HOLINESS RATHER THAN PEACE
John Henry Newman is, beyond
doubt, one of the greatest minds and noblest persons of the 19th
century. In him is a rare yet winsome combination of learning,
originality, sound judgment, profundity and holiness. He was the
leader of the Oxford Tractarian Movement.
John Henry immersed himself in
the works of the early Fathers of the Church. He became a master of
Catholic Philosophy, Theology, Morals and Scriptures. He was truly a
19th century Father of the Church. During his time, he resuscitated
the Fathers of the Church, revitalized sacramental life and restored sacred
It was around 1832-1833 that
Newman, the Anglican, on a journey through Africa, Italy, Greece and Sicily,
stopped in Rome. And for the rest of his life, the city laid a
religious spell upon him. In Sicily, he became seriously ill but he
was so sure he was not going to die: "I shall not
die." On his way home by ship, he earnestly prayed for guidance
toward the truth: "Lead Kindly Light."
In "Tracts for the
Times," he wrote that the Church of Christ had three branches:
the corrupted Catholic Church, the Greek Church and the Anglican
Church. In "Tract 90", he tried to reconcile 39 articles of
the Anglican Church with the Council of Trent. . .an impossible undertaking
even for the genius of Newman.
Unable to resolve his doubts,
he went on a long retreat in 1941. For four years, he lived a life of
silence, study, prayer and penance. In 1845, he was received into the
Catholic Church by Blessed Barbieri, a Passionist mystic who lived a life of
suffering for the conversion of England.
As an Anglican, Newman
preached but without eloquence and, oftentimes, severe and melancholy in
tone. But Newman, the Catholic convert, bloomed "in irony, in
humor, in eloquence and in imaginative force."
Newman loved the Church and,
in his great concern, wrote "A Form of Infidelity of the Day,"
anticipating St. Paul's "great apostasy" within the Church wherein
many would hold the supremacy of reason over Faith.
Newman predicted the total
loss of the Church's temporal powers; he predicted the role of the lay in
the renewal of the Church; he decried the abandoning of the Faith by many
within the Catholic Church.
Newman was always under the
cloud of suspicion for heresy. But he clearly and courageously
explained the Catholicity of his stands. He was very Augustinian in
mind and heart. "The final word is not with thought, nor with
reason, nor with the head, BUT WITH LOVE, with the will and with the