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Heart Speaks to Heart

The Story of Blessed John Henry Newman

Author(s): Dermot Mansfield

ISBN13: 9781847302427

ISBN10: 1847302424

Publisher: Veritas

Extent: 244 pages

Binding: Paperback

Size: 23.1 x 15.5 x 2 cm

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  • Dermot Mansfield presents a clear and vivid account of the life of John Henry Newman, a man who was subject to much misunderstanding and suspicion in the Catholic Church. Heart speaks to heart, the motto he chose when made a cardinal late in life, shows that his whole life was interwoven with a range of people, high and low, both Anglican and Catholic. This book offers a fresh perspective on Newman’s life, with contemporary Church issues and questions of faith and unbelief never far from mind.

    Ultimately, though, it is Newman’s extraordinary care for truth that is apparent throughout. This being the year of Newman’s beatification by Pope Benedict XVI, it is a timely book that tells in a meaningful way the story of his long life.

  • Dermot Mansfield

    Dermot Mansfield SJ has worked mainly in the field of spiritual direction and retreats in Ireland, the UK, Canada and Nigeria. He was also involved in the training and formation of spiritual directors in Ireland, and lectures in the Graduate Spirituality Programme at Milltown Institute, Dublin.

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    This story is a significant addition to the plethora of books on Newman. The author provides us with a bibliography that includes works by Ward, Murray, Norris, Dessain, Stange, Trevor, Ker, Holmes, Coulson and Walgrave, with hints of what may be more relevant to the initiate in Newman studies. He realises that reading about Newman is no substitute for reading the man himself. Hence the appositeness of a small selection of excerpts from his work that provide a thumbnail sketch of what preoccupied the great man throughout his long life, recorded here with admirable economy and comprehensiveness. It goes without saying that in Newman we are confronted by a master of English prose.


    O'Faoilean found the secret of Newman's genius in his imagination. He has a capacity to move from facet to facet of his subject to give us a synthetic view of what he has in mind. His thought falls to the page with a freshness that is unencumbered by technical vocabularies. With hindsight it was realised that Newman was a prophetic thinker, so that there is an engaging irony in his denial that he was a ‘theologian’. He was contrasting himself with the exponents of theology he found wanting in contemporary Rome. In him we find a freshness and an originality that bear the marks of the classisist, the mathematician, the musician and above all the man of prayer who explored the Christian tradition, and man's equipment to assimilate it, with incomparable connaturality and expressed his findings with an unfaltering lucidity and refreshing originality.


    With regard to structure, the book follows the course of Newman's life and thus facilitates the emergence of essential features of his striking personality and the absorbing sequence of events that manifest the profile of a spiritual genius and the history of a single-minded pilgrim of truth, above all of a man of faith annealed in the crucible of life. That life had its demands - with students at Oxford, in the care of his parishioners there and at Littlemore, and later in life in Birmingham. He did not shirk the humdrum of pastoral care, visiting the poor, providing catechesis, forming choirs, listening. There are times in his life that tower Meteora-like above the normal plodding of the terrible daily grind: his contribution to the papers of the Oxford Movement culminating in Tract 90, his conversion to Rome, the imperishable sermons, the founding of the University in Dublin, the writing of Apologia pro Vita Sua, The Grammar of Assent and his vindication by Leo XIII, when in a kind of anticipated apotheosis he received the cardinal's hat.


    He knew suffering too. The chapter on `The Parting of Friends' is at times almost unbearable. He ran into a succession of `failures': his involvement in publishing journals; in spite of its achievement, he thought that the experiment to found a Catholic University in Dublin had not the outcome he envisaged; the restriction on the spread of the Oratories and the transformation of the London Oratory. He was beset by heavy colds and bouts of exhaustion. That was tolerable compared with his extended experience of being suspect in the Church to which he had so heroically given his allegiance. He even skirted criminality with the Achilli trial. It would be mistaken to portray those who attempted to thwart him (or who succeeded in doing so) as a gallery of rogues. But their conduct undoubtedly suggests that even great men have flaws and in this case they were the source of much suffering to Newman. Cullen and Manning were outstanding churchmen by any standard, but their limitations blinkered them to his grandeur. Faber, Kingsley and the pathetic Talbot, each in their own way, were blighted with a blindness which cost Newman dearly. But in and through it all, he enjoyed as well the friendship and support of Pusey, Keble, Froude, Ullathorne, Russell and Margaret Mary Hallahan, to name but a few of those who realised his true worth.


