Thursday, June 22, 2006

Patronize Me

Today is the feast of two of my favorite saints: St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher.

They were among the many Catholic martyrs created in 1535 by King Henry VIII when he proclaimed himself head of the Church in England so he could give himself license to divorce his wife.

As many of you may know, the result of that proclamation was the Anglican Church, out of which John Wesley (an Anglican priest) started the "methodist" movement in the 1730's. The Methodist movement became its own Protestant church after Wesley's death, and that church split into about a million different sub-factions, most of which joined up with the Congregationalist and Presbyterian churches in the early 1900's to become the United Church.

With one notable exception. The Free Methodists, formed in 1860, held off on that alliance and went their own way. The "free" referred to matters like slavery, church seating, and worship style.

Less than a century later, my mom was born into the Free Methodist Church near Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and my dad left his Lutheran background to marry her. I was born in 1975, the first fruit of their union.

Having traced my steps back to the Roman Catholic Church, I feel a deep connection to the saints that Henry VIII created, especially St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher. They were both martyred (beheaded, if you must know) for refusing to bend their religious convictions to the whims of the king.

What an example for us Catholics today!

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