St Thomas More

Martyr (entered heaven day in 1535)

Dear Tom,

I am sure you are making today a bit special – being sure to get to Mass, making an extra visit to the Blessed Sacrament, having an above-average quality lunch and dinner… As a legal intern for the summer and heading into your last year of pre-law studies, today’s saint (patron of lawyers) should be your bosom companion.  I have sometimes heard the Church criticized for even having a patron saint of lawyers, but I always respond with the rhetorical question that if lawyers don’t need a patron saint, who does?

I remember when we watched A Man for All Seasons Together a few years ago; it gives a stirring picture of this great statesman and martyr.  Do you ever think about him nowadays? By the looks of things, you will be getting your pick of law schools, and you have all that it takes to go straight to the top of the field.  I wonder if such a promising future has pushed into the background such important but less glamorous reflections like how to be a success in God’s eyes, or how to keep strengthening and purifying your character in the face of the many and subtle temptations of high society and the legal profession.  What will happen to your prayer life and Mass attendance when they ask you to work 80-hour weeks and then wine and dine you with titillating entertainments into the wee hours of Sunday morning?

St Thomas More faced those challenges and then some, because he combined a brilliant law career with the trappings of nobility and the preoccupations of politics.  Kings, cardinals, dukes, and ladies vied continuously for his favors and his attention. A blind eye here, an innocuous bribe there, and he and his family could have spent their days in luxury and peace, in fame and comfort.  As it was, he turned in his Chancellor’s chain of office (the King’s Chancellor was roughly equivalent to today’s prime minister), and forfeited his professional and economic security in order to keep his conscience clean and be loyal to his friendship with God.  (You remember the story, don’t you? King Henry VIII wanted to divorce his wife and marry his lover, but the Pope couldn’t invalidate a valid marriage, so the King declared himself head of the church in England, thereby granting himself the authority to grant himself an “annulment.”  St Thomas More and a few others would not acknowledge the King’s claim.) Because he refused to abandon his faith in the Papacy and the Church (notwithstanding offers of promotion, money, and other delicacies), he frittered away his last years in poverty, imprisonment, and torture, endangering his family as well as himself.  God rewarded him with martyrdom (he was beheaded as a traitor to England).

As you enjoy the fine clothes and sleek comforts of the white-collar world, are you keeping your soul in shape?  As your devoted Uncle, I hope and pray that you are, and I will entrust your career to the intercession of St Thomas More.

God bless, Uncle Eddy

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