Saturday, April 09, 2005

On April 9, 1863
Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O., wrote to a woman about the reception of her son into the Church:

I have received Eddy into the Catholic Church today. He made it clear to me, that for some months you had been aware of his intention of being received, and of being received at this time. If he has to be received, I felt that you would rather I received him, than another.

I don't write this with any wish or intention of troubling you to acknowledge it; but, as a sort of relief to myself, I wish to explain to you my feelings on one or two points.

1. It stands to reason, I cannot argue, as I should argue, were I in your position. In that case I might say to Eddy, "Wait till your judgment is more mature"; but, as it is, while on the one hand I believe him to be acting deliberately, on right motives, and on rational grounds, on the other, I believe him to have come to a right conclusion, to be embracing what I myself am firmly persuaded is the truth, and what he might not be granted from above an opportunity of embracing, if he did not embrace it now.

2. Nor do I feel, as I should perhaps if I were you, that he is putting himself under a sort of intellectual tyranny by doing an act which he is not allowed to reverse. The ecclesiastical prohibition to doubt and inquire, is not so much a practical rule as a scientific principle, which is laid down to make the theological system logically consistent with itself. A Catholic is kept from scepticism, not by any external prohibition, but by admiration, trust, and love. While he admires, trusts, and loves Our Lord and His Church, those feelings prohibit him from doubt; they guard and protect his faith; the real prohibition is from within. But suppose those feelings go; suppose he ceases to have admiration, trust, and love, of Our Lord and His Church; in that case, the external prohibition probably will not suffice to keep him from doubting, if he be of an argumentative turn.

Thus it avails in neither case; while he loves and trusts, it is not needed; when he does not love and trust, it is impotent.

I expect that, as Eddy experiences more and more what the Catholic Religion is, its power, strength, comfort, peace, and depth, the greater devotion will he have towards it, as the gift of God, and the greater repugnance to put it on its trial, as if he had never heard of it. To bid him authoritatively not to doubt, will be as irrelevant, as to tell him not to maim himself or put his eyes out.

May God in all things bless you, keep you, and guide you.


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