Issuu on Google+



JOHN HENRY NEWMAN Apostle to the Doubtful From the original text by Meriol Trevor Revised and expanded by Léonie Caldecott

All booklets are published thanks to the generous support of the members of the Catholic Truth Society

CATHOLIC TRUTH SOCIETY PUBLISHERS TO THE HOLY SEE




2

CONTENTS The Early Years.........................................................................3 A Man of the Nineteenth Century..........................................5 Search for the Truth ...............................................................6 Italy and the Oxford Movement...........................................11 The Development of Christian Doctrine ..............................15 The Later Years.......................................................................18 Ordination and the Oratory ..................................................18 The Achilli Affair ................................................................22 Dublin and the Idea of a University .....................................24 London and the Idea of an Oratory ......................................25 Blessings in Rome, Chills in England..................................27 The Rambler and the Role of the Laity................................29 The Dark Night ....................................................................37 Kingsley and the Apologia ..................................................39 The Glorious Last Years .....................................................49 The Legacy of Cardinal Newman ..........................................54 Exorcising some Phantoms ..................................................54 Newman the Pastor ..............................................................57 The Romantic Realist and the Christian Revelation ...........................................60 Newman’s Mission...............................................................65 Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI ...................................67 Some Prayers and Meditations .............................................73 All rights reserved. First published 2001 by The Incorporated Catholic Truth Society. Copyright © 2001 The Incorporated Catholic Truth Society, 40-46 Harleyford Road, London SE11 5AY Tel: 020 7640 0042 Fax: 020 7640 0046. ISBN 978 1 86082 121 9




3

THE EARLY YEARS A Turning Point On the night of October 8th 1845, in the midst of a heavy rain-storm, an Italian Passionist priest called Dominic Barberi arrived at Littlemore, a small village just outside Oxford. Father Dominic had been riding on the top of the coach and was soaked to the skin. His destination was some converted stables, where the famous Anglican preacher John Henry Newman and some of his friends were living whilst they attempted to discern the will of God for their lives. As the missionary priest was attempting to dry his worn and shabby clothes in front of the fire, Newman strode swiftly into the room and cast himself at his feet. He asked to be received into “the one true Fold of the Redeemer”, and begged Father Dominic to begin hearing his confession immediately. The confession continued the following day, as did those of two of Newman’s companions, and in the evening they all made the profession of faith and received conditional baptism. On October 10th, the very table on which Newman had spend the previous few years writing On the Development of Christian Doctrine - and writing himself out of the Anglican Church - was used to celebrate the Mass during which Newman made his first Holy Communion.




4

JOHN HENRY NEWMAN - APOSTLE

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

Newman was then obliged to leave his peaceful haven at Littlemore in order to place himself at the service of the Church. He was at the mid-point of his life, no longer a young man, with a wealth of learning and experience behind him, and yet he submitted himself to a completely new life, leaving behind uncomprehending and often unsympathetic friends and family. After years of holding a respected position as Fellow of Oriel College Oxford and the Vicar of the University Church, not to mention his central role in the controversial Anglo-Catholic “Oxford Movement”, he was now to be instructed and prepared for the priesthood in Rome alongside much younger and less eminent men. Newman did all this without a murmur, peaceful in the knowledge that after years of painstaking deliberation, he had made the right choice. He had said that he wanted to be sure to act from reason, not from feeling alone. Having done so, he became a guide for others in the integration of head and heart on the path to Rome. The elements of that fateful evening in October 1845 the rain-storm, the supplicant on his knees, and the fire blazing between the two men from such different backgrounds (echoing the flame of Christ’s love shown on the Italian missionary’s Passionist habit) - all in a sense give the key to Newman’s life. He was beset by storms and controversies, both as an Anglican and as a Catholic. A man of powerful intellect, he nonetheless submitted his mind to that of the Church, even in the




THE EARLY YEARS

5

midst of misunderstandings and intense ecclesial debate. Finally, Newman was possessed by the love of God to such a degree that he gave his whole life over to his service, a devotion which showed as much in his pastoral work among ordinary people, as in his thought and writing, much of which was ahead of its time: that is to say prophetic. Newman is frequently referred to as the Father of the Second Vatican Council. A Man of the Nineteenth Century Born on February 21st 1801, John Henry Newman lived through the turbulent nineteenth century, when Europe, while expanding its colonial empires in Asia, Africa and Australasia, was struggling at home with wars and revolutions, political and mental. Darwin, Marx and Freud were three men of the nineteenth century whose ideas shaped the course of events all through the twentieth, and all in the direction of atheism - disbelief in any creating Spirit beyond the world of sense. Newman’s influence may seem weak in comparison with theirs, but it is like the yeast in Christ’s similitude, slowly leavening the lump of human dough and still active a hundred years after his death. People unfamiliar with his life and work may wonder why. John Henry Newman saw the Christian Church as an historical fact, its ideas and practice in continual but consistent development. This historical way of looking at the Church’s ideas was quite new when Newman wrote his




6

JOHN HENRY NEWMAN - APOSTLE

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

Essay on The Development of Christian Doctrine in 1845, nearly fifteen years before Darwin published The Origin of Species (1859), introducing the theory of biological evolution, which shook people’s confidence in the truth of the Bible even more than had the Copernican revolution in the sixteenth century. From this historical base Newman was able to build a defence of the truth of Christian tradition which could meet the scientific scepticism that was spreading among educated people in the second half of the nineteenth century and in our own time has affected almost everybody. Newman, who once wrote in a letter that he “could go the whole hog with Darwin” without disturbing the foundations of faith, realised that the rationalising methods of inquiry would attack the credibility of the Bible, as the infallible vehicle of God’s revelation to mankind. He perceived that it was the Church which mediated the revelation in Christ, and had done so since the Risen Lord had commissioned the Apostles and after his Ascension sent the Holy Spirit to unite them in one Body guide them into all truth, till the end of time. It was in studying the early Fathers of the Church that Newman realised how theological ideas had developed over the centuries, like a tree growing from a seed. That seed was Christ, the Word of God. Search for the Truth Perhaps Newman was able to pursue this original line of thought because his personal religious development came




THE EARLY YEARS

7

through an arduous search for truth, always accompanied by a moral determination to live according to the faith he had been given. As a clever schoolboy of fourteen he read Tom Paine’s tracts against the Old Testament and some of Hume’s Essays - “so at least I gave my father to understand, but perhaps it was a brag,” he wrote modestly in the Apologia. He copied some French verses denying the immortality of the soul and thought, “How dreadful, but how plausible!” And decided he would like to be virtuous but not religious. Then only a year later, after his father’s bank had failed in 1816, he fell ill and was left alone at school in the summer holidays. Here, he recorded much later in a private journal, God “turned me right round, when I was more like a devil than a wicked boy.” He saw his sin as spiritual rather than sensual: the intellectual pride that easily becomes arrogant self-sufficiency. This first conversion, to which he gave a duration of five months (prompting some Evangelicals in later years to assure him he had never been converted at all) he called in the Apologia “a great change of thought” and indeed the books lent him by Mr Mayers, a young Evangelical master at the school, first started Newman thinking about the Christian religion. The Force of Truth by Thomas Scott, a Unitarian who had thought his way to belief in the Trinity of God and the Incarnation of the Son, or Word, in the man Jesus of Nazareth, not only implanted in Newman’s mind the doctrine itself but presented religious truth as a quest




8

JOHN HENRY NEWMAN - APOSTLE

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

and the understanding of it as a personal development. Scott’s sayings: “Holiness before peace” and “Growth the only evidence of life,” became proverbs for the young Newman, and so from the start Christianity was for him not merely a system to be accepted, but a way of life. Milner’s Church History had an equally profound effect, for there Newman first discovered the Fathers of the Church, the great Christian thinkers of the early centuries. He compared the action of their thought upon him to music, his favourite art - he had learned to play the violin from the age of ten. In the Fathers, greek clarity of reasoning met the concrete symbolism of the Hebrews and this fusion of intellect and imagination answered the unusual balance of Newman’s mind, in which these forces were equal. He was shown the way into a world where the supreme mysteries were neither devitalised into an abstract system, nor subjected to the degenerative process of uncontrolled feeling. Moreover, he was introduced to the Church as it was before the period of medieval Christendom, out of which had burst the Protestant revolution, which still in Newman’s day was shaped by reactions against that medieval form of the Church. So, in 1816, at the age of fifteen, Newman started on the way that was to make him an agent of the Catholic revival in the Church of England and later to draw him, slowly and painfully, into the Catholic Church in communion with the see of St Peter.




THE EARLY YEARS

9

Education and Early Years in the Anglican Church John Henry was the eldest of six children and the leader in their games, writing plays for them to act. Their father was a banker, one of the rising middle class, and their mother Jemima Fourdrinier was the daughter of a papermaker of Huguenot descent. After a happy childhood Newman was sent to an enlightened private school at Ealing, where he did so well that he was entered at Trinity College Oxford when he was only sixteen. Although (or perhaps because) he worked very hard, he did badly in his final examinations, but was able to stay on at the university to study for ordination because he had earlier won a college scholarship. In 1822, when he was just twenty-one, he was elected a Fellow of Oriel College, then the centre of intellectual excellence. This gave him entrance to an academic career and a regular income, much needed, as Mr Newman never recovered his position after his bankruptcy and died in 1824, leaving Newman responsible for finding a home for his mother and sisters, and for his brother Frank’s education. Besides coaching Frank, he made some more money by taking other pupils. That year Newman had been ordained deacon and took on an arduous curacy at St Clement’s, on the edge of Oxford. He was ordained a priest of the Church of England at Whitsun, May 29th 1825. “I was dedicating myself forever, consecrating myself to the service of




10 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

‘The Richmond Portrait’, John Henry Newman as a young man.




