1478 AD (London, England) – 1535 AD (London, England)
Imagine if only boys were allowed to go to school and later become scientists, doctors or lawyers and girls had to stay at home and do house work. How about if it were the other way around? Neither would be fair, would it? Sadly that is how it was for many centuries when only boys (and only those from rich families) were allowed to study.
Saint Thomas More, who lived around 500 years ago in England, was the father of four children – three daughters and one son. Instead of following what everyone else was doing, he realizes that he had to give both his daughters and his son the same chances to use their brains. So, instead of having his daughters just learn how to sew, he himself taught them Greek and Latin, literature, music and science – the exact same subjects taught to his son. Saint Thomas knew that girls were as smart as boys and he was not afraid to stand up for his daughters at a time when everyone else thought of girls as not able to learn complicated things. Have you ever stood up for someone when others were making fun of them or when they weren’t given a chance to do something? That’s exactly what Saint Thomas did. As a result of treating all his children equally, his oldest daughter, Margaret, became a writer and translator and many thought of her as the smartest woman in England.
Saint Thomas had a very keen sense of what is right and what is wrong and the courage to choose right not only when it was a bit embarrassing, but also when it was a matter of life or death. Saint Thomas, who was a lawyer and the Lord Chancellor of England – a very close advisor of the King – had to make a very difficult decision one day: to obey his King or to follow his conscience. Do you remember what your conscience is? It is how you know how to be kind and loving and understand what the right thing is to do. It is the Holy Spirit helping you to make the right choices so that you live like Jesus. When someone is sad, you know that you should help them and try to cheer them up, or when someone is thirsty that you should give them a drink – right? That is your conscience.
When Saint Thomas was put before the choice of obeying his King, who wanted him to go against what the Church said, or of disobeying him and getting killed, he followed his conscience. With the help of the Holy Spirit he, like Saint George before him, said “No!” to the powerful king and that gave a lot of hope also to the many people who felt like Saint Thomas, but who didn’t have his courage and strength. By standing up for the truth, Saint Thomas is a great example to us all and someone we can ask for help when we are in difficult situations.
“The clearness of my conscience has made my heart hop for joy.”