Liberty

Our Lady of the Holy Rosary holy card, Maison Bouasse-Lebel, 19th century.

I am quite unable to understand the fuss made by High Church people on this matter. To begin with, what have they got to do with it? No one asks them to use our devotions, although a great many do use them, expurgated, revised, and corrected. Our friends seem to be under the impression that every Catholic is supposed to know about, to possess, and to use, every book of prayers or meditations published by any other Catholic. One might as well assert that every Anglican is bound to buy, and use, all devotional books found in Masters’ shop in Bond-street. A great many Catholics get on very comfortably without any books at all, and this for the simple and sufficient reason that they cannot read. And a great many more cannot afford to purchase such books, and are content with one Prayer Book, such as the Garden of the Soul. I myself, outside Mass and Office, am content with it, and use the copy given to me by an Italian priest at Benares in 1861. Outsiders seem ignorant of our freedom in such matters. The late Canon Oakeley, in his reply to the Eirenicon (which was published before that of Newman), pointed this out. Dr. Pusey would stipulate, said Oakeley, exemption from the obligation of adopting certain expressions of devotion towards the Blessed Virgin, but, added the Canon, “were he [Pusey] one of ourselves, he would come to know” that “no such obligation rests upon” Catholics. “I do not think,” said Oakeley, “that those who are external to us, have any just idea of the room which is allowed us for the free play of personal preferences, which do not clash either in form or spirit with the faith of the Church. . .” And, again “. . . Nothing that I know of would involve in well-grounded suspicion of disloyalty to the Church a Catholic who, while placing no restriction on the liberty of others, should as a matter of taste prefer the more measured language of our Liturgy and Offices on the subject in question, to that in which more ardent temperaments . . . might find a more congenial expression of their devotion.” And Father Lockhart reminded Pusey that the Church tolerated any amount of bad taste. How, indeed, could an Universal Church made up of all nations, peoples, and tongues, do otherwise ? When Pusey complained of a well-known book, The Glories of Mary, Newman replied that he had never read it. I have never read, and have never seen it but once in my life. Others may derive great edification from it, hut what Catholic supposes that every Catholic is obliged to acquire it, or use it ? And with regard to a foreign writer named Oswald, from whom Pusey quoted, neither Newman nor Oakeley had ever heard his name, and it turned out that the book to which Pusey objected had been for some years on the Roman Index.

Oakeley, too, pointed out that the most customary and popular of all devotions connected with our Lady are the Angelus and the Rosary, and added: “It is on this type, rather than on that of the ‘Glories of Mary’ that the ideas of our people are formed.” Pusey found great fault with some of Faber’s writings, and, for myself; I have, possibly to my great loss, never been able to read Faber, although I know that his writings have afforded, and afford, great spiritual edification to countless numbers of Catholics. Not only so, but to many non-Catholics. One Anglican vicar, an intimate friend of my own, must by this time know all Faber’s books nearly by heart. And I recollect, many years ago, lending The Creator and the Creature to a staunch Presbyterian lady who, after a time, sent me a new copy of the book, saying she should keep the old one, as she derived so much spiritual profit from its perusal.

When I lived in Kensington, I met one day in the Cromwell-road an old Oxford friend, an Anglican clergyman. I invited him to accompany me to Benediction at the Oratory, but he declined, not because he objected to Benediction, but because he disliked the Litany of Loreto. I remarked that, if he were a Catholic, he would be quite free to say any prayers he pleased during Benediction, and if he should prefer other devotions to the Litany, when sung, he could substitute such, just as we often see people telling their beads, or clergymen saying office, while the Benediction service is going on. Once, in a country house in Yorkshire, I had as fellow-guest the late Father Jerome Vaughan, and one Sunday after Benediction someone asked him if he liked the music used? To which he replied that he had not paid attention to it, as he had been engaged in asking a particular favour from St. Joseph. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty, and Catholics in Popular Devotions are not tied and bound to the frigid formalism of the excellent English of the Book of Common Prayer.

The Tablet, 1 January 1898, p. 9.

The Great Action

Nuptial Mass, St. George’s, Sudbury (London), mid-20th century.

