Thirteen… my son would be thirteen this day if the Lord did not call him, if the Lord did not call my beloved Joan. The friars thought I was weak, vacating my fellowship at Jesus College for love of this woman. After all those years, they knew me not. They knew her not. The knew us not. God brought us together most surprisingly, and for reasons I yet do not comprehend, He took her home, along our babe on the day of his birth. We pledged until death do we part, and ten months later were were. The Lord is giving, yes forgiving, and led me back to the fold at Cambridge. Celibate since Joan left me, last month I was ordained, last week finally receiving my doctorate in divinity. My life is now my studies, my passion to know God’s word through the Holy Scriptures, directly from Him.
After worshiping at mass this evening, praying to our Lord and Savior to keep Joan and Edward close, I tutor a few of my students in the Old Testament, and then review my correspondences. I look through, and stunned I raise up a folded parchment stamped with the seal of Cardinal Wolsey. What ever could he want? I open and begin reading.
Dearest Father Cranmer,
His Eminence, Lord Chancellor of England, Arch Bishop of York, and Cardinal of the Holy See Thomas Wolsey is very proud of your accomplishments at Cambridge University and congratulates you most abundantly upon your ordination and award of doctorate of divinity. As you know, His Eminence has opened a new college at Oxford University. His greatest desire to to bring the sharpest and most devout minds to this most illustrious college to shepard the work of the humanities as a beacon shining bright throughout Europe. His Eminence most desires you consider his most honorable offer to accept a fellowship of divinity at Oxford. He further offers housing and a very generous stipend. Please make no haste in responding to this outstanding opportunity that will insure your continued growth within the diocese.
Secretary and Solicitor to the Lord Chancellor
A fellowship at Oxford? Under Cardinal Wolsey’s nose? Never. I desire most to study the Holy Scriptures from the Greek translations, not the pope’s Latin. I most desire to know the truth, God’s truth. That will never happen at Oxford. I look over the parchment again, the letter written by the Cardinal’s barrister. Cromwell? He must be the father of one of Chekyng’s students, Gregory, named for popes and the material rewards they seek. If so, the man is a scallywag, late with his payments and overly critical. The boy is a gentle spirited soul and very bright, but no Aristotle. Does the man expect miracles? Perhaps he should go to one of the Cardinal’s monasteries and buy one. Such is the way with barristers. Quick to upend you, they can never be trusted.
My thoughts on my beloved Joan and Edward, I toss the parchment in the fire. I will find with all diplomacy a way out of this “most honorable offer” tomorrow. Until then, let me reflect back upon the only woman I will ever love, the only woman to whom I will ever make love. Joan, I haven’t forgotten you, dearest, nor the babe you blessed me with, if only for a brief moment. I take comfort he is in your loving arms among the angles with our Lord God, Jesus, and His Virgin Mother. I drop to my knees in prayer, as I know God will listen, at mass or no.
God our Father, Your power brings us to birth, Your providence guides our lives, and by Your command we return to dust.
Lord, those who die still live in Your presence, their lives change but do not end. I pray in hope for my family, my beloved Joan and Edward, and for all the dead known to You alone.
In company with Christ, Who died and now lives, may they rejoice in Your kingdom, where all our tears are wiped away. Unite us together again in one family, to sing Your praise forever and ever. Amen.