Archive for the ‘British’ Category

Newman’s friend

November 13, 2009

Deacon Jack Sullivan, the man whose miraculous cure has been attributed to the intercession of Cardinal John Henry Newman, recently visited the Birmingham Oratory, the great (and soon to be beatified?) cardinal’s spiritual home.  Sullivan served as deacon and preached at a Mass celebrated at the Oratory.

Article with some great photos here.  Additional photos here.


More NLM on Newman

July 22, 2009

The New Liturgical Movement blog posted the third of its three-parter on Cardinal Newman yesterday.  Some rarely seen photos, including one of the Cardinal’s private chapel and the interesting detail it includes: a large portrait of St. Francis de Sales over the altar.

Somewhat meatier than any of those three, though, is still another NLM post yesterday, including these snips:

Newman’s importance to the future of Catholic Christianity is a theme dwelt upon by Father Ian Ker of the University of Oxford.

He writes that ‘Newman will be seen, I am convinced, as the Doctor of the post-conciliar Church, who not only anticipated the teachings of the Second Vatican Council but who also in his theology was insistent on what Pope Benedict XVI calls “the hermeneutic of continuity”’.


The exemplification of the unity of intellectual and spiritual depth, not only in Newman’s teaching but also in his life, leads Fr Beaumont to ‘look forward to his eventual canonization and also, I fervently hope, to his being declared Doctor of the Church.’

‘The witness of Newman’, writes Fr Jonathan Robinson, ‘like that of his patron St Philip Neri, the Founder of the Oratory, was based on personal holiness, a holiness that was rooted in the conviction that sanctity is only possible through the imitation of Christ, and in the acceptance of the suffering this inevitably brings.’

Newman relics

July 17, 2009

Part II on Cardinal Newman is up at the New Liturgical Movement.  It features some interesting information about the (very few) relics recovered from Newman’s tomb earlier this year.  Also, excellent photographs. 

Kudos and thanks to NLM and the unnamed author of the posts.

(I blogged on the mystery of Newman’s relics here.)

Newman beatification: May 2, 2010

July 15, 2009

In Birmingham.  (Leaked today to Catholic News Service.)

Interesting that the date was set so far in advance.  Perhaps because of the noteriety of Newman, it will involve much more preparation?

No mention of principal celebrant, maybe because the See of Birmingham is currently vacant, following the move of Vincent Nichols to Westminster.  If they continue with B16’s precedent, it would surely be whoever takes that post, or Archbishop Amato, who is head of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

G.K. Chesterton cause!

July 15, 2009

chestertonNow this would be really cool!

ZENIT: Why a beatification?

Gulisano: Many people feel there is clear evidence of Chesterton’s sanctity: Testimonies about him speak of a person of great goodness and humility, a man without enemies, who proposed the faith without compromises but also without confrontation, a defender of Truth and Charity. His greatness is also in the fact that he knew how to present Christianity to a wide public, made up of Christians and secular people. His books, ranging from “Orthodoxy” to “St. Francis of Assisi,” from “Father Brown” to “The Ball and the Cross,” are brilliant presentations of the Christian faith, witnessed with clarity and valor before the world.

According to the ancient categories of the Church, we could define Chesterton as a “confessor of the faith.” He was not just an apologist, but also a type of prophet who glimpsed far ahead of time the dramatic character of modern issues like eugenics. The English Dominican Aidan Nichols sustains that Chesterton should be seen as nothing less than a possible “father of the Church” of the 20th century.

ZENIT: What are his heroic virtues?

Gulisano: Faith, hope and charity: These were Chesterton’s fundamental virtues. Moreover, he was innocent, simple, profoundly humble. Though having personally experienced sorrow, he was a chorister of Christian joy. Chesterton’s work is a type of medicine for the soul, or better, it can more precisely be defined as an antidote. The writer himself had actually used the metaphor of antidote to define the effect of sanctity on the world: The saint has the objective of being a sign of contradiction and of restoring mental sanity to a world gone crazy.

(I think he probably means to say “Doctor of the Church,” not “father.”)

Full Zenit article is here.

I’m one of countless people who could say this, but I’ll say it anyway: Orthodoxy is a book that made a big impression on me during my college days (yeah, that’s 20 years ago now), in several ways.  I think it was the first book to make me realize that I don’t have to look at theological and Church issues the way everyone else seemed to, just because they do.  It gave me a tangible sense of the adventure of Christian life and faith.  It also taught me the importance of reason and logic, and how to do that better, more consciously. 

After that, I also read and was impressed by The Everlasting Man.

More on Newman’s Miracle

June 23, 2009

I posted on the miracle being attributed by the Vatican to the intercession of Cardinal John Henry Newman back in April.  There’s a worthwhile new article in the London Times on Jack Sullivan, the American permanent deacon who was the recipient of the miraculous healing.  A snip:

Sullivan continued: “I realise that indeed there is such a thing as the Communion of Saints and a place of perfect peace which God has prepared for each one of us. As the kindly light of truth guided the life of Newman amidst unspeakable challenges in his world, so too I feel the same sense of direction when reflecting on these awesome gifts by realising that God dispenses His favour especially on the lowly and those who are ordinary as beautifully described in our Lady’s praises in her Magnificat.”

Cardinal Newman’s Miracle

April 30, 2009

From the Telegraph:

Cardinal John Newman poised for beatification after ruling

A panel of theological consultors agreed unanimously that the inexplicable healing of an American man who was “bent double” by a severe spinal disorder came as a result of praying to Newman for a miracle, according to sources. Their decision was the final hurdle before Pope Benedict XVI can declare him “Blessed”.

The Pope, who is known to be keen to make Newman a saint and who asks about the progress of his cause on a regular basis, was informed of the panel’s decision straight away.

(Read on.)