“These are such difficult questions,” answered Willis; “must I speak? Such difficult questions,” he continued, rising into a more animated manner, and kindling as he went on; “I mean, people view them so differently: it is so difficult to convey to one person the idea of another. The idea of worship is different in the Catholic Church from the idea of it in your Church; for, in truth, the religions are different. Don’t deceive yourself, my dear Bateman,” he said tenderly, “it is not that ours is your religion carried a little farther,—a little too far, as you would say. No, they differ in kind, not in degree; ours is one religion, yours another. And when the time comes, and come it will, for you, alien as you are now, to submit yourself to the gracious yoke of Christ, then, my dearest Bateman, it will be faith which will enable you to bear the ways and usages of Catholics, which else might perhaps startle you. Else, the habits of years, the associations in your mind of a certain outward behaviour with real inward acts of devotion, might embarrass you, when you had to conform yourself to other habits, and to create for yourself other associations. But this faith, of which I speak, the great gift of God, will enable you in that day to overcome yourself, and to submit, as your judgment, your will, your reason, your affections, so your tastes and likings, to the rule and usage of the Church. Ah, that faith should be necessary in such a matter, and that what is so natural and becoming under the circumstances, should have need of an explanation! I declare, to me,” he said, and he clasped his hands on his knees, and looked forward as if soliloquising,—”to me nothing is so consoling, so piercing, so thrilling, so overcoming, as the Mass, said as it is among us. I could attend Masses for ever and not be tired. It is not a mere form of words,—it is a great action, the greatest action that can be on earth. It is, not the invocation merely, but, if I dare use the word, the evocation of the Eternal. He becomes present on the altar in flesh and blood, before whom angels bow and devils tremble. This is that awful event which is the scope, and is the interpretation, of every part of the solemnity. Words are necessary, but as means, not as ends; they are not mere addresses to the throne of grace, they are instruments of what is far higher, of consecration, of sacrifice. They hurry on as if impatient to fulfil their mission. Quickly they go, the whole is quick; for they are all parts of one integral action. Quickly they go; for they are awful words of sacrifice, they are a work too great to delay upon; as when it was said in the beginning: ‘What thou doest, do quickly’. Quickly they pass; for the Lord Jesus goes with them, as He passed along the lake in the days of His flesh, quickly calling first one and then another. Quickly they pass; because as the lightning which shineth from one part of heaven unto the other, so is the coming of the Son of Man. Quickly they pass; for they are as the words of Moses, when the Lord came down in the cloud, calling on the Name of the Lord as He passed by, ‘the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth’. And as Moses on the mountain, so we too ‘make haste and bow our heads to the earth, and adore’. So we, all around, each in his place, look out for the great Advent, ‘waiting for the moving of the water’. Each in his place, with his own heart, with his own wants, with his own thoughts, with his own intention, with his own prayers, separate but concordant, watching what is going on, watching its progress, uniting in its consummation;—not painfully and hopelessly following a hard form of prayer from beginning to end, but, like a concert of musical instruments, each different, but concurring in a sweet harmony, we take our part with God’s priest, supporting him, yet guided by him. There are little children there, and old men, and simple labourers, and students in seminaries, priests preparing for Mass, priests making their thanksgiving; there are innocent maidens, and there are penitent sinners; but out of these many minds rises one eucharistic hymn, and the great Action is the measure and scope of it. And oh, my dear Bateman,” he added, turning to him, “you ask me whether this is not a formal, unreasonable service—it is wonderful!” he cried, rising up, “quite wonderful. When will these dear good people be enlightened? O Sapientia, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia, O Adonai, O Clavis David et Exspectatio gentium, veni ad salvandum nos, Domine Deus noster.”

— John Henry Newman, Loss and Gain, Part II, Chapter 20.

Eyesight of the Mind

“Certainly,” he said, “I do wish very much to be settled either in the English Church or somewhere else. I wish I knew what Christianity was; I am ready to be at pains to seek it, and would accept it eagerly and thankfully, if found. But it’s a work of time; all the paper-arguments in the world are unequal to giving one a view in a moment. There must be a process; they may shorten it, as medicine shortens physical processes, but they can’t supersede its necessity. I recollect how all my religious doubts and theories went to flight on my dear father’s death. They weren’t part of me, and could not sustain rough weather. Conviction is the eyesight of the mind, not a conclusion from premises; God works it, and His works are slow. At least so it is with me. I can’t believe on a sudden; if I attempt it, I shall be using words for things, and be sure to repent it. Or if not, I shall go right merely by hazard. I must move in what seems God’s way; I can but put myself on the road; a higher power must overtake me, and carry me forward.

— John Henry Newman, Loss and Gain.

Emperors Bowed the Head

Peter Paul Rubens, The Emblem of Christ Appearing to Constantine, 1662.
Peter Paul Rubens, The Emblem of Christ Appearing to Constantine, 1662.

As regards the Roman Emperors, immediately on their becoming Christians, their exaltation of the hierarchy was in proportion to its abject condition in the heathen period. Grateful converts felt that they could not do too much in its honour and service. Emperors bowed the head before the Bishops, kissed their hands and asked their blessing. When Constantine entered into the presence of the assembled Prelates at Nicæa, his eyes fell, the colour mounted up into his cheek, and his mien was that of a suppliant; he would not sit, till the Bishops bade him, and he kissed the wounds of the Confessors. Thus he set the example for the successors of his power, nor did the Bishops decline such honours. Royal ladies served them at table; victorious generals did penance for sin and asked forgiveness. When they quarrelled with them, and would banish them, their hand trembled when they came to sign the order, and after various attempts they gave up their purpose. Soldiers raised to sovereignty asked their recognition and were refused it. Cities under imperial displeasure sought their intervention, and the master of thirty legions found himself powerless to withstand the feeble voice of some aged travel-stained stranger.

