John Henry Newman – Example and teacher of the christian life in the presence of God

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John Henry Newman – Example and teacher of the christian life in the presence of GodUnforgettable was the afternoon at “The College” at Littlemore, when the Holy Eucharist was exposed in Newman’s oratory, and some of the Sisters of the Spiritual Family The Work knelt in silent adoration before the Lord. Suddenly the sliding door opened. Someone came in and fell to his knees. Later in the College garden, when the Sisters welcomed the tall, slender gentleman, almost Newman-like, with his shock of white hair, he was deeply moved and explained: “Sorry for the commotion; I had not expected Eucharistic adoration at this simple place of prayer, hallowed though it is.” And then he said something like: “It was a gift for me, as if the Lord had spoken!” He smiled at his wife: “Newman’s oratory is still the same place of prayer and has become a chapel.” The gentleman was Alf Härdelin, the renowned Swedish scholar, whose research in the 1960s on the Tractarian understanding of the Eucharist, eventually made him follow Newman into the Catholic Church. In the Holy Eucharist he had met Christ, the Lord, the living God.

John Henry Newman had known about God from early childhood through Bible stories. In his imagination he relived the scenes together with those from the Arabian Tales, which he would have liked to be true. He soon read the Bible himself and learned his Catechism. Yet, when he grew older, he began to question the teaching of the Christian faith. Finding objections to it fascinated him. What he had taken in by imagination and understanding was not strong enough to deter the fourteen-year-old youngster from exercising his outstanding intellectual faculties to test his faith. The denial of the immortality of the soul, for example, seemed abhorrent, “but how plausible”. (Apo, I, p. 3)[1]

It is the perennial problem of man wanting to be his own master. For many young people today, even if they learned the faith and lived it in a good Christian home, there comes a time when they give up religion; many under the influence of their irreligious peers and the general atmosphere of our society. It makes no sense to them to have their lives restricted by commandments and demands that go against their indolence or wilfulness, or their fun, as they like to express it, and to overcome the cravings of their ego for the sake of a higher good. To the more sophisticated among them it may seem that it is their intelligence, which leads them into doubt. Some early letters from Oxford to his brother Charles show the young Newman to have realized that this cannot be the case.[2] Many years later he wrote in his Apologia: “Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt; difficulty and doubt are incommensurate.” (Apo, V, p. 239)

With a good knowledge of himself and his gift of observation, Newman, the pastor, knew that religion could be tedious and wearisome, as nothing is harder for wilful man than obedience and the recognition that there is someone immeasurably higher than ourselves, to whom we are answerable for our actions and omissions,[3] the Lord, our God. Even for Christians who are firm in their belief, religion remains a lifelong labour. St. Paul recognised early on that those who wished to live a life faithful to Christ, must be encouraged to fight the good fight. What encourages us to keep close to God’s commandments and to recognize the liberation of being in his service? What makes us witnesses to God? What, but having met Christ, as did St. Paul, as did John Henry Newman, as did Alf Härdelin! Most of us will remember moments in our lives, moments of mourning, of joy, of struggle, of deep peace, when Christ entered our situation and we realized He was with us; and if the situation called for a decision, we knew that we were deciding for or against the living God.

To Met the Living God

John Henry Newman met God for the first time at fifteen. He met him first by his instruments: the fervent faith of a young evangelical teacher, Walter Mayers, at his boarding school at Ealing. Mayers’ sermons, their conversations and the books, which he gave him, opened John Henry’s heart to the reality of God. Aware of his own existence by reflecting on himself, he realized that recognizing himself as a creature meant recognizing also the existence of his Creator. In the concept of “two and two only absolute and luminously self-evident beings” (Apo, I, p. 4), his restless thinking found its stay: He found “this absolute primary truth” (Apo V, p. 241) in his conscience, acknowledged by natural reason. Yet, belief in revelation and doctrine (a faith, which Newman calls divine, a grace, as it is a gift of God’s mercy), and an intellect, open to the impression of dogma, worked together towards a certainty, which would never leave Newman again. Expressed in the terminology of Newman’s Grammar of Assent, his merely notional assent was replaced by a real one, with consequences for his personal life. Thenceforth, he would consult God’s will in every event of his life.

