Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Newman Beatification

There have been rumours coming from Rome about this for months, I wait for it to be confirmed by the Holy See but I wonder if there is a serious cult of Newman anywhere. I know lots of people admire his writings, part of his thought has had a considerable influence on the Church, but that is not a cult. Evidence of such a thing has been a demand that the present Pope has made of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
Our local secondary school used to be called "Cardinal Newman", now it is just called "Newman". I asked a group of children, why it was called that, there was no reference to the venerabile, one boy suggested it was connected to young people, as "New Men", the others thought that sounded plausable. I really can't think many candles will be burnt in his honour there or anywhere else in the country. Does anyone know where there is evidence of a popular cult, I mean more than just the enthusiasm of a few priests?

(CNA).- The Vatican has approved the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, the English convert and theologian who has had immense influence upon English-speaking Catholicism, the Birmingham Mail reports.
John Henry Newman was born in 1801. As an Anglican priest, he led the Oxford Movement that sought to return the Church of England to its Catholic roots. His conversion to Catholicism in 1845 rocked Victorian England. After becoming an Oratorian priest, he was involved in the establishment of the Birmingham Oratory.
He died in 1890 and is buried at the oratory country house Rednall Hill.
The Catholic Church has accepted as miraculous the cure of an American deacon’s crippling spinal disorder. The deacon, Jack Sullivan of Marshfield, Massachusetts, prayed for John Henry Newman’s intercession.
At his beatification ceremony later this year, John Henry Newman will receive the title “Blessed.” He will need one more recognized miracle to be canonized.
The case of a 17-year-old New Hampshire boy who survived serious head injuries from a car crash is being investigated as a possible second miracle.

17 comments:

bernadette said...

Fr Blake. I think it`s a slow boiler due to God's perfect timing. I am a very very late devotee of Cardinal Newman, and was very bored for a long time by the devoteees I encountered. My mistake. He is a Saint for England at the time when God deems it right for the wounds of divisions to be healed and for our identity to be restored (in my own personal view). A possible parallel might be the case of St Charbel of the Lebanon. Now, he lay dormant for many years and has recently enjoyed a renaissance in that region (along with the newly canonised St Hardini) - just as things are getting very interesting in that reigon - the local Catholics need their heroes. I see it as being the same way with John Henry Newman. We now have a family devotion to him - he seems very real in these times for English Catholics as we fight our corner. But his canonisation will be a profound moment in the evangelisaiton of this country and so, the timing is everything. This might a load of rubbish, but it is honestly how I see it. A not unconnected factor(for me) is that I have found great consolation at The Oratory in Birmingham over recent years whenever I have gone there in times of trouble. I have come out renewed and strengthened.

It is worth writing out a little historical time-line, charting the major events from the English reformation through to today. I think Cardinal Newman's place is significant. He emerged as we were regaining confidence to rebuild... and you could say that rebuilding is still in progress. His canonisation will be crucial for our corner of the Catholic church. He is a true shepherd and trying to carry EVERYONE to that end. A true evangeliser.
just my view.. and possibly totally wrong.

God is rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

"cult of Newman"

Oh no Father. You've got it all wrong. Canonisation, since the changes made by "John Paul The Greatest Pope Who Ever Lived" is not about silly things like rules or tradition. In the (horrible) olden days we paid attention to things like a requirement for an enduring cult of devotion.

Nowadays it's all about our feeeeeeelings.

"Santo subito!"

...and don't you forget it!

gemoftheocean said...

Count me as a great admirer. It always takes great courage for one who is prominent in the Anglican church to swim the Tiber. I think these people risk sacrificing everything in their personal lives - status, friendship, family ties etc. to witness to the truth the Church teaches. "What's not to like" is my thoughts on such people.

Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

You can imagine our excitement here in Birmingham!

David said...

well (and please no one shout at me), I always thought saints had to display "heroic virtue" - I don't really find much in Newman I find like that. Again, please nobody shout... Now, Bl. Dominic Barberi - there's heroic virtue for you!

Christopher said...

Great comment, bernadette, I certainly have to agree!

Father, don't you think the cult of Newman is very diffused, there are surely lots and lots of devotees who often have recourse to him in their prayers, but there is no one site or group (other than the English Oratorians) who promote it.

Also, I wonder what we mean by a "cult". Such things can be manufactured (given the right circumstances and - not to put too fine a point on it - amount of money) or they can be borne out of irrationalism, but that doesn't necessarily invalidate them. So, isn't it possible that a "cult" for a saint like Newman could be somewhat "intellectual", that is to say made up of those for whom his theology has been formative or decisive in some way, and who by virtue of this relationship have a devotion to him which might not be along the "usual" devotional lines. After all, who ever lit candles to saints like Gregory of Nyssa, or Cyril of Alexandria, or, come to that, Augustine, Hilary or Irenaeus? No, surely there are all kinds of saints for a Church full of all kinds of people (even those who don't light many candles or aren't particularly heroic in virtues!!).

Henry said...