Blessed John Henry Newman, A Letter Addressed to the Duke of Norfolk on Occasion of Mr. Gladstone’s Recent Expostulation (1874).

At Another Time and in Other Circumstances

Detail of portrait of Blessed John Henry Newman by Sir John Everett Millais; National Portrait Gallery, London.
Detail of portrait of Blessed John Henry Newman by Sir John Everett Millais; National Portrait Gallery, London.

[T]he Church of England has been the instrument of Providence in conferring great benefits on me; had I been born in Dissent, perhaps I should never have been baptized; had I been born an English Presbyterian, perhaps I should never have known our Lord’s divinity; had I not come to Oxford, perhaps I never should have heard of the visible Church, or of Tradition, or other Catholic doctrines. And as I have received so much good from the Anglican Establishment itself, can I have the heart, or rather the want of charity, considering that it does for so many others, what it has done for me, to wish to see it overthrown? I have no such wish while it is what it is, and while we are so small a body. Not for its own sake, but for the sake of the many congregations to which it ministers, I will do nothing against it. While Catholics are so weak in England, it is doing our work; and, though it does us harm in a measure, at present the balance is in our favour. What our duty would be at another time and in other circumstances, supposing, for instance, the Establishment lost its dogmatic faith, or at least did not preach it, is another matter altogether. In secular history we read of hostile nations having long truces, and renewing them from time to time, and that seems to be the position which the Catholic Church may fairly take up at present in relation to the Anglican Establishment.

John Henry Newman, Apologia Pro Vita Sua, Appendix “Answer in Detail to Mr. Kingsley’s Accusations,” no. 3.

Let Ten Thousand Influences Rain Down

Altar in Lady Chapel of St. Mary's, Ryde, featuring an image of Our Lady of Walsingham, designed by A.W.N. Pugin.
Altar in Lady Chapel of St. Mary’s, Ryde, featuring an image of Our Lady of Walsingham, designed by A.W.N. Pugin.

“Arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one, and come. For the winter is now past, and the rain is over and gone. The flowers have appeared in our land … the fig-tree hath put forth her green figs; the vines in flower yield their sweet smell. Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come.” It is the time for thy Visitation. Arise, Mary, and go forth in thy strength into that north country, which once was thine own, and take possession of a land which knows thee not. Arise, Mother of God, and with thy thrilling voice, speak to those who labour with child, and are in pain, till the babe of grace leaps within them! Shine on us, dear Lady, with thy bright countenance, like the sun in his strength, O stella matutina, O harbinger of peace, till our year is one perpetual May. From thy sweet eyes, from thy pure smile, from thy majestic brow, let ten thousand influences rain down, not to confound or overwhelm, but to persuade, to win over thine enemies. O Mary, my hope, O Mother undefiled, fulfil to us the promise of this Spring. John Henry Newman, The Second Spring sermon, preached 13 July 1852, in St. Mary’s, Oscott, in the first Provincial Synod of Westminster.

To Him Who Is Able

Lancelot Andrewes.
Lancelot Andrewes.

Let us beseech the Lord in peace, for the heavenly peace, and the salvation of our souls;–for the peace of the whole world; for the stability of God’s holy Churches, & the union of them all;–for this holy house, and those who enter it with faith and reverence; for our holy Fathers, the honourable Presbytery, the Diaconate in Christ, and all, both Clergy and people;–for this holy retreat, and all the city and country, and all the faithful who dwell therein;–for salubrious weather, fruitfulness of earth, and peaceful times;–for voyagers, travellers, those who are in sickness, toil, and captivity, and for their salvation. Aid, save, pity, and preserve them, O God, in Thy grace. Making mention of the all-holy, undefiled, and more than blessed Mary, Mother of God and Ever-Virgin, with all saints, let us commend ourselves, and each other, and all our life, to Christ our God.

To Thee, O Lord, for it is fitting, be glory, honour, and worship. The grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with me, and with all of us. Amen.

I commend me and mine, and all that belongs to me, to Him who is able to keep me without falling, & to place me immaculate before the presence of His glory, to the only wise God and our Saviour; to whom be glory and greatness, strength and authority, both now and for all ages. Amen.

Lancelot Andrewes’ Greek Devotions (Course of Prayers for the Week: The Fifth Day),
translated by Blessed J. H. Newman.