Second Thought for the Day – 22 June – A Papal Masterpiece

Second Thought for the Day – 22 June – On the Memorial of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More, Martyrs – A Papal Masterpiece

Sermon Delivered by Pope Pius XI (1857-1939) on the Occasion of the Papal Mass in St Peter’s for the Canonisation of St John Fisher (1469-1535) and St Thomas More (1478-1535) Martyrs, on 19 May 1935

sts thomas moe and john fisher - pray for us

As Jesus Christ, according to the words of St Paul, is eternal and immutable, “yesterday and today and the same forever,” so the Church founded by Him, is destined never to perish.   Generations follow and succeed each other with their perennial vicissitudes.   But whereas human institutions give way and disappear before the levelling tide of time and human sciences, reflecting inconstant light, undergo repeated transformations, the Cross of Christ, reared steadfast above the engulfing billows, never ceases to illumine mankind with the beneficent splendour of Eternal Truth.

From time to time, new heresies make their appearance and, under the guise of truth, gain strength and popularity but, the seamless garment of Christ can never be rent in twain.   Unbelievers and enemies of the Catholic faith, blinded by presumption, may indeed constantly renew their violent attacks against the Christian name but. in wresting from the bosom of the militant Church, those whom they put to death, they become the instruments of their martyrdom and of their heavenly glory.

No less beautiful than true are the words of St Leo the Great: “The religion of Christ, founded on the mystery of the Cross, cannot be destroyed by any sort of cruelty – persecutions do not weaken, they strengthen the Church.   The field of the Lord is ever ripening with new harvests, while the grains shaken loose by the tempest take root and are multiplied.”

These thoughts, full of hope and comfort, spring up in Our mind as We, in this majestic Vatican Basilica, are about to proclaim briefly the praises of our two new Saints after having raised them to the honours of the altar.   They, the bright champions and the glory of their nation, were given to the Christian people, in the words of the prophet Jeremias, “as a fortified city and a pillar of iron, and a wall of brass.” Therefore, they could not be shaken by the fallacies of heretics, nor frightened by the threats of the powerful.   They were, so to speak, the leaders and chieftains of that illustrious band of men who, from all classes of the people and from every part of Great Britain, resisted the new errors with unflinching spirit and in shedding their blood, testified their loyal devotedness to the Holy See.

John Fisher, gifted by nature with a most gentle disposition, thoroughly versed in both sacred and profane lore, so distinguished himself among his contemporaries by his wisdom and his virtue, that under the patronage of the King of England himself, he was elected Bishop of Rochester.   In the fulfilment of this high office, so ardent was he in his piety towards God and in charity towards his neighbour and so zealous in defending the integrity of Catholic doctrine, that his episcopal residence seemed rather a Church and a University for studies, than a private dwelling.

He was wont to afflict his delicate body with fastings, scourges, and hair cloth;  nothing was dearer to him than to be able to visit the poor, in order to comfort them in their miseries and to succour them in their needs.   When he found someone frightened at the thought of his faults and terrified by chastisements to come, he brought comfort to the erring soul by restoring confidence in God’s mercy.   Often, when celebrating the Eucharistic Sacrifice, he was seen shedding abundant tears, while his eyes were raised to heaven in an ecstatic expression of love.   When he preached to the multitudes of the faithful that crowded round to hear him, he seemed neither a man nor a herald of men but an angel of God clothed in human flesh.

Nevertheless, whilst he was meek and affable towards the afflicted and the suffering, whenever there was question of defending the integrity of faith and morals, like a second Precursor of the Lord, in whose name he gloried, he was not afraid to proclaim the truth openly and to defend by every means in his power, the divine teachings of the Church.   You are well aware, Venerable Brethren and Beloved Sons, of the reason why John Fisher was called in judgement and obliged to undergo the supreme test of martyrdom.   It was because of his courageous determination to defend the sacred bond of Christian marriage—a bond indissoluble for all, even for those who wear the royal diadem—and to vindicate the Primacy with which the Roman Pontiffs are invested by divine command.

That is why he was imprisoned and afterwards led to death.   Serenely he advanced toward the scaffold and with the words of the Te Deum on his lips, he rendered thanks to God, for being granted the grace of having his mortal life crowned with the glory of martyrdom and, he raised up to the Divine Throne, a fervent prayer of supplication for himself, for his people and for his King.   Thus did he give another clear proof that the Catholic Religion does not weaken but increases the love of one’s country.

