Tuesday, May 04, 2004

On May 4, 1843
Venerable John Henry Newman wrote to a friend who was upset over his plan to leave the Anglican ministry.
"At present I fear, as far as I can analyze my own convictions, I consider the Roman Catholic Communion to be the Church of the Apostles, and that what grace is among us (which, through God's mercy, is not little) is extraordinary, and from the overflowings of His dispensation. I am very far more sure that England is in schism, than that the Roman additions to the Primitive Creed may not be developments, arising out of a keen and vivid realizing of the Divine Depositum of Faith.

You will now understand what gives edge to the Bishops' Charges, without any undue sensitiveness on my part. They distress me in two ways:-first, as being in some sense protests and witnesses to my conscience against my own unfaithfulness to the English Church, and next, as being samples of her teaching, and tokens how very far she is from even aspiring to Catholicity.

Of course my being unfaithful to a trust is my great subject of dread,-as it has long been, as you know...."

On May 4, 1851, the Venerable, now both a Catholic and an Oratorian, preached a sermon, of which the following notes survive:

On the Good Shepherd and Lost Sheep
"1. INTROD.-God is from eternity and ever blessed in Himself, and needs nothing.

2. On His, being such, taking part in things of time.

3. An office of ministration-one towards things physical; a further towards things moral, i.e. which have free will.

4. A further still towards man fallen-on his waywardness, arising from concupiscence and ignorance-and even the just [not exempt]-of which ignorance remains more fully in all. Ignorance is the best estate. This is portrayed in sheep. Other animals are fearful, etc., and represent sinners, but the innocent sheep, ignorant and helpless, is the fit type of the just. What a picture this gives us! We are tempted to laugh at sheep, who will not go the right way, start at every noise, do not know the meaning of anything, and are obliged to be forced by terror, as by the dog; yet it is our best image. Our Lord, the Good Shepherd, is obliged to frighten us, etc., etc. Yet so patient.

5. O how patient towards us! But more than patient-the lost sheep, and His laying down His life for it-the wolf-nay, and that a one, though one.

6. What is meant by one? Because any one must consider Himself the one. Every one is worst to himself: he alone knows himself.

7. On St. Augustine, this day St. Monica's day.

8. Does the Church lament over you, O one sinner! Here we are in the happy time of the year-Christ risen and the month of May come-yet you have not been to your duties, or have not got absolution, or have fallen again into sin. Mater Ecclesia deplores you, our blessed Lord deplores you, etc. "


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