The Letter of St. Thomas More to His Daughter Margaret Shortly Before His Death:
Saint Thomas More was born in England in 1477. He was educated at Oxford and became a lawyer. He married and had one son and three daughters. Sir Thomas More served as the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the court of England's King Henry VIII. A prolific writer, Sir Thomas wrote works on politics, ethics, culture, and documents in defense of his Catholic faith. When King Henry was thwarted by the Pope in his determination to divorce his wife of more than 20 years to marry his pregnant mistress, the King declared himself the head of the church in England, usurping the role of the Vicar of Christ. When Sir Thomas More resisted signing an oath of allegiance to Henry as head of the Church, he was charged with treason, was tried and was condemned to be beheaded. On July 6, 1535 by order of the King he had served faithfully Sir Thomas More died, "the king's good servant but God's first." His memorial is celebrated on June 22 together with that of St. John Fisher who was also beheaded on the king's orders. The following is an excerpt from a letter St. Thomas More wrote from prison to his beloved daughter Margaret.
Although I know well, Margaret,
that because of my past wickedness I deserve to be abandoned by God, I cannot
but trust in his merciful goodness. His grace has strengthened me until now and
made me content to lose goods, land, and life as well, rather than to swear
against my conscience. God's grace has given the king a gracious frame of mind
toward me, so that as yet he has taken from me nothing but my liberty. In doing
this His Majesty has done me such great good with respect to spiritual profit
that I trust that among all the great benefits he has heaped so abundantly upon
me I count my imprisonment the very greatest. I cannot, therefore, mistrust the
grace of God.
By the merits of his bitter passion joined to mine and far surpassing in merit for me all that I can suffer myself, his bounteous goodness shall release me from the pains of purgatory and shall increase my reward in heaven besides. I will not mistrust him, Meg, though I shall feel myself weakening and on the verge of being overcome with fear. I shall remember how Saint Peter at a blast of wind began to sink because of his lack of faith, and I shall do as he did: call upon Christ and pray to him for help. And then I trust he shall place his holy hand on me and in the stormy seas hold me up from drowning.
And finally, Margaret, I know this well: that without my fault he will not let me be lost. I shall, therefore, with good hope commit myself wholly to him. And if he permits me to perish for my faults, then I shall serve as praise for his justice. But in good faith, Meg, I trust that his tender pity shall keep my poor soul safe and make me commend his mercy.
And, therefore, my own good daughter, do not let your mind be troubled over anything that shall happen to me in this world. Nothing can come but what God wills. And I am very sure that whatever that be, however bad it may seem, it shall indeed be the best.
Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2007 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.