Friday, April 23, 2004

In 1851
Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O., preached a sermon at St. Ann's, Leeds,at the reception into the Church of the Rev. Richard Ward, late Vicar of St. Saviour's, Leeds; the Rev. Thomas Minster, late Vicar of St. Saviours; the Rev. J. C. L. Crawley, S. Rooke, and Coombes, all Curates of St. Saviour's; the Rev. W. H. Lewthwaite, Incumbent of Clifford, near Tadcaster; the Rev. W. Neville, Manager of St. Saviour's Orphanage; and fourteen lay persons. ( The reception of most of the ministerial staff of St. Saviour's into the Catholic Church caused a bit of a stir, especially because St. Saviour's had been built by the Venerable's friend Pusey.) While he did not write it down, someone was apparently taking extensive notes.....

"Addressing those present as dear friends and brethren, Fr. Newman said this was no time for putting into order any thoughts which might be in his mind; nor, indeed, was it necessary, nor would they wish it. What they wished rather was that he should speak out of the fulness of his heart and there leave the matter. Because what was it that they who had that day been brought into the Catholic Church had received? They had received day for night, light for twilight, peace for warfare. There was not a change so great as that which took place from the state of doubt and confusion and misery in which the soul was, external to the Catholic Church, to that peace which it found when it came into it. They knew it was said there is a silence which can be heard, which can be felt. Anyone who had been at sea, and who had for days and nights heard the billows beating at the sides of the vessel, and then came into port, knew what a strange stillness it was when the continued noise of the billows had ceased. When a bell stopped there was a kind of fulness of silence which was most grateful from the contrast. So it was in comparing the tumult and irritation of mind, which they felt in their long seeking for peace, with the joy experienced when they had found it. It was the rich reward of their long anxieties. Those who did not care whether they were right or wrong, those who thought they were right, those who had a dead conscience-they had no anxiety; but it was when a ray of light came, it was when a wounded conscience stung them, it was when they had a misgiving that they were where they should not be-it was then that the warfare began. They had a feeling of duty and wished to do that duty, but they did not know where it lay. Sometimes they thought it lay this way, sometimes that way; and then the voices of friends came and over-persuaded them, and they were driven back; so that one way and another they were in a most miserable condition. It was partly, certainly, their own fault. It was the fault of all of them, doubtless, who had been external to the Catholic Church, that they did not enter it sooner, because if they had had a fuller determination to follow God's will doubtless they would have found it sooner. But Almighty God knew what they were made of, and He mercifully led them on by first one grace and then another, till they were brought nearer and nearer to that haven where they would be. But though they might be getting nearer they did not know where they stood. Others might see they were getting nearer, but to themselves they seemed to be drifted about, tossed up and down by the waves, and there seemed no hope. It often happened that when persons were near the shore they were amongst billows more alarming and more dangerous, because Satan blew the billows more fiercely in order to drown those who were near safety; and they knew that frequently in cases of shipwreck when those who fell into the water were endeavouring to reach the land something happened to carry them off. So it was in like manner that poor souls who were making towards that land where they wished to be might be seen going on gradually and gradually towards the shore, and it might be prophesied-humbly, but still prophesied-that they would be landed safe, and alas! when they were about to land, suddenly they drifted off; they perished, and it was not known what became of them. It was only known that they were not landed on the beach of the Catholic Church. But the Catholics present had all cause for rejoicing that to those to whom God's mercy had been shown that day it had not so happened. They had put themselves into God's hands, and God had brought them into that haven which they had sought. And now on this day they thanked God, as they well might, that He had, in His grace, received them safe. He had brought them within the fold of His Church, He had encompassed them with His everlasting armour, had shielded them from the enemy, and he trusted that they had now got a gift they would never lose; that they were now in a state from which they would never fall, and, through God's mercy, having long sought, having at last found, they would go on from strength to strength, grace to grace, doing more and more in His service, and whatever might be their trials, still they would persevere to the end, and die in the Faith, and so would be brought, through the blood and merits of Jesus Christ, to the land of glory in eternity. What a time was this, that such a thing should take place in it! What did they see? They saw the evil spirit stirred up from the four winds. They saw he was blowing from the four quarters of Heaven upon this land, to make the waves of the people rise against the Catholic Church. They might say, 'This is not the time for the Catholic Church to triumph.' But it was the time. Man's necessity was God's opportunity. The darker the day was, the brighter God's light came. Did they not know it was the property of the truth of God to advance against wind and tide in the most rapid way? It advanced against all the billows because it was divine-it was supernatural. That was the property of the truth of God, and, therefore, just at this season, when men were most furious against them, when they told all manner of lies and falsehoods against them-because Christ was with