The second instrument for Newman was Thomas Scott’s zealous faith in the Holy Trinity, whereby not only was his mind opened to the fundamental truth of Christianity that the One God is One in Three, but his heart was alerted to the fact that he, a person, was related to the Three Persons, one God. His whole being was enthralled by the mystery that the Trinity is God, the one and only God. He meditated for months on the Athanasian Creed, which would remain close to his heart throughout his life. He not only searched for biblical texts in support of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, but wrote a verse-by-verse commentary on that Creed. In his Apologia Newman mentions that he had always kept these early comments among his papers. (cf. Apo I, p.5)

From that time onwards the one God in three Persons was an overwhelming reality in his life. And though the young Newman’s meditation on the Athanasian Creed, especially on the glorious hymn to the Trinity, was a work of his intellect, it must have been also a delight to his soul; he adored the mystery. He started to love God with soul and mind, in such a readiness to respond to Him, that his heart and conscience awakened to God’s will for him. He made Thomas Scott’s maxim, “Holiness rather than peace”, his own, deeply aware of the personal consequences of a living faith in the Triune God. Later, as a young minister in Oxford, Newman preached in the first of the Parochial and Plain Sermons: “Outward acts, done in principle, create inward habits… the separate acts of obedience to the will of God, good works, as they are called, are of service to us, as gradually severing us from this world of sense, and impressing our hearts with a heavenly character.” (PS I, 1, p. 9) He claimed holiness to be “the result of many patient, repeated efforts after obedience, gradually working in us, and first modifying and then changing our hearts.” (PS I, 1, p. 11)

When the young Newman embraced the two fundamental doctrines on God and did his utmost to live a life open to His presence, his conscious acts of faith led to the recognition that God wanted him for Himself. He became aware that God was calling him to lead a celibate life for the sake of those whom He would entrust to him. (cf. Apo, I, p.7)

Contemplation and Action in the Life of Newman

The awareness of God’s presence and a sense for God’s providence in his life marked Newman’s personality thenceforward. It made him a man of prayer and contemplation, and of humble and heroic activity for God’s glory and the growth of His kingdom in the world. It would gradually make him a guide of souls, whom he would lead to a living faith in Christ. Newman was deeply conscious of the fact that we stand as sinners before God. If prayer truly links us to Almighty God, then it is because Our Creator wants it and has already come to us in the Word made man, our Redeemer. We do not stand alone before the Father, but Christ in us is pleading for us; and not only Christ but also with Him the Holy Spirit, the advocate of all who recognize that they are poor in spirit. (cf. PS I, 11, p. 148)

Newman’s Meditations and Devotions,[4] especially those on Christian Doctrine, are a school of prayer for everyone. Some of his best prayers are hidden in his sermons, others among his verses and two of his best-known hymns in the Dream of Gerontius.

It is edifying to see, that Newman who mastered meditation and contemplation much better than most of us, used – for most of the time he set apart for quiet conversation with the Lord – the prayers of the Church. Nine years before he was received into full communion with the Catholic Church he had started to pray the Roman Breviary praising its “excellence and beauty”[5] and recommending it for daily worship. Anglicans today owe the fact that morning and evening prayer – either in the form drawn up by Lancelot Andrewes, or taken from the Breviary – have become the common weekday worship in some parishes, mainly due to the efforts of Newman and Pusey. The Psalter, in Newman’s understanding, which he took from the Early Fathers, may be made “to breathe of Christ”,[6]and he liked the rhythm of prayers and intercessions, psalms and readings. When a Catholic, he took especially to the Rosary, which helped him, as he said, to contemplate the mysteries of our faith with Mary, the Mother of Christ.[7]

Those around Newman knew that his life was structured by set times for meditation, prayer, contemplation and adoration. In many of his sermons he spoke about prayer, always inviting those around him to a daily life of communion with Christ. A pastor with a truly Christ-like sense of responsibility for the souls God entrusted to him, he wanted his congregation to see prayer as a privilege more than as a duty.

