Our world is confused. Human beings are under attack, cohabitation and divorce are on the rise, and thousands of people are suffering from a sexual identity crisis. Even within the Church there exists confusion about God’s law concerning marriage and the family. We live in a world where many good people remain silent or are too afraid to speak out against the immorality that surrounds us.
As parents and educators, you have a duty to challenge your students to follow God’s law faithfully and encourage them to speak out against injustice, even when it seems like they are alone.
The threats to marriage that Catholics face today are similar to what the English Catholics faced in the 16th century. The king of England, Henry VIII, wanted to divorce Catherine of Aragon because she could not give him a male heir. He asked the pope for a declaration of nullity—a statement by the Church that declared the marriage to be sacramentally invalid. The pope refused. He had already given Henry a special dispensation to marry Catherine in the first place.
Furious, Henry took matters into his own hands. He publicly divorced Catherine and married his mistress, Anne Boleyn. In addition, the king demanded that all English churchmen and aristocrats sign an oath of the supremacy of the king of England over the pope. Many of them caved to the king’s demands and signed the oath, but a few remained faithful to the Church.
Saint Thomas More was one such man who refused to obey. Thomas wasn’t a priest or a monk. He was a nobleman who stood up for what he believed in, even when he knew it would cost him his job, his reputation, and his life. Thomas had been appointed chancellor of England by Henry and was a trusted advisor to the king. He loved his king and his country, but Thomas knew that God’s law cannot be changed by the whims of men.
It would have been easy for Thomas to forget his faith and join his friends and family members in signing the oath, but he persisted in the truth. This eventually led to his martyrdom, and he is now remembered as one of the greatest saints of all time.
Like Saint Thomas More, we must be ready to stand up for what is right, even if we risk losing our reputations, our popularity, or our friends. Faithfulness to God’s law is more important than any earthly fame or recognition. Like Saint Thomas, we must give our loyalty to God above all.
Help 7th and 8th grade students learn about the importance of marriage and family in society with Defend Life: Marriage and Family—a four-class lesson that teaches students that God created marriage between one man and one woman. Through the lives of saints like St. Thomas More, students learn how they can stand up and defend marriage and the family in our society.
Laura Kizior is the Digital Media and Communciations Manager for the Culture of Life Studies Program. Her work has appeared on Verily.com, CatholicMom.com, LifeSiteNews.com, Celebrate Life Magazine, TeachersSavingChildren.org, and in the Pro-Life Healthcare Alliance newsletter.