THE EARLY YEARS

11

Almighty God,” he wrote many years later, correcting the impression that he was thinking about the Apostolical Succession at such a serious and sacred occasion. Nevertheless he was revising and broadening his views on the Church and discussing its present situation with his friends, and when in 1828 he was made Vicar of the University Church of St Mary the Virgin, he gained a position of considerable influence in Oxford. The Catholic revival, or Tractarian Movement, which got under way in 1833, was originally a protest against state interference in Church affairs. It was Newman who wrote the first Tracts for the Times, short and to the point. The Church had been supported by the state: “Should these secular advantages cease, on what must Christ’s ministers depend?” And he answered, “Christ has not left His Church without claim of its own upon the attention of men. Surely not. Hard Master he cannot be, to bid us oppose the world, yet give us no credentials for so doing... I fear we have neglected the real ground on which our authority is built - our apostolical descent.” Italy and the Oxford Movement In 1833, Newman and a friend, Hurrell Froude, travelled to Italy on vacation. He had the chance to observe a number of Catholic devotions, and his impression of the Roman Catholic Church as intrinsically corrupt and spiritually decayed (the received notion in English




12 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

Protestant circles) began to be altered, even though the religious practices of the Italians felt culturally alien to his English sensibility. The experience of another illness, this time serious enough to be life-threatening, whilst staying alone in Sicily, marked a watershed for Newman. It is here that he wrote his famous poem, “Lead Kindly Light”, and pledged himself to undertake the work of renewing and purifying the Church of England, no matter what the cost. Immediately on his return, Keble preached his famous sermon “On National Apostasy” and the Oxford Movement was launched. The Tracts of the Movement were delivered by keen adherents to vicarages around the country; Newman rode out on horseback to deliver some himself. The Movement caused great excitement in the 1830s, especially among the young, stirring them up to consider the nature of the Church and its position vis-à-vis the State, with which it had been inextricably entwined ever since King Henry VIII had declared himself, and not the Pope, its head on earth in England. Newman, who at this time had begun his pioneering studies on the Fathers (then much neglected), had realised that the Church, though sometimes forced to acquiesce in virtual state takeovers, had always conceived itself to be an autonomous community - communion - and Catholic, that is, universal, supra-national, with the bishops as guardians of the Apostolic Faith.




THE EARLY YEARS

13

Although he regarded himself as merely one of a group of friends, Newman was undoubtedly the most dynamic leader of the Movement and his influence grew not only from the Tracts (unsigned), but from his sermons, which because he published them in a series of books reached a nationwide audience. Readers, expecting controversial Catholic views, were faced instead with a psychologically penetrating preaching of Christ the Lord, the Christ of the Gospels, his words, his works of healing, his mysterious self-sacrifice on the cross, his resurrection from death and continuing presence in the communion of his followers and the challenge he presents to all to change their lives in following him. Thus the Catholic revival was a true religious revival, addressed to conscience. From 1833 till 1841 Newman was the chief instigator of the Oxford Movement, which was growing all the time, reviving interest in the Catholic elements in a tradition long overlaid with Protestant ideas, but also arousing strong opposition from the majority of establishment men. For these, Tract 90 was the last straw. In it, Newman argued that the 39 Articles, which had to be signed by all ministers of the Church of England and all members of the University, were not so much a Protest against the Catholic Faith, as against medieval errors and corruptions. They could therefore be taken in a Catholic sense. This was essential to the case that the Church of England was part of the Catholic Church. But it provoked an uproar in London




14 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

as well as in Oxford, where Newman acknowledged his authorship in answer to a censure from the university authorities. London papers proclaimed that popery was unmasked at Oxford: this was the beginning of the legend of Newman as a guileful, dissimulating, secret papist. The Littlemore Years It was also the beginning of Newman’s retreat to Littlemore, an outlying part of St Mary’s parish, where he had built a small church in 1836 and started a school for the poorer children of the village. It is here that we see Newman’s pastoral side coming to the fore. He personally taught the children their catechism, and how to sing the psalms, leading them with his fiddle; but he also had a care for their physical needs, kitting the girls out with new pinafores. He kept a rigorous Lent each year, with severe fasting, though he walked into Oxford most days to perform his duties there. He converted some stable buildings into a simple residence, where he was soon joined by various young men who were beginning to feel that there was no place for them in a Church of England which maintained its Protestantism so vociferously. During the years at Littlemore Newman, who had stopped the Tracts at his Bishop’s request, had to endure condemnation from almost all the Bishops, in their triennial Charges, thus demonstrating to him that they repudiated the role of guardians of the Catholic and




THE EARLY YEARS

15

Apostolic faith, except as it had been Reformed in the sixteenth century. Newman gave up St Mary’s in 1843, and lived at Littlemore as a layman, the services being said there by his curate and friend, William John Copeland. Newman read the daily offices of the Roman Breviary, from the volumes that had belonged to his friend, and fellow anglo-catholic Hurrell Froude, who died in 1836. The process of moving from the Church of England to the Catholic Church in communion with the Holy See of Rome, was painful for Newman, as conscience seemed to be prizing him out of his life’s work and away from his oldest friends towards a Catholic Church which in England had long been suppressed under penal laws, lifted only in 1829, and consequently was little known, few in numbers and with few educational opportunities. He was also uncertain that the Roman Church had not been seriously corrupted in its long history. The Development of Christian Doctrine In writing An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, Newman concluded that although there had been some corruptions in practice, and devotional exaggerations, the changes in doctrine had been the result of collective meditation on the original revelation of God in Christ, and that the Church in all ages had been guided into all truth by the Spirit, as Christ had promised. Newman was looking for the signs or characteristics




16 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

which legitimate development in Church teaching should display, and which theologians had for the past eighteen centuries implicitly accepted as criteria. These signs show that an idea is founded on something real (an emphasis on the “real” is characteristic of Newman’s thought throughout his life), which is both revealed by God and understood more deeply by men as the centuries unfold. “The development then of an idea is not like an investigation worked out on paper, in which each successive advance is a pure evolution from a foregoing, but is carried on through and by means of communities of men and their leaders and guides; and it employs their minds as its instruments, and depends upon them, while it uses them.” This applies in the first place to the revealed truth of Scripture. Developments in doctrine after the completion of the Bible, that is to say throughout Church history, should display “certain characteristics...as a test to discriminate between them and corruptions.” Newman uses “corruption” in a sense analogous to human biology, where a malfunction of the body leads to its eventual death. The characteristics of authentic doctrinal development (Newman lists seven) are analogous to those of a well-functioning body. The Church is such a body: the body of Christ on earth. So he wrote himself into conviction at last and was received into Catholic communion on October 9th 1845. It is perhaps significant that the man who




THE EARLY YEARS

17

performed this favour for one of the leading lights of Oxford University (and who later described Newman as one of the most humble and lovable men he had ever met), was a priest whose principal mission was to the poor in the industrial midlands. For it was to be in this context that Blessed Dominic Barberi’s most famous convert would serve the Roman Catholic Church for the last forty five years of his life.




18

THE LATER YEARS Ordination and the Oratory One of the worst trials of Newman’s last year at Littlemore had been the mass of letters he had received as the result of a report in the papers that he had already gone over to Rome, many berating and abusive but others, more painful, from anguished Tractarians who felt he was deserting them. But his actual conversion was followed by an exodus from the Church of England of professional men, clergy, lawyers, doctors, schoolmasters and their families, which naturally enraged the public, the newspapers, Parliament and Protestants of all parties. Newman himself was given a temporary home, with his younger disciples, at Old Oscott College, outside Birmingham, which he rechristened Maryvale (he also took the name of Mary as his confirmation name). But he was soon sent to Rome, with Ambrose St John, to study for the priesthood. There, at the College of Propaganda Fide, he was ordained a Catholic priest and said his first mass, on the feast of Corpus Christi 1847. After much thought and prayer and discussion with his band of young ex-Oxford men, Newman decided to join the Congregation of the Oratory, a religious institute which had grown up round the charismatic Philip Neri, a




THE LATER YEARS

19

Florentine who spent nearly all his long life in turbulent sixteenth century Rome. St Philip was a great original, an ecstatic contemplative who lived in the world, a shrewd practical psychologist with a sense of humour, a lover of scripture and of music, who scandalised conservative clerics by giving frequent communion to lay people, even to “little married women.” When his devoted disciples determined to form a community he insisted that they should not take monastic vows, but each keep their own property so as to be free to leave if he wished. The priests were to live together, following a Rule of life, forming in towns a centre for lay people to gather and deepen their understanding of the faith, in discussion, and prayer. This seemed to Newman the community best suited to his university converts and also for the expanding industrial towns of England, which he regarded as the future seats of political power. For this reason he was content to be sent to Birmingham, where Nicholas Wiseman, the patron of the converts, was Bishop of the Midland District, with his seat at Pugin’s redbrick Gothic College of (new) Oscott. Newman had been authorised to adapt the 16th century Rule for 19th century England, and in February 1848 he formally set up the Oratory at Maryvale. The Oratorians wear a long, waisted cassock, and an open, not a roman collar, which originally was simply the collar of the shirt. The first year was full of the human problems of forming




20 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

into a community the very various individuals who wanted to stay with Newman, but at the beginning of 1849 he moved into Birmingham, where he had bought the lease of an old gin distillery in the backstreets of Deritend, converting the big room once filled with vats into a chapel. Here, almost at once, rather to Newman’s surprise, poor factory children came crowding in every evening, “like herrings in season”, as he said. They worked so late in the presswork factories that he could not start a school for them, but he formed a choir (for girls as well), and the young Fathers instructed them in the faith. For the next few years Newman was living here, working extremely hard and so short of money that he could not afford a new pair of shoes. At one time he played the organ in the chapel. Father Faber Another element in the picture was Father Frederick Faber, an enthusiastic Oxford convert thirteen years younger than Newman, who arrived with a train of followers, young university men and village youths from his old parish. He had already formed them into a community which he called the Brothers of the Will of God (Fr Dominic Barberi called them Brothers of the Will of Faber). They outnumbered Newman’s group and came saddled with the responsibility for a mission in the country, at old Cotton College, where a church had been




THE LATER YEARS

21

built by Pugin for Lord Shrewsbury - who was not at all willing to be thus deserted. In consequence several Fathers had to be posted there to run the mission, until Newman could achieve a settlement with the Earl and the diocese. Faber, who had taken the name of Wilfrid, pushed Newman into making a foundation in London almost before the back-street one in Birmingham, and got himself put in charge as Rector. This forced Newman to divide his group before they had really grown together, and send some of his best men to London. From 1850, when Wiseman became the first Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster in the restored hierarchy, the London Oratory inevitably became the one in the public eye. Wiseman invited Newman to give lectures there on the Movement, a task which he disliked but carried out in the hope of winning hesitating Tractarians to the Roman obedience. And many did “come over” as a result. Reaction and Counter-Reaction The restoration of the Catholic hierarchy (with territorial dioceses instead of mission districts) caused the biggest anti-papal uproar since the Gordon Riots of 1780, with hostile leaders in The Times, cartoons in Punch (cadaverous Newman appearing almost as often as rotund Wiseman), angry public meetings of respectable people up and down the country, mob attacks on convents, pelting of suspected priests with mud and stones (a fate




