Since faith is one, it must be professed in all its purity and integrity". Pope Francis/Pope Benedict

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Cardinal Newman: A pastor of souls who preached the Cross

"It is the death of the Eternal Word of God made flesh, which is our great lesson how to think and how to speak of this world"
John Henry Cardinal Newman

"The warmth and humanity"of
Cardinal Newman
John Henry Cardinal Newman, spent half his long life coming into the Catholic Church. The other half was spent "coming out" of the Catholic Church, distributing Her spiritual fruits to all who would listen. Even, as an Anglican - in truth drawing not so much on Anglicanism, but on the early Church Fathers and the Gospels - he put us on alert to preach Christ crucified, and only Him crucified. 

The hallmark of any disciple is the preaching of the Cross; in the great man's own words" "the heart of religion"This may well explain the near collapse of religion in our day: a near pathological hatred, aversion and fear of the Cross. The constant temptation of a crossless "Christ" is but an idol, a prefiguration of the man of perdition. Without the Cross, Christianity becomes a satanic caricature. It is from the sermon, The Cross of Christ Measure of the World", that I shall strive to draw my inspiration. 

Though a scholar, it is as a pastor of souls that he truly shines. Newman confirmed it: ".... the world of intellect and science...the pride and confidence of reason, and the absorbing devotion of thought to transitory objects, which is the consequence. Would you form a right judgment of all this? Look at the Cross". 

To the wealthy and powerful, Newman proclaimed: "consider... the form and ceremonial, the pomp, the state, the circumstance; and the vainglory. Do you wish to know the worth of it all? Look at the Cross of Christ".

To politicians:":see...the strivings of the ambitious, the intrigues of the crafty. What is the end of all this turmoil? the grave. What is the measure? The Cross".

To those suffering in poverty, illness, Newman wrote:"look at misery, look at poverty and destitution...pain and suffering, diseases long or violent, all that is frightful and revolting. Would you know how to rate all these? Gaze upon the Cross".

Holiness radiates from the countenance of
the elderly saint
This is true realism: the reality of the Cross! For it is through the Cross that we are saved; it is the Cross that we must take up to live the Christian life. Following St. Paul, Newman wrote: "Jesus Christ and He crucified" is, as the Apostle tells us, "a hidden wisdom;"—hidden in the world, which seems at first sight to speak a far other doctrine,—and hidden in the faithful soul, which to persons at a distance, or to chance beholders, seems to be living but an ordinary life, while really it is in secret holding communion with Him who was "manifested in the flesh," "crucified through weakness," "justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, and received up into glory."

Newman followed the great example of his inspirations, Sts. Philip Neri and Francis de Sales in the preaching and bringing the Gospel out to the people. Nor to ever be forgotten is the apostolic fervour of Bl. Dominic Barberi, who received Newman into the Church. Bl. John Henry manifested the essential charity of a priest; to bring the life-giving truth of Christ to the lost sheep. 

Of this charity, Pope Benedict XVI, wrote in the beatification sermon of Bl. John Henry: 

While it is John Henry Newman’s intellectual legacy that has understandably received most attention in the vast literature devoted to his life and work, I prefer on this occasion to conclude with a brief reflection on his life as a priest, a pastor of souls. The warmth and humanity underlying his appreciation of the pastoral ministry is beautifully expressed in another of his famous sermons: “Had Angels been your priests, my brethren, they could not have consoled with you, sympathized with you, have had compassion on you, felt tenderly for you, and made allowances for you, as we can; they could not have been your patterns and guides, and have led you on from your old selves into a new life, as they can who come from the midst of you” (“Men, not Angels: the Priests of the Gospel”, Discourses to Mixed Congregations, 3). He lived out that profoundly human vision of priestly ministry in his devoted care for the people of Birmingham during the years that he spent at the Oratory he founded, visiting the sick and the poor, comforting the bereaved, caring for those in prison. No wonder that on his death so many thousands of people lined the local streets as his body was taken to its place of burial not half a mile from here

Truly, it may be said that Cardinal Newman lived the Gospel: 

Let us begin with faith; let us begin with Christ; let us begin with His Cross and the humiliation to which it leads.

1 comment:

Lawrence and Susan Fox said...

Beautiful piece Barona. The cross is indeed what modern man is fleeing. Thank God for the witness of this holy man. God bless you. Susan Fox