Blessed John Henry Newman
Born in London, England, he studied at Oxford's Trinity College, was a tutor at Oriel College and for 17 years was vicar of the university church, St. Mary the Virgin. He eventually published eight volumes of Parochial and Plain Sermons as well as two novels. His poem, "Dream of Gerontius," was set to music by Sir Edward Elgar.
After 1833, Newman was a prominent member of the Oxford Movement, which emphasized the Church's debt to the Church Fathers and challenged any tendency to consider truth as completely subjective.
Historical research made Newman suspect that the Roman Catholic Church was in closest continuity with the Church that Jesus established. In 1845, he was received into full communion as a Catholic. Two years later he was ordained a Catholic priest in Rome and joined the Congregation of the Oratory, founded three centuries earlier by St. Philip Neri. Returning to England, Newman founded Oratory houses in Birmingham and London and for seven years served as rector of the Catholic University of Ireland.
Before Newman, Catholic theology tended to ignore history, preferring instead to draw deductions from first principles—much as plane geometry does. After Newman, the lived experience of believers was recognized as a key part of theological reflection.
Newman eventually wrote 40 books and 21,000 letters that survive. Most famous are his book-length Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine, Apologia Pro Vita Sua (his spiritual autobiography up to 1864) and Essay on the Grammar of Assent. He accepted Vatican I's teaching on papal infallibility while noting its limits, which many people who favored that definition were reluctant to do.
When Newman was named a cardinal in 1879, he took as his motto "Cor ad cor loquitur" (Heart speaks to heart). He was buried in Rednal (near Birmingham) 11 years later. After his grave was exhumed in 2008, a new tomb was prepared at the Oratory church in Birmingham.
Three years after Newman died, a Newman Club for Catholic students began at the University of Pittsburgh. In time, his name was linked to ministry centers at many public and private colleges and universities in the United States.
Pope Benedict XVI beatified Newman on September 19, 2010, at Crofton Park (near Birmingham). The pope noted Newman's emphasis on the vital place of revealed religion in civilized society but also praised his pastoral zeal for the sick, the poor, the bereaved and those in prison.
John Henry Newman has been called the "absent Father of Vatican II" because his writings on conscience, religious liberty, Scripture, the vocation of lay people, the relation of Church and State, and other topics were extremely influential in the shaping of the Council's documents. Although Newman was not always understood or appreciated, he steadfastly preached the Good News by word and example.
Newman composed this prayer: "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 a mission; I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. 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 while not intending it if I do but keep his commandments. Therefore, I will trust him."
Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
At any time of the day or night we can call on Jesus.
Many countries are at this moment suffering the agonies of war.
How do I find myself today?
The Word of God
Reading 1 prv 30:5-9
Every word of God is tested;
Responsorial Psalm ps 119:29, 72, 89, 101, 104, 163
R. (105) Your word, O Lord, is a lamp for my feet.
Gospel lk 9:1-6
Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority
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What feelings are rising in me as I pray and reflect on God's Word? I imagine Jesus himself sitting or standing near me and open my heart to him.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
25th Week in Ordinary Time
Take nothing for the journey. (Luke 9:3)
"Be prepared." That's the motto for the Boy Scouts of America. Can't you just picture a pack of young boys on a camping trip, loaded down with supplies, ready for whatever nature can throw at them?
While this may be good training for ten-year-olds, it isn't always the best advice when it comes to living in the Spirit. Jesus offers an alternative vision to his disciples in today's Gospel reading. As he sends them out to preach and heal, he says, "Take nothing for the journey." Nothing! Then, in case they're wondering, he spells it out: "Neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic" (Luke 9:3). So much for the Boy Scouts!
Here's what's wrong with focusing too much on being prepared: we risk missing out on some of the work God has for us—and some of the blessings that come as a result. Maybe we are waiting until we feel close enough to someone to share our faith. Or maybe we are waiting until we have a large enough nest egg before we will donate to the Lord's work. Whatever it is, Jesus wants us to think differently. He wants to make us confident in him. He wants us to know that we don't have to be perfectly clear on every theological truth before we begin telling people how much Jesus loves them.
Think about the disciples Jesus sent out. They still had a lot to learn. Some of them were hoping for personal glory. Others were lacking in courage. One would go on to betray him! But Jesus sent them out anyway. Sure, they would make mistakes. But that's how they would learn and grow. And while they were learning and growing, they would also do a lot of good.
What risk is the Lord calling you to take for his kingdom? Is there something that you have been waiting to do but just haven't felt prepared for yet? Ask God if now is the time to go through that door. And then trust him to teach you as you go.
"Father, I am ready. Send me out, Lord! Give me the grace to trust you for all that I need."
Proverbs 30:5-9; Psalm 119:29, 72, 89, 101, 104, 163