22 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

which dogged Blessed Dominic Barberi, who is said to have turned the other cheek by picking up one of the stones and kissing it). Bonfires were lit, with effigies of the Pope and Wiseman burning on top. Disturbances continued into 1851 and in the summer Newman gave a series of lectures at the Birmingham Corn Exchange on The Present Position of Catholics in England, intended to calm ‘No-Popery’ passions, using his favourite weapon: satire. He showed up the absurdity of the anti-Catholic legends by inventing parodies - for instance, ignorant foreigners misinterpreting legal phrases such as “the King can do no wrong” as meaning that the British believed their monarch impeccable and sinless. The lectures were printed separately and sold at the door, the book was published soon after; the audience laughed and went away enlightened. The Achilli Affair In the course of the lectures Newman made a serious attack on an ex-priest, the Italian Giacomo Achilli, who was touring the country, backed by the Protestant Alliance, posing as a victim of the Inquisition for conscience sake, inflaming passions with his tales of torture and clerical vice. Wiseman had exposed Achilli’s real background in the Dublin Review, saying that he had been brought to court in Rome for repeated seduction of virgins, expelled from the Dominican order and




THE LATER YEARS

23

sentenced to detention in a monastery - from which he had escaped. Few people other than Catholics read the Dublin Review, but everybody read Newman, and the Protestant Alliance persuaded Achilli to bring a libel case against the Apostate Newman, as the papers called him. Newman had relied on Wiseman’s papers to back him, but as the Cardinal had mislaid them, he was forced to get direct evidence from abroad, including several of the women from Italy, who were chaperoned by Maria Giberne, a family friend who had followed Newman into the Church (she left a memoir of her adventures at the Oratory). Yet when, after many delays from the other side, the trial at last began, Achilli brazenly denied all the charges. The jury held that Newman had proved none of them, except that Achilli had been deprived of his lectureship! There was another delay while Newman’s lawyers asked for a new trial, but it was refused, and on January 31st 1853 Newman was sentenced to a £100 fine and jail till it was paid. He had been prepared for prison, with his portmanteau packed, but his friends paid up on the spot. Newman received from Judge Coleridge (a friend of Keble’s) a severe lecture on his moral deterioration since his perversion to Rome, and Achilli shortly afterwards decamped to Canada, leaving a trail of seduced chambermaids behind him. Although the Achilli trial reduced Newman’s reputation among Protestants (so shocking to refer to




24 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

seductions in a public lecture), it raised it among Catholics, who regarded him as their champion, subscribed to a fund for his expenses and cheered him loudly as he left the court. But it had been a gruelling experience, especially trying to Newman in the suspense and uncertainty, which was still hanging over him when he was asked to preach the sermon at the first Synod of the restored hierarchy in 1852. He called it The Second Spring - the Catholic Church rising again in England after a winter three hundred years long. Dublin and the Idea of a University The same year, still not knowing his fate, he went over to Ireland to deliver his lectures on The Idea of a University, at the Rotunda in Dublin, where he had been invited by Archbishop Cullen to found a Catholic university. There were delays here too, and Newman was not inaugurated as Rector till 1854, though he had taken a house and put things in motion before that. Newman’s struggles to found the Catholic university on the right lines were prolonged and exhausting, hampered as he was by Cullen’s suspicions of his aims at a liberal education for laymen and by the other Irish Bishops’ suspicions of Cullen, regarded as too much of a papalist, with influence in Rome. He certainly had that, and it was he who prevented Newman’s being made a (titular) Bishop, which Wiseman thought he had secured for him, spreading the news




THE LATER YEARS

25

around, which became very embarrassing when nothing happened. Newman would have accepted it solely because it would have given him a seat on the university commission; but later he was glad of the omission, since it left him freer to pursue his own work. Newman was looking for work, not honours, in the Church. Newman made many lay friends in Ireland, even among the Young Irelanders, but this only increased the clerical mistrust. Yet he succeeded in setting up faculties, appointing well-qualified lecturers and starting examinations. He also presided over a group of students from various countries who lived in his own house. (He shocked Cullen by allowing them a billiard table). He was also able to build a university church out of the remainder of the fund for his defence in the Achilli Trial, employing the convert John Hungerford Pollen as architect, who used Celtic marbles to excellent effect. Pollen, newly married at the time, long remembered the charm of Newman’s company, walking in Phoenix Park and visiting the Zoo. “He shed cheerfulness as a sunbeam sheds light, even when many difficulties were pressing.” London and the Idea of an Oratory Difficulties were pressing, not only in Dublin, but in England. All the time Newman was travelling to and fro across the Irish Sea (56 times in the service of the university, he recorded) he was trying to deal with a series




26 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

of crises in the two Oratories, which issued in a serious conflict between them in 1855. This tension is the origin of the misunderstanding whereby Newman has been called “sensitive” - modernised as “difficult” - supposedly taking offence easily and brooding resentfully on imaginary slights. This is almost the opposite of the truth: few men have more patiently endured undeserved slander and contempt, first as an Anglican and later as a Catholic. For while Newman forbade any talk to outsiders by the Birmingham Oratory, Faber and the London Oratorians told their side of the story freely to Wiseman and all their influential friends, showing Newman’s letters about and some of their replies. What they did not show were their own letters to each other, in which their real motives and their attitude to Newman are clear enough. Faber enthusiastically adopted the current ultra-papalism of Rome, which was largely a reaction against the increasingly secularist nationalisms of European countries. The ecclesiastical powers of the Pope were magnified as his temporal sovereignty was eroded by the forces of the Risorgimento, fighting for the national unification of Italy. Newman did not think the Temporal Power (a medieval creation to ensure that the Pope was not a subject of any Emperor or prince) was essential to the papal office in modern times. This attitude was not congenial to the London Fathers. They also persisted in thinking intellectual work “un-Philippine”, in spite of the fact that St Philip had




THE LATER YEARS

27

encouraged one of his first disciples (later the famous Cardinal Baronius) to write Church History - keeping him humble by also making him the cook. Although Newman had given the London house its independence very soon after its foundation, reserving only the right to be consulted in matters of importance, the London Fathers and he somehow ended up disagreeing over the interpretation of the Rule to the different houses (an all-important issue because it was the one thing that bound the Oratorians together in their common life). Newman, who was deeply committed to St Philip’s Oratory and responsible for its development in England, was extremely concerned. He decided that he must go to Rome himself to sort out the situation, for the sake of the future. At that time he expected to found other houses - Liverpool and Leeds were both possibilities, and another house in London, in the East End. Blessings in Rome, Chills in England In Rome, during a private audience with the Pope, Pius IX, Newman told him of his community’s work at the prison, the workhouse, orphanage and poor schools. The Holy Father was very pleased, saying that this was an age for active works. And when Newman asked his blessing for the women who assisted in these works of mercy, he said enthusiastically that women did more than men in this age. Newman had wished for “not nuns but nunnish




28 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

ladies” to help with the poor women and girls in Deritend, and he soon got them, mostly converts, widows and spinsters of mature age, who became invaluable assistants. Besides his blessing the Pope gave them a Paschal Candle and his own picture of St Philip, and granted indulgences for writing books, for painting and music. Newman had also asked a papal blessing for the London Oratory. On his return in February 1856, he transmitted it to London and almost at once went back to Ireland, whither he had been summoned by Cullen. But the quarrel between the original two Oratories, as publicised in London, proved so damaging to Newman’s reputation as a religious superior that he was never able to found another Oratory anywhere in Britain. Newman’s friends, both inside his own Oratory and outside it, wanted him to defend himself, but he refused. He could not do it without attacking Faber, and this he would not do. Faber was doing good work in London, making converts among high society, preaching fervent sermons and writing hymns and devotional books. To attack him would be to introduce division among the beleaguered Catholics. Newman once said it was better that he should be thought a tyrant, than Father Faber double-dealing. But of course this left the London version holding the field. People thought it a mere matter of Faber’s accidentally infringing Newman’s authority in a trivial case, for which he and his had made grovelling apologies,




THE LATER YEARS

29

in vain. This suggested that Newman was not so much a tyrant as touchy about his own dignity, retiring into brooding resentment when the game went against him. Wiseman, for instance, was turned against him, and let drop the new translation of the Bible which he had earlier asked Newman to supervise. Newman had consulted seminary professors (who were enthusiastic and urged him to abandon the chapter and verse arrangement in favour of paragraphing) and appointed his team, among them Fr Ambrose St John, who had studied Hebrew under Pusey, and Fr Edward Caswall, the Latinist translator of many ancient hymns still sung today. But now, when he wrote asking if he could hold the copyright for a year or so, to finance the work, he got no reply. It was Wiseman’s method of dropping the whole project. Catholics in England had to wait a hundred years for a new translation. The Rambler and the Role of the Laity Unfortunately this loss of reputation in London was compounded soon afterwards by suspicions of his orthodoxy in Rome. This came about through his connexion with the Rambler, a bimonthly magazine which had been started by a married convert clergyman, John Moore Capes, whom Newman had advised, out of his long experience with Anglican periodicals - and he had carried on as a Catholic, starting a university Gazette in Dublin and later Atlantis, a magazine aimed at English-speaking




30 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

Catholics further afield. In 1858 the Rambler was acquired by the young Sir John Acton, scion of an old Catholic family, who had studied in Germany (his mother’s country) under the Church historian Dollinger, and followed his stepfather Lord Granville’s Liberal politics. Acton was in partnership with Richard Simpson, another married convert clergyman, who did most of the editorial work. Newman saw the need for a high quality literary magazine with a Catholic, but not a narrow, outlook and continued to advise. Unfortunately the lively-minded Simpson could not resist quoting historical scandals and making his points in a witty polemical way - “discharging peashooters at Cardinals who happened to pass by the window” as Newman (who liked him) once remarked to Acton. The newly restored hierarchy became so annoyed at what they regarded as disloyalty that they threatened censure, which would have deprived the magazine of most of its readers. Newman was asked to mediate but the bishops stipulated that the proprietors must resign the editorship. Acton and Simpson said they would only do so if they could hand the paper over to him. Eventually he accepted, intending to blue-pencil any remarks “offensive to pious ears” in the number in preparation and to introduce a correspondence section so that views could be aired without editorial responsibility. But, as it happened, it was Newman himself who caused the worst offence to episcopal ears, through a comment on