When finally he mounted the scaffold, whilst a ray of sunlight cast a halo of splendour about his venerable grey hairs, he exclaimed with a smile:  “Come ye to Him and be enlightened and your faces shall not be confounded.” (Ps. xxxiii, 6.)   Most assuredly the heavenly hosts of angels and saints hastened in joy to meet his holy soul, freed at last from the fetters of the body and winging flight toward eternal joys.

The other star of sanctity that traced a luminous path across that dark period of history was Thomas More, Lord Chancellor of the King of England.   Endowed with the keenest of minds and supreme versatility in every kind of knowledge, he enjoyed such esteem and favour among his fellow-citizens, that he was soon able to reach the highest grades of public office.   But, he was no less distinguished for his desire of Christian perfection and his zeal for the salvation of souls.   Of this we have testimony in the ardour of his prayer, in the fervour with which he recited, whenever he could, even the Canonical Hours, in the practice of those penances by which he kept his body in subjection and finally, in the numerous and renowned accomplishments of both the spoken and the written word which he achieved, for the defence of the Catholic faith and for the safeguarding of Christian morality.

A strong and courageous spirit, like John Fisher, when he saw that the doctrines of the Church were gravely endangered, he knew how to despise resolutely the flattery of human respect, how to resist, in accordance with his duty, the supreme head of the State when there was question of things commanded by God and the Church and how to renounce with dignity, the high office with which he was invested.   It was for these motives that he too was imprisoned, nor could the tears of his wife and children make him swerve from the path of truth and virtue.   In that terrible hour of trial he raised his eyes to heaven and proved himself a bright example of Christian fortitude.   Thus it was that he who not many years before had written a work emphasising the duty of Catholics to defend their faith, even at the cost of their lives, was seen to walk cheerful and confident from his prison to death and thence to take his flight to the joys of eternal beatitude.

Here, Venerable Brethren and Beloved Sons, we may justly repeat the well-known saying of St Cyprian, Martyr: “O blessed prison which conveys men to heaven!   O blessed enchained feet, which with salutary steps are directed towards paradise!”

It was supremely fitting that these holy Martyrs who shed their blood for the Christian faith and for the defence of the sacred rights of the Roman Pontiff, should receive, together with the aureole of sanctity, their due glorification here in the very centre of the Catholic world, close to the glorious sepulchre of the Prince of the Apostles, through the instrumentality of Us who are the heir and successor of St Peter.

And now, it only remains for Us to exhort, with paternal heart, all of you who filled with veneration are grouped around Us, as well as those who, wherever they may be, profess themselves Our sons in Christ.   We exhort you to imitate with all diligence the great virtues of these holy Martyrs and to implore for yourselves and for the Church militant, their powerful protection.   If all of us are not called to shed our blood for the defence of the holy laws of God, all nonetheless, according to the expression of St Basil, with evangelical abnegation, with Christian mortification of their bodies, with energetic striving after virtue, “must be Martyrs of desire, in order to share with the Martyrs their celestial reward.”

We desire, moreover, that with your ardent prayers, invoking the patronage of the new Saints, you ask of the Lord that which is so dear to Our heart, namely, that England, in the words of St. Paul, “meditating the happy consummation which crowned the life” of those two Martyrs, may “follow them in their faith” and return to the Father’s house “in the unity of faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God.”

Let those who are still separated from Us, consider attentively the ancient glories of their Church which were at once a reflection and an increment of the glories of the Church of Rome.   Let them consider, moreover and remember, that this Apostolic See has been waiting for them so long and so anxiously, not as coming to a strange dwelling place but as finally returning to their paternal home.

In conclusion, let us repeat the divine prayer of Our Lord Jesus Christ: “Holy Father, keep them in Thy name whom Thou hast given me, that they may be one as we also are.”  Amen.

Saint John Fisher, Pray for Us!

st john fisher - pray for us - 22 june 2020

St Thomas More, Pray for us!st thomas more pray for us 22 june 2019 no 2


Thought for the Day – 22 June – Interior Mortification

Thought for the Day – 22 June – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)

Interior Mortification

anyone who is full of himself and of worldly matters - bacci interior mortification 22 june 2020

“In the spiritual life, as in the physical order, death is the beginning of life.
“Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone.   But, if it dies, it brings forth much fruit.   He who loves his life, loses it and he who hates his life in this world, keeps it unto life everlasting” (Jn 12:24-25).

This passage of the Gospel, epitomises the doctrine of Christian mortification – it is necessary to die to ourselves, in order to live in God.
Anyone who is full of himself and of worldly matters, has no room in his heart for God.
It is not possible, as St Augustine points out, to fill a vase with earth and then to fill it with water.
There is no room left for the water and, if a little of it enters the vase, it is no longer pure water but muddy!