them when men were so inflamed against them, it was the very time for them to expect triumphs. The world could not conquer: it was impossible. No, they would see, as time went on, that all those things which now looked so black and unpromising would turn to the glory and the salvation of the Catholic Church. If men were called to do that which he did not think they meant to do-persecute the Catholics-it would not hurt them. Did they not know, in the three first centuries of Christianity, that the martyrs went through so much for Christianity that it was said the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the Church? So was it now. Supposing men were mad enough to inflict chains and imprisonment upon them, it would only increase the spread of truth. Of course, it was unpleasant to live in the continued anxiety which all this tumult amid opposition created. Catholics did not like to be taken from their usual occupations. Catholics did not like to be taken from their usual religious ceremonies. Bishops did not like to be taken from their flocks. They wished for peace. They wished for peace for the good of the world and for the good of their flocks internally. But would this state of warfare diminish the Church? No; it would increase it. Not a day passed but souls were received into the heart of the Catholic Church. Sometimes they might be high, sometimes they might be low, but the work could not be stopped. They recollected what Gamaliel said in the days of the Apostles. He said if the work was of man it would come to naught, but if it was of God it would go on, and they must take care they did not fight against it. So was it now. Here they were in the nineteenth century after Christ came into the world, and yet what was said by Gamaliel, 1,800 years ago, was fulfilled now. If this work was of man it would fall to naught. How was it that this work had gone on for 1,800 years, and now seemed more strong and flourishing for all the opposition which had existed against it? How was it that the Protestants were in such perplexity? Why, they had seen the Holy Father the Pope driven from Rome and obliged to take refuge elsewhere; they had seen him persecuted by his own people, and had said, 'Here is a poor creature; he can do nothing.'Catholics took them at their word. It was true the Pope was not strong in this world, and yet was strong; he suspected his strength must come, not from this, but from some other world, and he suspected it was from the throne of God. The words of Gamaliel were fulfilled. If the work was of man it would come to naught. It had not come to naught, and therefore it was not of man, but of God. He looked upon the converts present as specimens of this great miracle which is going on continually, this miracle of conversion of souls in spite of the opposition of the world. Every soul that was converted to God was converted by a miracle: it was a supernatural work which no power of man could do. It was a work of grace. It could not be worldly inducements which brought men into the Catholic Church, since they gained no riches, no honours, no praise from the mouths of men; but, on the contrary, they were reviled and called names. They gained nothing of this world. It was nothing, then, but a supernatural might which brought them in: it was nothing but the grace of God, seeing those things which the world could not see, and having a desire after those things which the world could not desire. That was the great distinction between the Catholic Church and every other body. Every other body depended upon the world. Take away its worldly support and it goes. There was no Protestant who would not grant, when he came to think, that the Church of England, for instance, would go to pieces directly the temporal support was taken away. It was impossible that it could stand. Protestants knew that very well. All the most sagacious knew it well. He recollected perfectly well, several years ago, a person in authority in the Church of England gave out a charge. What did he say? 'The State is a very bad mistress, but we must put ourselves under its protection, and surrender ourselves to it, because we cannot get a better. It was once thought reason and intellect would help the Protestants against the Catholics; but we find it is not so. We find the cleverest men become Catholics. It was said that learning, talent, and genius would leave the Catholics, but it was not so. Light, learning, talent, and genius, all go towards the Catholic Church. Well, then nothing is left to us. Let us cling to the State because we cannot do anything better. Our only hope is a worldly hope; our only hope is in the arm of flesh, because we can find nothing better.'Of course, those were not the very words, but the sentiment was nowise exaggerated. It was an honest and true sentiment, though it was very plain to come from a member of the Church of England. It was certain, if the protection of the State were taken from the Church of England it would crumble to pieces. Nothing would be left. It had no unity, no stability, no solidity, no existence, but in the power of the State. How different was the Catholic Church. The State did all it could against it, but it could not destroy it. Here was the State doing all it could against the Catholic Church, and yet the Catholic Church was growing in influence in the country. In spite of the State's having done so much for the Church of England, and so much against the Catholic Church, still, when this poor old man, whom they professed to despise, living two thousand miles off, put out a bit of paper naming certain Bishops of England, the Church of England could not bear the shadow of his hand going over the country. He wrote a few words, the shadow of his hand went over the country, and the whole country was in commotion. The true Vicar of Christ, two thousand miles distant, put into confusion this great country. Could there be a better triumph for all of them than this fact? Their enemies and the inhabitants of their country (part were not their enemies) could not bear the very whisper of