Saint Henry Morse
Born in Brome, Suffolk, England, in 1595, he was raised a Protestant. Crossing the English Channel, he went to Douai, France, which was then an English Catholic centre. He decided to study for the priesthood. Father Morse had scarcely landed in Britain and been accepted as a Jesuit candidate when he was arrested and imprisoned in York Castle. He had not yet had time to make the novitiate required of those who aspired to Jesuit vows. Providentially, however, he found another Jesuit imprisoned in York Castle. This Father Robinson supervised his novitiate in prison! Therefore, when his three-year term was up, he emerged a full-fledged junior member of the Society. Banished to the Continent on his release, Father Morse spent some time as a chaplain to English soldiers who served the King of Spain in the Low Countries. Then in 1633 he returned to England secretly, using the name “Cuthbert Claxton,” and he spent the next four years ministering in London. Tried once more, he was sentenced to death in accord with the law that forbade exiled priests to return to Britain. On the day of his execution, February 1, 1645, Father Morse was able to celebrate Mass. Only after he was dead was Father Morse’s body disembowelled and cut into four parts. Egmont and the French ambassador had their retainers dip handkerchiefs in the martyr’s blood. Later on, these relics were the occasion of cures. Father Henry Morse of the Society of Jesus was canonized on 25 October 1970 by Pope Paul VI.
Let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord. Psalm 31:24
One of my uncles was fond of mumbling, “Give me strength!” under his breath when he was challenged by something or someone. There are times when I find myself saying it before I can face leaving the house to start the day. Sometimes it takes strength to face the physical challenge of a storm, exhaustion from a bad night or some malady. Mostly, though, I find it’s the interpersonal challenges of family, colleagues, students or the news that make me pray for strength. The only source that can give me the strength is, indeed, hope in the Lord. The words of St. Julian of Norwich, “All shall be well, all shall be well, all manner of things shall be well,” boost my hope at such times. To face the day, I sometimes hold these words in my heart as though clasping a medallion. With them, I do find the strength and courage to take heart and actually step out of my door.