reflection from Newman's foundation, the Birmingham Oratory, compares and contrasts the challenges Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More faced in the sixteenth century to those Catholics in England face today:
Today in this country, being a faithful Catholic means adhering to a set of beliefs and a way of life which have little meaning in the eyes of most other people. We Catholics believe that Christ Jesus is the Son of God, and there is no other Name that can save us. We believe that there is hell to avoid and heaven to gain. We believe that divine worship, prayer, good works, justice – Gospel justice – are far more necessary than most of the things which the world counts as valuable.
Should we then opt out of the secular world? For the majority of Catholics that is neither possible nor desirable. In a post-Christian country we have a more difficult task. God calls us not to opt out but to opt in. He calls us to engage with an increasingly pagan society, not to condemn it, for it condemns itself, but to convert it to the knowledge and love of Christ. We win others to Christ only by peaceful means; by living that Truth which we preach, and by playing an appropriate part in serving the common good.
St John Fisher and St Thomas More knew how much it mattered to remain Catholic whatever the consequences. Their example helps us to remember that being a good Catholic need not mean sectarianism or party-spirit. But it does mean facing the fact of being different in many ways from much of the rest of modern society. It often means having to swim against the tide, as we make our way to heaven.