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Three quotations from St. Thomas More to reflect on during Lent 

Thomas More had an amazing sense of humor. He loved jokes so much that even the moor-cock in his family crest is a pun on his name. He saw life so clearly that he could not help but see death with understanding and appreciation. It was this clarity of thought and divine mirth that let St. Thomas More see “all the world as a stage,” long before Shakespeare wrote As You Like It.  Below, we have listed three excellent quotations taken from the writings of St. Thomas More. Some are about death, others about prayer, all of them are words of wisdom that we ought to reflect on this Lenten season.

On this Temporal Life:

“If you notice that some silly actor was inordinately proud of wearing a gold coronet while taking the part of an Earl in a stage play, would you not laugh at his foolishness, knowing full well that when the play is finished, he must put on his own shabby clothes and walk home in them? But don’t you yourself also feel very smart and proud to wear an actor’s outfit, forgetting that when your own part is completed, you, too, will walk off the state as poor as he? Nor do you care to note that your play may end just as soon as his.” More’s English Works. Taken from Basset’s Born For Friendship.

The Advice of St. Bernard:

“The final fight is by innovation of help unto God, both praying for himself and desiring others also to pray for him, both poor folk for his alms and other good folk for their charity, especially good priests in the Holy, Sacred service of the Mass, and not only them but also his own good angel and other holy saints such as his devotion specially stands unto; or, if he be learned, use then the litany with the holy suffrages that follow with is a prayer in the Church of marvelous antiquity… And the holy Saint Bernard gives counsel that every man should make suit unto the angels and saints to pray for him to God in the things that he would have sped at his holy hand. If anyone will not stick at this… I will not dispute with him. But yet for my own part I will as well trust to the counsel of St. Bernard and reckon him for as good and as well learned in scripture as any man that I hear say the contrary. And better dare I jeopard my soul with the soul of St. Bernard than with his that findeth fault in his doctrine.” Dialogue of Comfort

On How to Pray:

“Let him also choose himself some secret, solitary place in his own house, as far from noise and company as he conveniently can and thither let him sometimes secretly resort alone, imagining himself as one going out of the world even straight unto the giving up of his reckoning unto God of his sinful living. Then let him before an altar or some pitiful image of Christ’s bitter passion, kneel down or fall prostrate as at the feet of Almighty God, verily believing Him to be there invisibly present as without doubt He is.” Dialogue of Comfort, p. 287.

 

And here is a bonus:

The Psalm of Detachment

Give me thy grace, good Lord:
To set the world at nought;

To set my mind fast upon thee,
And not to hang upon the blast of men’s mouths;

To be content to be solitary,
Not to long for worldly company;

Little and little utterly to cast off the world,
And rid my mind of all the business thereof;

Not to long to hear of any worldly things,
But that the hearing of worldly phantasies may be to me displeasant;

Gladly to be thinking of God,
Piteously to call for his help;

To lean unto the comfort of God,
Busily to labor to love him;

To know mine own vility and wretchedness,
To humble and meeken myself under the mighty hand of God;

To bewail my sins passed,
For the purging of them patiently to suffer adversity;

Gladly to bear my purgatory here,
To be joyful of tribulations;

To walk the narrow way that leadeth to life,
To bear the cross with Christ;

To have the last thing in remembrance,
To have ever afore mine eye my death that is ever at hand;

To make death no stranger to me,
To foresee and consider the everlasting fire of hell;

To pray for pardon before the judge come,
To have continually in mind the passion that Christ suffered for me;

For his benefits uncessantly to give him thanks,
To buy the time again that I before have lost;

To abstain from vain confabulations,
To eschew light foolish mirth and gladness;

Recreations not necessary – to cut off;
Of worldly substance, friends, liberty, life and all, to set the loss
at right nought for the winning of Christ;

To think my most enemies my best friends,
For the brethren of Joseph could never have done him so much good
with their love and favor as they did him with their malice and hatred.

These minds are more to be desired of every man
than all the treasure of all the princes and kings,
Christian and heathen, were it gathered and
laid together all upon one heap.

 

For more, you can watch a short video we made for Thomas More’s Birthday here.

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