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Monday, June 28, 2010
Newman's vision in a nutshell v.2
John Henry Newman (1801 – 1890) is to be beatified by the Pope this September in Birmingham. Here a little overview of the major theme of his thought, namely the importance of God’s communication to man – that is God’s “Revelation” in Jesus Christ in his Church.

In 1816 at the age of 15 Newman began to experience an inner conviction which stayed with him all his life. As he put it at the beginning of his Apologia, he began “to rest in the thought of two and two only absolute and luminously self-evident beings, myself and my creator.”

For Newman all human knowledge is based upon trusting relationship, ultimately with our revealing God – which friendship and knowledge we call “faith”. He wrote in 1870
“… to act you must assume, and that assumption is faith ... [Religion] has ever been synonymous with revelation … it has ever been an assertion of what we are to believe. … it has ever been a message, a history, or a vision.” (Grammar of Assent, c.4)

God’s intention to reveal to us, means that the Church "must be decided and plain spoken in its doctrine" (The Arians of the 4th Century,1833). In 1870 he wrote "That the Church is the infallible oracle of truth is the fundamental dogma of the Catholic religion." (Grammar of Assent, end of Part I)

Thus it is that Our Lord Jesus clearly instituted the office of the Pope.
“The supremacy of conscience is the essence of natural religion; the supremacy of the Apostle, or Pope, or Church, or Bishop is the essence of revealed religion. (Development of Doctrine, 1846)

Six years later Newman went further:

“Deeply do I feel, ever will I protest, … [that] the voice of Peter [in the Pope] is now, as it ever has been, a real authority, infallible when it teaches, … Before it speaks, the most saintly may mistake; and after it has spoken, the most gifted must obey. ... (Cathedra Sempiterna 1852).


Newman, a convert from the Church of England, saw that the 16th century Reformation in our country started a cultural denial of the definite presence of clear divine revelation, this is turn had, by his time, led to “Liberalism”, namely
“the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but that one creed is as good as another … It is inconsistent with any recognition of any religion, as true … In my own country … it threatens to have a formidable success”
This is from his 1879 “Biglietto” speech on receiving the Cardinal’s hat. He confirmed that:
“For 30, 40, 50 years I have resisted to the best of my powers the spirit of Liberalism in religion. [… this erroneous] spirit [is] sweeping into its own ranks great numbers of able, earnest, virtuous men”

In his famous “Second spring” sermon of 1852 on the restoration of Catholic Bishops to our land he predicted that we might now be entering an all too:
“English Spring, an uncertain, anxious time of hope and fear, of joy and suffering,—of bright promise and budding hopes, yet withal, of keen blasts, and cold showers, and sudden storms.”

He added that: “in proportion to God's grace is the fury of His enemies … [but] the more the enemy rages against us, so much the more will the Saints in Heaven plead for us.”

posted by Sinead Reekie at 11:04 am