THE LATER YEARS

31

the educational situation. Pronouncements had been made without any consultation with the laity, the persons most concerned. Newman observed that if the faithful had been consulted in the recent definition of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, they should surely be so in matters of education. When exception was taken to this he wrote for the next number an article entitled On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine. He used the word “consult” in the sense of “consulting a barometer” finding out the belief of the laity, not of giving them voting power, so to speak, in the decisions of the magisterium. But he pointed out that in the early centuries it was often the laity who kept the traditional faith alive, while some bishops took lines which proved heretical. This article, pointing out the role of the faithful laity in the Church, was related to Rome by Bishop Brown of Newport, as part of an attack on the recent converts, whose habits of free speech in intellectual matters made them suspect to the old Catholic clergy. Newman did not hear of this until early in the new year of 1860, when his own bishop, Ullathorne, told him of it. He immediately wrote to Wiseman, asking to be sent the passages complained of, and he would endeavour to explain them, since he had certainly not said that the Church could fail in matters of doctrine. Wiseman was in Rome, but he did nothing about it. Later Ullathorne, when in Rome himself, was given to understand that something was




32 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

being done, and so Newman assumed that it had been decided not to pursue it. But in fact Cardinal Barnabò at Propaganda was left thinking Newman had failed to answer charges which he presumed had been made to him. Thus the suspicion of unorthodoxy continued to hang over Newman in Rome for another seven years. Meanwhile Ullathorne had hinted that the English bishops would prefer it if Newman resigned as editor of the Rambler. When Newman said he could only do that if he returned it to its owners, Ullathorne jumped at the offer, showing that the Bishops regarded Newman as more dangerous than Acton and Simpson, because more famous. Acton later turned the magazine into a quarterly, the Home and Foreign Review, keeping Newman’s innovations and remaining in close touch. As Newman had not advertised his brief editorship or its ending, he was still associated with it in the minds of many, which did him no good with the authorities. The Rambler episode came in 1859 when Newman was in the midst of starting a school, persuaded by his lay convert friends who did not want to send their sons to seminaries. By this time, Newman had resigned from the Catholic university, partly because he could not get the backing he needed - a Vice Rector chosen by himself and a finance committee of laymen. In spite of all the difficulties with Cardinal Cullen (who was reporting adversely on his activities, though not on his orthodoxy,




THE LATER YEARS

33

to Rome) Newman had set things going and founded a Medical School which was to flourish and endure. He also started Evening Classes for the “mechanics”, working men, years before Oxford attempted any such thing. (There were lectures for them at the Oratory too.) Daily Duties In 1857, Newman retired from Ireland: he felt his presence was needed in England. He foresaw the great trial of faith that was coming from the advance of scientific scepticism, which he felt he might do much to counter, not by using modern methods of thought but by using reason to demonstrate the credibility of Christianity to minds formed by them. This was for Newman his personal vocation, carried through from his Anglican to his Catholic days, from his sermons on Reason and Faith, and the Essay on Development, to the Grammar of Assent. But the most urgent need for him was in Birmingham, if his conception of the Oratory was to bear fruit. Newman was devoted to St Philip and to the Oratory; he sent papers on its history back from Ireland and delivered some chapter addresses on the nature of their vocation to his small community, all rather depressed at being scorned as lacking in spirituality by their London brothers, who were apparently so successful. Newman was always practical; he distrusted much talk of spirituality and noticed that spiritual enthusiasts often shunned hard pastoral work




34 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

among the poor. He advised seekers after perfection to do the duties of the day, however humdrum, as perfectly as possible. He followed his own advice, taking up all his old duties as a priest on his return from Ireland. Many people, then and afterwards, did not realise what a devoted pastoral ministry Newman was carrying out in the muchdespised industrial city of Birmingham. But his parishioners, to the third and fourth generation, knew how to value it, and loved him. The Oratory School The Oratory School, opened in 1859 in buildings adjacent to the church and house, was a success, but for Newman, who was officially in charge of it, success itself proved at first a source of great anxiety. This was because the headmaster, Fr Nicholas Darnell, a brilliant and energetic man, was ambitious to rival the great public schools of the day - beatings and all - and secretly planned with rich lay friends to move it out of its unfashionable Birmingham surroundings altogether. However this would have been against the Rule, as it would have meant taking Fathers to work outside their community. Darnell presently came into conflict with the matron, Mrs Wootten, the widow of Newman’s Oxford doctor, who got to hear of these plans and knew they would not meet with Newman’s approval. Darnell called her a spy and in 1861 just about Christmas time, this




THE LATER YEARS

35

developed into an open row, Darnell threatening that either she must go, or he would. Newman was now sixty and going through a period of nervous debility so severe that it was rumoured in London that he was losing his mind. He was not, but he was suffering from a feeling of failure and rejection, and also anxiety about the way the school was developing, over which he seemed to have no control. But faced with Darnell’s ultimatum, he refused to sack Mrs Wootten, whose care of the younger and more delicate boys he considered very important, while he disapproved Darnell’s reliance on flogging. Whereupon Darnell and the entire lay staff resigned, just before the beginning of term in January 1862. They probably expected Newman to yield but by this time the affair had revealed the extent of the division of interest between school and Oratory, and he rose to the challenge and accepted the staff resignations, though he tried (in vain) to keep Darnell from leaving the Oratory. He appointed Fr Ambrose St John as headmaster and managed to secure several well-qualified laymen, including Tom Arnold, the convert son of Dr Arnold of Rugby (whom he had already employed in Dublin), to fill the vacancies. He even took some classes himself and soon began producing the Latin plays he had acted in himself, long ago at Ealing School - and he did it with great verve, the boys remembered. Darnell, who




36 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

was in a highly overwrought state, did leave the Oratory, though in later years he wrote to Newman a heartfelt apology for what he had done. But as he and his friends had talked freely in London, more gossip went round of Newman’s enforcing his authority, preferring an old woman to the schoolmasters, which seemed to confirm the reports that his health, mental as well as physical, was giving way. It was even said that the boys were not given proper religious instruction. This was nonsense, since Newman often gave it himself. And as this was the time when the Pope lost sovereignty over the Papal States, barely keeping Rome, it was rumoured that Newman was so disloyal as to contribute to Garibaldi’s funds! Newman’s Oratory was now reduced to six middle-aged Fathers, several of whom had recently suffered quite serious illness, and he had lost his last novice, who went back to work in his native America. New novices now tended to go to the London Oratory, which was riding the tide of ultra-papalism, with Faber publishing extravagant sermons on “Devotion to the Pope”. Henry Edward Manning, once an Anglican Archdeacon, who had parted from his close friend Gladstone in 1851 to become a Catholic, and had moved rapidly up the ecclesiastical tree to become Provost of the Westminster Chapter, working closely with Wiseman, (now ill with diabetes), believed so strongly in papal infallibility that he was already




THE LATER YEARS

37

promoting the cause for its being declared de fide. Young laymen were volunteering to fight for the Pope. In this hectic atmosphere Newman’s balanced historical attitude to the papal office was construed as crypto-Protestantism. Because of the Rambler episode he was identified with the liberal opposition, since this faction used history as its chief weapon. Yet Acton often blamed him for not supporting them more openly, not realising that Newman, as well as taking a more moderate view, as a priest was under ecclesiastical authority in a way that Acton, layman and aristocrat, was not. The Dark Night Worn down by more than ten years’ hard work for the Church, most of which seemed not to have come to fruition, through no fault of his own, and to have earned him only suspicion and denigration, Newman was now suffering from a feeling of rejection rather similar to the one he had endured after Tract 90. This trial was even more painful than the Anglican one, since he had not now lost faith in the Church whose authorities seemed to be repudiating him. Trying to understand what had happened to him since 1845, Newman wrote down some of his thoughts in an exercise book with a marbled cover, first in December 1859 and January 1860, and then again in January 1863: “What am I living for? What am I doing for any religious end?” This was the reason for his




38 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

despondency, that he was being prevented from doing what he felt he ought to be doing to “meet the infidel questions of the day.” Typically, he approached the painful present by thinking over his past life. “O how forlorn and dreary has been my Course since I have been a Catholic! Here has been the contrast - as a Protestant I felt my religion dreary, but not my life - but, as a Catholic, my life dreary, not my religion.” Since this journal was published, in modern times, some people have thought Newman was miserable as a Catholic, and even regretted his conversion. He faced this too, but knew the only things he regretted were the old friendships, and the influence he had exercised in furthering Catholic ideas. In the Catholic Church, his inner life, centred on the sacred presence of Christ, had grown ever deeper and stronger. This makes it all the sadder that he was in some ways disabled by his Catholic superiors, prevented from doing what he felt he could still do to bring people of the modern age to the revelation of Christ. Yet once he had understood his “course” as a Catholic - that he had “failed” because he had been expected to bring in converts from high society, like Faber and Manning, and because his efforts at educational projects had simply annoyed Bishops who had not realised Catholic deficiencies in this field Newman rededicated himself to God and decided that henceforth, whilst he would obey his religious




THE LATER YEARS

39

superiors, he would not expect understanding or commendation from them. With St Philip he would “despise the world” and “despise being despised.” So, in his depleted and derided Oratory in Birmingham, he carried on with his immediate duties as a priest, often holding the fort while the other Fathers took holidays, acting as sacristan, dusting the books in the library and making notes on “Certitude” which were to become the Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent. His mind was certainly as acute as ever. He was also persuaded to take some holidays himself, paid for by the other Fathers when they discovered he could not afford it. Edward Caswall, a childless widower, was well off; it was mainly his money that had been used to build the house in Edgbaston, in 1852. From Deal and other places Newman wrote home some amusing letters, describing the seaside lodgings, the meals, and the disappointment of getting the latest novel from the local library and, finding it “more and more [unpleasant] like medicine”, he decided to give it up. Newman read a good many novels (besides writing two himself, Loss and Gain and Callista), and he especially enjoyed Trollope’s writing. Kingsley and the Apologia As Newman emerged from the worst of his depression, whilst still feeling frustrated in his personal vocation, he suddenly found himself being attacked in a review by




40 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

another popular novelist, Charles Kingsley, who charicatured him as the typical representative of a corrupt and lying Roman Catholic clergy. “Truth for its own sake has never been a virtue with the Roman clergy. Father Newman informs us that it need not, and on the whole ought not to be; that cunning is the weapon which Heaven has given to the saints wherewith to withstand the brute male force of the wicked world which marries and is given in marriage. Whether his notion is doctrinally correct or no, at least it is historically so.” Newman did not recognise the “C.K.” signature for that of Charles Kingsley, then at the height of his literary reputation, a chaplain to the Queen and tutor to the Prince of Wales. He thought it must be “a young scribe who is making a cheap reputation by smart hits at safe objects,” as he said to the publisher, Alexander Macmillan, when writing to demand an apology. But the paragraph which Kingsley grudgingly composed was almost more insulting than the original one, accepting that Newman had not meant what he had said in an Oxford sermon on Wisdom and Innocence. Newman countered with an amusing dialogue printed as a short pamphlet, which caught the attention of journalists and was reprinted in numerous periodicals. “Mean it! I maintain I never said it, whether as a Protestant or a Catholic,” he insisted. Enraged by this squib’s success, Kingsley launched into a long and furious diatribe - What then does Dr Newman




