Wednesday 25 September 2019

Thomas More - Alvaro De Silva - CTS Saints of the Isles Series

Thomas More
CTS Saints of the Isles Series

Alvaro De Silva
Catholic Truth Society
eISBN 9781860822179
CTS Booklet B677

I really do love the CTS books and booklets ! There are so many great reads, and wonderful series. And this ‘Saints of the Isles’ is one of my favorite series to date. This is the eighth book in this series from the Catholic Truth Society that I have read. And I loved it. I have read almost 100 books and booklets from the Catholic Truth Society in the last year and a half. Many have been great reads, and I have read books from several excellent series. I love this series that focuses on the Saints of the Isles. It has been inspiring, challenging, and encouraging to read about the Saints and Martyrs of the British Isles. Through my religious studies degree, with a focus on Roman Catholic Thought, I had encountered saints from all over the world, and the great and lesser known saints of Europe. But this series is opening my eyes to Saints that are part of my heritage, saints from Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales. These are incredible books about amazing saints. It is a part of our history we need to be reminded of. And to be inspired by them and their lives, and as in the case of More also his death.

That would be how I would summarize this series. But this specific book is on Saint Thomas More.  This series and this book will inspire, encourage, and challenge us in our faith! The sections in this booklet are:

“In the Shadow of Piety”
More’s early life
More’s vocation
Against pride
Common sanctity
In the service of the King

The Home of Humanity
Marriage and remarriage
Children’s education
Educating daughters

A Reformer’s Dream
Christian humanism
An island of intelligent imagination

More after Luther
From Lord Chancellor to Prisoner
The “Great Matter”
Dead man walking

“Everlasting Liberty”
‘The Sadness of Christ’
Final letters
The trial

The Teeth of the Church
More on More - Further Reading
A Godly Meditation

Of all the saints in this series, I was most familiar with More before reading this volume. So, in some ways this little booklet served as a refresher. I am sure that most people raised in an English-speaking country would know the name Thomas More. Either from history class or even drama class and studying the play about his life. We are told in the introduction:

“A modern biography is certainly not what medieval Christians enjoyed as “lives of the saints.” Authorial intentions being quite different, so were the reader’s expectations. In the history of the genre, the life of Thomas More (1478-1535) seems to have particular relevance. First, because no other figure in the landscape of his time, much less a layman, knew of such an intense biographical interest so soon after death. Once the conspiracy of silence around someone who had been executed as a traitor to crown and country was lifted, half a dozen writers took up their pens to record his life and martyrdom. These were William Roper, Nicholas Harpsfield, Thomas Stapleton, an anonymous writer known as “Ro. Ba.”, and two more whose works have not come down to us.”

And we are told:

“Today’s biographies tend to be huge books, and a very small one like this, a mere sketch, might seem rather pointless. But the very idea of biography is not to tell everything about a person (impossible, in any case, to write or to read) but to disclose the reasons and causes - the bios, or vital force behind that person’s actions and words.”

And concludes with:

“Unless all my reading, editing, translating, and learning from Thomas More has been a waste, I am certain that he would have wanted nothing but the truth about him, to make us see him “as he really was.” Embraced now in the unconditional love of the Trinity in heaven, he knows himself in the best possible way, perhaps the only way, and at least those who share his Creed read about him also to learn more of the splendid and merciful light of Christ. Thus, as I embark in this biographical sketch, …”

I think that captures the essence of the book, the series and many of the CTS booklets. Getting to the essence of something. And in this case I agree with the author in that More would undoubtedly appreciate that approach.

This bios will give highlights of More’s life, his ministry, and ultimately his death. He is often hailed as a Catholic humanist, and also a martyr. More died for the faith, a faith that as he grew older became every more important in his life. It is a sentiment that I feel echo’s in my own life. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books in the Saints of the Isles Series:
Edmund Arrowsmith - John S. Hogan
Margaret Clitherow - Jean Olwen Maynard
Edmund Campion - Alexander Haydon
John Southworth Priest and Martyr - Michael Archer
Saint Thomas More - Alvaro de Silva
John Ogilvie - Eleanor McDowell
Frances Taylor - Eithne Leonard
Mary Potter - Elizabeth Gilroy
John Fisher - Richard L. Smith
Robert Southwell - Fiorella Sultana De Maria
Ignatius Spencer - Fr. Ben Lodge
Sr Elizabeth Prout - Dominic Savio Hamer
Forty Martyrs of England and Wales - James Walsh
Thomas Becket - J.B. Midgley


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