John Henry Newman

Quotations from Blessed John Henry Newman:

“Does not the objector consider that Eve was created, or born, without original sin? Why does not this shock him? Would he have been inclined to worship Eve in that first estate of hers? Why, then, Mary? Does he not believe that St. John the Baptist had the grace of God – i.e., was regenerated, even before his birth? What do we believe of Mary, but that grace was given her at a still earlier period? All we say is, that grace was given her from the first moment of her existence. We do not say that she did not owe her salvation to the death of her Son. Just the contrary, we say that she, of all mere children of Adam, is in the truest sense the fruit and purchase of His Passion. He has done for her more than for anyone else. To others He gives grace and regeneration at a point in their earthly existence; to her, from the very beginning.

“We do not make her nature different from others . . . certainly she would have been a frail being, like Eve, without the grace of God . . . It was not her nature which secured her perseverance, but the excess of grace which hindered Nature acting as Nature ever will act. There is no difference in kind between her and us, though an inconceivable difference of degree. She and we are both simply saved by the grace of Christ.

“Many, many doctrines are far harder than the Immaculate Conception. The doctrine of Original Sin is indefinitely harder. Mary just has not this difficulty. It is no difficulty to believe that a soul is united to the flesh without original sin; the great mystery is that any, that millions on millions, are born with it. Our teaching about Mary has just one difficulty less than our teaching about the state of mankind generally.”

{Meditations and Devotions, Harrison, NY: Roman Catholic Books, 1893, pp. 151-152,155-156}

“Logic then does not really prove; it enables us to join issue with others; it suggests ideas; it opens views; it maps out for us the lines of thought; it verifies negatively; it determines when differences of opinions are hopeless; and when and how far conclusions are probable; but for genuine proof in concrete matter we require an organon more delicate, versatile, and elastic than verbal argumentation.”

{A Grammar of Assent, Garden City, NY: Doubleday Image, 1955 (orig. 1870), p. 217}

“Faith has a certain prerogative of dignity under the Gospel. At the same time we must never forget that the more usual mode of doctrine both with Christ and His Apostles is to refer our acceptance to obedience to the commandments, not to faith . . . There are multitudes who would avow with confidence and exultation that they put obedience only in the second place in their religious scheme, as if it were rather a necessary consequence of faith than requiring a direct attention for its own sake; a something subordinate to it, rather than connatural and contemporaneous with it . . .”

{Sermon: “Faith and Obedience,” 1836. From Parochial and Plain Sermons, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987, p. 536 (orig. 8 vols., 1834-1843) }

“If it be true that the principles of the later Church are the same as those of the earlier, then . . . the later in reality agrees more than it differs with the earlier, for principles are responsible for doctrines. Hence they who assert that the modern Roman system is the corruption of primitive theology are forced to discover some difference of principle . . . for instance, that the right of private judgment was secured to the early Church and has been lost to the later, or again, that the later Church rationalizes and the earlier went by faith . . . As to Protestantism it is plain in how many ways it has reversed the principles of Catholic theology.”

{An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (orig. 1845), 1878 edition published by Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 1989, pp. 353-354. Part 2, ch. 7, sec. 6, nos. 1, 3}

“The body of the faithful is one of the witnesses to the fact of the tradition of revealed doctrine, . . . their consensus through Christendom is the voice of the Infallible Church . . . in that very day [the fourth century, referring to the Arian heresy] the divine tradition committed to the infallible Church was proclaimed and maintained far more by the faithful than by the Episcopate . . . the body of the episcopate was unfaithful to its commission, while the body of the laity was faithful to its baptism.”

