Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Glorious News on Newman's Beatification [plus a couple of concerns]

From The Blood-Crazed Ferret's 'smoking' blog:

Cardinal John Henry Newman is about to be beatified, the Vatican has announced. This is news that will be greeted with joy by the whole English Catholic community – and everyone who admires this greatest of all Anglican converts to Rome.

Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, Prefect of the Congregation for the Cause of the Saints, said yesterday evening that Cardinal Newman’s beatification – the last stage on the step to canonisation – was “imminent”. (Hat tip: Fr Z.) This must mean that the Vatican has attributed a miracle to Newman, who was received into the Catholic Church in 1845.

Pope Benedict has been deeply influenced by Newman’s theology of the Church. Although he thinks that Rome should create saints at a less frantic pace than it did during the reign of John Paul II, this beatification will give him great pleasure. We know that he has taken a personal interest in Newman’s cause.
It’s late at night, so I’ll blog on this in more detail later. But, in the meantime, congratulations to Fr Paul Chavasse, provost of the Birmingham Oratory, who has worked tirelessly as postulator of the cause. Now Pope Benedict has a very good excuse to visit England.

Now I have some reticences and concerns regarding the whole Newman thing....
This from the blog

"I'll be more happy when the Newmanolatry ceases; and allows the thoughts, words and deeds of the great, saintly genius to shine through without being enmeshed in a ridiculous arcadian fantasy world where he is treated like a victorian Elvis/John Lennon. Victorian catholicism was not all E Nesbit and pre-Brideshead strolls along the Isis quoting Lucretius, where every mudlark got a shiny sixpence upon a Lamnas morn, and differences of opinion were affably discussed amidst the grouse and madeira - and Newman was not some vague non-intrusive acolyte of merry england - nor was he an impotent otherwordly 'nice , benign, non-argumentative version of sherlock holmes'."

"He was a saint first and foremost - he spoke with power and authority - spiritual power grounded in Christ and His Mystical Body - the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church - he taught, he prayed, he acted , he preached , he fought tooth and nail for all God stood for !

He was definitely never 'all show and no substance' .

Yet look around us and we see an inane 'Newmania' which treats him as if he were an objet d'art on the antiques roadshow !!!! Ignoring everything he stood for yet revelling in his study's soft furnishings or the church's rose windows dedicated to his memory !!

If Newman were not among the Choir eternal he'd be spinning in his grave like a kenwood multimix at the absolute travesty - one akin to the anglican country parson who gave up God and spent evensong preaching on his collection of lepidoptera or Brunel's civil engineering.

If Newman were in Westminster now he'd be our Field Marshall in a war against secularism and the culture of Death - he'd be a vociferous fighter for the common good and the uncommon good - he'd be defending civil liberties and tearing strips off the reprobate bishops for failing to perform their episcopal duties and responsibilities - he'd be writing articles , books, plays, novels which would so inspire and outrage that the government would consider having him locked up !!!
This is the real Newman - not some namby-pamby, starry-eyed, head-shrinking, ineffectual twerpy wimp...he was a man of God , mystically pacifying yes, teaching via the silence of the soul of course, a gentle, humble, patient man - but because of this he was a fighter and an outspoken defender of the Faith !!!
There was nothing 'vanilla' about Newman. "

Clairvaux's response was one reminding us it was 'not all lace' in pre-Newman English catholicism:

"The Catholic Church which JHN joined was peopled mostly by the Old Catholics of England, descendants of recusant families. A Cisalpine lot who considered lighting a candle in front of a statue to be Italian superstition. Faber Romanised the Church in England but initially at least the English Catholics were resentful of the foppish Oxford Movement converts. It was after all these tough northern yeomen who had kept the Church alive in England. Now the "turncoats" were claiming Her as their own."

{ Now I know this may be a little off-topic but I think I experienced a little something similar during my early years . From the blog : }

" Southern Jessies "

The notion's still around - more than a few in my experience among the Irish and scots and working class english northern families with a staunch traditionalist streak still consider a lot of southern english catholics as milk-and-water 'pretend papists' - doing it merely for the socio-cultural elitism of it.

I wouldn't call it antipathy or hostility ; but there was still an air of 'they're not as truly catholic as we are' - english catholicism was even perceived while I was a teenager by some as all 'jolly hockey sticks, barley wine, maypoles, Mrs Minniver and harvest festivals, Joyce Grenfell, Margaret Rutherford, growing marrows ; poppies round the cenotaph, Miles Malleson, cricket, Charters and Caldecott, village fetes...'
English catholics were a la Noel Coward revue, 'real' catholics were straight out of an AJ Cronin novel !

Just talking of perceptions and undercurrents here; so don't trounce me with accusations of prejudice - this sense of difference was palpable - especially in my diocese where there's an exceedingly diverse range of social and economic classes ; sure this sentiment has dissipated considerably over the last couple of decades - but it exists !

[Love to know what you think ? I know most of you absolutely idolise cardinal Newman, but some of you may be utterly oblivious to the phenomena - as a starter try the 'In Our Time' radio programme on the issue : ]


Anonymous said...

Well he's our saint anyway! Being Birmingham born & bred!

Anonymous said...

oops! That was me a Brummie not Newman although he chose Brum!

the mother of this lot said...

Mrs. Miniver was CATHOLIC???

JARay said...

I'm sorry to have to use this means of contacting you but, despite sending a private message to the Admin of TotalC I have received no reply whatsoever. One must assume the obvious!
I too am delighted at the news of J.H.N's probable Beatification. It gives me great joy indeed.