9 August 2009

Edith Stein and John Haycroft.

I invite those who have not read it to consider my post of August 1 about Edith Stein. I am not convinced that her present status is misguided, though I would agree that there is something very JP2 about the rapidity of her elevation from a mere beata to Patron of Europe.

John Haycroft was neither a woman nor a Jew nor a philosopher nor a martyr. He lived and worshipped in my parish. He was a college servant - what in Oxford we call a scout. He was the scout of soon-to-be Beatus Ioannes Henricus Newman. You see, my parish was the behind-the- green-baize-door part of gentlemanly, academic Oxford.

Haycroft never followed his master into full communion with the Holy See. But he also never forgot the lessons he had learned from ... whom? from Newman or from Canon Thomas Chamberlain (my distinguished predecessor who brought Catholicism out of the Common Rooms of Victorian Oxford into the ordinary parish church of a slum district)? Or from both?

As an old man, when Communion had to be brought to him in his own home (a Victorian terrace house which, mercifully, survived the slum clearances of the last two decades), he insisted on observing the Eucharistic Fast, and on having his little table arranged so the the priest who brought him God's Body was ... facing East!

August 11 this year, I suppose, could be the last anniversary of Newman's death before he is raised to the altars. I shan't forget the little manservant who felt so privileged to be able to listen to the discussions of Newman and his august friends. If the Sovereign Pontiff comes to Oxford to do the beatification, I will be glad to show him round S Thomas's.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful account of John Haycroft. Obviously a humble servant of Christ.