THE LATER YEARS

41

mean? in which all his prejudices against priests, celibacy, confessionals, moral equivocations and ecclesiastical power politics came pouring out. Newman received this pamphlet on Palm Sunday, at the Birmingham Oratory, just after he had sung the principal mass. At first he almost despaired of meeting effectively “such a heap of misrepresentation and such a vehemence of animosity.” But then he decided that what gave Kingsley’s accusations their force was his belief that he was attacking a liar - not specific dissimulations so much as a man who was fundamentally untrustworthy and had found his right place in a religious system which inevitably issued in moral corruption. The best way of answering him, Newman thought, was “to give the true key to my whole life; I must show what I am that it may be seen what I am not, and that the phantom may be extinguished which gibbers instead of me ... I will draw out the history of my mind...” It was the theory of development applied to one person’s ideas, as he had already applied it to the collective mind of the Church. In the process, he would be able to defend the Church and his fellow priests as well as himself. The Apologia Pro Vita Sua - the defence of his life had to be written at speed, the parts published (by Longman) as he wrote them, weekly, through April and May and into June 1863. He worked all day, once for twenty-two hours with the printer’s man waiting at the




42 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

door, and yet he was determined to quote contemporary letters and check facts with some old Anglican friends who had recently made contact with him after a silence of nearly twenty years. Besides this, he wrote so fairly and charitably of Anglican enemies who had snubbed and thwarted him in days gone by, that several wrote to thank him. His tributes to all those he had learned from caused some reviewers, ironically, to wonder why he had been credited with any ideas of his own. In the Apologia Newman not only vindicated his own reputation for honesty and the pursuit of truth at all costs, but in the last part he set forth the case for a divine revelation in the face of the great mysteries of human existence - the universal fact of conscience, commanding justice and right, opposed to the overwhelming corruption and evil manifest in the world. This approach appealed to a new generation, including such diverse spirits as Gerard Manley Hopkins (who was received by Newman) and Thomas Hardy. Newman was thus able to take up again the defence of the truth of Christianity in the modern age of uncertainties and change, and this reached a very wide audience of Protestants and doubters, as the correspondence at the Oratory shows. With his Apologia, just because it was a personal history, not controversial, Newman advanced the process of understanding between English Protestants and Catholics immeasurably. What touched him perhaps most deeply of all, was the fact that




THE LATER YEARS

43

he received letters of congratulation and thanks from the Catholic priests of many dioceses, for defending their sincerity along with his own. The Dream of Gerontius Shortly after the Apologia, another, very different, work also won new respect for its author. This was the long poem (later set to music by Elgar) The Dream of Gerontius, which was published in 1865. Originally written for The Month, a periodical then edited by Newman’s friend Fanny Margaret Taylor, foundress of the Poor Servants of the Mother of God, The Dream encapsulates Newman’s vision of the journey made by the soul after death. It explains the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory by demonstrating even a righteous soul’s response to the proximity of God, who is goodness and righteousness and majesty itself. Faced with the contrast between this perfection and its own lack, the soul requests its guardian angel to take it to Purgatory so that it may purify and prepare itself adequately for the Beatific Vision. Gladstone, a devout Anglican, wrote to Newman: ‘I own that it seems to me the most remarkable production in its own very high walk since the unapproachable Paradiso of Dante, and his less (but not very much less) wonderful Purgatorio.’ Even the one-time adversary, Charles Kingsley, writing to a friend in 1868, admitted: ‘I read The Dream with awe and admiration.’




44 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

Further Controversies and the Struggle for Certitude Newman was never to lose the position of respect and influence which he had thus so unexpectedly gained at the beginning of an old age which was fortunately prolonged for another twenty-five years. But this very revival of his personal influence alarmed men like Manning, who became Archbishop of Westminster in 1865, when Wiseman died. Manning already regarded Newman as not sufficiently Roman a Catholic, and now he thought him positively dangerous, encouraging the laity in their worldly and national ambitions, and promoting “the school of literary vanities.” In particular he was determined that Newman should never go to Oxford again, since his presence would lure young Catholics to the university where they would assuredly lose their faith. He therefore secured and maintained a veto from Rome on Catholics going there, just when university reform measures had at last allowed them entrance. Bishop Ullathorne twice tried to get Newman to Oxford, to take on the mission there, and later to build a church and start an Oratory, influential laymen urging him on, but each time Manning, through his allies in Rome, managed to prevent it. When a Cardinal was sent to inquire into the educational situation, he was kept away from Newman, and the Oratory School was never put on the list with other schools to be visited. As to returning to Oxford himself, Newman was in two minds,




THE LATER YEARS

45

but he did think an Oratory would be the best way of assisting young Catholics to grow in their faith while receiving an education they could not then receive anywhere else. Newman was always thinking of how to meet the world on its own ground and convert it. Another way in which Newman tried to reach the increasingly sceptical turn of mind in his time was with the publication, in 1870, of An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent. A typically unassuming title for a book which Newman had been referring to, in his notes, as simply Certitude, the Grammar sets out to demonstrate the philosophical underpinnings for religious belief. Employing a style of reasoning which goes beyond classical scholastic philosophy, the essay shows how it can be right to believe what one cannot understand or prove, by distinguishing the ‘notional’ apprehension of an abstraction, from the ‘real’ apprehension of a thing. The believer gives real assent to the existence of God and the authority of the Church, because the various evidences for these converge not on an abstraction, but on a concrete reality: a Person whose voice is heard in the world and in the conscience. Infallibility During the 1860s, the campaign for declaring Papal infallibility in matters of faith and morals, was fanatically pressed in English ultra-montane circles. Manning was backed up by another Oxford convert,




46 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

W.G. Ward, who, although a layman, taught theology at the Westminster Seminary of St Edmund’s, Ware. He was also editor of the Dublin Review, where his intemperate dismissal of all other views but his own exaggerated infallibilism irritated Newman among many others. Newman’s friends kept writing to beg him to “speak out”, especially when a Council was called, which was to open in 1869, the first since the Council of Trent three hundred years earlier. Papal infallibility, not at first on the agenda, became a major issue for the First Vatican Council. Newman could not see his way to making an intervention himself, since he was not in a position of authority, but he backed one of his younger Fathers, Ignatius Ryder, who carried on a pamphlet controversy with Ward. However, quite accidentally, Newman’s views did come out, when a forceful letter of his to Ullathorne, deploring the speed of the drive towards a definition, was leaked to the press while the Council was actually in session. Although it created a public uproar, Newman was quite glad his views had come out without his intention, and they did encourage the minority who argued against a definition. By their arguments they secured the moderations which made the final decree acceptable to the Church as a whole, and in fact, as Newman pointed out to distressed friends, actually limited the Pope’s power in practice.




THE LATER YEARS

47

There certainly were many Catholics who wrote to Newman, bewildered by what seemed an impossible new dogma, and he was able, by his knowledge of the history of the early Councils, to calm their fears. Popes had always acted as if their word was final in doctrinal controversies and they certainly shared in the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church to guide it into all truth. All that the definition had done was to make clear the limits within which this power could be exercised; infallibility could no longer be claimed for every utterance of every Pope as Ward had sometimes seemed to insist. Something like this minimalist interpretation was put forward by the Roman theologian Fessler, who had been Secretary to the Council, and approved by the Pope himself, only a year after the Council was suspended by the Franco-Prussian war in 1870. But this did not appear before a good deal of havoc had been caused by triumphalist ultras in countries where Catholics were in the minority. In England, Gladstone wrote a best-selling pamphlet, furiously declaring that the definition had completely altered the ancient Catholic religion into something he called Vaticanism, which by turning the Pope into an infallible oracle had divided the allegiance of English Catholics from the Crown. All the old ‘No-Popery’ bigotry seemed to be reviving and an avalanche of letters descended on Newman, calling on him to answer. Newman himself felt that he could now write on the subject of




48 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

infallibility, because he would be defending Catholics against the charge of disloyalty by putting forward the moderate interpretation of the “new” dogma in the context of the historical development of doctrine in the Church. Newman’s answer to Gladstone was published as a Letter to the Duke of Norfolk, because the young Duke (who had been at the Oratory School) was the premier Duke of England and also the premier-Catholic layman. Under this dull title we find a masterly short essay on conscience (its real nature) and on authority, written in Newman’s clearest style and treating the hot subject of Papal Infallibility in such a reasonable way - by showing what it did not mean - as to pacify the suspicious public at once, and even Gladstone, to a certain extent. Newman was nearly seventy-four when the Letter came out in January 1875. Just before it he had lost several old friends, including the convert lawyer James Hope (who had taken the additional name of Scott on marrying Sir Walter Scott’s granddaughter) and whom Newman had consulted on every venture. Many of his lay friends were lawyers; at Oxford he had thought of becoming one himself before deciding that he was irrevocably called to the ministry of the Church. Then in May 1875 Ambrose St John suddenly became gravely ill, after heat-stroke. He died, just when he had seemed to be recovering, after some days of delirium. It was a terrible loss to Newman, who had relied so much on St John’s




THE LATER YEARS

49

loyal friendship and assistance in all the work of the Oratory. He had always expected Ambrose to be his successor and executor. It was a strange fate that all his oldest friends had died before he was made a Cardinal. Only his “opponents” lived to see him honoured by the Church in whose cause he had laboured so long, and as it seemed to him at times, in vain. In the meantime, in 1878, he was honoured by his old Oxford college, Trinity, who made him their first Honorary Fellow. He visited Oxford to receive the honour, the first time he had set foot in the city since his departure in 1846. The Glorious Last Years It was not till 1879, when Pius IX was succeeded by Leo XIII, that the cloud of suspicion was lifted forever. For Newman was made a Cardinal, partly at the request of English laymen, headed by the Duke of Norfolk. He was seventy-eight and beginning to grow frail, but he rose to the occasion, made a rousing speech in Rome for Christian truth against the liberal idea that religion was merely a matter of opinion, and came back to England to a series of grand receptions in London and Oxford: “triumphal processions”, as his old Anglican friend Frederic Rogers (Lord Blachford) called them. Typically, Newman was mainly concerned as to how he could use this unexpected position of authority to help with causes he believed in, and he did make several contributions in




50 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

John Henry Cardinal Newman by W. W. Ouless (1848-1933) Oratory House, Birmingham.




