Friday, February 10, 2006

On February 10th, 1869...
Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O., wrote to his old friend, Sr. Maria Pia Giberne, about his decision not to be a peritus at the First Vatican Council.

Don't be annoyed. I am more happy as I am, than in any other way. I can't bear the kind of trouble which I should have, if I were brought forward in any public way. Recollect, I could not be in the Council, unless I were a Bishop—and really and truly I am not a theologian. A theologian is one who has mastered theology—who can say how many opinions there are on every point, what authors have taken which, and which is the best—who can discriminate exactly between proposition and proposition, argument and argument, who can pronounce which are safe, which allowable, which dangerous—who can trace the history of doctrines in successive centuries, and apply the principles of former times to the conditions of the present. This it is to be a theologian—this and a hundred things besides—which I am not, and never shall be. Like St. Gregory Nazianzen, I like going on my own way, and having my time my own, living without pomp or state, or pressing engagements. Put me into official garb, and I am worth nothing; leave me to myself, and every now and then I shall do something. Dress me up, and you will soon have to make my shroud—leave me alone, and I shall live the appointed time.


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