I wonder if the canonisation of Blessed John Henry Newman will be welcomed by any thematically associated exhibitions? I might nominate a picture which appeared in London in 2010 from Budapest and had also featured in a very jolly little exhibition put on by Christie's in 2004: a fine portrait by Philip de Laszlo of Leo XIII, who rehabilitated Newman after the Pio Nono years by giving him (despite the machinations of Cardinal Manning) a Cardinal's hat.
I never forget a Laszlo, because right beside my door in Great School at Lancing hung a superb portrait by Laszlo of a former head master ... he did it cheap because he had a couple of boys at the College. Laszlo rendered Dr Bowlby's eyes very well: haunted and disappointed. Evelyn Waugh commented that it was while he was at Lancing that Bowlby must have realised that he had been passed over for a bishopric ... he ended up sacked after a SCR coup ... one of life's unachievers?
I have been told that Laszlo's first attempt at a portrait of the Pope made him look disastrously like the late Voltaire; but the artist was very young at the time! Laszlo recorded that, during his four sittings with Pope Leo, the Holy Father conversed about "a great variety of subjects; political, religious, social, artistic and scientific". The eyes are those of an old (he was in his nineties when he died), kindly, highly intelligent, and intellectually lively man.
Pope Leo was no slouch when it came to composing Latin hymns.
26 August 2019
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Dear Fr Hunwicke,
I often recite the Prayer to St Joseph, composed by Leo XIII, after the Rosary; my Latin is quite basic, but I do notice the difference between his style and that of, say, the Vulgate:
Ad te beate Joseph, in tribulatione nostra confugimus, atque, implorato Sponsæ tuæ sanctissimæ auxilio, patrocinium quoque tuum fidenter exposcimus. Per eam, quæsumus, quæ te cum immaculata Virgine Dei Genetrice conjunxit, caritatem, perque paternum, quo Puerum Jesum amplexus es, amorem, supplices deprecamur, ut ad hereditatem, quam Jesus Christus acquisivit Sanguine suo, benignus respicias, ac necessitatibus nostris tua virtute et ope succurras. Tuere, o Custos providentissime divinæ Familiæ, Jesu Christi subolem electam; prohibe a nobis, amantissime Pater, omnem errorum ac corruptelarum luem; propitius nobis, sospitator noster fortissime, in hoc cum potestate tenebrarum certamine e cælo adesto; et sicut olim Puerum Jesum e summo eripuisti vitæ discrimine, ita nunc Ecclesiam sanctam Dei ab hostilibus insidiis atque ab omni adversitate defende: nosque singulos perpetuo tege patrocinio, ut ad tui exemplar et ope tua suffulti, sancte vivere, pie emori, sempiternamque in cælis beatitudinem assequi possimus. Amen.
Could you comment upon some salient features of this prayer, especially as it differs from the liturgical Latin of the Breviary and Missal? (For some reason I am reminded of the scene in Compton Mackenzie's Sinister Street wherein Michael is for the first time shewn a copy of the Little Office of Our Lady, and comments "What bad Latin!")
To me Pio Nono was right not to make Newman a Cardinal. For both Newman and Leo XIII at heart practiced a religion of psychic consolation. St. Paul speaks of this religion at 1st Cor.2: 14.. It is the practice of "psychikos anthropos," the psychic man, who's mental capacity remains trapped at the level of dianoia. Dianoia as the suffix "dia" indicates is always dualist: me and the Lord. It thus differs from the "nous Christou" open to inspiration by the Holy Spirit. That inspiration comes with kenōsis—total self emptying unto death of the "psychic man" above all. This is not to blame Newman he lived in an age, which prized consolation above all. Just visit High Gate burying ground in London and see the consolatory monuments built by Victorians in an effort to shield themselves from the kenōsis required to attain the level of nous Christou. So sad the new Pope Francis church militant has fallen once again into the trap of psychic christianity. Is Catholicism any more than a psychic phenomenon? it makes me ask: Is canonizing Newman a way forward to the Basileia tou Theou (Kingdom of God)? if not, where are we being led?
Didn’t the Cardinal write, “Holiness before peace”?
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