THE LATER YEARS

51

writing, to the question of the Inspiration of Scripture and on his old subject of Reason and Faith, which he called The Development of Religious Error. Both these were in answer to attacks on Catholic teaching, and appeared in the famous journals which had published the attacks: the Nineteenth Century and the Contemporary Review. The Cardinal had taken as his motto the saying of St Francis de Sales, another indefatigable interlocutor with the opponents of the Catholic faith: cor ad cor loquitur heart speaks to heart. Newman’s final ten years were spent quietly, a serene old age in his beloved Oratory, with new novices coming in at last and constant visitors calling. After a bad fall and illness in 1886 his physical strength and his sight began to fail and Fr Neville had to write his letters for him. He said his last mass at Christmas 1889. His first mass had been at Corpus Christi - “they are cognate feasts” as he had said once: feasts of the Incarnation. In the Summer he gained strength again and was present at the school prize giving, talking cheerfully to all visitors. But on August 11th, after barely two days confined to his bed, he died peacefully. He was buried, as he had wished, at Rednal, in the same grave as Ambrose St John. A respectful crowd of fifteen to twenty thousand people watched his funeral cortege wind through Birmingham, and he was praised and honoured in all the national newspapers which had once so bitterly attacked him. It was as though a




52 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

veil had lifted, revealing the true worth of the man, which, as he himself would have said, was really the true worth of that overwhelming truth, that divine reality, which the man had preached. It was inscribed on his memorial stone: Ex umbris et imaginibus ad veritatem - out of shadows and imaginings into the truth. Cardinal Manning, who was to die only a few years later, was too frail to attend Cardinal Newman’s funeral. But a week later, in front of a huge crowd gathered from all over Great Britain and Europe at a memorial service in the Brompton Oratory, Manning gave a moving eulogy to the great churchman with whom he had sometimes differed, as opposing forces must, if they are to balance one another in the long-term. ‘If any proof were needed of the immeasurable work that he has wrought in England, the last week would be enough. Who could doubt that a great multitude of his personal friends in the first half of his life, and a still greater multitude of those who have been instructed, consoled and won to God by the unequalled beauty and irresistible persuasion of his writings - who could doubt that they, at such a time as this, would pour out the love and gratitude of their hearts? But that the public voice of England, political and religious, in all its diversities, should for once unite in love and veneration of a man who had broken through its sacred barriers and defied its religious prejudices, who could have believed it? He had




THE LATER YEARS

53

committed the hitherto unpardonable sin in England. He had rejected the whole Tudor Settlement in religion. He had become Catholic as our fathers were. And yet for no one in our memory has such a heartfelt and loving veneration been poured out. Of this, one proof is enough. Someone has said, whether Rome canonises him or not, he will be canonised in the thoughts of pious people of many creeds in England.’




54

THE LEGACY OF CARDINAL NEWMAN Exorcising some Phantoms Since his death in 1890, Newman has had more than a century of posthumous life on earth, for the interest in him has never flagged, interest not only in his ideas but in his personal character, and here he has suffered almost as much misrepresentation as in his lifetime. In the Apologia he had exorcised the phantom which, as he said, “gibbers instead of me” - the phantom of the secret Romanist, corrupting the youth of Oxford, devious and dissimulating. But his method of writing inadvertently raised another phantom which is still not so much gibbering as moaning, a hundred years after his death. This is the oversensitive, self-absorbed recluse, never at home in any church and out of touch with the everyday world. This phantom arose because the Apologia has been taken as autobiography, whereas it is strictly what Newman called its first parts “A History of my Religious Opinions.” Newman was recording the development of his ideas about the Church in the quest for religious truth, not his personal life, except insofar as it was part of that quest. But in the letters and memoranda, both Newman’s own and those of other people, we can discover a much stronger, more active, humorous and sympathetic character. Thus the




THE LEGACY

OF

CARDINAL NEWMAN

55

child who “wished the Arabian Tales were true” and thought angels were hiding from him, is the same boy who made a kite with glass eyes and at school formed a club, writing most of its magazine The Spy, himself (based on the Spectator). Wishing for opposition, he had to provide it himself, writing the Anti-Spy as well. He was a physically active boy, bathing often in the river, and once he tried to row round the Isle of Wight in a fog. All his life he was an indefatigable walker; as a young don at Oriel he went out riding with Hurrell Froude and other friends. Newman always had many friends and kept most of them all his life or rather all their lives, for one of the penalties of living so long was to lose his contemporaries and even some of his juniors before he died himself. Newman was loyal to his friends, even to those who had cut him off after 1845, and was simply glad when they came back to him, some just before the Apologia, so that they were able to help him check his memories. As for those who were more colleagues than friends, men such as Faber and Manning and Ward, he never attacked any of them publicly. As with Paul and Barnabas, it remains true that even good and holy people are quite capable of differing among themselves, without cancelling out the good that either has done in the cause they share, the spreading of the Gospel. In relation to Faber, specifically, it is interesting to know that in 1863 Newman was summoned to his deathbed. Newman, who was on his way for his first holiday abroad




56 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

since 1833, wrote some notes on what had been said. This did not much alter his considered view of what had actually happened. But it is from Faber’s letter to a favourite novice that we learn that Newman had held Faber’s hand throughout the twenty minutes the doctor allowed, and how he had said “in a voice of most consummate sweetness, ‘St Philip be with you, Father.’ I said, smiling: ‘He will be if you tell him to be, and now Padre give me your blessing,’ which he did in silence, but with great solemnity.” Faber died nearly two months later and Newman attended his funeral. When Newman was so unexpectedly made a Cardinal sixteen years later, he immediately thought of a way of publicly reconciling the two Oratories; as a Cardinal of the Roman Church he could make a formal visit without claiming any authority over their house as an Oratorian. The visit was a great success; the younger priests in both houses knew little about the quarrel, the papal Infallibility crisis was more than ten years in the past, and from then on, the two Oratories, though independent, were on good terms and worked along similar lines, as Newman had hoped they would when he founded them. Newman’s real friends, Anglican and Catholic alike, priests, lawyers, diplomats and academics, would not have recognised the sensitive recluse of legend. Newman lived in the world of his time, travelling by train as soon as trains came in and writing amusing letters back to his Oratorians in Birmingham of his adventures on railways,




THE LEGACY

OF

CARDINAL NEWMAN

57

going to Scotland to stay at Abbotsford, on ships crossing the Irish sea and in Ireland when he was going round visiting the Bishops at the beginning of the university project. He read The Times - and wrote for it in his Oxford days a trenchant and witty series (published as The Tamworth Reading Room), attacking the notion that a merely secular education could effect a moral improvement. A believer in the importance of periodicals at a time of intellectual ferment, it was his involvement with the Rambler that got him into hot water at Rome. “Hot water” is the colloquial expression Newman himself used. He was never pompous, never concerned with his own dignity - or anyone else’s; he was always obedient to ecclesiastical superiors, he never flattered or courted them. Newman the Pastor People who only know Newman through the Apologia can get a distorted idea of his character, as if he never did anything but think and write. When writing of his Oxford days he includes nothing about his active pastoral life, visiting the sick and dying, baptising and marrying parishioners as well as preaching the famous sermons many, as he recorded, “to empty benches” because the authorities altered the time of dinner in college halls to prevent the young men attending them. This active pastoral life he continued as a Catholic priest, and in later years, as his community dwindled, he undertook more




58 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

rather than less of the duty. Preaching to factory workers, Irish immigrants, tradesmen and a few professional people, hearing their confessions, saying and singing the masses - all this filled his days, year after year. Something of this can be gleaned from his diaries and from reminiscences of Oratory parishioners, who held him in great affection and kept cuttings of his hair (got from the hairdresser) and pieces of his clothes. “Father knows well how to speak of the Cross,” one old woman said. And a girl recalled how he had come out of the confessional to comfort her when she began to cry at her first confession. Newman’s married Catholic friends brought their children to visit him, they made him penwipers and went on coming when they were grown up. On a visit to Richard Church in Somerset (before he was made Dean of St Paul’s) Church’s daughters gave him Alice in Wonderland, and when he felt he was too old to play the violin which Church and Rogers had given him after the Apologia, he gave it to Church’s unmarried daughter Mary. He used to play in the school orchestra, always among the second fiddles; his favourite composer was Beethoven - “like a great bird singing” - but he used to attend the Birmingham Music Festivals, right up until 1889, though he did not care for Mendelsohn’s Elijah. Dvorak was rather shocked to hear Gounod’s mass when he went to the Oratory, but he might just as well have heard Mozart’s, which was a favourite.




THE LEGACY

OF

CARDINAL NEWMAN

59

As well as to the wives and widows of friends, Newman’s friendship extended to a number of single women. Maria Giberne, who knew him in his youth and followed him into the Church, eventually became a nun in France and Newman was still corresponding with her into their eighties, giving her down-to-earth advice about digestion in old age: “You are not an ostrich. I am serious.” Emily Bowles, who also first met Newman at Littlemore, later lived in London, prison visiting, among other good works - Newman made her accept £5 for “charitable boots and umbrellas” worn out in this voluntary service. She was the recipient of some of his most outspoken letters on what he felt to be the mistaken course of the extreme infallibilists and his reasons for not “speaking out” as she and others begged him to do. It is important to make a distinction between the private views Newman expressed to his trusted friends, and the public silence he was capable of maintaining in the midst of controversy, personal or otherwise. Indeed, if we did not know from his private correspondence how much he actually suffered during these trials, we would not have the same grounds for grasping his heroic virtue in bearing with them nonetheless, for the sake of his Redeemer and Saviour. Early in the 1860s, during that difficult time before the Apologia, Emily Bowles visited Newman at the Birmingham Oratory after a lapse of seven years. She left us a vivid description which encapsulates the spirit of the




60 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

man as he shouldered his cross. “The brightness that lit up that worn face as he received me at the door, carrying in several packages himself.” She was shocked by his appearance: “His grand massive face was scored with lines of intense grief, disappointment and the patient bearing up against the failure of hope. Whenever he spoke, the expression softened...” Later, after the abortive Oxford affair, which she knew much about from London gossip, he called to see her and she asked him when “all these secret doings might be told from the housetops: and he, with that peculiarly brightening, yet sad smile that about that time of his life was most touching, replied, ‘My dear child! my dear child! When I am gone.’” There were other young women converts who became nuns of the Dominican Third Order, revived at Stone by Mother Margaret Hallahan, a wonderful woman from the working class who became a staunch friend to Newman. They prayed for him through all his trials and sent him affectionate greetings every year on his patron St John the Evangelist’s day, December 27th. A man who is loved by so many and such various people can confidently be called lovable, and loving. The Romantic Realist and the Christian Revelation Newman was born into the romantic generation, only a few years younger than Keats and Shelley, when Englishmen still wept in moments of emotion. But he lived on into the




