Skip to comments.Beatification soon for Cardinal Newman?
Posted on 10/21/2005 3:58:49 PM PDT by NYer
Reports of a miracle attributed to the intercession of Cardinal John Henry Newman have given a new impetus to the cause for beatification of the 19th-century British convert.
"At last we have a miracle cure," said Father Paul Chavasse, the provost of the Birmingham Oratory, an institution founded by Cardinal Newman in 1848. He was referring to reports that an American deacon was cured of severe chronic spinal problems through Cardinal Newman's intercession.
Church officials would not reveal the identity of the man who benefited from the reported miracle, but said that the Boston archdiocese has established a commission to investigate the report. If a miracle if verified, it would fulfill the final requirement for beatification of the English scholar.
Word of the alleged miracle became public at an October 18 press conference in Rome for the publication of a new book, Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) and Cardinal Newman, edited by veteran Catholic journalist Peter Jennings. The book highlights the admiration that the Pope had professed for Cardinal Newman's writings.
Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801- 1890) was an Oxford scholar and prominent Anglican preacher when he joined the Oxford Movement in the 1830s. By 1840 he had begun expressing doubts about the Church of England, and withdrew from Anglican ministry; in 1845 he was received into the Catholic Church. His Apologia Pro Vita Sua, explaining his spiritual journey, is among the classics of Catholic autobiography.
Newman was the leading Catholic intellectual and controversialist in England during the 19th century, writing influential works such as Grammar of Assent and The Idea of the University. Although he was never a bishop, in 1879 he was raised by Pope Leo XIII to the College of Cardinals. In 1991 he was declared "Venerable" by Pope John Paul II (bio - news), leaving the recognition of a miracle as the only remaining requirement for his beatification.
John Henry Newman became famous while he was an Anglican priest and a fellow (on the faculty) at Oriel College in Oxford University. He was a founder of the Oxford Movement, a group of clergymen who tried to reform the Anglican church by steering a path away from "Low Church" Protestantism and towards a "High Church" restoration of ancient Christian doctrine and practice. For years he was accused of leaning toward Rome and for years he vehemently denied it. "If there ever was a system which required reformation, it is that of Rome at this day, or in other words ... Romanism or Popery." His dead-serious intellectual approach, combined with his perception of the supernatural world as more compelling and present than the natural, made him famous within Oxford and outside it.
In 1845, after many years of subtle and obscure research into fifth- century heresies, he had an acute religious crisis. "In the middle of the fifth century I found Christendom of the nineteenth century reflected. I saw my face in that mirror, and I was a Monophysite." This is how he explained his conversion, but there must have been more than intellectual reasons for it. "Still so it is; we need a relief to our hearts, that they may be dark and sullen no longer, or that they may not go on feeding upon themselves; we need to escape from ourselves to something beyond." His reception into the Roman Catholic church that year caused an uproar among his Oxford friends, whom he was forced to leave behind. As a Catholic, he could not be a member of the University, by order of both Oxford and the Church. "I am going to those whom I do not know and of whom I expect very little -- I am making myself an outcast, and that at my age." (He was then 44.) He found a new place for himself in the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, a community of priests living under a rule but not under vows, which would allow him to continue his research and writing.
The independent and courageous intellect that brought Newman into the Church soon made his life difficult within it. His opposition to the formal definition of papal infallibity (proclaimed by Pius IX in 1870) made him unpopular with the hierarchy at Rome. "I fear that in one sense the iron has entered into my soul. I mean that confidence in any superiors whatever never can blossom within me." However, the next pope, Leo XIII, made him a Cardinal in 1879.
Modern liberals like to quote Newman on the primacy of the individual conscience, but Newman's conscience was not an easy one. "Now conscience is a stern and gloomy principle; it tells us of guilt and of prospective punishment. Dare not to think that you have got to the bottom of your hearts; you do not know what evil lies there. Fear and love must go together; always fear, always love, to your dying day. Doubtless; -- still you must know what it is to sow in tears before, if you would reap in joy hereafter."
In his later years he was to be an influence on the next generation of Oxford undergraduates, and counselled many (including the great poet Gerard Manley Hopkins) through their own religious crises. He tended to advise caution to those who expressed an interest in going over to Rome. "You must be patient, you must wait for the eye of the soul to be formed in you. Religious truth is reached, not by reasoning, but by an inward perception."
Cardinal Newman died in 1890. He chose for his memorial, "Ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem." -- "From shadows and images to the truth."
Full speed ahead for a great convert who followed the truth.
But I warn you, you'll never be able to feel the same way about Westward Ho! or The Water Babies again. Kingsley did not play the part of an honest or an honorable man in that controversy.
This is one of the classics of the English language, but I wonder of it is still on the reading lists in Catholic colleges.
I don't think that ANYTHING religious is required reading at most Catholic colleges these days, unless it is some leftist garbage about how "oppressive" and "judgemental" Christianity is and how we should embrace secular humanism.
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