the Vicar of Christ in relation to this country; and in spite of all the greatness of the Church of England, they saw it was merely worldly, while the Catholic Church, not standing upon worldly power, rose up by an unseen power, a power which every arm of flesh feared. The State Church feared it, because it knew that it was of earth, and that the Church of God came from Heaven. It was to the preacher an affecting thing that he should be there on that occasion, speaking to them, because whom was it they had received into the Catholic Church that day? Why, it was the first of a portion of a special congregation of the Church of England, of a district or parish of the Church of England, which was created under remarkable circumstances-to him especially so. They knew he was not always a Catholic. It was some years ago the grace of God made him a Catholic, and on the very day of his conversion what was taking place in this town? Why, the very day when he was being led, as he trusted and believed by the grace of God, to embrace the Faith of the Church of Christ-that was the very time the Church of St. Saviour was opened. It was opened, if he recollected rightly, with a long devotional service which lasted many days, and when that was taking place here he was being received into the Catholic Church 150 miles away. Therefore it was to him a circumstance of especial interest just at this moment, now he was thrown back to the period of his own conversion, to see in the event of this day a sort of reward of what God led him to do then, that he had been the instrument in part of doing what had been done now. How or when it was that those favoured souls who had that day been made members of the Catholic Church were led by the grace of God towards the Catholic Church, he knew not; but as regarded himself, he felt that they had wished him to come as a kind of witness to receive them, because there was this remarkable connexion between St. Saviour's Church being opened and his own conversion. Then it was that that was begun which now had its end, and they saw in this another illustration of the want of stability of everything in the Church of England. There had been a church-he meant St. Saviour's-opened with how much of pious feeling, with how many sincere aspirations, with how many ready offerings to Almighty God What sums of money had been expended upon that church. It had been the work of persons who in their hearts believed, in doing what they did, they were making an offering, not to the work of man, but to the Catholic church. They were mistaken in thinking so, but they brought their offerings. They did not act with a half liberality, but, bringing treasure by handfuls, they gave it for the erection of a church which they hoped would be a Catholic church. They adorned it, enriched it, and what had become of all those hopes which began six years ago? Why, had they not vanished into empty air? They saw that the church which they built had turned out to be nothing at all; and after a trial of six years there was that remarkable truth which came to him six years ago, that the Church of England was a mere shade, that it had no substance. Here was this trial which they saw had come to naught. There were piety, devotion, sincerity, earnestness?persons who would devote themselves earnestly to God; but alas! they built up the mere creation of this world, which would not last. It was coming to naught, and what had been the case here would be the case all over in the Church of England but for the power of the State. It was the power of the State which alone kept anything in its place in the Church of England. Not so with the Catholic Church. Merely sitting still, ordering its own work silently, it had attracted educated members of the Church of England to it. It was a burning and a shining light, and it preached to the people directly by its example. After some further observations, Dr. Newman begged the prayers of the Catholics present for those who had been received into the Church on that day and some days previously. He begged their prayers that the work begun might go on spreading and increasing daily, till all those were brought into the fold of Christ that ought to belong to it?that all those to whom God had given grace might have the veil taken from their eyes. He asked their prayers also-for prayer was omnipotentthat all those who had anything to do with the erection of St. Saviour's Church might be brought to the light of truth. They could not undo what they had done. St. Saviour's Church, so called, was given up to the Protestants, and there was an end of it. They had given it over to the State. They could not undo their own work; but it would be a great thing for all of them, while they felt that they could not undo much that they had done, that at least they could save their own souls, and show their earnestness by retracing their steps as far as they could. He begged them to pray that every one of the earnest persons who preached sermons at the opening of St. Saviour's Church might be brought into the fold of Christ; that all those who had hung upon their words might be brought fully to the truth; that those who, to some extent, had been nursing fathers to the Catholic Church, though they knew it not, might be brought in; and that every one who had been instrumental in the spread of Catholic doctrines in England, though they knew it not, might be brought into the Catholic Church. Finally, Dr. Newman asked his Catholic hearers to pray for himself that he might be enabled to do his share in the work which had been begun."
William Neville, who was one of those received that day, eventually became Fr. William Neville, C.O., of the Birmingham Oratory. When those fingers that had written so many books and articles, plus literally thousands of letters, became too stiff to hold a pen, it was Fr. Neville who wrote letters from the Venerable's dictation- though Newman insisted on at least scrawling out his initials as a signature on his letters for as long as possible.


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