    Mansfield's book has the Augustinian distinction of being clear, informative and pleasing. It is written with a sustained and scholarly grasp of the mise en scene of his protagonist's life. The author enjoys the advantage of retrospection that discerns the prophetic character of Newman's mind and writings and their bearing on the Second Vatican Council. The publisher's claim - that the book `offers a fresh perspective on Newman's life, with contemporary issues and questions of faith and unbelief never far from mind' - is fully justified, so that it makes for an ideal introduction to the subject as well as giving familiars the opportunity of revisiting an elegant survey of one who, in the words of Pope Paul VI, `traced an itinerary, the most toilsome, but also the greatest, the most meaningful, the most conclusive, that human thought ever travelled during the last century, indeed one might say during the modern era, to arrive at the fullness of wisdom and peace' (p. 197).


     - Nicholas Madden, OCD, Mount Carmel July - September 2012


    The Callan school affair lasted from 1868 to 1881 and attracted international attention. Father Robert O'Keeffe came from a respectable Catholic         family and his early careerfollowed conventional lines. After some time teaching, he assigned to a parish and then in 1863 was made parish priest of Callan, his hometown, which must have been unusual although Barr does not make much of this.


    O'Keeffe, a firm believer in education, endeavoured to raise the standard of schooling in the parish. He was ex officio manager of the local national schools and also opened a Christian Brothers school. This backfired because their school drew pupils away from the national schools. O'Keeffe's response was to improve his schools by bring in Irish born nuns from a French teaching order. His high­handedness may have already ruffled his bishop's feathers but Bishop Walsh would not countenance the introduction of the nuns and so he and O'Keeffe fell into open confrontation. This dispute was to continue one way or another until 1881, dividing Callan and resulting in violence and rioting there for years.


    O'Keeffe resorted to the civil courts, bringing an action of slander against Bishop Walsh. Once he had done this, he became a serial litigant, firing off writs like a drunken cowboy firing off his six-shooter on a Saturday night. His curates, diocesan officials and even Cardinal Cullen all found themselves in court. It might have stayed a strange but local affair had it not been for the fact that once O'Keeffe was suspended as parish priest he was also discharged as the workhouse chaplain and schools manager. Of course O'Keeffe protested against this and appealed to the government for justice.


    This turned a local scandal into a national affair and Barr is very good at taking us step by step through the twists and turns of the following years at both local and parliamentary level. He is clearly in command of his material and provides background sketches of the main players and institutions like the national education board. He may be right that events in Europe, most notably the 'kulturkampf' in Germany, created a heightened atmosphere which brought attention to the issue of who actually controlled the state's schools. However Ireland had no kulturkampf because the state acquiesced to denominational education and supported the Catholic church's authority. Victory for O'Keeffe would not have meant a secular, state-run educational system.


    Indeed it could be argued that O'Keeffe's personality was the real problem. Again and again he rejected compromise and took out another court case. In England the affair was taken up by anti-clerics and anti-Catholics. O'Keeffe was supported by Protestant evangelicals and even The Times. However this was only on the narrow point that the educational board was wrong to dismiss him because he had been suspended by the church. They would not support bringing in nuns to a school. In contrast, in Ireland the fracture lines had more to do with politics than religion. Many Protestants opposed O'Keeffe and his supporters were variously labelled Fenians or reds. Barr might have made more of the fact that extreme nationalists saw this affair as a way of attacking the pro-Union Cullen.


    This is certainly a fascinating study and I can see why writers have been inspired by the Callan affair. Barr manages to take his readers through a complex series of events and to cover all facets of it well. For a time the question of church versus state was seen as the crucial issue, particularly in the light of English Protestant fears of ultramontaine Catholicism. As Barr admits there was no stomach in Britain for a kulturkampf while in Ireland different issues came into play. In the end O'Keeffe's actions did not change the status quo and he died a broken man in 18ffi. However he still had the ability to raise passions and there was a riot at his funeral.


    Cardinal Cullen also features in the life of John Henry Newman. Education was the common theme as the recently converted Newman was asked by Cullen in 1851 to come to Dublin to establish a Catholic University in response to the 'godless' colleges set up by Peel's government. It was a relationship that was doomed from the start as the two were both strong-willed men with fixed ideas. Cullen objected to Newman's independence in respect of the new university and was alarmed at the employment of former Young Irelanders on the faculty. Newman's association with Ireland was not an entirely happy one and it was not the most significant sojourn in his life either.


    On the face of it Newman was an unlikely convert to Catholicism. He came from a respectable well-off Anglican family. The upheaval following his father's financial difficulties seems to have brought on a spiritual crisis when he was a teenager and this resulted in a vocation. So after studies at Oxford he was ordained a deacon. His early leanings were towards the more evangelical wing of the Church of England and he rose in its ranks. However the simple message and closed attitude of the evangelicals left him unsatisfied and his drift towards Rome began.


