Tag Archives: Blessed John Henry Newman

Blessed John Henry Newman

125th Anniv of the death of Bl John Henry Newman

 

 

On this date in 1890, Blessed John Henry Newman died.

We continue to pray for his canonization.

Blessed John Henry Newman

newman detailFrom the writings of Blessed John Henry Newman, Priest

(Apologia Pro Vita Sua, Chapter V: Position of My Mind since 1845, London 1864, pp. 238-239, 250-251)

It was like coming into port after a rough sea.

From the time that I became a Catholic, of course I have no further history of my religious opinions to narrate. In saying this, I do not mean to say that my mind has been idle, or that I have given up thinking on theological subjects; but that I have had no variations to record, and have had no anxiety of heart whatever. I have been in perfect peace and contentment; I never have had one doubt. I was not conscious to myself, on my conversion, of any change, intellectual or moral, wrought in my mind. I was not conscious of firmer faith in the fundamental truths of Revelation, or of more self-command; I had not more fervour; but it was like coming into port after a rough sea; and my happiness on that score remains to this day without interruption.

Nor had I any trouble about receiving those additional articles, which are not found in the Anglican Creed. Some of them I believed already, but not any one of them was a trial to me. I made a profession of them upon my reception with the greatest ease, and I have the same ease in believing them now. I am far of course from denying that every article of the Christian Creed, whether as held by Catholics or by Protestants, is beset with intellectual difficulties; and it is simple fact, that, for myself, I cannot answer those difficulties. Many persons are very sensitive of the difficulties of Religion; I am as sensitive of them as any one; but I have never been able to see a connexion between apprehending those difficulties, however keenly, and multiplying them to any extent, and on the other hand doubting the doctrines to which they are attached. Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt, as I understand the subject; difficulty and doubt are incommensurate. There of course may be difficulties in the evidence; but I am speaking of difficulties intrinsic to the doctrines themselves, or to their relations with each other. A man may be annoyed that he cannot work out a mathematical problem, of which the answer is or is not given to him, without doubting that it admits of an answer, or that a certain particular answer is the true one. Of all points of faith, the being of a God is, to my own apprehension, encompassed with most difficulty, and yet borne in upon our minds with most power.

People say that the doctrine of Transubstantiation is difficult to believe; I did not believe the doctrine till I was a Catholic. I had no difficulty in believing it, as soon as I believed that the Catholic Roman Church was the oracle of God, and that she had declared this doctrine to be part of the original revelation. It is difficult, impossible, to imagine, I grant;—but how is it difficult to believe? …

I believe the whole revealed dogma as taught by the Apostles, as committed by the Apostles to the Church, and as declared by the Church to me. I receive it, as it is infallibly interpreted by the authority to whom it is thus committed, and (implicitly) as it shall be, in like manner, further interpreted by that same authority till the end of time. I submit, moreover, to the universally received traditions of the Church, in which lies the matter of those new dogmatic definitions which are from time to time made, and which in all times are the clothing and the illustration of the Catholic dogma as already defined. And I submit myself to those other decisions of the Holy See, theological or not, through the organs which it has itself appointed, which, waiving the question of their infallibility, on the lowest ground come to me with a claim to be accepted and obeyed. Also, I consider that, gradually and in the course of ages, Catholic inquiry has taken certain definite shapes, and has thrown itself into the form of a science, with a method and a phraseology of its own, under the intellectual handling of great minds, such as St Athanasius, St Augustine, and St Thomas; and I feel no temptation at all to break in pieces the great legacy of thought thus committed to us for these latter days.
RESPONSORY Ephesians 3:7, 10; John 16:13

R. Of this Gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace which was given me by the working of his power,* that through the Church the manifold wisdom of God might be made known.
V. When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.
R. That through the Church the manifold wisdom of God might be made known.
PRAYER

O God, who bestowed on the Priest Blessed John Henry Newman the grace to follow your kindly light and find peace in your Church; graciously grant that, through his intercession and example, we may be led out of shadows and images into the fulness of your truth. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Advent 2013: keeping watch with Christ

Pope Francis Advent 2013“Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths” (Isaiah).

The Church moves her children into a liturgical year today with the beginning of Advent, a time of preparation for nativity of Jesus, a time which opens a new door that opens into a new year of grace and witness to the Divine Presence.