We must empty ourselves of ourselves and of worldly things, in order to fill ourselves with God.
Jesus told us this quite clearly. “If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself” (Mt 16:24).

If anyone denies himself in order to do God’s will in all things, he has achieved real interior mortification.
Moreover, he has perfect peace, which consists in being established in the love of God.

This does not mean that all self-love is wrong.
In fact, there are two kinds of self-love.
We can love our true good, which is God and, therefore, desire to live in harmony with this supreme good in this life in order to enjoy it as our eternal reward.
This kind of self-love is founded on the love of God, Who is the main reason why we love ourselves.
But if we prefer our own pleasure and satisfaction to God, then our self-love is disproportionate and wrong and leads us into sin.

The first thing we must do, therefore, is to mortify our inordinate self-love.
In other words, we must deny ourselves in matters where self-love is keeping us apart from God, Whom we should love more than anything else in life.”

Antonio Cardinal Bacci


Quote/s of the Day – 22 June – St John Fisher

Quote/s of the Day – 22 June – The Memorial of St John Fisher (1469-1535) Bishop, Martyr

“I reckon in this realm no one man,
in wisdom, learning
and long approved virtue together,
meet to be matched and compared with him.”

St Thomas More speaking of St John Fisher

i-reckon-in-this-realm-st-thomas-more-speaking-of-st-john-fisher-22-june-2018 and 22 june 2020

“A good man is not a perfect man;
a good man is an honest man,
faithful and unhesitatingly responsive
to the voice of God in his life.”

_a good man is not a perfect man - 22 june 2020

“Contrition is to have sorrow at heart
and great repentance of all his sins
and to have steadfast purpose to keep
and abstain him from all deadly sins.
For who has intention to return him to deadly sin,
his confession avails him nothing!”

contrition is to have sorrow at heart - st john fisher 22 june 2020

“Penance is a needful thing to the sinner,
who desires to recover health of his soul.
And, in doing penance, there be three things
to be considered:
serious compunction of heart,
confession of mouth
and satisfaction by deed.”

penance is a needful thing to the sinner - st john fisher 22 june 2020

“As St Paul has said,
for our justification,
He [Christ], gave to man
all that was necessary –
His Blood to wash us,
His Body to redeem us.
In His Passion,
Justice and peace
have met each other.”

as st paul has said, for our justification - st john fisher 22 june 2020

“Beware of those prophets who speak unto you
and deceive you!
They prophecy nothing
but the imaginations and forgings
of their own minds
and not the truth of Holy Scripture!”

St John Fisher (1469-1535) Bishop, Martyr

beware of those prophets - st john fisher 22 june 2020


One Minute Reflection – 22 June – ‘Remove the wooden beam from your eye first’

One Minute Reflection – 22 June – “Month of the Sacred Heart” – Monday of the Twelfth week in Ordinary Time, Year A, Readings: 2 Kings 17:5-8, 13-15, 18, Psalm 60:3-5, 12-13, Matthew 7:1-5 and the Memorial of St John Fisher (1469-1535) Bishop, Martyr

“You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.” … Matthew 7:5

REFLECTION – “The word hypocrite is aptly employed here, since the denouncing of evils is best viewed as a matter only for upright persons of goodwill.   When the wicked engage in it, they are like impersonators, masqueraders, hiding their real selves behind a mask, while they portray another’s character through the mask.   The word hypocrites, in fact, signifies pretenders.
Hence we ought especially to avoid that meddlesome class of pretenders who, under the pretence of seeking advice, undertake the censure of all kinds of vices.   They are often moved by hatred and malice.

Rather, whenever necessity compels one to reprove or rebuke another, we ought to proceed with godly discernment and caution.
First of all, let us consider whether the other fault is such, as we ourselves have never had, or whether it is one that we have overcome.
Then, if we have never had such a fault, let us remember that we are human and could have had it.   But if we have had it and are rid of it now, let us remember our common frailty, in order that mercy, not hatred, may lead us to the giving of correction and admonition.
In this way, whether the admonition occasions the amendment, or the worsening of the one for whose sake we are offering it, (for the result cannot be foreseen), we ourselves shall be made safe through singleness of eye.   But if on reflection we find that we ourselves have the same fault as the one we are about to reprove, let us neither correct nor rebuke that one.   Rather, let us bemoan the fault ourselves and induce that person to a similar concern, without asking him to submit to our correction.”… St Augustine (354-430) Father and Doctor of Grace – Sermon on the Mount, 2matthew 7 5 - you hyprocrites remove the wooden beam from your own eye - rather, whenvever necessity compels us - st augustine 22 june 2020