    By the time he converted in 1845 he was a publicly known Anglican figure and it made an impact. Many of his fellow members of the Oxford Movement joined him and is clear that the Vatican saw in him the opportunity to gain ground in England. He took his conversion seriously and went to Rome to be educated in Catholicism. He had to be persuaded to accept Catholic holy orders but once he did so he embraced his vocation with enthusiasm and commitment. It would not be an exaggeration to say that his rise in the church was meteoric and he was soon a bishop and died a cardinal.


    Mansfield has written a straightforward history of Newman. He follows his life from the cradle to the grave, chronicling events rather than interpreting them. After reading his book I know more about Newman and the course of his life. I appreciate his importance to the Catholic church in England and why he is still remembered in the twenty-first century. Yet I am no nearer to understanding Newman as a person but perhaps that is expecting too much from a brief biography.


    The purpose of this collection of essays is to examine the polemical nature of Ireland's past or how history has been manipulated and misinterpreted. They were written on the occasion of the retirement from NUI Maynooth of R. V. Comerford as professor of history. It was long a concern of Comerford himself how history was understood and used in Ireland. So the essays are not about past controversies but rather about the controversial nature of history.


    The eleven contributors are all former colleagues or students of Comerford and their essays cover the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries, focusing on local, regional and national concerns. They vary too in theme, including popular songs, national school text-books and even the country house. They all share the common view that the misunderstanding of history has caused many problems in Ireland and, the otherside of the same coin, that some groups have deliberately exploited particular versions of the past.


    Jennifer Kelly's essay on agrarian secret societies in pre­famine Leitrim, for example, shows how even the recent past could be disputed and there is often a gap between fact and popular memory. For Leitrim's Rockites and Molly Maguires, events that occurred as recently as twenty or forty years before, like an eviction or wrongful conviction, were used to justify attacks on certain landlords or campaigns to drive people off the land.


    Tom Nelson provides a curious example of the interpretation of local history in Kildare County Council after the increased franchise resulted in it being dominated by nationalists. The politics of land reform and home rule led to rival claims about who was truly speaking on behalf of the common people and who was truly Irish, the native Gael or the Norman invader. This in itself was part of a wider debate within Irish nationalism and the creation of a kind of grand myth, often characterised as the Boo-year struggle against foreign rule.

    Roy Foster tackles such issues in his chapter on the formation of Irish nationalism. In a wide-ranging essay he discusses the evolution of the nationalist project in Ireland and places it in the broader context of nationalism elsewhere. He tends to view Irish nationalism as a thing of itself and while he acknowledges that it changed and developed overtime, he sees it as a troubling phenomenon.


    Taken as a whole this book provides some interesting ideas on Irish history and postulates the idea, perhaps indirectly, that many of Ireland's woes derive from a misunderstanding of the past. There are many thought­provoking essays here and Professor Comerford would no doubt approve of the approach and conclusions put forward by his colleagues and former students.


     - Tony Cavan, Books Ireland, Dec 2010


    By the standards of the time , and indeed in certain respects those of our own , Newmans family background and upbringing was quite privileged. Born at 80 Old Broad Street in the City of London on 21 February 1801, John Henry was the eldest of six children, divided equally between boys and girls making up the family of John Newman and Jemima Fourdrinier. His father was the son of a grocer, of humble ancestry in East Anglia, and had managed to do well for himself as a partner in a small banking firm. His mother however, whose background was French, came from a more prosperous family of paper manufacturers, who were of Protestant Huguenot stock and had come to England via Holland to escape persecution. Soon after their first childs birth, they moved west to 17 Southampton Street (now Southampton Place), in Bloomsbury, as gradually the family expanded, to include Charles, Harriet, Frank, young Jemima, and Mary. They also took Grey Court House, at Ham near Richmond, as their country house for a number of years. It was a wonderful place for young John Henry, his Paradise, where he remembered long after hearing from his crib the soft sound of the scythe cutting the grass outside, and the house and setting often in his dreams.

    The Newmans were evidently a happy couple, delighting in their lively and adventurous growing children. As for religion, they were members of the Anglican Established Church, John holding moderate and open-minded views, and suspicious of anything enthusiastic. Jemima however was devoutly religious, and wished in particular to inculcate an attachment to and love of the Bible in her family. With regard to education, they were keen to get the best possible for John Henry, who at the age of seven was sent as a boarder to the flourishing Great Ealing School, run by Dr George Nicholas, a kind and warm family friend. It was an excellent choice, as the school continued the sense of security the boy had found at home, while also providing him with an enlightened and stimulating education, rounded out by the performance of plays, debating and music, as well as boating, bathing and riding. A quick learner, he was also a leader among some of the boys, starting a club and founding school newspapers, while in his spare time devouring the Waverley novels of Sir Walter Scott as they came out. When he was ten, his father bought him a violin, and with the help of his music teacher he was soon accomplished in its use , playing, among other works, sonatas by the contemporary Beethoven, a love for whom stayed with him. Later it was as if, in that composer, there was some overwhelming integrity touching his soul, as almost nothing else could.

