This week, we meet Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-1890). Newman was a convert to Catholicism from English Evangelicalism. His conversion was heavily influenced by the early Church Fathers and his knowledge of Scripture. He made great contributions to the Catholic faith via sermons on the relationship of faith and reason.
One of Newman’s contributions was to recognize the university as a place of study and learning about faith. Today, Newman Centers represent Catholic campus ministries on non-Catholic campuses, and forums for interfaith dialogue and justice work.
Newman also brought the Oratory of St. Philip Neri to England in 1848. Today, the Oratorians include over 500 priests throughout the world.
Did you miss the live session on Tuesday night? You can listen to a 30 minute podccast about Newman from Bishop Barron here: https://podtail.com/podcast/the-word-on-fire-show/wof-040-bl-john-henry-newman-the-convert/
Questions for discussion/reflection
- How does Baptism make us members of the Church?
- What does Newman mean by the “divinization of the Christian”? In what other writings do we find evidence of this truth? (John 17:3, 20-23; CCC 460)
“The Word became flesh to make us partakers of the divine nature.” 2 Peter 1:4
“For the Son of God became man that we might become God.” St. Athenasius
- What were the important points of conversion in Newman’s life? What was converted at these points? His mind? His heart? His will? Did his conversion take place all at once or over time?
- Think of a time of conversion in your life. What was converted? Your mind, heart or will?
- Newman had the benefit of both a Protestant and Catholic prespective. Discuss what you have learned from different non-Catholic religious traditions in your life – Buddhist or Protestant, perhaps.
- Newman was a champion for the laity, setting important groundwork for the Vatican II Council to articulate the role of the laity in the modern Church. How do you live out your call as a member of the laity in the Church?
- What impact, do you suppose, did the growing secularization of the 19th and 20th Centuries have on Newman’s writings about the authentic development of doctrine? To remind you, authentic development includes:
preservation of type (if the original type is not preserved, then the development is corrupt)
conservative action upon its past (development must illustrate, not correct, the body of thought from which it proceeds)
the power of assimilation (total accomodation to the culture and total resistance to it are both signs of inauthentic development)
For additional information about Blessed John Henry Newman, visit these websites:
Blog about Cardinal John Henry Newman – http://www.cardinaljohnhenrynewman.com/
Article from Aleteia – https://aleteia.org/2016/01/20/john-henry-newman-may-be-nearing-sainthood/
Information from across the pond – http://www.thepapalvisit.org.uk/Cardinal-Newman/Newman-s-Beatification
Podcast and text from Franciscan Media – https://www.franciscanmedia.org/blessed-john-henry-newman/
Video by Bishop Barron about Newman – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIPt9biBe2Q
Video from the Province of St. Joseph – https://vimeo.com/14426648
From the Cardinal Newman Society, an article on the transcendentals: The good, the true and the beautiful: https://cardinalnewmansociety.org/educating-truth-beauty-goodness-2/
History of the Newman Centers – http://www.uscatholic.org/life/2012/01/newman-centers-brief-history
The Mission of My Life, by John Henry Newman
God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to mehich 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. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. 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. Therefore, I will trust Him. Whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.