Tuesday, November 02, 2004

The Raising to Life of the Son of the
Widow of Naim—Luke vii. 11-16

Sermon notes by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.

1. INTROD.—The Holy Fathers are accustomed to derive a spiritual lesson from the miracle recorded in the gospel of this day. It was a miracle exercised on one, but it was a sort of specimen of what takes place by God's love so often. It was done once, but it images what occurs continually.

2. This was a young man borne out to his burial, and his mother is weeping over him.

The mother is the Church, who has born him in baptism, when he was born again and became her child.

He has fallen away, and is dead in sin. He is here carried on his way, like Dives, to be buried in hell.

3. How awfully he is carried forth! Slowly, but sure, as the course of a funeral.

Describe his odiousness—death so fearful, every one shrinks from the sight. Children in the streets turn away. Those only bear it who love the corpse, or have duties towards it. So with the soul. How angels must shrink from the dead soul!—the guardian angel bears it. How horrible it looks even [if in] venial sin, much more in mortal!

The mother bears it—the Church does not excommunicate.

4. Its bearers are four: (1) pride, (2) sensuality, (3) unbelief, (4) ignorance. We see these from Adam's original sin, and they are in every sinner, though perhaps in a different order in different persons. There are those who go on, through God's mercy, in the right way. But I am speaking of cases of sin.

5. Now I believe generally pride comes first—obstinacy of children; disobedience; quarrelling; refusing to say prayers; avoiding holy places, etc. Thus the soul being left open to the evil one, he proceeds to assault it with sensuality.

6. Sensuality. A person does not know when he is proud, but this [sensuality] need not be described, for every one who yields to it knows what it is. God has set a mark upon it, the mark of sting of conscience, because it is so pleasant; whereas pride is unpleasant to the person who exercises it.

7. Thirdly, unbelief. Pride and sensuality give birth to unbelief. A man begins to doubt and disbelieve.

8. Fourth, ignorance. At last he does not know right from wrong.

9. And thus a soul is led out to be buried, to be buried in hell. And how many reach that eternal tomb!

10. Wonderful electing grace of God, choosing one and not another, coming without merit—the Church cannot do it.

11. We all have received it [this electing grace] without merit. Let us prize it when we have it.


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