St. Thomas More, Severance, and “God’s First”, by Andrew Petiprin

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Introducing my new column by way of A Man for All Seasons, a recent and extraordinary trip to England, and a new Apple+ show.

By Andrew Petiprin, Catholic World Report, March 12, 2023

Andrew Petiprin is a former Episcopal priest, and is the author of the book Truth Matters: Knowing God and Yourself. He came into full communion with the Catholic Church with his wife and children on January 1, 2019. Andrew is a lifelong Christian, was a Marshall Scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford from 2001-2003, and was a Fellow at the Word on Fire Institute for several years. Andrew and his family live in Plano, Texas.

Welcome to the maiden voyage of God’s First, where I will endeavor to share regular commentary on the Church and the world from my vantage point as a former Anglican cleric and current movie-watcher, Europhile, adopted Texan, husband, dad, wine-bibber, and late Gen-X conservative-ish inquisitor.

In all seriousness, I pray this column will be edifying for me to write and for you to read.

“God’s first” is the end of the famous quip from the patron saint of this column, one of my heroes, Thomas More: “I die his majesty’s good servant, but God’s first.” Or anyway, that’s the way Robert Bolt wrote it for Paul Scofield in A Man for All Seasons. More’s life, epitomized by his parting words, resonates with me for so many reasons. As the greatest English statesman and humanist of his age, More’s faith was anything but escapist and his temperament anything but rigidly doctrinaire. He was a wise man of the world, who had his dream job (until he didn’t), and his Catholic faith rested on what his countryman John Henry Newman would later immortalize on the cusp of modernity – namely, the priority of a well-formed conscience. There was no such thing as a split between his private religious identity and public workplace persona. More was willing to lose his head to maintain his one integrated self, and when it came right down to it, he knew what he was about, come what may: God’s first. …

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