Yesterday, of course, was Newman’s day . . . and I’m very glad that so many people felt it was worth celebrating, if only because the more who celebrate him and his life, the more who will consider him, and speak of him; and the more he will become a part of ‘normal thought’
. . . which is always a good thing.
What is important, though, it seems to me, is not actually whether we talk about im; if only because his greatest contribution to God’s work is, in essence, to have set an example : an example which has always been precious, and which is now, in these degenerate days, even more necessary than it was in his own . . . the example of ‘coming home’ to the Catholic Church, and the certainty of God’s love for those who accept the authority which Our Lord gave to Peter : the authority to give certainty to those who accept him as the person to whom Christ gave the keys of the kingdom.
As it happens, I didn’t read Newman’s ‘Apologia pro Vita Sua’ until after I had been received : the ‘conversion story’ which influenced me most was ‘A Spiritual Æneid’ by Ronnie Knox . . . possibly partly because the extreme Catholic end of the Church of England which I had inhabited was very much like his, and not very much like Newman’s – despite the influence Newman had actually had on it in its early days. However, I have now discovered that Newman must have had an effect on Ronnie . . . so his example found its way to me, regardless of the fact that I didn’t find him myself.
What is important now that we know that he is in Heaven, it seems to me, is for us all to pray to Newman that, being in Heaven, he intercedes ceaselessly with God for the conversion of those outside the Church, that they may come home as he did – and as so many of us have done – and find their own joy in God’s love : that his heart will speak to their hearts, whether directly or indirectly, and that through that inspiration they will find their way home . . . and that having come home they will, in their turn, inspire and support others to make the same journey, until we are all, once again, within God’s household, and made certain of His love by the experience of His Heaven : a joy which, in due course, I wish you all.