Our sense of sight is slightly altered with the vestments of the priest and deacon changed to purple, and the introduction of the wreathe to help us keep time. There is no Gloria and perhaps the choirmaster will sing some of the ancient chants.

The color purple ought not to be lost on us. Our King wears a crown of thorns; our King offers himself in sacrifice on the Cross for love of all humanity; our King, not regal and aloof is the servant and friend of the poor; our King is educates our freedom to wholeness and the true gift of being given a humanity that’s fully realized in Him. The use of the color purple reminds us that Jesus is king and that there is nothing ordinary about Him: Jesus is the Word made flesh, the Eternal Word of God who entered, and continues to enter, into human history. The priest images the Lord in our context. Lastly, I would recall that purple is a time of penance.

Many liturgists, often at the parish level, step away from Advent being a penitential season. But they are offering a false teaching. It is true that the penitential character of Advent is not same as Lent. It is, however, a period of time of preparation which is marked by elements of conversion, instruction and walking anew in the paths given to us by the Lord. I would reference the scripture readings given for Mass for the First Sunday of Advent. A sentence from the first reading is given above. There is also this line from Romans where Saint Paul and the Church calls us to change: “…it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed;  the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light…”

In addition to Paul’s exhortation to be awake, in several other places in scripture the holy authors speak of staying awake, of being less sleepy in the face of the coming of the Lord. This theme gets carried over into the season of Advent as a time of keeping watch with and for Jesus Christ.

Blessed John Henry Newman has something to say to us about watching, and notice very carefully his argument:

Now I consider this word watching, first used by our Lord, then by the favoured Disciple, then by the two great Apostles, Peter and Paul, is a remarkable word, remarkable because the idea is not so obvious as might appear at first sight, and next because they all inculcate it. We are not simply to believe, but to watch; not simply to love, but to watch; not simply to obey, but to watch; to watch for what? for that great event, Christ’s coming. Whether then we consider what is the obvious meaning of the word, or the Object towards which it directs us, we seem to see a special duty enjoined on us, such as does not naturally come into our minds. Most of us have a general idea what is meant by believing, fearing, loving, and obeying; but perhaps we do not contemplate or apprehend what is meant by watching.

And I conceive it is one of the main points, which, in a practical way, will be found to separate the true and perfect servants of God from the multitude called Christians; from those who are, I do not say false and reprobate, but who are such that we cannot speak much about them, nor can form any notion what will become of them. And in saying this, do not understand me as saying, which I do not, that we can tell for certain who are the perfect, and who the double-minded or incomplete Christians; or that those who discourse and insist upon these subjects are necessarily on the right side of the line. I am but speaking of two characters, the true and consistent character, and the inconsistent; and these I say will be found in no slight degree discriminated and distinguished by this one mark,—true Christians, whoever they are, watch, and inconsistent Christians do not. Now what is watching?

I conceive it may be explained as follows:—Do you know the feeling in matters of this life, of expecting a friend, expecting him to come, and he delays? Do you know what it is to be in unpleasant company, and to wish for the time to pass away, and the hour strike when you may be at liberty? Do you know what it is to be in anxiety lest something should happen which may happen or may not, or to be in suspense about some important event, which makes your heart beat when you are reminded of it, and of which you think the first thing in the morning? Do you know what it is to have a friend in a distant country, to expect news of him, and to wonder from day to day what he is now doing, and whether he is well? Do you know what it is so to live upon a person who is present with you, that your eyes follow his, that you read his soul, that you see all its changes in his countenance, that you anticipate his wishes, that you smile in his smile, and are sad in his sadness, and are downcast when he is vexed, and rejoice in his successes? To watch for Christ is a feeling such as all these; as far as feelings of this world are fit to shadow out those of another.

He watches for Christ who has a sensitive, eager, apprehensive mind; who is awake, alive, quick-sighted, zealous in seeking and honouring Him; who looks out for Him in all that happens, and who would not be surprised, who would not be over-agitated or overwhelmed, if he found that He was coming at once.