    There were however tumultuous distant events in Europe that would impinge upon the relatively enclosed world he knew then. As a small child in bed at Ham in October 1805, John Henry had watched the candles lighting at the windows to honour the naval victory at Trafalgar, which removed the threat of invasion by Napoleon. But early in 1816 his secure school and family existence was shattered when, in the aftermath of the ending of the Napoleonic wars, his fathers bank was among a number that failed. It was a crushing blow. Although managing to pay back all his depositors, the elder Newmans confidence never recovered, and the family fortunes went steadily downhill. That summer, it was decided that their fifteen-year-old son should remain over the holidays in the school at Ealing because of the upheaval at home, which he did. Lonely and desolate, he fell seriously ill for a time. But then a great change came over him, leading to a deep appreciation of Christian faith, and of a kind that would remain in essence with him over his whole lifetime.

    Although brought up as an Anglican, and conventionally observant in his religion, the young Newman in truth was at a critical stage in his development. As would have been the case with some other young enquiring people then, he had been toying to some extent with the sceptical literature of the time, wondering about the immortality of the soul, and thinking that perhaps it would be best to be virtuous but not religious. But now this unexpected blow to his family, and his own illness, led him into completely new and uncharted territory, where he believed that God mercifully touched his heart, changing him in a radical way.

    Newman always looked back with gratitude to the young clergyman, Walter Mayers, who taught at the school, and who was on hand that summer and into the autumn and winter of 1816 to guide him. Many years later, in 1864, when as a Catholic he wrote the classic account of his religious development in the Apologia pro Vita Sua, he spoke of this experience as an inward conversion, one that took place over the final five months of 1816. In particular, and reiterating a previous childhood mistrust of material phenomena around him, he was brought to rest in the thought of two and only two absolutely and luminously self-evident beings, myself and my Creator.

    He was greatly helped by the books Mayers lent him, especially The Force of Truth (1779) by Thomas Scott. What made a great impression on him was Scotts teaching on the Blessed Trinity, allied to what he learned then about the Incarnation and the Redemption. These great central truths of the Christian faith became vividly real for him. Personally, he saw himself now as a sinful but redeemed creature before God, and in consequence drawn in thankfulness to serve God with all he had. In this way there came about what has been described as his earnest quest for holiness, and especially through the influence of Thomas Scott. And in the Apologia he said that for years I used almost as proverbs what I considered to be the scope and issue of his doctrine, 'holiness rather than peace', and 'growth the only evidence of life'.

    It is worthy of note that both Newmans mentor Walter Mayers and the author Thomas Scott were exemplars of the Evangelical Revival in the Church of England. Both of these had undergone the kind of conversion experience considered central to Evangelicalism , and in a way that was what Newman underwent during those months. The Evangelical Revival had begun in the previous century in England as an enthusiastic religious movement, embracing rich and poor, and partly in reaction to what was felt to be the uninspiring mainstream life of the Established Church. A great emphasis was placed on scripture, and on preaching as the means by which the Holy Spirit largely operated in bringing about the salvation of souls. But it was the personal experience of conversion that was considered the mark of salvation, as celebrated for instance in the hymn Amazing Grace by John Newton, another well-known Evangelical cleric of the time. Powerful in its effects on a great many people, Evangelicalism was responsible for a renewed vitality within the Church of England, while also, through John Wesley and others, leading to the separate and more populist movement of Methodism.

    Here was a thoughtful young fifteen-year-old profoundly influenced by Evangelicalism. There were however aspects to his Evangelical outlook that would soon change. Thus he held for a time the belief that the Pope was anti-Christ, as was thought in some Protestant circles to have been predicted in the Books of Daniel and Revelation. And for a short while he considered as true the Calvinist tenet of double predestination: that through Gods mercy some are chosen to eternal life, while others are left unredeemed and therefore predestined to eternal loss. More positively, there was the wide theological horizon opened up, centred on the doctrine of the Trinity and the Incarnation, and which he would keep before him through devotion to the Athanasian Creed. It was filled out by long readings from the Fathers, St Augustine and others, which he found in the Evangelical History of the Church of Christ by Joseph Milner. Also, what he called in the Apologia the main Catholic doctrine of the warfare between the city of God and the powers of darkness was impressed upon him from another source. That dramatic and apocalyptic scenario was one that would always be there for him, and a motivation for the concerns engaging him throughout his life.