The set times of prayer were not only an outward structure for his life. Bishop Philip Boyce claims that “prayer constituted the spiritual texture of Newman’s life” and is certain that his “life of faith and virtue and dedication, sustained and enlivened by constant prayer,” guided him in his philosophical and theological writings and made them so attractive and persuasive.[8]

It would be hard to attempt to trace the good which Newman’s life with God has brought about in the lives of the many who have been touched by his life of prayer, work, suffering, and joy in the Lord – up to this day.

His achievements in other spheres of his extraordinarily active life are more obvious: He published forty books during his lifetime, there have been further forty and more volumes of his writings since, with more to come. Yet, the scholar and pastor, whose many theological and philosophical books are re-discovered from generation to generation, was also the founder of two schools (one in Littlemore, Oxford, one in Edgbaston, Birmingham) and of the Catholic University in Dublin. He was responsible for the building of churches in Littlemore, Birmingham and Dublin and of two houses in Birmingham: the Oratory house at Edgbaston and the house of retreat at Rednal. He was a catechist of children and youth, both as an Anglican and as a Catholic, and taught the poor in the slum area of Alcester Street in 19th century Birmingham. He taught the young Catholics at his private school in Birmingham, and as a fellow of Oriel College belonged to the teaching staff at Oxford University. He was a tutor at Oxford University and rector of the Catholic University in Dublin. He was the Provost and Father of the Birmingham Oratory, where he and his fellow Oratorians fulfilled with zeal the wish of Pius IX that they should educate the Catholic laity. He was also an untiring parish priest with the many duties that involved.

It does not astonish that he was a most prolific letter writer, for he had an extraordinary spiritual insight into the movements of souls, an attentive respect for the person before him and a gift for friendship, a pastoral zeal for guiding souls to God and a memory that did not let him easily forget anyone who had entered his life, and finally, he had a mind that liked to discuss problems with his pen in hand. Among his thousands of letters are many in which he accompanies souls, consoles mourners, develops his philosophy and addresses questions of the day, current affairs, scientific problems, etc. They are addressed to persons of all ages and from all walks of life. With some Newman’s friendship lasted throughout life. For example, his correspondence with a young child continued through her years at school, then there is a letter to the young bride, another to the young mother, and then he accompanied her in her mid-life in cares and worries and in a serious illness; his last letter she received after his 87th birthday.[9]

He will always be remembered as the extraordinary preacher whose sermons have changed lives in his time and still today. Everybody will gain from reading Newman’s sermons and letters, his novels and poems; his prayers and meditations belong to the treasures of the Church. Already during his lifetime, people treasured Newman’s prayers. When Queen Victoria was dying, she asked that Newman’s “Lead kindly light” should be read to her. When General Gordon gave his life for his nation, a copy of Newman’s Dream of Gerontius was found in his breast pocket. In our own time, the first prayer each morning of Mother Teresa’s Sisters, the Missionaries of Charity, is his “Stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine”. Newman was foremost and above all a man of God, who could not have achieved so much, had he not been rooted in such a profound communion with Him. This is what showed not only in his times of success, but especially also when he had to face misunderstanding, unjust criticism and even slander, libel and defamation. Where he might have been overwhelmed by disappointment, he was carried by his trust in the presence of God and His providence. This is what people around him sensed in all he did and in the way he lived: Here was a man who lived what he professed. Newman achieved so much, because his heart was with God. In his sermon on Faith and Love he told his congregation:

We are Christ’s not by faith merely, nor by works merely, but by love; …it is love [that] makes faith, not faith love. We are saved, not by any of these things, but by that heavenly flame within us, which, while it consumes what is seen, aspires to what is unseen. Love is the gentle, tranquil, satisfied acquiescence and adherence of the soul in the contemplation of God. (PS IV, 21, pp. 317f)

The calmness, of which this fervent Christian speaks, is the peace of mind, heart and conscience of someone who conforms to God’s will. It is the effect of obedience to God’s will, and not his own. A quotation from one of his best-known meditations may serve as an illustration:

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 may never 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. … 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. (MD, p. 400)

Newman’s description of the naturally religious man certainly matches himself! A man who is religious, is religious, morning, noon, and night; his religion is a certain character, a mould in which his thoughts, words, and actions are cast, all forming parts of one and the same whole. He sees God in all things; every course of action he directs towards those spiritual objects which God has revealed to him; every occurrence of the day, every event, every person met with, all news which he hears, he measures by the standard of God’s will. And a person who does this may be said almost literally to pray without ceasing; for, knowing himself to be in God’s presence, he is continually led to address Him reverently, whom he sets always before him, in the inward language of prayer and praise, of humble confession and joyful trust. … To be religious is … to have the habit of prayer, or to pray always. (PS VII, 15, pp. 205f)

John Henry Newman’s awe and love for the Holy Trinity, his intimate communion with Christ, made his life fruitful and his work effective. His firm inner bond with God, realized in obedience to His will in the small events and decisions of every day, made him also sensitive and awake to the needs of his neighbours.

One of the Oxford students, who attended his sermons in the university church, wrote that it seemed to them that the preacher came to them from a conversation with God, relating what he had heard and seen. Whether he was lost in adoration of the Triune God, whether he meditated on, or contemplated the mysteries of faith, or whether he worked untiringly to build up the Church as a pastor, theologian and the Father of a community of priests, his first concern was his life with God.

Contemplation and Action in the Teaching of Newman

To Meditate on Christ

Around a century and a half before Pope John Paul II urged all of us in the Church to meditate on the face of Christ in Novo millennio ineunte (2001), Newman invited his Anglican and then Catholic congregations to meditate on Christ, if they wanted to get closer to Him and fulfil their calling as Christians.

In one of his Lenten sermons, Newman asked why even those who come to church to worship God and be strengthened by his word, often do not seem to be able to change their lives. He brought home to those in the pews that in spite of all the opportunities of the season to become more familiar with Christ’s passion, they had not really let Christ, their Saviour enter their lives.

We are not moved when we hear of the bitter passion of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, for us. We neither bewail our sins which caused it, nor have any sympathy with Him. We do not suffer with Him, If we come to Church, we hear, and then we go away again; not distressed at all; or if distressed, only for the moment. And many do not come to Church at all… They eat, and drink, and sleep, and rise up, and go about their business and their pleasure, just as usual. They do not carry the thought of Him who died for them, along with them. (PS VI, 4, p. 39) He spoke to their consciences:

But why is this? Why do you so little understand the Gospel of your salvation? why are your eyes so dim, and your ears so hard of hearing? Why have you so little faith? so little of heaven in your hearts? For this one reason, my brethren, if I must express my meaning in one word, because you so little meditate. You do not meditate, and therefore you are not impressed. (PS VI, 4, p. 41)

He explained meditation as thinking habitually and constantly of Him and of His deeds and sufferings. It is to have Him before our minds as One whom we may contemplate, worship, and address when we rise up, when we lie down, when we eat and drink, when we are at home and abroad, when we are working, or walking, or at rest, when we are alone, and again when we are in company; this is meditating. And by this, and nothing short of it, will our hearts come to feel as they ought. (PS VI, 4, p. 41)

Newman did not hide his conviction that no one can do that merely by listening to God’s word and worshipping Him for an hour a week and spending the rest of the time being busy with this world, only remembering God in moments of need. It takes practice and co-operation with God’s transforming grace, and for that the three theological or “divine” virtues are necessary. The Christian receives these divine graces in baptism, but faith, hope and love will not unfold on their own; the Christian has to use the graces and co-operate with God in many small acts of faith, hope and love. This is why the Church calls them virtues!

