What the Heroic St. Thomas More Can Teach Our Youth
Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – “Where are those men at today? We’re surrounded by a bunch of metrosexuals. We’re surrounded by, as I said in the last hour, a bunch of men that do not have the courage of the conviction of the oath they took to uphold constitutions of their own states. Think of it like this. The usury, the redistribution of wealth, the outright theft that occurs in governing bodies every day, there are alleged Christian men that will go to those statehouses and pull those levers every day.” Check out today’s transcript for the rest….
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: Let’s just discuss what else is really going on here. Where are the heroes, my friends? Last time I talked about this I suffered through a playing of Paula Cole’s “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?” I won’t torture you with that today. I want to read you something. Regis Martin writing at CrisisMagazine.com, “The Witness of Heroism.” He writes about how some of the martyrs went to their graves and lay their life down for the Christian God rather than renouncing — for example, in the case of St. Thomas More, all he had to do was say that Henry VIII’s marriage to Anne Boleyn was good and Henry wouldn’t have killed him. Of course, Henry shouldn’t have killed him anyway. He refused to do it. He said: I don’t answer to you, sir. I answer to Almighty God. I’m not going to do it.
Of course, Thomas More was bedridden at this time. They actually had to take him out in a gurney. They had to carry him to the scaffold. They had to physically lift him up to put the noose around his neck. It was the most ghastly execution ever. St. Thomas More would not recant. He didn’t do it for an office. He didn’t do it for a bag of money. He didn’t do it for reelection. He didn’t do it for any pomp or circumstance of this world. He did it for God. He committed an act of heroism, sanctified heroism. We have politicians today, an entire political class, an entire class of men who can’t commit the simplest acts of heroism. You don’t have to be martyred physically. You don’t have to be hanged for three and a half minutes, brought near death — when you’re hanged, drawn and quartered you’re not killed. The hanging it just to knock you out. They hang you until you’re asphyxiated, almost to the point of dying. Then they drop you down, lay you on the table, then they flay you open, then they pull your guts out, then they burn them in front of you, and then the hatchet man starts cutting your body into four pieces, thus drawn and quartered. It is the most ghastly execution.
Boy, the English were — pardon me if you have children in the cars — bastards, weren’t they? There are hundreds of martyrs that had this done to them. We have politicians that can’t pull a lever and vote because their reelection is at stake or because the second floor of their house may not get the new coat of paint if they actually had to go out and work and not suckle off the federal teat. In other words, we live in an age where there are no Men. Gentlemen, where are you? Where’s the man to stand up and say: You invited me to that porn fest down the street with steak night. I’m not going to go. You guys have it, though, but I withdraw my consent.
Saint Thomas More, for instance, who, amid circumstances most unwelcome, found his “still point,” and from the abundance of grace given him was enabled to go out and meet his death. It was not an end he sought out on his own, by the way, even as he would not shrink from facing it. But as Robert Bolt writes in A Man For All Seasons, [Mike: By the bye, A Man For All Seasons is a film that’s almost impossible to get at Netflix. I’ve been waiting for a month and a half. I’m just going to go buy myself a copy so I can watch it. It was made in the ‘60s and won all kinds of Oscars. It was the movie of that year.] his riveting account of More’s life, and his death, “More knew where he began and left off, what area of himself he could yield to the encroachments of his enemies, and what to the encroachments of those he loved. It was a substantial area in both cases, for he had a proper sense of fear and was a busy lover.”
Mike: I think I’m confusing the execution of — before someone can send me a piece of hate mail — St. John Fisher with St. Thomas More. Thomas More was executed in the same manner, but it was Fisher that had to be carried to the gallows, or to what they called in England at the time, to what the Protestants referred to as Tyburn, one of the most famous execution grounds on Earth. Not Salem, Massachusetts, Tyburn.
