A Father for All Seasons
What would you give up for the truth?
Your job? Your home? Your money? Your life? Thomas More, the 16th century English martyr and saint, gave all of these and more.
He did so to uphold the truth according to his conscience, and to defend the marriage bond that King Henry VIII wanted to break to marry Anne Boleyn. More defended the truth also in such a way as to protect his family, refusing to expose his wife or his beloved daughter Meg to the wrath of the king or the court proceedings that led to his beheading.
More is a model for fathers because he had resolved in his everyday life to hand his life over for the sake of this family and the service of the community.
He also was a diligent and loving family man, who showed great affection for his wife and daughter, writing lengthy letters to them when business kept him from the family’s estate outside of London. He had a great desire for his family to live in peace and comfort in turbulent times.
Thomas More is a model for fathers not so much because he was brave and faithful in the face of death, declaring at the chopping block that he died "The king’s good servant, but God’s first." We can draw strength from this example, but few fathers will be put to such a test. As More acknowledged in his letters while imprisoned in the Tower of London, such heroism is a grace from God that must be prayed for and not presumed.
Rather, More is a model for fathers because well before facing the axman, he had resolved in his everyday life to hand his life over for the sake of his family and the service of the community. He struggled often with conflicting demands stemming from his duties as a husband and father and his high position in the kingdom, and his letters indicate he was not sure that he always found the correct balance. But he was aware of the conflict and he strove each day to fulfill his private and public responsibilities.
He realized, in the end, that his first service as a man, a husband and a father was to God the Father. His witness and example apply to all ages. This is why we refer to him here as ”A Father for All Seasons.”