Fisher of men

Since my good friend Mark has celebrated St. Thomas More over at Vivere, it's incumbent on me to share with you some thoughts on that great patron of my home parish, St. John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester and Cardinal-designate in pectore (Henry offed his head before the Pope could put a red hat on it). Like our dear present pontiff, Fisher was a professor by trade and did much to make Cambridge the foremost university in Europe, a fact the agnostics who roam there now presumably take for granted (and one the Reformation purposefully neglects).

He was a gentle ascete, by all accounts, and made fasting and modest mortifications a regular part of his prayer life, typically dining on broth. He read Scripture fastidiously (a fact the sola-scripturians choose to ignore) believing like Jerome that it was there one genuinely met Jesus. He kept the chancery spartan, only doing the extent demanded by court protocol of the day, and gave alms regularly. In other words, he's a man every bishop today would do well to emulate. So he was nothing like the men who occupied the Holy See at that time, a fact the Anglicans also chose to ignore in their protestations.

It was this quiet asceticism that prepared Fisher for the via crucis that led to his death. He was the sole, solitary, and only member of the episcopal fraternity who did not yield to the king's absurd demand. In order to generate a smear campaign against Fisher, Henry went to extraordinary lengths to find some dirt, any dirt, that besmudged the saint's record; in the end, the tyrant king sort of implied that the bishop had consorted with a witch. To this, the elegant fops who occupied the other dioceses in England made no objection, in spite of the fact that they knew the man's virtue plainly (and probably envied his grace).

Though his comrade in the Tower would meet the scaffold second, Fisher was told by his inquisitors that the heroic lawyer had already perished for want of incriminating himself-- this as an attempt to coerce Fisher to make a confession. Thus, he went to his execution fully believing he was truly the only man in England to uphold the magisterium of the Church. He sang the Te Deum all the way to his death, which as we know was the day he finally embraced the Lord he loved so well.

More meanwhile was told that Fisher had broken down and made his confession. Consequently, he went under the axe fully believing that no member of the episcopate had stayed faithful to Christ or His Vicar. Imagine what a happy meeting they had in heaven!

Pray that our Bishops act with clear moral resolve in defense of the Truth in the face of our current tyrants: moral relativism and the Culture of Death.

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