There is probably just as much, or as little, a case for canonising Manning. Or Chesterton. What is the purpose?

Ma Tucker said...

He wrote the Dream of Gerontius. Elgar's music of this great poem has evangelised 7 people I personally know over the past two years. I know many lay people who have read pro vita sua. Have to say I think its incessant precision borders on the autistic range but a great read all the same. I've heard his apocalyptic writings were quite good. Does anyone have any references/recommendations?

Volpius Leonius said...

You are forgetting the miracle George, however I understand what you are saying, I don't see much remarkable about Cardinal Newman either, which probably explains why there is no cult.

He wrote well and was well educated but is the Church going to start handing out Sainthood with University diplomas?

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

Canonize Faber.

I pray to him all the time, and with Father Philip, they've kept my spiritual nose above water for a long time.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

and I am given to understand that he had a particular friend.

Great writer. Good Catholic.

Doesn't have to be a canonized saint.

Have we got into the modern habit of thinking that one cannot be a 'good Catholic' unless one is saint material? Could this be a byproduct of John Paul's mad obsession with saint manufacturing?

Henry said...

The particular friend being, presumably, Hurrell Froude? Yet God works in strange ways. Froude died in 1836, which may have a bearing on the whole business.

What I have read of Newman strikes me as penetrating and relevant to contemporary issues, but whether that makes him a saint is another matter. Studying Newman's writings could be a good thing to do anyway.

But I still find it strange that Manning has never been put forward, as far as I know, because the two together were figureheads of the nineteenth century Catholic revival, and this when it was the religion of the poor and despised Irish. Conversion always takes a certain courage and willingness to go against the flow, even though it may not lead to martyrdom or anything dramatic, and in a sense, the two men "stand for" the entire movement.

And looking the decline we have fallen into, we need another impetus once more.

Volpius Leonius said...

We are all priests now, maybe we are all saints to, all must have prizes after all, its not the winning but the taking part that counts right?

surge said...

it is reported today in Italian on the Oratorian Website

"La Procura Generale è lieta di annunciare che in data odierna la Consulta Medica della Congregazione per le Cause dei Santi ha espresso all’unanimità giudizio positivo sulla straordinarietà della guarigione attribuita all’intercessione del Ven. Card. John Henry Newman C.O. e presentata dalla Postulazione come “miracolo” per l'auspicata beatificazione. Rendiamo grazie a Dio per questo importante passo che accelera l’iter della Causa, la quale in tempi brevi dovrebbe ormai giungere a conclusione."

which could be badly translated as

The Procurator General [of the Oratory] is pleased to announce that today the Medical Commission of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints has expressed a unanimous positive judgement on the extraordinariness of the cure attributed to the intercession of the Venerable JHN presented by the Postulator as the "Miracle" for the beatification. We thank God for this important event which will speed the course of the Cause which we hope in a short time will arrive at its conclusion.

David Deavel said...

I'm always somewhat shocked at people who admit they know little about a figure like Newman and then blithely tell the world that "He was no saint; he had no heroic virtue. Blah Blah."

Anyone who has ever studied his life or his correspondence knows what kind of virtue he possessed. Anyone who examines the number of people whom he brought into the Church either by his personal influence or through his writings knows what kind of effects he has made. There are simply countless individuals who have been brought into the Church. Fr. Stanley Jaki, in his book NEWMAN TO CONVERTS, chronicles all the people Newman helped in his earthly life. Fr. Jaki also includes a chapter for all those who converted through his writings. And it's nowhere near complete. I think of Joanna Bogle, whose husband was brought into the Church by Newman's writings, and whose grandfather was also brought in by his writings. Or of Dr. Sheridan Gilley who converted after writing his biography of Newman. And the list goes on.

I think the problem is that many people think that sainthood is all about flashy miracles and bi-location and whatnot: it is instead about conformity to the divine will. Anyone who studies Newman knows the degree to which he was conformed to God's will. And that is why he has had such power in bringing so many to belief in Christ and his Church.

Celestius said...

I am very sceptical about the beatification of Cardinal Newman, Far too much emphasis is paid on the juridical process. I know the Birmingham Oratory have hired a very expensive lay Italian canonist to get this through the congregation of saints.

Notburga said...

I live in Germany and when Newman will be beatified I will gladly not only light a candle, but, if at all possible, come to Birmingham for the ceremony.
I fully agree with David Deavel's comment. Ever since I read Newman's biography and part of his correspondence, it struck me that, far from being only learned, he was a very holy person indeed. As to the heroic practice of virtue I would like to see who would be ready to give up nearly everything he is attatched to because he has seen the truth in the Catholic church, to which, however, he has absolutely no emotional connection. And afterwards in that self-same Church see so many of the initiatives he set his heartblood into, and which he knew were vital for the survival of the Catholic faith, swarted by narrow-minded people? Who of todays criticisers of the Church ever had the humility and obedience to obey and submit? Not to speak of his prayer life, asceticism, and never-tyring efforts in helping others closer to God?