Sunday, May 16, 2004

On May 16, 1875
Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O., was in the midst of a epistolary debate on history and theology with one of his nephews. However, the letter he sent that day was much shorter than usual....
I am very glad to have so long a letter from you, but you must let me wait, and be patient with me, as to my answering it, for I have received a very heavy blow in the sudden and alarming illness of the greatest friend I have-an illness, the issue of which will take some time to show itself, and which has almost turned my head.

Thank E- for wishing to send me, and you for sending, her love-and tell her that I am very grateful to her, and send her a double measure in return-one in reciprocity, and one from gratitude.

Yours affectionately,
The one who was ill was Fr. Ambrose St. John, C.O. , who had been the Venerable's closest friend for more than 30 years. He died on the eve of St. Philip's Day- a terrible blow to Newman, who had naturally expected that Fr. Ambrose, being considerably younger, would outlive him. As he later wrote to another friend:
"You refer to St. John's age. Yes, I often think, can it be God's will that, as the beloved disciple outlived all his brethren, I too am to have a portion of that special cross of his? Dear Mrs. Poncia, who went so unexpectedly two years ago, used to say on this day to me 'Many, many returns of it': I used to answer, 'You don't wish me to outlive you all'—and she answered, 'Yes, till 90 or 100 years'-Then I said, 'O how cruel!'

Of late I have often thought whether it was God's will that I should have the trial of seeing those I loved die before me—but it was a very ungrateful thought to be suggested to me by God's great mercy in keeping me so well in health. Was it not enough to provoke Him to visit me with sickness and suffering? Well, I am in His Hands—and I can but repeat what I found among dear Father Ambrose's morning prayers, 'Do with me what Thou wilt; I shall ever be in peace if I live and die in Thy love.'

May God be with you also as He has been with me; not only for 25 years, but, as He has been with you for so long a time, so also to the end—and with me too, till we all meet in the bosom of our God."


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