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Tuesday, 14 January 2014

St John Fisher's prayer for holy bishops


St John Fisher, made a Cardinal by Pope Paul III in the hope of King Henry VIII to spare the holy Bishop. Famously, the King said:
"Yea, is he yet so lusty? Well, let the pope send him a hat, when he will. But I will so provide that, whensoever it cometh, he shall wear it on his shoulders, for head shall he have none to set it on."
In 1504, at the age of 35, Fisher was appointed Bishop of Rochester, the poorest see in England, from which Bishops were expected to rise as their career progressed. Fisher in fact remained there for the rest of his life, not seeking any promotion.

In a sermon given in 1508, he made the following prayer asking God to send good Bishops to the Church (many thanks to John Howard for posting it on Facebook):
“Lord, according to Your promise that the Gospel should be preached throughout the whole world, raise up men fit for such work. The Apostles were but soft and yielding clay till they were baked hard by the fire of the Holy Ghost.

So, good Lord, do now in like manner again with Thy Church militant; change and make the soft and slippery earth into hard stone; set in Thy Church strong and mighty pillars that may suffer and endure great labours, watching, poverty, thirst, hunger, cold and heat; which also shall not fear the threatening of princes, persecution, neither death but always persuade and think with themselves to suffer with a good will, slanders, shame, and all kinds of torments, for the glory and laud of Thy Holy Name. By this manner, good Lord, the truth of Thy Gospel shall be preached throughout all the world.

Therefore, merciful Lord, exercise Thy mercy, show it indeed upon Thy Church.”
Our Cardinal-elect, Archbishop Nichols, wrote a book on the life of St John Fisher and it would perhaps be a particular kindness to ask the intercession of this great English Cardinal for him as he prepares to assume this new responsibility in the Church.
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