Invoking martyrs for marriage while we wait for the Supreme Court ruling
As we nervously await a momentous decision from the US Supreme Court, today we celebrate the feast of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher. It’s appropriate to invoke their help, in our prayers that the Court will be guided by right reason in ruling on a case that would re-define marriage.
Bear in mind that these two martyrs died in a cause that arose over the understanding of marriage. Parliament, under pressure from Henry VIII, pronounced that the union between Henry and Catherine had not been a real marriage; the Church, and therefore these two loyal sons of the Church, said otherwise. In Robert Bolt’s wonderful screenplay for A Man for All Seasons, Sir Thomas More refuses to bow to the parliamentary decree:
Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.
The Supreme Court has authority to interpret the US Constitution. It does not have the authority—much less the power—to alter human nature, nor to define a sacramental union. Let’s ask Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher to join us in asking the Holy Spirit’s guidance for the Court—that the justices might recognize the force of natural law, or, failing that, the limits of their own authority.
And if the case is still pending on Wednesday, when we celebrate the birth of St. John the Baptist, we have another powerful intercessor whose help we can invoke. Recall that St. John, too, died because he spoke out about the true nature of marriage. (Is it sheer coincidence, do you suppose, that the feasts of these saints fall during this tense court-watching week?)
My wife Leila has reminded her own readers that it’s traditional to begin the festivities on the evening of June 23—the vigil of the feast—with a bonfire. That’s a good opportunity to invite a few friends to join in both the celebration and the prayers for our Court and our country.
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