Meditating on Christ, Newman knows, is work for the Christian, a work that goes on for our whole life. Looking at Christ, remembering what the Redeemer did for mankind, for every one of us, the Christian finds the priorities in life and is enabled to live up to them. We have received faith, hope and love as our instruments for meditating on Christ and for opening our hearts to Him, but we have to co-operate with these graces in acts of faith and hope and love. Throughout his sermons Newman gives examples: An act of faith can be to make the time for morning prayer, if we have neglected this Christian duty and privilege. We remind ourselves that we start a new day in God’s presence and we thank Him. We bring to Christ those entrusted to us, we ask the Holy Spirit to guide us throughout the day. All the chores of everyday life, every special task, can be transformed into acts of love, if we offer them to God. If we want to revive prayer life in the family, an act of hope may be to prepare together an opportune moment for God, and to give this time of prayer priority in the pattern of the day. However busy our lives, we can form the habit of becoming gradually but continuously more united with our Lord. First we should open our hearts, our homes, and our daily schedule to Him. While we do that, He is changing our hearts, so that we can receive Him.

What Newman called meditating on Christ becomes worship and contemplation. When we kneel before the Lord, looking at Him in awe, listening to Him, ready to obey Him, we grow in the awareness that we are with Him in the inmost temple of our souls, each soul is His temple; and we realize that we are living stones of His temple, living members of the Church, His body. While we adore Him, He does His work in us, purifying our hearts, bringing us closer to Him and closer to each other in the Church. From this habitual meditation we gain a contemplative view on life with its many tasks and events. The more we get used to looking at things with the eyes of Christ, as it were, the more we are in peace, in spite of the restless hustle around us.

Our Lady has this contemplative view. “She kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Lk 2:19) In the most theological and philosophical of all his sermons, the 15th of his Oxford University Sermons, Newman showed his congregation that when she accepts the Divine Truth and dwells upon it in her heart, “she uses it … she develops it”. She is for Newman a model of the faith of the simple Christian and of the doctors of the Church, who in the presence of God reason “from love and reverence” (US XV, p. 313)[10] what they first believed.

Mary’s Heart and Martha’s Hands

In his sermon on the two women at Bethany who have Christ Jesus for their guest (Lk 10:41), Newman called action and contemplation the “two ways of serving Him” and also “the twofold character of Christian obedience.” (PS III, 22, pp. 321; 326)

Pondering on Mary’s better part, he expressed four new beatitudes, each of the first three leading to a higher one:

Blessed indeed are they whom Christ calls near to Him to be His own peculiar attendants and familiar friends; more blessed if they obey and fulfil their calling! Blessed even if they are allowed to seize intervals of such service towards him; but favoured and honoured beyond thought if they can, without breach of duty, put aside worldly things with full purpose of heart, renounce the pursuit of wealth, keep clear of family cares, and present themselves as a holy offering, without spot or blemish, to Him who died for them. These are they who ‘follow Him’…(PS III, 22, pp. 333-334)

All of us are blessed, because Christ calls us to live for Him and with Him. If we follow His call in obedience and serve God, Newman claims we are blessed even more. To serve Christ in a contemplative life, the way of Mary’s better part, giving up the life of the world altogether, Newman considers a privilege granted by God, which – for His sake – honours those who are called to offer their lives to Him. Most Christians, however, only achieve this in intervals in their active life.

Following Newman’s line of thought, we may say: The healing grace of ora et labora in monastic life consists for Newman in the fact that the consecrated persons gradually learn to remain in that inmost attitude of prayer, which they have reached only after patient waiting for the Lord to come and fill their void. Whether in the set hours for prayer or while they work, their being with God becomes something like their inner character. The lives of the monk and the nun do not become less active, but ordered by the rhythm of worship and work, and thus less hectic. Whether their work is directly reaching into the world in visible acts of charity or whether it remains hidden in their offering the needs of the world to God in the sacrificial surrender of their own persons to Him – it builds up the life of the Church. (cf. PS III, 22) A life fully consecrated to God through the evangelical counsels is not for every one of the living stones of the Church but with its harmony of action and contemplation it is a model for any Christian. We may add to Newman’s interpretation: Every Christian needs Martha’s hands, but Mary’s heart even more, so as not to get carried away by the activities of the world. With Christ in our hearts, we can discern which of the many tasks awaiting us matter in our relationship to Him and honour Him, and what does not belong to the life of a Christian. When this inward prayer becomes habitual – through loving obedience to Christ – the Christian will radiate the peace and serenity of his Master even in his most active hours, thus attracting others to God.

