Sunday, August 24, 2008

Newman and friends

Oh, isn't the Radio 4 Sunday Programme annoying!
They did something on the exhumation of the Servant of God, John Henry, Cardinal Newman. Peter Tatchell, the homosexual activist was accusing the Church of grave robbing and violating Newman's last wish to buried with his friend Ambrose St John, and of course suggesting something unpleasantly sinful. We can be quite certain Newman as a loyal son of Our Mother the Church is happy with whatever she decides about his mortal remains.

Fr Tim did a post sometime ago on Newman's grave.



As I said back then: "On the left is the grave of Edward Caswall who died in 1878: on the right is John Joseph Gordon who died in 1853; Ambrose St John died in 1875. All three of these men worked very closely with Newman and he felt that they had died relatively young in helping to carry forward his own projects. His instruction for his own burial was not a gesture of affection for St John alone but a desire for the mortal remains of the four of them to imitate the cross."

Even in the nineteenth century it would have been thought strange for a Prince of the Church to have demanded, as his last wish, to have been buried in common grave rather than a tomb in a Church but Newman was a man of strong passions, of deep loves for his friends, and let's be honest, equal passions about those he disagreed with. Yet for anyone faintly familiar with his writings there is a deep humility. In his popular devotions he encouraged prayer for the dead, so his burial with St John, Caswall and Gordon, there is both the mark of friendship and also humility.


One of things that worries me about the beatification of Newman is that there is not a popular cultus, he is honoured as a great theologian but he does not capture the popular imagination. Perhaps what might help is to make more of his friendships, even to designate him as a patron of friendship.


In a world that is unable to understand friendship without sexualising it, Newman could be a great example of it as something pure and holy, and necessary for being a human person and for the mission of the Church. The lives of so many of the great saints are marked by deep friendships with someone of the same or the opposite sex. I suspect that it is only by learning to love one's friends can one understand how to love Christ. Some of Newman's writings are reminiscent of St Augustine writing in his Confessions on the loss of his friend. So many of peoples problems in society today seem to stem from a lack of true friendships, as a Church we need to highlight the concept of pure and chaste friendship as part of holiness.

11 comments:

Ponte Sisto said...

"In a world that is unable to understand friendship without sexualising it..."

You've hit the nail on the head!

Richard Duncan said...

Peter Tatchell would do well to read Newman instead of misappropriate him for his own ends. Newman sees human friendships as “the preparatory exercise for the love of all men”, thus supernaturalising them, instead of viewing them within a Freudian pan-sexualist hermeneutic. One quote should suffice to show the difference between him and Tatchell (this is from the Parochial and Plain Sermons and is entitled "love of relations and friends".

“By trying to love our relations and friends, by submitting to their wishes, though contrary to our own, by bearing with their infirmities, by overcoming their occasional waywardness by kindness, by dwelling on their excellences, and trying to copy them, thus it is that we form in our hearts that root of charity, which, though small at first, may, like the mustard seed, at last even overshadow the earth. The vain talkers about philanthropy, just spoken of, usually show the emptiness of their profession, by being morose and cruel in the private relations of life, which they seem to account as subjects beneath their notice. Far different indeed, far different (unless it be a sort of irreverence to contrast such dreamers with the great Apostle, whose memory we are today celebrating), utterly the reverse of this fictitious benevolence was his elevated and enlightened sympathy for all men.”

Thomasso said...

Well said, Father. Newman's cult deserves much more exposure and support within the country.

nickbris said...

Allowing Tatchell to advertise his rediculous views on the BBC just goes to show how corrupt the corporation is.

Mac McLernon said...

That piece on the radio got me sooooo angry, I had to get up and turn the radio off before I threw it out of the window...

...and the interview had only gotten as far as introducing Peter Tatchell who mentioned the "gay-hating Church"! It was pretty obvious what the agenda was going to be!

Anonymous said...

I thought that the chap who answered Tatchell's crazy suggestions (the former press spokesman for the archbishop of Westminster I think)did a pretty good job. I must admit that I uttered a few things in the direction of the radio during the interview (nothing too unseemly though).

Fr. A.M.

Jackie Parkes said...

I am reading CS Lewis The Four Loves & particularly the chapter on Friendship.Today it seems to me we have often lost the art. I also enjoy 'Ever Yours Affly' on Newman's women friends..how come Tatchel doesn't mention them??

WhiteStoneNameSeeker said...

Poor Peter Tatchell. He really does come up with a lot of nasties doesn't he. The BBC like that sort of thing for some reason. It's why I don't listen or watch any more.

(Btw Father I've asked a question about the Sacrament of the Sick on my blog. If you get a minute I could use some advice.)
God bless

The Black Mantilla said...

The current hypersexualized revisionists are compelled to reinterpret everything as tawdry. They're relentless and boringly predictable.

Fr Richard Biggerstaff said...

And they could't even pronounce Ambrose St John(I've always understood its pronounced Singen)!
They kept saying St John.

John said...

There is one name which used to come up regularly when I inhabited the British Isles and that was Norman St. John Stevas.
In those days even the BBC used to pronounce his name as Norman SingeN Stevas. It's a bit like Magdalen College being pronounced as Mawdlin College.
By the way, when I was a boy at school we had a priest used to teach us. His name was Fr. St. John Oram.....Father SingeN Oram.

JARay