    At the heart of it all, to mention it again, was his sense of being personally chosen by God , and so he set out with all he had to live day by day in Gods presence. Moreover, a deep imagination, as he called it, took hold of him that autumn: that it was Gods will he should live a single life. This was a rare enough ideal in Protestantism, and was much misunderstood when he mentioned it later in the Apologia. But such was the awareness he had of Gods presence and calling, setting him apart, that the notion for him was very real. It was one which would, except for a few times of doubt and testing, remain with him onwards in his Anglican life, and through the Catholic phase beyond.

    Life moved on for him quickly. His father, despite his precarious financial situation, was determined to send his eldest son to university. In June 1817, aged just sixteen, John Henry travelled to historic Oxford, with its beautiful surrounds, cradled by the River Isis (as the Thames is known there) and its tributary, the Cherwell. He took up residence there in Trinity College, to which he had gained admittance the previous December. A large world began to open out for him from then onward through his studies, which alongside the classics and mathematics were quite wide-ranging, and through meeting new companions. Newman was always someone who made friends, and some of those he made in the early years at Oxford would remain so for life , especially John Bowden, whom he met the very first day he came into residence. Although Bowden was three years older, the two of them became inseparable companions during their years in Trinity.

    The following year he won a college scholarship for nine years, which relieved the financial pressure on his father. Although able to enjoy life, he stood back firmly from the drinking culture the gentlemen students tried at times to force upon him, which gained him the respect of some. In 1820 he took his degree examinations, but lost his nerve during them, and did badly in consequence. At nineteen, he was three years younger than most who took a degree, and had overworked, without adequate supervision. His family were a big support to him afterwards , especially his father, even though he was now heading towards bankruptcy, with the house in Southampton Street and its contents having to be sold, and the family then moving into successively cheaper lodgings in London.

    But still John Henry had a degree, and his scholarship, and so could continue. With confidence in his ability, which others shared, he hoped he could eventually become a Fellow of Oriel College, which was pre-eminent in Oxford at that time. He let his enquiring mind roam freely, with serious incursions into music composition and astronomy; also into the natural sciences, philosophy, history, Hebrew and Arabic, and law. Then at Easter 1822 he took the examinations for Oriel, thinking this would be only a trial attempt. But he found himself doing well as the days went on, and felt helped by the words in the stained glass window in the hall, Pie repone te, lovingly rest yourself. On 12 April he learned he had been successful, and joining the names of Fellows which were then among the most prestigious in the University, he was now an equal among the academics making up the community of Oriel, with a place for life if need be, and an income. The day of his election he later called of all days the most memorable. It raised me from obscurity and need to competency and reputation. It also meant he could support his impoverished family, in their very straitened circumstances, and with his father now irreversibly declining in health.

    Intellectually, the time ahead in Oriel was profoundly significant. Its leading lights were around him, including the Provost Edward Copleston, John Keble, Richard Whately, Edward Hawkins, and John Davison. From the first, he found himself being challenged and drawn out by them, especially by Richard Whately, who was later to be Archbishop of Dublin, and Edward Hawkins, Vicar of the University Church of St Mary the Virgin. In their company, Newman learned to enter into the views of others, while also to think resolutely for himself and weigh up opinions in a clear-headed way. It was an exciting and liberating atmosphere, not without its temptations, as he put it later, to prefer intellectual excellence to moral. Yet he had gradually set his sights on seeking Anglican orders, and on 13 June 1824 he was ordained deacon. I am thine, O Lord, he wrote in his journal that day, as he pondered the idea of giving up all for God. And the following day he added, I have the responsibility of souls on me to the day of my death. And indeed, the rest of his life could be read in the light of that responsibility.

    He took on the curacy of the parish of St Clement across the bridge over the Cherwell at Magdalen College. There, many of the people were poor, and he soon started on rounds of visiting them, especially the sick, and began regular preaching. He also was instrumental in raising substantial money to build a new church, to replace the old one in which he officiated. His first sermon, actually in a distant country church where his former guide Walter Mayers was curate, was on the text: Man goeth forth to his work and to his labour until the evening (Ps 104). Many years later it was to be the text of his last Anglican sermon. That September his father died, and he now became the breadwinner for his whole family. He wrote at the time: When I die shall I be followed to the grave by my children? My mother said the other day she hoped to live to see me married, but I think I shall either die within a College walls, or a Missionary in a foreign land , no matter where, so that I die in Christ.