And he watches with Christ, who, while he looks on to the future, looks back on the past, and does not so contemplate what his Saviour has purchased for him, as to forget what He has suffered for him. He watches with Christ, who ever commemorates and renews in his own person Christ’s Cross and Agony, and gladly takes up that mantle of affliction which Christ wore here, and left behind Him when he ascended. And hence in the Epistles, often as the inspired writers show their desire for His second coming, as often do they show their memory of His first, and never lose sight of His Crucifixion in His Resurrection. Thus if St. Paul reminds the Romans that they “wait for the redemption of the body” at the Last Day, he also says, “If so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.” If he speaks to the Corinthians of “waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,” he also speaks of “always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” If to the Philippians of “the power of His resurrection,” he adds at once “and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death.” If he consoles the Colossians with the hope “when Christ shall appear,” of their “appearing with Him in glory,” he has already declared that he “fills up that which remains of the afflictions of Christ in his flesh for His body’s sake, which is the Church.” [Rom. viii. 17-28. 1 Cor. i. 7. 2 Cor. iv. 10. Phil. iii. 10. Col. iii. 4; i. 24.] Thus the thought of what Christ is, must not obliterate from the mind the thought of what He was; and faith is always sorrowing with Him while it rejoices. And the same union of opposite thoughts is impressed on us in Holy Communion, in which we see Christ’s death and resurrection together, at one and the same time; we commemorate the one, we rejoice in the other; we make an offering, and we gain a blessing.

This then is to watch; to be detached from what is present, and to live in what is unseen; to live in the thought of Christ as He came once, and as He will come again; to desire His second coming, from our affectionate and grateful remembrance of His first. And this it is, in which we shall find that men in general are wanting. They are indeed without faith and love also; but at least they profess to have these graces, nor is it easy to convince them that they have not. For they consider they have faith, if they do but own that the Bible came from God, or that they trust wholly in Christ for salvation; and they consider they have love if they obey some of the most obvious of God’s commandments. Love and faith they think they have; but surely they do not even fancy that they watch. What is meant by watching, and how it is a duty, they have no definite idea; and thus it accidentally happens that watching is a suitable test of a Christian, in that it is that particular property of faith and love, which, essential as it is, men of this world do not even profess; that particular property, which is the life or energy of faith and love, the way in which faith and love, if genuine, show themselves.

Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 4, Sermon 22

Blessed John Henry Newman

The liturgical memorial of Blessed John Henry Newman is observed in the United Kingdom but it is not on the Ordo for Catholics in the USA. In time I suspect the Holy See will make it so for Catholics in the USA once Newman is canonized. In the meantime, we ask for his intercession privately.

To mark the Newman memorial here is a Vatican Radio interview with Monsignor Roderick Strange who authored John Henry Newman: A Mind Alive (2008).

Below is the second reading for the Office of Readings and the Mass Collect.

From the writings of Blessed John Henry Newman, Priest
(Apologia Pro Vita Sua, Chapter V: Position of My Mind since 1845, London 1864, pp. 238-239, 250-251)

It was like coming into port after a rough sea.

Bl JHNewmanFrom the time that I became a Catholic, of course I have no further history of my religious opin- ions to narrate. In saying this, I do not mean to say that my mind has been idle, or that I have given up thinking on theological subjects; but that I have had no variations to record, and have had no anxiety of heart whatever. I have been in perfect peace and contentment; I never have had one doubt. I was not conscious to myself, on my conversion, of any change, intellectual or moral, wrought in my mind. I was not conscious of firmer faith in the fundamental truths of Revelation, or of more self-command; I had not more fervor; but it was like coming into port after a rough sea; and my happiness on that score remains to this day without interruption.

Nor had I any trouble about receiving those additional articles, which are not found in the Anglican Creed. Some of them I believed already, but not any one of them was a trial to me. I made a profession of them upon my reception with the greatest ease, and I have the same ease in believing them now. I am far of course from denying that every article of the Christian Creed, whether as held by Catholics or by Protestants, is beset with intellectual difficulties; and it is simple fact, that, for myself, I cannot answer those difficulties. Many persons are very sensitive of the difficulties of Religion; I am as sensitive of them as any one; but I have never been able to see a connexion between apprehending those difficulties, however keenly, and multiplying them to any extent, and on the other hand doubting the doctrines to which they are attached. Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt, as I understand the subject; difficulty and doubt are incommensurate. There of course may be difficulties in the evidence; but I am speak- ing of difficulties intrinsic to the doctrines themselves, or to their relations with each other. A man may be annoyed that he cannot work out a mathematical problem, of which the answer is or is not given to him, without doubting that it admits of an answer, or that a certain particular answer is the true one. Of all points of faith, the being of a God is, to my own apprehension, encompassed with most difficulty, and yet borne in upon our minds with most power.

