Devout Catholic Fathers: Remember More’s Monkey!
by Steve Wood
St. Thomas More considered the priesthood earlier in life, but he knew his vocation was that of a husband and father. Joy, music, and laughter filled More’s deeply spiritual household. Thomas More was famous for his wit and humor. His children often had a difficult time knowing whether he was being serious, or just teasing them with one of his jokes.
Deeply religious fathers, especially those like More who considered the priesthood, often confuse their vocation and attempt to impose a rigorous spirituality upon their families. I once heard of a father pressuring his wife and young children to gather for several extended prayer times on Sundays. Other men who are serious about their faith, but shallow in their Christian maturity, think Christianity must be somber. Sour-puss spirituality may not just produce negativity in the lives of their children; it may also lead to a total rejection of the Faith.
More was a very serious man. Yet he was always bringing pets home to entertain his family: a monkey, birds, weasels and a host of other animals. Yes, a saintly father can provide lots of fun for his family. Any man tempted to lose his spiritual balance by sliding into rigorousness or somberness should remember More’s monkey!
Looking for a great book on Catholic fatherhood and manhood? The best book on St. Thomas More that I’ve read is the story of More’s life as seen through his own writings: The King’s Good Servant, But God’s First, by James Monti. This is an exceptional book. You’ll discover More’s inner life, his prayer life, stories of his fatherhood and family life, as well as his thoughts and emotions during his imprisonment. I first read this book while on a summer vacation in the North Carolina mountains many years ago – and it’s still one of my favorites.
Fr. Bendedict Groeschel wrote: “This book is an eye-opener: Monti provides a unique, very readable book on St. Thomas More that gives new insights on this most powerful figure in the Catholic resistance in England.