    As he visited his parishioners in their homes, the young pastor came up against hard facts, which ran counter to the simplistic Evangelical way of classifying humanity as either subject to darkness or light. He found himself meeting many different kinds of people, and, inconsistent though he found them to be on aspects of faith, he could not help but admit that grace was at work in their lives. Edward Hawkins too criticised his initial preaching on conversion as na?»ve, in the way he divided people into categories of nominal and real Christianity, and on how he insisted on the process of conversion, with a clear-cut division between those who either had or had not undergone the experience. Soon the narrow mentality of Evangelicalism gave way, as his own good sense and his concern for truth led him to see that it was to an extent an unreal system. What shall I do? he exclaimed in his journal after conversation with an argumentative Calvinist couple, I really desire the truth.

    On 25 May 1825 he was ordained priest. In addition he was by now Vice-Principal of St Albans Hall, a residence for students, and was occupied as a College Tutor, raising additional money to support his family and get his brother Frank through the University. All these demands were such that at Easter 1826 he gave up St Clements, feeling his talents at that point lay in tutoring and in what were to him the pastoral responsibilities for the young university men under his charge. With them, especially the gentlemen commoners, he had a reputation for kindness, but steely determination in tackling low standards, especially any dissipation on the few occasions when they were expected to take Holy Communion.

    One unusual companion of his for a time at Oriel was the Spaniard Blanco White, of Irish descent, who had been a Roman Catholic priest, Canon of Seville Cathedral, before taking on the Liberal cause and then entering the Anglican ministry. With Newman he shared a love of the violin, and together they were involved in playing Beethovens Quartets. But whatever liberal ideas they had in common did not last. And soon BlancoWhite was to lose his belief in the divinity of Christ, and head via Unitariansim into Pantheism. For Newman, the story of his loss of belief would provide much food for thought.

    His own move in a very different direction would be helped by a series of events. In the autumn of 1827 he became quite ill for a time, and suffered a serious loss of confidence, mainly due to overwork. Worse was to come. Over the Christmas and New Year holidays he went home to be with his family, which he had arranged to get settled at Brighton. Suddenly, on the eve of Epiphany, his youngest sister Mary took ill and died. Only nineteen, she had been very close to her eldest brother. Maria Giberne, a friend of the family (and who would have a lifelong loyalty to John Henry), was there at the time, and saw the effect it had on him. He was utterly shocked by what had happened, and often afterwards, even into old age, tears came to his eyes when he thought of Mary. He struggled to believe that it was all within Gods providence, and the blow revived in him his deep sense of the unseen world surrounding our own, and more real than the material one we touch. As he wrote to his sister Jemima months later, after riding out from Oxford in the countryside: Dear Mary seems embodied in every tree and hid behind every hill. What a veil and curtain this world of sense is! Beautiful, but still a veil. And both his own illness and Marys loss shocked him out of a reliance on intellectual prowess and into a deeper dependence in faith on Gods designs.

    Much more happened in those early months of 1828. Edward Copleston had departed from Oriel, on becoming Bishop of Llandaff. Hawkins was now elected Provost, and Newman went on to succeed him as Vicar of the lovely church of St Marys, his institution taking place on 14 March. Centrally situated, with a seventeenth-century statue of the Virgin and Child over its entrance on the High Street, its impressive spire then as now dominated Oxford. But despite its title as the University Church, the normal congregation at St Marys was made up largely of the families of shopkeepers, tradesmen and servants in the colleges, and soon Newman was busy teaching catechism to their children. In time, however, and since he was also on occasion official preacher to the university, his sermons there would attract a wider and more learned audience , and when published, would have a profound effect upon many of a whole generation in England and further afield.

    Throughout, there was a whole pattern of enquiry and growth going on in Newmans religious understanding. Already, at the time of his Evangelical conversion, his Trinitarian faith began to provide him with a vision of the great components of revealed truth, centred on the meaning of the Incarnation and our Redemption. Then Hawkins helped to wean him off his emphasis on the experience of conversion itself, and to recognise the efficacy of Baptism. Hawkins too supplemented his reverence for Scripture by pointing to the role of Church tradition in its interpretation. And by his own reading, especially of Bishop Butlers Analogy of Religion, he began to acquire a strong sense of the Church as the oracle of truth and pattern of sanctity, so that even in his early preaching at St Clements he was insisting on the visible nature of the Church, and its being Catholic and Apostolic.