UPDATE: More on the American man, a deacon, who is the subject of the miracle, here.  A clip:

One night, watching television to escape his troubles, Sullivan happened on a show about Cardinal John Henry Newman. Born in London in 1801 and widely admired as a funny, brilliant thinker and writer on religion, Newman converted to Catholicism in his 40s after clashing with leaders of the Church of England over what he saw as a shift away from the church’s roots.

The television show described the current movement, based in England, supporting the cardinal’s beatification and appealed to viewers for news of miraculous happenings that might help make the case. Sullivan wrote down the address. And that night he asked Newman for help.

“I said, ‘Please, Cardinal Newman, help me so I can go back to classes and be ordained,’ ” Sullivan said. “The next morning I woke up, and there was no pain.”

“Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?”

December 29, 2008

Today is a favorite feast day of mine: St. Thomas Becket.  That probably has to do with the fact that, back in the day, I used to watch the classic movie every year on this day. 

I was always struck by the Becket portrayed by the movie: not so admirable perhaps in faith, but a hero of the simple virtue of integrity.  The guy was given a job to do, handed a responsibility.  It wasn’t one that he asked for, and not even one that he was particularly suited to.  But dammit, he was going to live up to its responsibilities, whatever it took.  He was entrusted with a family to look after (the Church, that is), and he died looking after it.

Nowadays I still try to watch it this day, but I’m rarely able.  We’re on the road visiting family this year, for example.  So I’ll settle for the original trailer for the film. 

 (It was produced in 1964 — right on the edge of the changes in society that would make the production of such a movie all but unthinkable just a handful of years later.  In fact, just by viewing the trailer you can already see signs of using sex to snatch people’s interest in selling the movie.)

If you’re lucky enough to have the opportunity, consider watching it today.  Either way, take a moment to invoke his prayers:

St. Thomas Becket, pray for us!

The Trial of Thomas More

December 4, 2008

A large poster print of this famous portrait of St. Thomas More, done by Hans Holbein the Younger during More’s lifetime, hangs on the back wall of my classroom, where I teach morality day in and day out to high school juniors.  I make explicit reference to it at least once a year, when we do our unit on conscience. 

I make a big effort throughout the year to include compelling real-life examples of our various topics into the morality course.  My two primary illustrations, during the conscience unit, of what conscience is all about are More and Blessed Franz Jagerstatter.

So I was very interested to read this new post over the the First Things blog.  Written by Michael P. Foley, a professor of patristics at Baylor University, it offers an overview of a fascinating conference held last month at the University of Dallas called “Thomas More on Trial.” 

Lest you think the conference was merely a re-presenation of the historical facts of the event, something we might just as well learn by sticking A Man for All Seasons in the VCR, note the questions that were considered by the gathering of scholars from a variety of relevant disciplines:

Every aspect of the trial was scrutinized. What did it mean to take an oath in the sixteenth century? What were More’s legal rights, and were they respected? Was due process observed during the trial? Did Richard Rich perjure himself, or did he merely misremember his conversation with More that became the most damning piece of evidence submitted? How much pressure were the judges and the jury under from Henry VIII? Which, if any, of the four extant accounts of the trial is the most accurate? And how did More ensure that his side of the story would be heard through his writings without incurring further suspicion of treason?

And Dr. Foley only teases us by noting a few of the surprises that came during the course of the Dallas proceedings:

For instance, did you know that we have no copy of the oath which More famously refused to take? That no official transcript of the trial was made? That we are not certain whether there were one, three, or four formal charges? That, contrary to current legal practice, the more grave the case, the fewer the rights of the accused? That More’s civil rights, as defined by English law at the time, may have been more or less respected? In other words, there was nothing procedurally unusual about More spending years imprisoned in the Tower of London, undergoing several interrogations, being suddenly brought to court for trial, and hearing the charges against him (read in Latin) for the first and only time. And there was considered nothing untoward in having judges sitting on the bench with a vested interest (to put it mildly) in seeing More condemned, such as an uncle, a brother, and the father of Anne Boleyn.

Read the entire post from Dr. Foley, even though other details he offers (about, for example, the varying assessments of the trial by a 4-judge panel at the Dallas conference or the fascinating comments by More himself to the judges who ruled to have him executed) will only make you wish you could read through an unabridged set of conference proceedings. 

Any possibility of their publication?  Let’s hope so.  I’ll keep an eye out, but if anyone happens to come across them in the meantime, I’d be very interested in hearing about it.

St. Thomas More, pray for us.

The Mystery of the Cardinal’s Corpse!

November 6, 2008

Whoa, here’s an interesting article out of England yesterday.  You’ll recall from previous posts that Cardinal John Henry Newman’s grave was recently opened, in order that his remains could be exhumed and transferred to a new grave inside Birmingham Oratory, in anticipation of his beatification.  Except very few remains remained

The explanation provided was that contrary to what officials had presumed, Newman had not been buried in a lead coffin, but rather a simple wooden one, and in wet ground, so that just about everything was decomposed.

In steps Professor John Hunter from the University of Birmingham (the article doesn’t say what he’s a professor of).  A clip:

Professor Hunter said: “It is very interesting from a forensic point of view to find a body that has completely decayed within this amount of time. It is very unusual and very unlikely. If we have extreme soil conditions that take away human bones, they would also take away coffin handles, which are still there.

“I am not making any claims or accusations. I am merely looking at it from a (forensic) point of view.”

Prof Hunter said he chose to investigate out of curiosity and was only able to obtain a sample from ground near to the cemetery, not from the grave itself.  He said there were three options: either the soil environment of the grave was different to the sample tested, bones were missed when the grave was exhumed or the body was never there in the first place.

The entire article is here.

Related: The TImes Online has printed a prayer for Newman’s beatification.