24 May 2008


Have you ever read Newman's novel Loss and Gain? There are lovely things in it; like this scene towards the end when the hero, having made up his mind to enter into full communion with the Holy See, enters for the first time a Catholic church where Benediction is about to happen: A priest, or at least an assistant, had mounted for a moment above the altar, and removed a chalice or vessel which stood there; he could not see distinctly. A cloud of incense was rising on high; the people suddenly all bowed low; what could it mean? The truth flashed on him, fearfully yet sweetly; it was the Blessed Sacrament - it was the Lord Incarnate who was on the altar, who had come to visit and to bless his people. It was the Great Presence, which makes a Catholic Church different from every other place in the world; which makes it as no other place can be, holy. The Breviary offices were by this time not unknown to [him]; and as he threw himself on the pavement, in sudden self-abasement and joy, some words of those great Antiphons came into his mouth ... O Adonai, and leader of the house of Israel, who appearedst in the bush to Moses; O Emmanuel, the desire of the nations and their Saviour, come and save us, O Lord our God.

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