Tuesday, January 6, 2009

St. Thomas More - 6

St. Thomas More – 6
The website – cinops be gone – Tues. Jan. 6, 2009

This the 6th report on James Monti’s book on St. Thomas More.
More’s Early Years – 5 - p. 41-44
The concluding words of the 12th and last rule reflect a common-place of More’s meditations and a recurring motif in his life: the remembrance of death:
…{P}eradventure death within one hours,
Shall us bereave, wealth, riches and honour,
And bring us down full low both small and great,
To vile carrion and wretched worms’ meat.

The “Twelve Rules” are followed by reflections on what are termed the “Twelve Weapons of Spiritual Battle”, 12 considerations that can be brought to mind when confronting temptation. The soul is advised to recall in the face of such a trial that the pleasure from the proposed sinful act will be short-lived and minimal, only to be followed by sorrows and even greater loss: …

There is also the need to remember that life is as fleeting as “a dream or shadow on the wall” and that death is ever near, with the danger that the soul in serious sin will die unrepentant, doomed to eternal torments. But in addition to the sad consequences of succumbing to temptation, the soul is also advised to weigh the good that comes from resisting temptation, for all the joys one can experience in this life, “Thou shalt no pleasure comparable find / To the inward gladness of a virtuous mind.” The examples of the saints and martyrs prove that temptation can be with God’s assistance be resisted….

Pico’s seventh property, “To love all things that pertaineth unto his love,” provides More with the opportunity to advocate the reverencing of relics and religious images, thereby demonstrating that his belief in these traditional Catholic devotional practices can be trace back to his early life. It dispels any notion that his impassioned defense of these practices years later in the wake of the Reformation somehow represented a break with the spirituality of his youth: ...

As his edition of Pico draws to a close with a prayer of the latter, More makes the Italian humanist’s thoughts distinctively his own by rendering the original into beautiful English verse, as in the following stanza that describes the Passion as a work of divine love….

The theme of God’s love is carried with commensurate eloquence onward to the end of the prayer, which closes with the vision of heaven and God’s unfathomable mercy:
Grant me good Lord, and Creator of all,
The flame to quench of all sinful desire,
And in thy love set all mine heart afire.

That when the journey of this deadly life
My silly ghost {soul} hath finished, and thence
Depart must, without his fleshly wife
Alone into his Lord’s high presence
He may thee find, O well of indulgence,
In thy lordship not as a lord, but rather
As a very tender loving Father.
George H. Kubeck

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