{On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine, 1859, ed. John Coulson, London: 1961, pp. 63, 75-76}

“The glory of the Gospel is, not that it destroys the law, but that it makes it cease to be a bondage; not that it gives us freedom from it, but in it; and the notion of the Gospel which I have been describing as cold and narrow is, not that of supposing Christianity a law, but a supposing it to be scarcely more than a law, and thus leaving us where it found us . . . They have not merely the promise of grace; they have its presence. They have not merely the conditional prospect of a reward; for a blessing, nay, unspeakable, fathomless, illimitable, infinite, eternal blessings are poured into their very hearts, even as a first step and an earnest from God our Saviour, of what He will do for those who love Him. They ‘are passed from death unto life,’ and are the children of God and heirs of heaven.”

{Sermon: “The State of Grace,” 1838. From Parochial and Plain Sermons, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987, pp. 816-817 (orig. 8 vols., 1834-1843) }

“For thirty, forty, fifty years I have resisted to the best of my powers the spirit of liberalism in religion. Never did Holy Church need champions against it more sorely than now when, alas! it is an error overspreading, as a snare, the whole earth . . . Liberalism in religion is the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but that one creed is as good as another . . . It is inconsistent with any recognition of any religion, as true. It teaches that all are to be tolerated, for all are matters of opinion. Revealed religion is not a truth, but a sentiment and a taste; not an objective fact, not miraculous; and it is the right of each individual to make it say just what strikes his fancy . . . Since then, religion is so personal a peculiarity and so private a possession, we must of necessity ignore it in the intercourse of man with man . . . Religion is in no sense the bond of society . . . Instead of the Church’s authority and teaching, they would substitute first of all a universal and a thoroughly secular education . . . As to Religion, it is a private luxury, which a man may have if he will; but which of course he must pay for, and which he must not obtrude upon others, or indulge in to their annoyance.”

{Biglietto speech, upon becoming a Cardinal in 1879. From John Henry Newman: A Biography, by Ian Ker, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988, pp. 720-721; also excerpts from Newman Today, ed. Stanley L. Jaki, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1989, from chapter “Newman and Liberalism,” by Marvin R. O’Connell, pp. 88-89}

“Fear not that thy life shall come to an end, but rather fear that it shall never have a beginning.”

“Let us take things as we find them: let us not attempt to distort them into what they are not. We cannot make facts. All our wishing cannot change them. We must use them.”

“God has created me to do him some definite service; he has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another. I have my mission – I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next . . . I have a part in a great work; I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons . . . ”

“I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it, who know so much of history that they can defend it. I want an intelligent, well-instructed laity – I wish [them] to enlarge [their] knowledge, to cultivate [their] reason, to get an insight into the relation of truth to truth, to learn to view things as they are, to understand how faith and reason stand to each other, what are the bases and principles of Catholicism.”

{Apologia pro Vita Sua}

. . . I gather up and bear in memory those familiar affectionate companions and counsellors, who in Oxford were given to me, one after another, to be my daily solace and relief; and all those others, of great name and high example, who were my thorough friends, and showed me true attachment in times long past….

And I earnestly pray for this whole company, with a hope against hope, that all of us, who once were so united, and so happy in our union, may even now be brought at length, by the Power of the Divine Will, into One Fold and under One Shepherd.

Blessed John Henry Newman’s Prayer for Unity

O Lord Jesus Christ, who when Thou wast about to suffer didst pray for Thy disciples to the end of time that they might all be one, as Thou art in the Father and the Father in Thee, look down in pity on the manifold divisions among those who profess Thy faith and heal the many wounds which the pride of man and the craft of Satan have inflicted on Thy people.

Break down the walls of separation which divide one party and denomination of Christians from another. Look with compassion on the souls who have been born in one or other of these communions, which not Thou, but man, hath made.

Set free the prisoners from these unauthorised forms of worship, and bring them all to the one communion which Thou didst set up at the beginning – the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Teach all men that the See of Peter, the Holy Church of Rome, is the foundation, centre, and instrument of Unity. Open their hearts to the long forgotten truth that the Holy Father, the Pope, is Thy Vicar and representative; and that in obeying him in matters of religion they are obeying Thee, so that as there is but one company in heaven above, so likewise there may be one communion, confessing and glorifying Thy holy Name, here below. Amen

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