THE LEGACY

OF

CARDINAL NEWMAN

61

era of the stiff upper lip, so that later generations, hearing of tears, thought him not only sensitive but melancholy. But the tears were at funerals of old friends, such as Henry Wilberforce, or during a private visit to Littlemore when he was seen leaning on the churchyard gate, weeping. In a letter Newman explained his tears: ‘When I saw my mother’s monument, I could but cry.’ They were tears of memory, not of regret for his Oxford days, or because of his treatment in the Catholic Church, and certainly not because he had looked for an ideal church and failed to find it, a view recently stated in print. Newman never looked for an ideal church. He had always looked at the fact of the church in history, and it was only when he became convinced that the Church of England was no longer an integral part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church that he submitted to the Holy See as “the divinely appointed centre of unity.” He never lost this conviction of the central unifying role of the Papacy, though his knowledge of history led him to take the moderate view of the Pope’s powers held by most of the English Bishops, including Ullathorne and Clifford of Clifton. One of Newman’s projects undertaken after the success of the Apologia was to oversee the republication of his Anglican works. He persuaded the Anglican William Copeland, once his curate at Littlemore, and the first of his old friends to meet him again, just before the great change, to bring out, as editor, the series of Parochial and Plain




62 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

Sermons. But later he edited the other books himself, which makes for amusing footnotes in which he demolishes some of “the author’s” arguments. In the case of the Lectures on the Prophetical Office of the Church, published at the height of the Movement, before he had any doubts at all, Newman wrote a preface forty years later, in 1877, in which he states with simple clarity, that when Christ “went up on high, He left His representative behind Him. This was Holy Church, His mystical Body and Bride, a Divine Institution and the shrine and organ of the Paraclete, who speaks through her till the end comes.” The Church thus inherits from Christ his offices as Mediator between the human and the divine: “He is Prophet, Priest and King.” The Church exercises these offices in “teaching, rule, and sacred ministry.” “Christianity, then, is at once a philosophy, a political power, and a religious rite: as a religion it is Holy; as a philosophy it is Apostolic; as a political power it is imperial, that is, One and Catholic.” Newman points out that these three offices were developed first through worship, then through theology and lastly as an ecclesiastical polity. “Truth is the guiding principle of theology and theological inquiries; devotion and edification of worship, and of government, expedience. The instrument of theology is reasoning; of worship our emotional nature; of rule, command and coercion. Further, in man as he is, reasoning tends to rationalism; devotion to superstition and enthusiasm; and power to ambition and tyranny.”




THE LEGACY

OF

CARDINAL NEWMAN

63

Newman then goes on to consider how these three offices can and do get out of balance with each other, creating the scandals and corruptions which disfigure the Church in different ages. He insists that “Theology is the fundamental and regulating principle of the whole Church system. It is commensurate with Revelation and Revelation is the initial and essential idea of Christianity.” But he adds, “Yet theology cannot always have its own way; it is too hard, too intellectual, too exact, to be always equitable, or to be always compassionate...’ Holding such a view of the Church, Newman could never be miserable because it failed to come up to some abstract ideal, though he could be sorry for the effects of the too overbearing exercise of the Regal power in his own time. Likewise, though the actions of those in authority sometimes made him indignant, he was always able to distinguish between the failings of human representatives and the fundamental authority residing in the whole Body of Christ, the great company of the faithful extended in space and time, indwelt by the Holy Spirit and fed through the Eucharist with the real life of Christ himself. Personal Sanctity However frustrated Newman might feel in his personal vocation within the Church, he was always able to take refuge in the real presence of Christ. Though he distrusted emotional “spirituality” there are references to be found in




64 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

the letters of various people to the impression he made, as a person and as a priest, of simple holiness. Lady Lothian, a new convert in 1851, was nervous of meeting him but was soon put at ease. “That which struck me most was his childlike sympathy and humility,” she wrote, “and next to that the vivid clearness with which he gives an opinion... His saying of Mass is most striking. I do not know what makes the difference, but one is conscious of a difference. It appeared to me very unearthly.” Thirty-odd years later, in 1882, Lord Chief Justice Coleridge (son of the Judge who had lectured Newman on his moral deterioration in 1813) wrote to a friend, “I cannot analyse it or explain it, but to this hour he awes me like no other man I ever saw. He is as simple and humble and playful as a child, and yet, I am with a being unlike anyone else. He lifts me up for a time, and subdues me...” In 1886 Newman stayed in London with Dean Church, who wrote to the Warden of Keble College, “He was so bright, so kind, so affectionate; very old, and soon tired, but also soon refreshed with a pause of rest, and making fun of his old age. ‘You know I could not do an addition sum.’” In everyday life Newman had an acute sense of humour, shrewd but never malicious, which appears in his letters, even in letters which comment on current anxieties and annoyances. But for someone who had to endure so much personal frustration in the service of the Church, Newman was remarkably resilient and in the context of faith ever




THE LEGACY

OF

CARDINAL NEWMAN

65

hopeful. Confident that God would bring order out of chaos in his own good time: “He knows what He is about.” This phrase actually comes from a meditation on God’s care for every person’s life and development, through every trial and perplexity. “Therefore, I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away.” This confidence in the infinite goodness and power of God to bring about the ultimate salvation of mankind and of the individual, however dark the immediate prospect, was part of the deep faith in, and love for Christ, which had grown in Newman since his boyhood conversion, nourished by a habit of prayer and a sensitive attention to conscience in all his actions. He always disliked too much theoretical talk about doctrine and when he wrote (as an Anglican) on the theological theme of Justification, it was to reconcile the rival Catholic and Protestant theories by reviving the idea of the indwelling Spirit in the hearts of Christians. Cor ad cor loquitur - heart speaks to heart was the motto he chose when he was made a Cardinal. He was far from being a purely cerebral creature. Newman’s Mission As a Catholic Newman did not become a theologian in the conventional sense, but dealt with modern problems of faith in a way that was deeply based in an historical study of theology, which is why he has exercised such an influence on Catholic theologians of our century, in Europe and America. But




66 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

everything that Newman wrote was intended for any intelligent reader - he told another of his female correspondents, Miss Holmes, that he had written the last hundred pages of The Grammar of Assent “especially for such ladies as are bullied by infidels and do not know how to answer them - a misfortune which I fear is not rare in this day.” This section draws out from history and from the universal experience of moral obligation, the accumulating probabilities that Christianity is a true revelation from the divine creator of all things. Final acceptance is an act of will and duty, and faith in it, since it comes from God, is certain, but it cannot be freely accepted till it is seen to be reasonable and worthy of credence. Newman once said that this was the way both factory girls and philosophers were converted. It was less a theory than a diagnosis of experience. And perhaps shows how Newman can still be a guide to seekers after truth in our own troubled age, when truth is taken to be a relative thing, propaganda and ‘spin’ rule public opinion, malicious gossip and uncharitable cynicism corrupt human hearts. John Henry Newman was Beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on 19th September 2010. In a church that often seems divided, a ship tacking in several different directions at once, Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman stands as a beacon of sanity and balance, an apostle to those assailed by doubt, a friend for those who are tempted to impatience or despair, a saint for the very people he himself cared for whilst on this earth.




67

HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI ON THE OCCASION OF THE BEATIFICATION OF VENERABLE CARDINAL JOHN HENRY NEWMAN Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, This day that has brought us together here in Birmingham is a most auspicious one. In the first place, it is the Lord’s day, Sunday, the day when our Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead and changed the course of human history for ever, offering new life and hope to all who live in darkness and in the shadow of death. That is why Christians all over the world come together on this day to give praise and thanks to God for the great marvels he has worked for us. This particular Sunday also marks a significant moment in the life of the British nation, as it is the day chosen to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the Battle of Britain. For me as one who lived and suffered through the dark days of the Nazi regime in Germany, it is deeply moving to be here with you on this occasion, and to recall how many of your fellow citizens sacrificed their lives, courageously resisting the forces of that evil ideology. My thoughts go in particular to nearby Coventry, which suffered such heavy bombardment and massive loss of life in




68 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

November 1940. Seventy years later, we recall with shame and horror the dreadful toll of death and destruction that war brings in its wake, and we renew our resolve to work for peace and reconciliation wherever the threat of conflict looms. Yet there is another, more joyful reason why this is an auspicious day for Great Britain, for the Midlands, for Birmingham. It is the day that sees Cardinal John Henry Newman formally raised to the altars and declared Blessed. I thank Archbishop Bernard Longley for his gracious welcome at the start of Mass this morning. I pay tribute to all who have worked so hard over many years to promote the cause of Cardinal Newman, including the Fathers of the Birmingham Oratory and the members of the Spiritual Family Das Werk. And I greet everyone here from Great Britain, Ireland, and further afield; I thank you for your presence at this celebration, in which we give glory and praise to God for the heroic virtue of a saintly Englishman. England has a long tradition of martyr saints, whose courageous witness has sustained and inspired the Catholic community here for centuries. Yet it is right and fitting that we should recognize today the holiness of a confessor, a son of this nation who, while not called to shed his blood for the Lord, nevertheless bore eloquent witness to him in the course of a long life devoted to the priestly ministry, and especially to preaching, teaching, and writing. He is worthy to take his place in a long line




HOMILY

OF

HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI

69

of saints and scholars from these islands, Saint Bede, Saint Hilda, Saint Aelred, Blessed Duns Scotus, to name but a few. In Blessed John Henry, that tradition of gentle scholarship, deep human wisdom and profound love for the Lord has borne rich fruit, as a sign of the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit deep within the heart of God’s people, bringing forth abundant gifts of holiness. Cardinal Newman’s motto, Cor ad cor loquitur, or “Heart speaks unto heart”, gives us an insight into his understanding of the Christian life as a call to holiness, experienced as the profound desire of the human heart to enter into intimate communion with the Heart of God. He reminds us that faithfulness to prayer gradually transforms us into the divine likeness. As he wrote in one of his many fine sermons, “a habit of prayer, the practice of turning to God and the unseen world in every season, in every place, in every emergency – prayer, I say, has what may be called a natural effect in spiritualizing and elevating the soul. A man is no longer what he was before; gradually … he has imbibed a new set of ideas, and become imbued with fresh principles” (Parochial and Plain Sermons, iv, 230-231). Today’s Gospel tells us that no one can be the servant of two masters (cf. Lk 16:13), and Blessed John Henry’s teaching on prayer explains how the faithful Christian is definitively taken into the service of the one true Master, who alone has a claim to our unconditional devotion (cf. Mt 23:10).




