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St. John Fisher, an Example of Faith

Today, June 22nd, is the Optional Memorial of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More. St. Thomas More rose to be Chancellor of England, answering directly to King Henry VIII.

St. John Fisher was the Bishop of the Diocese of Rochester in England. Both of them were faithful to God and the Catholic Church. When King Henry VIII split the church of England from the Catholic Church over the matter of his divorce, he required all government and church officials to sign an oath affirming the split, recognizing King Henry VIII as the head of the church in England, and granting his divorce.

Sts. John Fisher and St. Thomas More refused to sign the oath and were both imprisoned. (While in prison, St. John Fisher was named a cardinal.) Both held positions of great power but they were not concerned with the power. They were not afraid of the king. Their faith was most important thing to to them. They serve as great examples to us today. There are matters that are church matters and there are matters for the government. Here, I recall Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:21b, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God” (see Matthew 22:15-22 for the whole story).

The Catholic Church prescribes that we should follow secular law but not when it conflicts with our faith. God must always come first.

Like St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, we live in a time where it is difficult to hold to our faith. 1 Peter 4:12-13 says, “Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange were happening to you. But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly” (see 1 Peter 4:12-19). Ultimately, they were both martyred for the faith in 1635 A.D., St. John Fisher on June 22nd and St. Thomas More on July 6th.

Holding fast to our faith may cause division but if we want to be Jesus’ disciples, we must take up our cross to follow him (see Matthew 10:34-39).

Why is the story of St. John Fisher particularly important in the diocese where I serve? I serve in the Diocese of Rochester in New York State, United States of America. St. John Fisher was the Bishop of the Diocese of Rochester in England. Recognizing the connection in the names of the two dioceses, St. John Fisher was chosen as the patron saint of our diocese.

So, let us pray that the intercession of St. John Fisher, our diocese always to seek to be faithful to our mission to share Jesus with the world.

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

One Comment

  1. Linda House says:

    It seems that as human beings we gravitate toward role models. Who exactly we identify as a good role model is very transient. Thank you for pointing us toward two very positive role models.

    Role models who are not afraid of being rejected because they support Catholic values and not current societal thinking are sorely needed today. Thank you for providing us these examples!

    I know that the Bible and lives of saints are filled with many examples but they seem to be overshadowed by constant bombardment from social media and government policies.

    I know reflecting on this and other blogs helps focus us on the right path.

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