This Sunday, 13th October, the first English saint of modern times, John Henry Newman, is to be canonised (declared a saint). Also canonized with him will be an Indian, Sister Marian Thresia, founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family; an Italian, Sister Giuseppina Vannini; a Brazilian Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes, and Marguerite Bays, a Swiss consecrated virgin of the Third Order of St. Francis.
Their canonizations will take place during the 2019 Special Synod of Bishops from the Pan-Amazonian region which is held at the Vatican at this time. The Prince of Wales will lead the UK delegation – because the Queen no longer travels abroad, he is the highest-ranking royal who could attend – along with HM Ambassador to the Holy See, Sally Axworthy.
John Henry Newman was a 19th century theologian, poet, Catholic priest and cardinal. Originally an Anglican priest, he converted to Catholicism in 1845 and his writings are considered among some of the most important Church-writings in recent centuries. If you have access to YouTube, Bishop Robert Barron has posted a one hour film he made on John Henry Newman. This will give you a great insight in the man and why he is important for us today.
Bishop Barron says at the beginning of his film that Newman was a massive and deeply influential figure and some say he is the greatest Catholic theologian since Thomas Aquinas. Newman is considered one of the most important theological influences of the Second Vatican Council. His work represents the first and most notable attempt to place Catholic thought in dialogue with the enlightenment. You might be aware of his poem “The Dream of Gerontius” put to music by Sir Edward Elgar. The words of the hymn “Praise to the holiest in the height” come from this poem. Among his published books were “The Idea of a University,” “Grammar of Assent,” and his autobiography “Apologia pro Vita Sua” (A defence of one’s own life.).
I love this pray he wrote:
“Stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine as You shine: so to shine as to be a light to others. The light, O Jesus, will be all from You. None of it will be mine. It will be You who shines through me upon others. O let me thus praise You, in the way which You love best, by shining on all those around me. Give light to them as well as to me; light them with me, through me. Teach me to show forth Your praise. Your truth. Your will. Make me preach You without preaching – not by words, but by my example and by the catching force, the sympathetic influence, of what I do – by my visible resemblance to Your saints, and the evident fullness of the love which my heart bears to You.”