The Apostolic Christian

Newman was convinced, that “The idea of a Christian, as set forth in Scripture, is something very definite” (SSD, 19, p. 276). In his sermon on “The Apostolic Christian” he spoke firmly against those who spread their own ideas of what a Christian ought to be, distinguishing three main characteristics of the Christians in apostolic times. According to the Acts and the Apostolic Letters, Newman preached, the Christian is “one who looks for Christ” (SSD, p. 279) and lives in the world but not for the world. Watching and praying he waits for Christ’s coming in glory, when He will take home those who are His. The habit of prayer is a mark of the Christians described in the Acts of the Apostles and in their letters:

Christ was in his heart, and therefore all that came from this heart, his thoughts, words, and actions, savoured of Christ. The Lord was his light, and therefore he shone with illumination. (SSD, p. 281)

Newman observed secondly that the Christians described in the New Testament are marked by their separation from the world. They follow the advice of Saint Paul and live as though they had no wives, as though they did not weep, as though they did not have possessions. They make use of the things of this world only to reach the next.

Finally the early Christians are described in the New Testament as having “a cheerful countenance”, as they have obtained what they desired: the love of Christ. This makes them rejoice even in suffering and enables them to face martyrdom for their Lord. The joy in Christ, Newman explained, “makes men peaceful, serene, thankful, gentle, affectionate, sweettempered, pleasant, hopeful; it is graceful, tender, touching, winning” (SSD, pp. 286-287).

The Lord’s Prayer as the Pattern of Prayer for the Pilgrim Christian

In the same sermon, Newman referred to our Lord’s own words in the Our Father, which he called “the Prayer of the Pilgrim” (SSD, p. 289). We Christians are pilgrims with the face of Christ in our hearts on our life long way of responding by continuous conversion to the divine Love, on the way to the Almighty Father.

“We often hear it said,” he recalled, “that the true way of serving God is to serve man, as if religion consisted merely in acting well our part in life, not in direct faith, obedience and worship” (SSD, p. 289) and he made his congregation aware of the fact that our Lord’s own words sound very different.

Newman recognized Our Lord’s own description of the Christian and his basic situation in the world in the seven petitions of Our Lord’s prayer.

First he described the situation of a Christian in the world as given in the last four petitions: He needs help for the day, he has to expiate sin, enemies and persecutors are in his path, temptation is in prospect, evil is all around him.

The Christian, displaying the three divine virtues, is a man of love with “God’s will in his heart” (SSD, p. 289); a man of faith with “God’s Name upon his lips” (SSD, p. 289) proclaiming whom he loves; and he is a man of hope awaiting the coming of God’s kingdom. From the pulpit Newman exclaimed:

What simplicity! What grandeur! And what definiteness! How one and the same, how consistent with all that we read of him elsewhere in Scripture! (SSD, p. 289)

The pastor did not let his congregation rest with the discovery that the Lord’s Prayer is Christ’s depiction of the Christian at prayer. He wanted them to see that understanding this prayer calls for our response. He was sure, that the characterization of the Christian in the Bible is as valid today as in the Apostolic times and he invited them: “Be silent over it; pray for grace to comprehend it, to accept it” (SSD, p. 290). He awakened the hearts and consciences of his congregation to the awareness that even if we have to modify that pattern to be able to live up to it, it remains the aim of every Christian.

A contemplative view on our every-day lives, we learn from Newman, makes us see ourselves in the light of salvation history and calls us to conversion. What happens to the person under the loving eye of Christ? In his sermons Newman illustrated with many biblical examples the silent drama of living up to our Christian calling by an ongoing conversion. The mental concepts, convictions and imaginations of the Christian are gradually changed until they respond more to his calling; his willpower is strengthened in his readiness to assent in acts of love to the will of his Creator and Saviour; his sentiments are purified by the growing awareness that he is loved by God and called to respond by loving Him and his neighbour.