And it found its climactic, if paradoxical expression precisely in More’s willingness to die, which showed the world in an utterly conclusive way that his life stood for something worth dying for. [Mike: Before you pull that lever on that $3.9 trillion budget, would you die for that, Speaker Boehner, Representative Scalise? Would you marry your children to that act? Really, is that an act of heroism you’re about to perform?] Which was his defense of the Catholic Thing, yes, even to the point of shedding blood on its behalf. There was simply no other way, in his mind, to validate the things he knew to be true. Only in death could he consummate the witness of a life long consecrated to God. This is why Meg, the daughter he esteemed more than any other, found it so maddeningly difficult to try and persuade her father to give in, to acquiesce to the King’s marriage, as so many others had done, including great big bishops and nobles. “But in reason!” she pleaded. “Haven’t you done as much as God can reasonably want?” More’s answer is devastating. Not only does it pull the rug out from under every pretense of sentiment or political expedience; but in its ardent and direct appeal to God himself, More’s reply transcends the whole world. “Well … finally … it isn’t a matter of reason; finally it’s a matter of love.” [Mike: St. Thomas More was executed, assassinated by English Protestants under the reign of that witch, that despicable witch Elizabeth.]
Here was a man who possessed, as Robert Bolt shows us, “an adamantine sense of his own self.” And when urged at last to surrender that self to forces and pressures he could never countenance, “this supple, humorous, unassuming and sophisticated person set like metal, was overtaken by an absolutely primitive rigor, and could no more be budged than a cliff.”
Here is a profile in courage so admirable, so wonderfully arresting, that it is easy to see how even non-papists (like the formidable Samuel Johnson) were moved by the example of his life. This is because the witness of heroism is always instructive. And sometimes, perhaps, even contagious. Hence Dr. Johnson’s robust judgment: “He was the person of the greatest virtue these islands ever produced.” [Mike: That is a bold statement considering those islands had produced St. Patrick, whose feast is commemorated every March 17th, and who many of you are named after.]
What an exceedingly attractive human being he was. Who could not, says Bolt, “be accused of any incapacity for life, who indeed seized life in great variety and almost greedy quantities….” Yes, a man of great charm, learning, and wit. And yet, as Bolt is right to point out, Master More, unlike so many of his more pliant fellows, “found something in himself without which life was valueless and when that was denied him was able to grasp his death.”
Seeing his daughter, Margaret, on his way to the scaffold—to the place where, by his own admission, “the King’s good servant, but God’s first,” is destined to die—he exhorts her to have patience, “and trouble not thyself. Death comes for us all; even at our birth—(He holds her head and looks down at it for a moment in recollection)—even at our birth, death does but stand aside a little. And every day he looks towards us and muses somewhat to himself whether that day or the next he will draw nigh. It is the law of nature, and the will of God.”
Each of us owes God a death, our death. Let us pray that we be found worthy when at last he comes to collect.
In my end is my beginning. ~ T.S. Eliot
Mike: That’s beautiful prose, eyes firmly focused on eternity. Where are those men at today? We’re surrounded by a bunch of metrosexuals. We’re surrounded by, as I said in the last hour, a bunch of men that do not have the courage of the conviction of the oath they took to uphold constitutions of their own states. Think of it like this. The usury, the redistribution of wealth, the outright theft that occurs in governing bodies every day, there are alleged Christian men that will go to those statehouses and pull those levers every day. You have to know what it is that you’re doing. You have to know what it is that you’re doing.
Gentlemen, are you a hero? Are you willing to become a hero? We could sum this up, by and large, that we are a nation of men who are cowards. I’m a coward. You know how many times a day I make decisions thinking: I better not do that. I don’t want to get in trouble for that. Then I think about it afterwards and go: You know what? What is there to fear? There’s only one thing to fear in this life, and that is, when it ends, where do you go? We’re repeating the exact same mistakes over and over and over. It’s like a bad dream. Maybe we are all in a Groundhog Day-type recurring nightmare. Maybe one day we’ll wake up and go: Man, I’m glad that didn’t really happen! Alas, my friends, ‘tis not a dream, ‘tis reality.
During that discussion last hour, I used the word secede from the Latin secedere, to withdraw. Start withdrawing your consent, and then start assenting to the things that gentlemen informed by the foundational gentlemen, the fathers of our Christian faith, followed by those knights that we so love to admire. What was it about the knights? What was it about teaching your daughters about knights or little girls dreaming about knights in shining armor? Why shining armor? Why knights? Why not the princes and dukes? What was it that separated the knights? I’ll tell you a couple things: vows of chastity, vows of purity, vows of unbreakable brotherhood, and vows or unbendable, irrevocable faith. Come what may, if I have to lay my body down, I am ready to go.
End Mike Church Show Transcript