Thursday, September 25, 2003

September 25, 1843
was not an easy day in the life of Venerable John Henry Newman. It was the anniversary of the dedication of the Anglican church building in the village of Littlemore- a church which he had raised the money to build. His beloved, now deceased, mother had laid the cornerstone, and there was a memorial plaque reading "Sacred to the memory of Jemima Newman" featured prominently on one wall.
He himself noted the day down:
" September 25.—Littlemore commemoration; Pusey administered sacrament; H. W. came; I preached No. 604, my last sermon....."
And as a biographer later put it:
"On September 25 he preached at Littlemore his sermon on the Parting of Friends....He told in that sermon, clearly for those who understood, how he himself had found the Church of his birth and of his early affections wanting; how he was torn asunder between the claims of those he must leave behind him and those who would follow him; that he could speak to his friends no more from that pulpit, but could only commit them to God and bid them strive to do His will. His voice broke (so the tradition runs) and his words were interrupted by the sobs of his hearers as he said his last words of farewell." - Wilfrid Ward, Life of Cardinal Newman, Volumes 1 and 2

The sermon is here :
"The Parting of Friends"
The final paragraph always moves me the most...

"And, O my brethren, O kind and affectionate hearts, O loving friends, should you know any one whose lot it has been, by writing or by word of mouth, in some degree to help you thus to act; if he has ever told you what you knew about yourselves, or what you did not know; has read to you your wants or feelings, and comforted you by the very reading; has made you feel that there was a higher life than this daily one, and a brighter world than that you see; or encouraged you, or sobered you, or opened a way to the inquiring, or soothed the perplexed; if what he has said or done has ever made you take interest in him, and feel well inclined towards him; remember such a one in time to come, though you hear him not, and pray for him, that in all things he may know God's will, and at all times he may be ready to fulfil it. "

It was an end- and it would be two more years before he would come to a new beginning. Yet that beginning would come.


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