Sunday, January 02, 2005

From Parochial and Plain Sermons
by Venerable John Henry Newman

Another year is now opening upon us; it speaks to the thoughtful, and is heard by those, who have expectant ears, and watch for Christ's coming. The former year is gone, it is dead, there it lies in the grave of past time, not to decay however, and be forgotten, but kept in the view of God's omniscience, with all its sins and errors irrevocably written, till, at length, it will be raised again to testify about us at the last day; and who among us can bear the thought of his own doings, in the course of it?—all that he has said and done, all that has been conceived within his mind, or been acted on, and all that he has not said and done, which it was a duty to say or do. What a dreary prospect seems to be before us, when we reflect that we have the solemn word of truth pledged to us, in the last and most awful revelation, which God has made to us about the future, that in that day, the books will be opened, "and another book opened, which is the book of life, and the dead judged out of those things which were written in the books according to their works!" [Rev. xx. 12.] What would a man give, any one of us, who has any real insight into his polluted and miserable state, what would he give to tear away some of the leaves there preserved! For how heinous are the sins therein written! Think of the multitude of sins done by us since we first knew the difference between right and wrong. We have forgotten them, but there we might read them clearly recorded. Well may holy David exclaim, "Remember not the sins of my youth nor my transgressions, according to Thy mercy remember Thou me." Conceive, too, the multitude of sins which have so grown into us as to become part of us, and in which we now live, not knowing, or but partially knowing, that they are sins; habits of pride, self-reliance, self-conceit, sullenness, impurity, sloth, selfishness, worldliness. The history of all these, their beginnings, and their growth, is recorded in those dreadful books; and when we look forward to the future, how many sins shall we have committed by this time next year,—though we try ever so much to know our duty, and overcome ourselves! Nay, or rather shall we have the opportunity of obeying or disobeying God for a year longer? Who knows whether by that time our account may not be closed for ever?

"Remember me, O Lord, when Thou comest into Thy kingdom." [Luke xxiii. 42.] Such was the prayer of the penitent thief on the cross, such must be our prayer. Who can do us any good, but He, who shall also be our Judge?


Blogger Michael Windham said...

This blog with its excerpts from Newman's writings is a wonderful service for those of us who have been fortunate enough to discover it. Some time will be required for me to review your past posts but every excerpt is material for my prayer and food for my soul.

Thank you for the hard work and painstaking care that is evident in the selection, preparation, and editing of the postings.

We have an Oratory where I have taken personal retreats an hour from my home. It is located in Rock Hill, SC and is a sister house to the great Oratory in Montreal which I have also visited.

I am interested in how yours relates to these.

7:58 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you very much for the compliment! I am always happy when people appreciate the Venerable- then they are more likely to pray for his canonization ! :)
The Oratory in Rock Hill is the oldest Congregation of the Oratory in the United States, dating from the 1940's. The Pittsburgh Oratory was founded in the 1960's. Each Congregation is basically a separate entity- unlike, say, different provinces of a religious order.
BTW, wonderful as St. Joseph's Oratory is, it is not the 'mother Oratory', nor is it connected with the Congregations of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri. (The 'mother Oratory' is in Rome, attached to the church of Santa Maria in Vallicella.) "An oratory" means "a place for prayer", and St. Joseph's is that, but is not connected with Oratorians. There is a flourishing Congregation of the Oratory in Canada, but it is in Toronto, not Montreal.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Michael Windham said...

Thank you for sorting me out on the Oratories. Bede Frost in his little classic "The Art of Mental Prayer" includes an Oratorian method of prayer but it is from the writings of the French School, Berulle et al. Therefore I was aware there were other "Oratorians" but obviously confused as to how they related to each other.

You mention being a Secular Oratorian, but do you include priests among your members as in Rock Hill where service to parishes is a part of the work?

I was told by a priest there that originally work among the heavily protestant population here was part of their mission. The secular brothers worked in hospitals etc. I am, unaware of any sisters.

6:21 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Sorry I took so long to get back to you!
Yes, there are Oratorian priests here: five, to be exact. You can really have a Secular Oratory without an Oratory proper!
The Oratory in Pittsburgh does not have a parish, but ministers to students at several of the local secular universities.

2:29 PM  

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