Thomas More, Martyr

The collect for today, the commemoration of Sir Thomas More (1478-1535), Lord Chancellor of England, Scholar, Reformation Martyr (source):

Hans Holbein the Younger, Sir Thomas MoreAlmighty God,
who strengthened Thomas More
to be in office a king’s good servant
but in conscience your servant first,
grant us in all our doubts and uncertainties
to feel the grasp of your holy hand
and to live by faith in your promise
that you shall not let us be lost;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

The Epistle: 1 St. Peter 3:13-16
The Gospel: St. Mark 12:13-17

A meditation of Thomas More, written in the Tower of London a year before he was beheaded:

Give me your grace, good Lord, to set the world at nought,
to set my mind fast upon you 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 the business thereof.
Not to long to hear of any worldly things,
but that the hearing of worldly fantasies may be to me displeasant.
Gladly to be thinking God,
busily to labour to love him.
To know 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 leads to life.
To bear the cross with Christ,
to have the last thing—death—in remembrance,
to have ever before my eye 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 comes.
To have continually in mind the passion that Christ suffered for me;
For his benefits incessantly 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;
To cut off unnecessary recreations.
Of worldly substance, friends, liberty, life and all–
To set the loss at nought for the winning of Christ.
To think my worst enemies my best friends,
for the brethren of Joseph could never have done him so much good
with their love and favour as they did with their hatred and malice.

Source of collect: For All the Saints: Prayers and Readings for Saints’ Days, compiled by Stephen Reynolds. Anglican Book Centre, Toronto, 2007, p. 215.

Artwork: Hans Holbein the Younger, Sir Thomas More, 1527. Tempera on wood, Frick Collection, New York City.

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