St. John Fisher
(2015-05-28). Mediatrix Press. Kindle Edition.
“He added that the Baptist in olden times regarded it as impossible for him to die more gloriously than in the cause of marriage; and that, as it was not so holy at that time as it has now become by the shedding of Christ’s blood, he could encourage himself more ardently, more effectually and with greater confidence to dare any great or extreme peril. (Kindle Locations 706-709).
Being on vacation and having a summer storm roll across the prairie and change my plans for the day, I decided to look for something on St. John Fisher, as today we celebrate his memorial together with the other great martyr of his day, St. Thomas More. My first thought was to go back to the saint's commentary on the penitential psalms, but I have a copy in Kyiv and was hoping by now it might be available on Kindle, but alas. Well, this little biography popped up and did so as coming out of the 1930's, but obviously interesting enough to come out new and also in my favorite reading format.
It is a very short biography and I was able to read it this morning before lunch in the midst of other little tasks. It is thoroughly enjoyable and to my mind terribly relevant as is to be noted from the above quote. John Fisher comes out terribly noble in the whole thing and with a story of his living and dying which is typical of my impressions of the devil's will and struggle to hide the grace of martyrdom when it is given to the Church. Father McNabb has done us a great service in and through his analysis of the phenomenon of martyrdom.
Typical of the accuracy and poignancy with which McNabb makes his brief points about the martyr is this quote about Fisher and More by comparison with other great English Catholic martyrs who came after them:
"It was the first time that Catholics— clergy and laity— were called upon to suffer officially for the supremacy of the Pope. For them and for all the martyrs of Henry’s reign, this is their unique honour that they died solely for the Holy See. The later martyrs died not only for the Holy See but mainly for the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Sacrament and Sacrifice of the Altar." (Kindle Locations 1101-1104).
I am wondering if we couldn't offer this little book as a manual for the witness required of us today, where we face threats to our faith and the Church's moral teaching from Henry VIII types maybe not sporting a crown, but just as determined to have their own way in everything and at the expense of the truth which comes to us from God.