PRAYER – As we pray before You Lord, we ask You, in Your loving kindness, for the grace always to ponder in our hearts what we proclaim with our lips.   Keep us in Your commandments and strengthen us by the prayers of St John Fisher, Your Martyr, that we may live by a holy conscience and never flinch from the protection of truth.   Grant this we pray through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, in the love and unity of the Holy Spirit, God for always and forever, john fisher pray for us 22 june 2020


Our Morning Offering – 22 June – Make Me, O Good Jesus, Live in Thee and for Thee

Our Morning Offering – 22 June – “Month of the Sacred Heart” – Monday of the Twelfth week in Ordinary Time, Year A

Make Me, O Good Jesus
Live in Thee and for Thee
By Pope Benedict XV (1854-1922)

O Most Sacred Heart of Jesus!
O fount of every good!
I adore Thee,
I love Thee
and sincerely repenting of my sins
I present to Thee my poor heart.
Give it back to me
and in everything,
conformed to Thy wishes.
Make me, O good Jesus,
live in Thee and for Thee.
Protect me in dangers,
comfort me in afflictions,
grant me health of body,
succour in my temporal needs,
Thy blessing in all my works
and the grace of a holy death.

Indulgence – 100 days
Pope Benedict XV
4 December 1916make me o good jesus live in thee and for thee pope benedict XV 22 june 2020


Posted in MARTYRS, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 22 June – Saint John Fisher (1469-1535) Bishop, Martyr

Saint of the Day – 22 June – Saint John Fisher (1469-1535) Bishop, Martyr, Cardinal, Theologian, Academic, Writer – born in 1469 at Beverly, Yorkshire, England and died on 22 June 1535, aged 65, on Tower Hill, Tyburn, London, England, by beheading.   Fisher was executed by order of Henry VIII during the English Reformation for refusing to accept him as the supreme head of the Church of England and for upholding the Catholic Church’s doctrine of Papal supremacy.  Patronages – Diocese of Rochester, Catholic students at Cambridge.

st john fisher header

He was condemned to be hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn, however, a public outcry was brewing among the London populace who saw a sinister irony in the parallels between the conviction of Fisher and that of his patronal namesake, Saint John the Baptist, who was executed by King Herod Antipas for challenging the validity of Herod’s marriage to his brother’s divorcée Herodias.   For fear of John Fisher’s living through his Patronal feast day, that of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist on 24 June and of attracting too much public sympathy, King Henry commuted the sentence to that of beheading, to be accomplished before 23 June, the Vigil of the feast of the Nativity of St John the Baptist.   He was executed on Tower Hill on 22 June 1535. The execution had the opposite effect from that which King Henry VIII intended, as it created yet another parallel with that of the martyrdom of St John the Baptist, who was also beheaded;  his death also happened on the feast day of Saint Alban, the first martyr of Britain.

St John Fisher by Gerard Valck, after Adriaen van der Werff, 1697.

John Fisher was born in Beverley, Yorkshire, in 1469, the eldest son of Robert Fisher, a modestly prosperous merchant of Beverley and Agnes, his wife.   He was one of four children.   His father died when John was eight.   His mother remarried and had five more children by her second husband, William White.   Fisher seems to have had close contacts with his extended family all his life.   Fisher’s early education was probably received in the school attached to the collegiate church in his home town.

He was educated at Cambridge, from which he received his Master of Arts degree in 1491.  John received a Papal dispensation to enter the Priesthood despite being under canonical age.   He was Ordained into the Priesthood on 17 December 1491 – the same year that he was elected a fellow of his college.  He occupied the vicarage of Northallerton, 1491-1494, then he became Proctor of Cambridge University.   In 1497, he was appointed Confessor to Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII and became closely associated in her endowments to Cambridge with which he created scholarships, introduced Greek and Hebrew into the curriculum and brought in the world-famous Erasmus (1466-1536) to visit Cambridge,  as professor of Divinity and Greek.   As a Catholic priest, Erasmus was an important figure in classical scholarship who wrote in a pure Latin style.  (english_school_16th_century_portrait_of_john_fisher_bishop_of_rocheste) smaller

By papal bull dated 14 October 1504, Fisher was appointed the Bishop of Rochester at the personal insistence of Henry VII.   Rochester was then the poorest Diocese in England and usually seen as a first step on an ecclesiastical career.   Nonetheless, Fisher stayed there, presumably by his own choice, for the remaining 31 years of his life.   At the same time, like any English Bishop of his day, Fisher had certain state duties. In particular, he maintained a passionate interest in the University of Cambridge.   In 1504 he was elected the university’s Chancellor.   Re-elected annually for 10 years, Fisher ultimately received a lifetime appointment.   At this date he also acted as tutor to the future King, Henry VIII.ST john-fisher3a bishop smaller

As a preacher his reputation was so great, that Fisher was appointed to preach the funeral oration for King Henry VII and the Lady Margaret, both of whom died in 1509, the texts being extant.   Besides his share in the Lady Margaret’s foundations, Fisher gave further proof of his zeal for learning, by inducing Erasmus.