70 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

Newman helps us to understand what this means for our daily lives: he tells us that our divine Master has assigned a specific task to each one of us, a “definite service”, committed uniquely to every single person: “I have my mission”, he wrote, “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 … if I do but keep his commandments and serve him in my calling” (Meditations and Devotions, 301-2). The definite service to which Blessed John Henry was called involved applying his keen intellect and his prolific pen to many of the most pressing “subjects of the day”. His insights into the relationship between faith and reason, into the vital place of revealed religion in civilized society, and into the need for a broadly-based and wide-ranging approach to education were not only of profound importance for Victorian England, but continue today to inspire and enlighten many all over the world. I would like to pay particular tribute to his vision for education, which has done so much to shape the ethos that is the driving force behind Catholic schools and colleges today. Firmly opposed to any reductive or utilitarian approach, he sought to achieve an educational environment in which intellectual training, moral discipline and religious commitment would come together. The project to found a Catholic University in Ireland provided him with an




HOMILY

OF

HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI

71

opportunity to develop his ideas on the subject, and the collection of discourses that he published as The Idea of a University holds up an ideal from which all those engaged in academic formation can continue to learn. And indeed, what better goal could teachers of religion set themselves than Blessed John Henry’s famous appeal for an intelligent, well-instructed laity: “I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it, who know so much of history that they can defend it” (The Present Position of Catholics in England, ix, 390). On this day when the author of those words is raised to the altars, I pray that, through his intercession and example, all who are engaged in the task of teaching and catechesis will be inspired to greater effort by the vision he so clearly sets before us. While it is John Henry Newman’s intellectual legacy that has understandably received most attention in the vast literature devoted to his life and work, I prefer on this occasion to conclude with a brief reflection on his life as a priest, a pastor of souls. The warmth and humanity underlying his appreciation of the pastoral ministry is beautifully expressed in another of his famous sermons: “Had Angels been your priests, my brethren, they could not have condoled with you, sympathized with you, have




72 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

had compassion on you, felt tenderly for you, and made allowances for you, as we can; they could not have been your patterns and guides, and have led you on from your old selves into a new life, as they can who come from the midst of you” (“Men, not Angels: the Priests of the Gospel”, Discourses to Mixed Congregations, 3). He lived out that profoundly human vision of priestly ministry in his devoted care for the people of Birmingham during the years that he spent at the Oratory he founded, visiting the sick and the poor, comforting the bereaved, caring for those in prison. No wonder that on his death so many thousands of people lined the local streets as his body was taken to its place of burial not half a mile from here. One hundred and twenty years later, great crowds have assembled once again to rejoice in the Church’s solemn recognition of the outstanding holiness of this much-loved father of souls. What better way to express the joy of this moment than by turning to our heavenly Father in heartfelt thanksgiving, praying in the words that Blessed John Henry Newman placed on the lips of the choirs of angels in heaven: Praise to the Holiest in the height And in the depth be praise; In all his words most wonderful, Most sure in all his ways! (The Dream of Gerontius).




73

SOME PRAYERS AND MEDITATIONS OF JOHN HENRY NEWMAN Hope in God - Creator 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 connection 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. Therefore I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life, He may shorten it; He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends, He may throw me among strangers, He may




74

make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me - still He knows what He is about. A Prayer to be a Light to Others Stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine as You shine, so to shine as to be a light to others. The light, O Jesus, will be all from You. It will be You who shines through me upon others. Give light to them as well as to me; light them with me, through me. Make me preach You without preaching - not by words, but by my example and by the sympathetic influence, of what I do by my visible resemblance to Your saints, and by the evident fullness of love which my heart bears to You. A Good Friday Prayer for Christian Unity O Lord Jesus Christ, who, when Thou wast about to suffer, didst pray for Thy disciples to the end of time that they might all be one, as Thou art in the Father, and the Father in Thee, look down in pity on the manifold divisions among those who profess Thy faith, and heal the many wounds which the pride of man and the craft of Satan have inflicted upon Thy people. Break down the walls of separation which divide one party and denomination of Christians from another. Look with compassion on the souls who have been born in one or other of these various communions which not Thou, but man hath made. Set free the prisoners from these unauthorised forms of worship, and bring them all into




SOME PRAYERS

AND

MEDITATIONS

OF

NEWMAN

75

that one communion which thou didst set up from the beginning, the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Teach all men that the See of St Peter, the Holy Church of Rome, is the foundation, centre and instrument of unity. Open their hearts to the long-forgotten truth that our Holy Father, the Pope, is thy Vicar and Representative; and that in obeying Him in matters of religion, they are obeying Thee, so that as there is but one holy company in heaven above, so likewise there may be but one communion, confessing and glorifying Thy holy Name here below. Prayer for the Light of Truth I should like an enquirer to say continually : My God, I confess that You can enlighten my darkness. I confess that You alone can. I wish my darkness to be enlightened. I do not know whether You will; but that You can and that I wish, are sufficient reasons for me to ask. I hereby promise that by Your grace which I am asking, I will embrace whatever I at length feel certain is the truth. And by Your grace I will guard against all selfdeceit which may lead me to take what nature would have, rather than what reason approves. Prayer of Surrender My Lord and Saviour, in your arms I am safe; keep me and I have nothing to fear; give me up and I have nothing to hope for. I pray you not to make me rich, I pray you not to make me very poor; but I leave it all to you,




76 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

because you know and I do not. If you bring pain or sorrow on me, give me grace to bear it well. If you give me health and strength and success in this world, keep me ever on my guard lest these great gifts carry me away from you. Give me ever to aim at setting forth your glory; to live to and for you; to set a good example to all around me; give me to die just at that time and in that way which is most for your glory, and best for my salvation. Prayer for a Happy Death May He support us all the day long, till the shades lengthen, and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then in His mercy may He give us a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at the last. Ave Maris Stella Hail Star of the Sea. Truly art thou a star, O Mary! Our Lord indeed Himself, Jesus Christ, He is the truest and chiefest Star, the bright and morning Star, as St John calls Him; that Star which was foretold from the beginning as destined to rise out of Israel, and which was displayed in figure by the star which appeared to the wise men in the East. But if the wise and learned and they who teach men in justice shall shine as stars for ever and ever; and if the angels of the Churches are called stars in the Hand of Christ; if He honoured the apostles even in the days of their flesh by a title, calling them lights of the world; if




SOME PRAYERS

AND

MEDITATIONS

OF

NEWMAN

77

even those angels who fell from heaven are called by the beloved disciple stars; if lastly all the saints in bliss are called stars, in that they are stars differing from stars in glory; therefore most assuredly, without any derogation from the honour of our Lord, is Mary His mother called the Star of the Sea, and the more so because even on her head she wears a crown of twelve stars. Jesus is the Light of the world, illuminating every man who cometh into it, opening our eyes with the gift of faith, making souls luminous by His Almighty grace; and Mary is the Star, shining with the light of Jesus, fair as the moon, and special as the sun, the star of the heavens, which it is good to look upon, the star of the sea, which is welcome to the tempest-tossed, at whose smile the evil spirit flies, the passions are hushed, and peace is poured upon the soul. Hail then, Star of the Sea, we rejoice in the recollection of thee. Pray for us ever at the throne of Grace; plead our cause, pray with us, present our prayers to thy Son and Lord - now and in the hour of death, Mary be thou our help. Meditation on the Holy Family O my soul, thou art allowed to contemplate this union of the three, and to share thyself its sympathy, by faith though not by sight. My God, I believe and know that then a communion of heavenly things was opened on earth which has never been suspended. It is my duty and my bliss to enter into it myself. It is my duty and my bliss to be in tune




78 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

with that most touching music which then began to sound. Give me that grace which alone can make me hear and understand it, that it may thrill through me. Let the breathings of my soul be with Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Let me live in obscurity, out of the world and the world’s thought, with them. Let me look to them in sorrow and in joy, and live and die in their sweet sympathy. The Heart of Mary Holy is the womb that bare Him, Holy the breasts that fed, But holier still the royal heart That in His passion bled. (written to place under a picture of the Heart of Mary) Praise to the Holiest Praise to the holiest in the height, And in the depth be praise, In all his words most wonderful, Most sure in all his ways. O loving wisdom of our God! When all was sin and shame, A second Adam to the fight And to the rescue came. O wisest love! that flesh and blood Which did in Adam fail, Should strive afresh against the foe, Should strive and should prevail.




SOME PRAYERS

AND

MEDITATIONS

OF

NEWMAN

And that a higher gift than grace Should flesh and blood refine, God’s presence and his very self And essence all divine. O generous love! that he who smote In man for man the foe, The double agony in man For man should undergo. And in the garden secretly, And on the cross on high, Should teach his brethren, and inspire To suffer and to die. Praise to the holiest in the height, And in the depth be praise, In all his words most wonderful, Most sure in all his ways. (The Dream of Gerontius) Lead Kindly Light Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom Lead Thou me on; The night is dark, and I am far from home, Lead Thou me on. Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see The distant scene; one step enough for me. I was not ever thus, nor pray’d that Thou Shouldst lead me on;

79




80 J O H N H E N R Y N E W M A N - A P O S T L E

TO THE

DOUBTFUL

I loved to choose and see my path; but now Lead Thou me on. I loved the garish day, and ’spite of fears, Pride ruled my will; remember not past years. So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still will lead me on; O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till The night is gone, And with the morn those angel faces smile Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile. (The Pillar of the Cloud - written at sea, June 16th, 1833) Prayer for the Canonisation of Blessed John Henry Newman God our Father, You granted to your servant Blessed John Henry Newman wonderful gifts of nature and of grace, that he should be a spiritual light in the darkness of this world, an eloquent herald of the Gospel, and a devoted servant of the one Church of Christ. With confidence in his heavenly intercession, we make the following petition: ... For his insight into the mysteries of the kingdom, his zealous defence of the teachings of the Church, and his priestly love for each of your children, we pray that he may soon be numbered among the Saints. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. Please report any favours received to: The Postulator, The Oratory, Hagley Road, Birmingham B16 8UE, England.


John Henry Newman