St. Thomas More, my patron by profession, has an intimate connection with today’s saint, St. Bruno. For years, More considered joining the Carthusian monastery in London. More joined in the monks’ observances and maintained the Carthusian schedule throughout the day. In these formative years, More discovered that his vocation did not involve religious life, but nonetheless, he benefitted immensely from the time he spent with the monks. As Erasmus said of More:
Meanwhile he applied his whole mind to exercises of piety, looking to and pondering on the priesthood in vigils, fasts andprayers and similar austerities. In which matter he proved himself far more prudent than most candidates who thrust themselves rashly into that arduous profession without any previous trial of their powers. The one thing that prevented him from giving himself to that kind of life was that he could not shake off the desire of the married state. He chose, therefore, to be a chaste husband rather than an impure priest.
As it happened, More was aided in his vocation to marriage by his investigation of religious life. It was with the Carthusians that he developed a prayer life and learned to seek God through contemplation. It was there that he developed a rule of life that structured his work in the law. It was there, most profoundly, that he found God to be the source and strength of all the good he did.
Those who knew him spoke highly of his peaceful and joyful disposition. I have no doubt this came from his deep prayer life. Erasmus again:
In the rest of his person there is nothing to offend . . .He seems born and framed for friendship, and is a most faithful and enduring friend . . .When he finds any sincere and according to his heart, he so delights in their society and conversation as to place in it the principal charm of life . . .In a word, if you want a perfect model of friendship, you will find it in no one better than in More . . .In human affairs there is nothing from which he does not extract enjoyment, even from things that are most serious. If he converses with the learned and judicious, he delights in their talent, if with the ignorant and foolish, he enjoys their stupidity.
So as we remember St. Thomas More, let us recall the foundation that helped to make him such a devoted follower of the Lord. The Carthusian Order has borne much fruit in its history, and Thomas More is just one shining example.