The text of Bishop Paprocki's homily follows, with my emphases and comments:
As you may know, Pope Benedict XVI has appointed me to serve as the ninth Bishop of Springfield in Illinois. As the date of my Installation Mass, I have chosen June 22nd, the Feast of the English martyrs, Saints Thomas More and John Fisher. This day is appropriate because St. John Fisher was a Bishop, while St. Thomas More is a special patron saint for me not only because I am named Thomas and I served as Chancellor, as Thomas More did, but also because Thomas More is the patron saint of lawyers and politicians [I am very much looking forward to hear what he will say at his installation. Saint Thomas More, together with Saint Thomas Becket, has long been a hero to me]. I think his intercession will be vitally needed in my pastoral ministry as shepherd of our state capital.
My favorite movie of all time is “A Man For All Seasons,” about the life of St. Thomas More [though not my favorite, it is certainly high on my list; I try to watch it every year on More's feast]. In the screenplay written by Robert Bolt, there is a very poignant scene towards the end of the story of the trial of Thomas More, who was charged for High Treason for his refusal to sign the Act of Supremacy, making King Henry VIII the head of the Church of England. Sir Richard Rich has just perjured himself on the witness stand by giving false testimony by which More would surely be convicted. Before Sir Richard leaves the witness stand, More says, “I have one question to ask the witness. That’s a chain of office you are wearing. May I see it?” Rich allows More to examine the medallion, whereupon More says, “The red dragon.” More then asks Cromwell, who is conducting the interrogation, “What’s this?”
Cromwell answers, “Sir Richard is appointed Attorney-General of Wales.”
More we are told, looks into Rich’s face with pain and amusement and asks, “For Wales? Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world . . . But, for Wales!”
Unfortunately we live in a time when many other politicians are quite willing to give their souls for even less than Wales! As we gather for this Holy Sacrifice of the Mass preceding the Illinois Catholic Prayer Breakfast, we pray for the intercession of Saints Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher, that politicians and all government officials may follow their courageous example of faithful adherence to the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Today’s Mass is celebrated as a Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, who lived during the time of Saints Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher. The pontificate of Pope Pius V was one of the most glorious of the 16th century. He enforced the decrees of the Council of Trent, published the Roman Catechism and revised the Missal and Breviary. We pray for his intercession as well.
Our liturgy today also continues the celebration of the Easter season. Our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles tells us of the life of the early Christian community. Then, as now, courtroom trials depended on the testimony of courtroom witnesses. Conviction or acquittal can depend on what a person has experienced and how credibly the person expresses that experience to a judge or jury. If we expect people to believe in the resurrection of Jesus, there have to be credible witnesses. St. Paul cites the companions of Jesus as witnesses to the resurrection. He passes on their testimony as well as their own.
We are called to bear witness to Jesus as the way, the truth and the life. Jesus shows us how to live by His example of selfless sacrifice. He teaches us the truth about God, about ourselves, and about the world. He gives us eternal life through faith and the living of our sacramental life. Everything we say and do should convince people of the Gospel message. The Eucharist we are about to receive fills us with the presence of Christ so that we may be credible witnesses to the good news of eternal life with our Risen Lord.
May God give us this grace.