People say that the doctrine of Transubstantiation is difficult to believe; I did not believe the doctrine till I was a Catholic. I had no difficulty in believing it, as soon as I believed that the Catholic Roman Church was the oracle of God, and that she had declared this doctrine to be

part of the original revelation. It is difficult, impossible, to imagine, I grant;—but how is it difficult to believe?…

I believe the whole revealed dogma as taught by the Apostles, as committed by the Apostles to the Church, and as declared by the Church to me. I receive it, as it is infallibly interpreted by the authority to whom it is thus committed, and (implicitly) as it shall be, in like manner, further interpreted by that same authority till the end of time. I submit, moreover, to the universally received traditions of the Church, in which lies the matter of those new dogmatic definitions which are from time to time made, and which in all times are the clothing and the illustration of the Catholic dogma as already defined. And I submit myself to those other decisions of the Holy See, theological or not, through the organs which it has itself appointed, which, waiving the question of their infallibility, on the lowest ground come to me with a claim to be accepted and obeyed. Also, I consider that, gradually and in the course of ages, Catholic inquiry has taken certain definite shapes, and has thrown itself into the form of a science, with a method and a phraseology of its own, under the intellectual handling of great minds, such as St Athanasius, St Augustine, and St Thomas; and I feel no temptation at all to break in pieces the great legacy of thought thus committed to us for these latter days.

Responsory                                                                                                                              Ephesians 3:7, 10; John 16:13

R. Of this Gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace which was given me by the working of his power,* that through the Church the manifold wisdom of God might be made known.

V. When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. *That through the Church the manifold wisdom of God might be made known.

Let us pray.

O God, who bestowed on the Priest Blessed John Henry Newman the grace to follow your kindly light and find peace in your Church; graciously grant that, through his intercession and example, we may be led out of shadows and images into the fulness of your truth.

Newman: God has created me to do Him some definite service

John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890)

I am visiting the Benedictine Abbey of St Anselm (Washington, DC) to get away from “stuff” where I normally live. Life there is particularly tense these days. A topic for another time. Time in quiet, time in prayer, time to think, to ponder bigger questions, time to read and to enjoy life in a different key for a short time. Life is fine. It won’t last long, don’t worry. I have friends here. Yesterday I was trying to understand happiness. Newman gave perspective. Today, I am trying to understand my place is a world of utter chaos, not exclusively my own chaos but more importantly the world’s.


At breakfast another guest at the abbey said he thought the US was heading to another civil war. I received an email and later texts that the two year old son of a friend is in the hospital with a serious ear infection, an acute illness that has made itself a longtime, and unwelcomed guest in this person’s life; there is also the fact that we are working toward the conclave but problems that need discussion, and the list goes on. This afternoon I sat for an hour with my friend Aidan, the abbot-emeritus of this abbey, who is just a delight to speak converse with, and who is living with the grace of Parkinson’s. (Blessed John Paul II, pray for Aidan!) Aidan can track a conversation for the most part; he loses words and can be side-tracked; but he’s capacity for friendship is great.

BUT what am I supposed to do? How do I approach the reality of life? Where is God leading me, why, and for what reason? Do I have a part to play in life? Newman has a helpful answer…

1. God was all-complete, all-blessed in Himself; but it was His will to create a world for His glory. He is Almighty, and might have done all things Himself, but it has been His will to bring about His purposes by the beings He has created. We are all created to His glory–we are created to do His will. I am created to do something or to be something for which no one else is created; I have a place in God’s counsels, in God’s world, which no one else has; whether I be rich or poor, despised or esteemed by man, God knows me and calls me by my name.


2. God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission–I never may know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. Somehow I am necessary for His purposes, as necessary in my place as an Archangel in his–if, indeed, I fail, He can raise another, as He could make the stones children of Abraham. Yet I have a part in this great work; I am a link in a chain, a bond of connexion between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do His work; I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I do but keep His commandments and serve Him in my calling.

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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