Monday, November 9, 2009

Selected Writings of Saint Thomas More

Another book I read yesterday was Saint Thomas More: Selected Writings.

The majority of this book is the unfinished work "The Sadness of Christ" which delves deeply into the passion. There are some great passages here, some passages that cut right to the heart. For example:

"They went out to the Mount of Olives," not to bed. The prophet says "I arose in the middle of the night to pay homage to you," but Christ did not even lie down in bed. But as for us, I wish we could truly apply ourselves even to this text: "I thought of you as I lay in my bed."


Unfortunately the Sadness of Christ is an unfinished work, and an unedited one. It is difficult to read, partially because of it's level of detail, but also because it is very repetitive. One cannot help but wonder how marvelous this work would have been if More had been able to take the time to revise it and finish it. Sadly, the lust of Henry VIII for Anne Boleyn and his madness for power saw More beheaded due to his refusal to declare the marriage legal in the eyes of God.

The very small section, Instructions and Prayers, is EXTREMELY powerful. These are written by a man, confined to the Tower of London and condemned to death. They are prayers of forgiveness and meditations on the Lord. Imagine that you have been condemned to death for your refusal to sign an oath to an evil king, and are due to die within a few days. Could you honestly say you would write this:

Give me the grace to amend my life and to have an eye to mine end without grudge of death, which to them that die in Thee (good Lord) is the gate of a wealthy life.

or the opening of another work written during this time:

Bear no malice nor evil will to no man living.


The book closes with a collection of letters, mostly to his daughter, and a biography of Sir Thomas More by his son-in-law. By far my favorite part of the book was the middle section on prayer. Overall, not one of the strongest entries in the vintage spiritual classics series.


No comments: