death, 1872

IV. The Saintly Life of St Thomas More

Even if St Thomas More had not been martyred, his life exemplified the virtues and values of many other saints. He demonstrated deep piety, humility, and a commitment to justice. More’s dedication to prayer, contemplation, and the sacraments sustained him in the face of adversity and informed his political actions. His writings, such as “The Sadness of Christ,” reveal his profound spiritual insights and his desire to conform his life to Christ.

Furthermore, More’s understanding of Catholic political principles extends beyond his specific historical context. His emphasis on moral integrity, the pursuit of the common good, and the recognition of Christ as the true King remain timeless lessons for those seeking to transform politics in accordance with Catholic teachings.

Conclusion:

St Thomas More’s life and political struggles continue to inspire and guide those who strive for a more just and Christ-centered society. His unwavering commitment to God above all else, his fearless resistance against oppressive powers, and his ultimate sacrifice as a martyr make him a model of Catholic political engagement. Even without his martyrdom, More’s virtuous life and profound understanding of Catholic political principles serve as a beacon for those seeking to transform British politics in line with a serious Catholic perspective. Let us learn from St Thomas More’s example, embracing the call to recognize reality, engage in genuine political battles, and strive for the establishment of a true Christian politics under the reign of Christ the King.

True patriots, as exemplified by St Thomas More, are those who passionately love the work of God and recognize that true glory lies in their nation becoming a kingdom of God. Genuine patriotism goes beyond mere allegiance to a country; it involves a deep love for God and a commitment to aligning one’s nation with the principles of righteousness and justice. St Thomas More’s example reminds us that the ultimate goal is not just the advancement of our own nation, but the realization of God’s kingdom on earth.

In our pursuit of political transformation, let us remember that true glory lies in striving for a society where God’s values and principles reign supreme. As Catholics, we are called to embrace the cause of God and work towards establishing His kingdom in our own nations. St Thomas More’s life teaches us that the path to true honour and glory is found in aligning our political actions with the will of God.

May we, like St Thomas More, be unwavering in our commitment to God, fearlessly resist the forces that oppose His reign, and be willing to sacrifice for the sake of His kingdom. In doing so, we become true patriots, working towards the transformation of our nations into the glorious kingdom of God.

“God’s Servant First”

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