    And now, other figures at Oriel College began to exercise a decisive influence on him , but from a different standpoint, that of the traditional High Church strand of Anglicanism. Thus he had already come to admire Edward Bouverie Pusey, elected to Oriel in 1823, who went on to pursue further studies in Germany, and would become Professor of Hebrew at Oxford. In 1827 Pusey, at his request, brought him back folio editions of the Greek and Latin Fathers from Germany, and starting in the summer of 1828 he began reading them systematically. Already enamoured by his initial reading of excerpts of Augustine and Ambrose and others in 1816, Newman now entered into a long process of assimilating the patristic writings, believing that the early centuries offered the great normative interpretation of Christian revelation and life. He also came close to two other significant people, Hurrell Froude, elected a Fellow in 1826, and John Keble, whom he had known a little but revered greatly since beginning at Oriel. The older and self-effacing Keble, who had never attended school before coming to Oxford, had been the most brilliant student of his generation. He had joined Oriel in 1811, was now Professor of Poetry, and was author of the much-loved collection of hymns and religious poetry, The Christian Year, verses from which Newmans sister Mary had been repeating by heart as she lay dying.

    People like these, and other High Churchmen, whom the formerly Evangelical Newman came to know, paved the way for him to understand their classical predecessors, namely the major Anglican theologians, or divines, as they were known, from the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Many of those earlier figures, especially from the Caroline era , the reigns of Charles I and Charles II , had also been patristic scholars, although it would be some time yet before Newman made an intimate acquaintance with their writings. Keble and Pusey in particular, with their learning, represented these for Newman. Hurrell Froude in turn was the disciple of Keble. He said later that the one good thing he did in life was to bring Keble and Newman to understand each other.

    Froude did more than that, however. Especially, he helped Newman to look beyond even the Reformation itself, and acquire some sympathy with the Church of Rome, especially in its medieval period. This was significant, and would lead to the evaporation of his idea of the Pope as Anti-Christ. He brought him as well to accept the doctrine of the Real Presence, and to have devotion to the Blessed Virgin. He also held before him in a new light the ideal of priestly celibacy. This was at a time when Newman witnessed some deeply happy marriages, especially John Bowdens, which was to Elizabeth Swinburne, from a well-known formerly Catholic family in Northumberland. Pusey also at this time married Maria Barker, who in turn became friendly with Newman. At one point, Newman found himself attracted by Froudes lovely sisters, when staying at their fathers home in Devon. But while he accepted that marriage and family life suited priests in settled country parsonages, he believed that those like himself who were involved in more missionary situations, whether at home or abroad, should remain single.

    In fact, this was how Newman saw himself engaged at this time. He was fast becoming the centre of an active and talented group, and therefore in a situation which required of him a high degree of personal commitment. Among these companions was the future High Church theologian, Robert Wilberforce, who with Froude had become a Fellow of Oriel in 1826. Others came from among Newmans most talented pupils, such as Frederic Rogers, and Henry Wilberforce, the younger brother of Robert , both sons of the great William Wilberforce, the Evangelical slave emancipator. All of them were being brought together in espousing the cause of the Church, which they felt was coming under threat from a variety of sources. There was certainly a widespread alienation from Anglicanism at this time, occurring in the growing industrial cities and towns. And, in the aftermath of the granting of Catholic Emancipation in 1829, a new reforming Whig government had replaced the Tories, who were determined to trim the Established Churchs outmoded privileges and influence. But while ecclesiastical power and prestige were likewise anathema to High Church people like Keble and Newman, in principle they were opposed to government interference. They were also united against what they saw as a growing Liberal spirit in Oxford and elsewhere in England, fuelled by political and philosophical developments in Europe , and which was the enemy of the orthodoxy they were now espousing. For them, the Liberal approach posed a real threat to revealed religion, exalting the independent rational mind as the proud arbiter of truth, and leading to a decay of trust in religious authority.

    Hawkins and Whately naturally were alarmed at what was to them the growing reactionary attitude of their young former prot?®g?®. Whately believed Newman had deserted the Liberal cause and was assuming an orthodox mantle because he was ambitious for advancement in the Church. And Hawkins, as Provost, considering in any case that Newmans pastoral approach to academic tutoring was out of place, took action by stopping his supply of pupils, so that in 1830 his role as College Tutor was ended, depriving him of much-needed income for his family. He still had the main responsibility for his mother and sisters, who at this time moved close to him, setting up house in the riverside village of Iffley, which was near Littlemore, an outlying district of his parish.

    In the spring of 1831 he began work on a study of the Council of Nicea, having been invited to contribute to the proposed publication of a theological library on the early Councils of the Church. It was to launch myself on an ocean with currents innumerable, he wrote in the Apologia. The outcome was his first book, completed in 1832, and published the following year, not as part of the proposed series, but as a volume on its own entitled The Arians of the Fourth Century. It dealt with the controversies of the crucial period surrounding the Council of Nicea (325), and especially with the divisions coming in its wake. Among other things, it included what is still a fine outline of the scriptural and theological doctrine of the Trinity. Above all, the Church of Alexandria became the focus of Newmans study, which was then, as he saw it, the natural mediator between East and West, and personified in the towering figure of its bishop St Athanasius, who, after the Apostles, has been a principal instrument, by which the sacred truths of Christianity have been conveyed and secured to the world.

