9 October 2021

SALVE IOHANNES DOCTOR ET MAGISTER

What a glorious day! The Feast/Solemnity of S John Henry Newman, Confessor.

For me, one of the most sacred spots in England is the little Oratory which is part of his Study within the Oratorian Palazzo in Birmingham. One side of the partition is the collection of his more personal books, memorials of the long life of study which linked his Anglican days with his Apostolate in the Catholic Church.

He insisted that this life was an unbroken continuum of opposition to Liberalism and Relativism. 

On the other side of that partition, accompanying him every morning to the Altar, was the art-work done for him by one of the closest of his life-long friends, Maria Giberne. 

Everybody has their favourite Newman books. I love the wickedly satirical Loss and Gain with its portrait of 1840s Oxford ... and his Development of Christian Doctrine. His sermon about the Second Spring still gets the tears pricking behind my eyes. And his Grammar of Assent seems to me to anticipate the insights towards which some philosophers of the first half of the twentieth century so laboriously  trudged. And his study of the Syllabus Errorum meticulously, 'surgically', analyses the magisterial status of that document and of every paragraph within it. Rarely read now, it is a superb example of S John Henry's fierce conviction of the necessity of obedience towards the Successor of S Peter, combined with a cold, 'legalist', and almost rationalist approach to exercises of the papal magisterium.

And Newman was a pastor; witness the care he took with souls who were much troubled by the hypersuperultrapapalists and their ridiculous exaggeration of the authority of Pio Nono.

S John Henry had to wait for the Election of Papa Pecci before he received proper honours. May we hope for a Leo XIV? Subito!

1 comment:

vetusta ecclesia said...



Doctor ecclesial, subito

I discovered by chance among some inherited books, that a volume of JHN’s poems was signed by him. Oddly, in pencil, no other dedication. The librarian at B’ ham Oratory assures me of its authenticity