The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Road to Sainthood: John Henry Cardinal Newman

About thirty years ago my dear wife, Diane, gave me an absolutely wonderful Christmas gift: a multi-volume set of Cardinal Newman's complete works. She found it in one of my favorite bookstores, Parnassus Books in Yarmouthport on Cape Cod, and fortunately was able to buy it for a very reasonable price. Beautifully bound and published around the turn of the century (that's 1900, the other century) the set contained perhaps 30 volumes. Over the years I read most of the volumes and then about 10 years ago gave the entire set to my elder son who was studying theology. I trust he has enjoyed them as much as I did.

And now, all these years later, I hope to witness (via television) Pope Benedict's beatification of the English cardinal who had such an impact on the Catholic Church during the past century and a half. The beatification will take place in Birmingham on the last day of the Holy Father's visit to the United Kingdom (September 16-19).

A convert from the Anglican Church, Cardinal Newman (1801-1890) was despised by most in the church he left and distrusted by many in the church he joined. And yet, despite the difficulties he constantly encountered, he responded always with grace, patience and humility. During the forty-five years after his conversion, he almost singlehandedly changed the face and the image of the Catholic Church in England. He was also among the Church's great intellects, and despite the fact that he died almost 75 years before the Second Vatican Council, Newman's impact on the council fathers was probably more significant than most living theologians. How fitting that he should be beatified by Pope Benedict XVI, one of those Vatican II theologians and one of the few popes in recent times who is Newman's intellectual equal.

Of course, as a deacon I think it's really neat that the intercessory miracle attributed to Cardinal Newman was the miraculous cure of Deacon John Sullivan, of Marshfield, Massachusetts, a permanent deacon of the Archdiocese of Boston.

Click here to read a wonderful tribute to Cardinal Newman written by Conrad Black.

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