    His book was a major historical and theological treatise, therefore, and intended to show in an exemplary light the perennial Catholic dimension of the Church. This was a reality growing powerfully in his mind and heart. He was beginning to see very clearly that there was something greater than the Established Church, and that was the Church Catholic and Apostolic, set up from the beginning, of which she was both the local presence and the organ. She was nothing, unless she was this. Throughout, his sermons were attracting more and more notice. Two important ones, but preached at Tunbridge Wells, were entitled Knowledge of Gods will without Obedience and The Religion of the Day, where he showed that the religion of civilisation was becoming a substitute for authentic Christianity. One interesting group of sermons at St Marys presented fascinating moral portraits of key Old Testament personalities: Abraham, Moses, Saul, David, Solomon and Jeroboam. He also delivered during 1830, 1832 eight official University Sermons, where he set out the principles he was developing for a philosophy of religion. Especially in The Influence of Natural and Revealed Religion he treated the subject of conscience , a theme that would occupy him onwards through his life. Conscience for him, as he said then, was really the religious sense within us, pointing to a Supreme Power, claiming our habitual obedience, and also the moral sense, providing us with the inward law of right and wrong. It is at the source of Natural Religion, therefore, but needing to be complemented by the great personal object of our devotion and worship given in Revealed Religion.

    Meanwhile his personal quest continued, as subsequent events led to a spiritual crisis, on which he would often ponder. Froude was diagnosed with tuberculosis, and his father, Archdeacon Froude, who had already lost his wife and another son to the disease, was anxious to take Hurrell to the warmer climate of the Mediterranean in the winter of 1832, 1833. The Froudes asked Newman to accompany them, and needing a break after the effort of writing his book on the Arians, he agreed to do so. Setting out from Falmouth on their long sea voyage, they made their way to Corfu, visiting also Malta, Palermo, Naples and finally Rome. Despite his theological Catholic sympathies, much of what Newman saw of contemporary Roman Catholicism did not appeal to him. In Rome itself, they received news that the government at home was moving to abolish some of the Irish Anglican bishoprics and were incensed, intending to act resolutely when they returned to England. Before leaving, they made personal contact with the Roman church by meeting Dr Nicholas Wiseman, Rector of the English College, a man who was to play an important role in Newmans life later on. As they parted, Wiseman expressed the hope that they might visit Rome again , to which Newman was moved to reply, We have a work to do in England.

    Clearly, there was a serious challenge awaiting them back in England. As the Froudes started on their journey home, however, Newman decided to leave them, against their advice. The beauty of Sicily had fascinated him when they were there earlier, and now he was determined to make his way back alone, to view once more its relics of antiquity. But while there, and in the middle of all that enthralled him, he became seriously ill with fever and nearly died. Everything became personally dark for him too, as he found himself entering into a state of personal turmoil and self-recrimination.

    He recalled that just before leaving Oxford, he had preached the sermon, Wilfulness the Sin of Saul, linking that Old Testament figure to the indifference and disdain being shown in some quarters to the Church. Now in Sicily, as soon as he felt the illness coming on, he began to dread that it was he himself who had committed that sin of wilfulness, despite having professed to be a spiritual leader of others. He felt that much of what he had been trying to do at home was governed by proud self-will. I seemed to see more and more my utter hollowness. He chastised himself in the quarrel with Hawkins over the tutorship: Then I bitterly blamed myself, as disrespectful and insulting to the Provost, my superior. He thought too that he had received the Sacrament at that time in malice and resentment.

    Yet, when his fever was at its worst, over ten or eleven days, he also had the thought that God had not abandoned him. He kept on saying to himself, I have not sinned against light, and at one moment, I had a most consoling overpowering thought of Gods electing love, and seemed to feel I was his. Recovering a little strength, he set out with the help of the local servant he had hired to get to a ship at Palermo, feeling as he travelled that he must shed reliance on self, and go instead on Gods way, that I must put myself in his path, his way. Again he fell ill with fever, and was laid up for some weeks , during which he found himself saying over and over to Gennaro, his uncomprehending servant, the words he had said to Wiseman in Rome: I have a work to do in England.

    Finally he set sail from Palermo on the first leg of the journey home. Before his illness, throughout the earlier travels he had been writing quite an amount of poetry. And now as he was finally headed home, when the ship was becalmed in the straits of Bonifacio between Corsica and Sardinia, on 16 June 1833 he wrote The Pillar of the Cloud. It would later, as a hymn, be best known across the Christian denominations by its opening lines:

    Lead, Kindly Light, amid the encircling glo
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