Meeting Christ in the Holy Eucharist

The most special opportunity to meet the Lord is the participation in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, the summit of our Christian lives. Holy Mass offers the outstanding opportunity for a lively awareness of the real presence of Christ. In every moment of Holy Mass, we are celebrating God’s presence among us. We listen to the Word of God and participate in the Last Supper, in our Lord’s passion, death and resurrection. In Holy Communion, many have consciously met Christ for the first time and every time we participate in Holy Communion we have the opportunity to meet Him again and in Him those united with us.

Newman was aware of that meeting of God and man, cor ad cor, and also of the fact that the Church comes from the Eucharist, that our participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass makes us one at the ‘table of the word’ and more so at the altar. We receive the Body of Christ, to become what we are, living members of that Body. Newman was most faithful to the daily visit to the Blessed Sacrament and kept recommending it to those entrusted to him.

Our Holy Father John Paul II began his Apostolic Letter Mane nobiscum Domine for the Year of the Eucharist with the urgent invitation of the disciples on the way to Emmaus: “Stay with us Lord, for it is almost evening” (Lk 24:29). It seems only right that after catching a glimpse of Newman’s life in God’s presence and after listening to him, when he guides others to this awareness with its consequences for them, that we listen now to Newman as he turns to God with us and prays to Jesus the Light of the Soul.

Mane nobiscum, Domine, quoniam advesperascit.

I adore Thee, O my God, as the true and only Light! From Eternity to Eternity, before any creature was, when Thou wast alone, alone but not solitary, for Thou hast ever been Three in One, Thou wast the Infinite Light. There was none to see Thee but Thyself. The Father saw the Light in the Son and the Son in the Father. Such as Thou wast in the beginning, such Thou art now. Most separate from all creatures in this Thy uncreated Brightness. … O my God, I cannot keep Thee! I can only beg of Thee to stay. … Remain, O Light of my soul, …‘Shine on me, O Fire ever burning and never failing’ – and I shall begin, through and in Thy Light, to see Light, and to recognize Thee truly, as the Source of Light. Mane nobiscum; stay, sweet Jesus, stay for ever. In this decay of nature, give more grace. … Stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine as Thou shinest: so to shine as to be a light to others. The light, O Jesus, will be all from Thee. It will be Thou who shinest through me upon others. (MD, pp. 497-501)

[1] NEWMAN J. H., Apologia pro vita sua (2nd ed. 1865), Longmans, Green and Co., London 1890. If not otherwise indicated, Newman’s works are quoted from the uniform edition; the first time with the full title in the footnotes. In the text the usual abbreviations are given: Apo for Apologia, then chapter and page number.

[2] Cf. NEWMAN J. H., The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, ed. at the Birmingham Oratory with notes and introductions, Vol. I, ed. by I. KER and Th. GORNALL, Clarendon Press, Oxford 1978, pp. 219-221.

[3] Cf. NEWMAN J. H., Parochial and Plain Sermons, 8 vols., Christian Classics, Westminster, Md. 1966-1968; here: vol. VII, 2, pp. 13-26. (PS)

[4] NEVILLEW. (ed.), Meditations and Devotions of the Late Cardinal Newman, Longmans, Green and Co., London 1893. (MD)

[5] Tract 75, p.1, in: Tracts for the Times, Vol. III. Rivington, London 1840.

[6] NEWMAN J. H., Sermons Bearing on Subjects of the Day, Christian Classics, Westminster, Md. 1968, 18, p. 258. (SSD)

[7] Cf. Sayings of Cardinal Newman, Carraig Books (Reprints 3), Dublin 1976, p. 44.

[8] BOYCE Ph., At Prayer with Newman, in: STROLZ M.K. (ed.), In Search of Light. Life, Development, Prayer, Rome 1985, p. 65.

[9] Cf. To Eleanor Bretherton, née Watt, see DICK K., Tröstende und mahnende Briefe an die Pfarrkinder, in: Kirchenzeitung Köln 47/1995.

[10] NEWMAN J. H, Fifteen Sermons Preached Before the University of Oxford Between A.D. 1826 and 1843 in the Definitive Third Edition of 1872, University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, IN 1997. (US)