Despite his fame and eloquence, it was not long before Fisher came into conflict with the new King, his former pupil.   The dispute arose over funds left by the Lady Margaret, the King’s grandmother, for financing foundations at Cambridge.ST JOHN FISHER POSTER

In 1512 Fisher was nominated as one of the English representatives at the Fifth Council of the Lateran, then sitting, but his journey to Rome was postponed, and finally abandoned.

Fisher has also been named, as the true Author of the royal Treatise against Martin Luther entitled “Assertio septem sacramentorum” Defence of the Seven Sacraments, published in 1521, which won for King Henry VIII the title “Fidei Defensor”Defender of the Faith.   On 11 February 1526, at the King’s command, he preached a famous sermon against Luther at St Paul’s Cross, the open-air pulpit outside St Paul’s Cathedral in Fisher John sketch

From 1527, this humble servant of God actively opposed the King’s divorce proceedings against Catherine, his wife in the sight of God and steadfastly resisted the encroachment of Henry on the Church.   Unlike the other Bishops of the realm, St John refused to take the oath of succession which acknowledged the issue of Henry and Anne as the legitimate heir to the throne and he was imprisoned in the tower in April 1534.

The next year he was made a Cardinal by Paul III and Henry retaliated by having him beheaded within a month.   A half hour before his execution, this dedicated scholar and churchman opened his New Testament for the last time and his eyes fell on the following words from St John’s Gospel:  “Eternal life is this – to know You, the only true God and Him Whom You have sent, Jesus Christ.   I have given you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.   Do you now, Father, give me glory at your side.”   Closing the book, he observed:  “There is enough learning in that to last me the rest of my life.”

St John’s last moments were in keeping with his life.   He met death with a calm dignified courage which profoundly impressed those present.  His body was treated with particular rancour, apparently on Henry’s orders, being stripped and left on the scaffold until the evening, when it was taken on pikes and thrown naked into a rough grave in the churchyard of All Hallows’ Barking, also known as All Hallows-by-the-Tower.   There was no funeral prayer.   A fortnight later, his body was laid beside that of Sir Thomas More in the chapel of St Peter ad Vincula within the Tower of London.

st john fisher cardinal


A stern and austere man, Fisher was known to place a human skull on the altar during Mass and on the table during meals.   Erasmus said of John Fisher:  “He is the one man at this time, who is incomparable for uprightness of life, for learning and for greatness of soul.”beautiful statue bust st john-fisher4

John was Beatified by Pope Leo XIII with Thomas More and 52 other English Martyrs on 29 December 1886.   In the Decree of Beatification issued on 29 December 1886 by Pope Leo XIII, when 53 English martyrs were Beatified, the greatest place was given to Fisher.   He was Canonised, with Thomas More, on 19 May 1935 by Pope Pius XI.   His feast day, for celebration jointly with St Thomas More, is today, 22 June (the date of St John Fisher’s execution).

ST JOHN fisher-final

Posted in MARTYRS, SAINT of the DAY

Memorials of the Saints – 22 June – A day of 3 Great Saints

St Paulinus of Nola (c 354-431) (Optional Memorial)
About St Paulinus:

St John Fisher (1469-1535) Bishop, Martyr (Optional Memorial)

St Thomas More (1478-1535) Martyr (Optional Memorial)
His Life:

St Aaron of Brettany
St Aaron of Pais-de-Laon
St Alban of Britain
Bl Altrude of Rome
St Consortia
St Cronan of Ferns
St Eberhard of Salzburg
St Eusebius of Samosata
St Exuperantius of Como
St Flavius Clemens
St Gregory of Agrigento
St Heraclius the Soldier
St Hespérius of Metz
Bl Pope Innocent V
St John IV of Naples
St Julius of Pais-de-Laon
Bl Kristina Hamm
Bl Marie Lhuilier
St Nicetas of Remesiana
St Precia of Epinal
St Rotrudis of Saint-Omer
St Rufinus of Alexandria

Martyrs of Samaria – 1480 saints: 1480 Christians massacred in and near Samaria during the war between the Greek Emperor Heraclius and the pagan Chosroas of Persia. c 614 in the vicinity of Samaria, Palestine.