The great mass of Catholics, certainly in England and Wales, would not know the meaning of obedience if it leapt up and savaged their nether regions.
Less than five hundred years ago, England and Wales were in a similar episcopal state as they are today.
Bishops caved in to the cunning and conniving State and many, many, priests, monks and nuns followed in their footsteps.
|One man who did not yield to either the|
State or the Church, when all
others apostatized - St John Fisher
Statues were dragged out of the churches, pulled by horses and altar slabs ripped out and placed across church doorways so that all who entered had to walk over the sacred stone and defile it in so doing.
Religious books were piled in heaps and set on fire, up went the work of thousands of monk hours as the illuminated manuscripts were consumed by flames.
Few men or women stood in the path of such crushing opposition; but among the few, St Thomas More (representing the laity) and St John Fisher (representing the hierarchy) were, arguably, the most outstanding of our Reformation martyrs.
More had witnessed St John Fisher being taken off for execution, just a few days before he was to make the same journey and the Catholic world must have appeared most bleak and hopeless to him.
Nonetheless, he was constant to the very end and in no way a coward as some modern Catholics argue (because he did not submit to his trial but attempted to challenge the King's authority to gain freedom).
Here is a prayer composed by St Thomas More that has a certain resonance today:
|"His truth shall compass thee as a shield"|