June 19th, 2012Faith of Our Fathersby Joseph Pearce
Today would have been my father's 82nd birthday. Sadly he passed away in 2005 after a long illness. I have much for which to be grateful to my father, not least of which is the love of my native land which I have inherited from him. He loved England and could recite swathes of English poetry and whole speeches from Shakespeare's plays. Like me, he converted to Catholicism and was thereby united with the Faith of our English Fathers. He also complained, quite correctly, that most modern Englishmen thought that England was nothing more than a football team. On this day on which England are playing the Ukraine in Euro 2012, it is safe to assume that most English eyes will be glued to their televisions as the action unfolds. I confess that I will be one of them! The tragedy is, however, that these Englishmen could probably name every player on the England team but could not name one of the English Martyrs who laid down their lives for their love of God and England (in that order). With this saddening and sobering thought in mind, I thought I'd pay a birthday tribute to my father by paying tribute to three English Martyrs who were put to death on this day in 1535.
Blessed Humphrey Middlemore, Blessed Sebastian Newdigate and Blessed William Exmew were all hanged, drawn, and quartered for refusing to render unto Caesar (Henry VIII) that which is God's. In refusing to accept Henry VIII's right to make himself head of the Church in England, they were declared traitors to the state and paid the ultimate sacrifice. Let's not forget, however, that those who make the ultimate sacrifice for Christ and His Church receive the ultimate prize of Heaven. How tawdry the prize being offered at Euro 2012 seems in comparison.
May Eternal Light shine upon you, dad, and may the intercession of the English Martyrs who died on your birthday bring you to the fullness of the reward that they have received. Amen.