Faith opens up for us the mystery of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, the Saviour who wishes to call all men to Himself. The introduction to belief and the accompaniment of man on his journey of faith was something close to John Henry Newman’s heart throughout his multifaceted pastoral activities. The following quotations from his writings, above all from his sermons, may illustrate this.
Sr. Kathleen Marie Dietz
Newman writes in his Apologia Pro Vita Sua that his reception into the Church was “like coming into port after a rough sea”. In this paper we would like to reflect a bit on that scene and would like to add to it one more image, namely that of a beacon light which helped Newman find that port.
Sr. Brigitte Maria Hoegemann FSO
In his first term at Oxford, on Sunday, 30th November 1817, John Henry Newman walked for the first time to “the communion table” in Trinity Chapel, his college. He had not mentioned preparations for confirmation and first communion in the long weekly letters home and did not refer to the event in the one that he wrote a week later (13th, 21st, 28th Nov., and 8th Dec., see LD I 44-48). The entry in his diary simply reads: “made first communion” (LD I 48).
“Another year is now opening upon us; it speaks to the thoughtful, and is heard by those, who have expectant ears, and watch for Christ’s coming. The former year is gone, it is dead, there it lies in the grave of past time, not to decay however, and be forgotten, but kept in the view of God’s omniscience…”
Pope John Paul II in the Apostolic letter Tertio millenio adveniente invited us to “a renewed appreciation of the theological virtue of hope … The basic attitude of hope, on the one hand encourages the Christian not to lose sight of the final goal which gives meaning and value to life, and on the other, offers solid and profound reasons for a daily commitment to transform reality in order to make it correspond to Gods plan” (n. 46).
In his writings, Newman speaks more often of faith and love than he does of hope. But what is meant by hope becomes apparent here and there, above all in his sermons.
Nearly two hundred years ago, John Henry Newman was born in London, the son of a banker and the first of six children. That this event would be celebrated two hundred years later could be known only by Divine Providence, Who ordained the day of birth itself. As a young man, it was Newman’s custom, especially on his birthday, to look back at the past, not in a purely human way, with only regrets and joys, but in the light of Divine Providence, and to write what he called his “birthday account”.
On May 15, 1879 Pope Leo XIII raised John Henry Newman to the dignity of Cardinal and thus recognized his extraordinary merits not only for the faithful in England, but also for the Church universal. To commemorate this event, we are publishing this talk in which Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger – now Pope Benedict XVI – revealed his personal approach to Newman, while underscoring the relevance of this great teacher for the Church of our time. The talk was given in the centenary year of Newman’s death (1990) during a Symposium organized by the International Centre of Newman Friends, run by members of The Spiritual Family The Work.