Be courageous like St John Henry Newman, the Bishop of Shrewsbury has urged.
As St John Henry Newman was being canonised in Rome on Sunday 13th October, Bishop Mark Davies told churchgoers throughout his diocese that England’s newest saint is one “very close to us”.
“Today, the Church rejoices as John Henry Newman is declared a saint. We could say that England’s newest saint only lived down the M6 Motorway from us!” Bishop Davies told parishioners throughout the Diocese of Shrewsbury.
“He saw the beginnings of our Shrewsbury Diocese, and foresaw many of the challenges we face today. John Henry Newman is indeed a saint very close to us!” Bishop Davies added.
In a pastoral letter read out at all parishes in the diocese on Sunday 13th October, the bishop said: “In speaking of a ‘second spring’ for the Catholic Church in this land, Newman looked to the future of our diocese declaring that the name of Shrewsbury would prove ‘as stirring to the heart as the glories England had lost’ and he spoke of the saints who would rise from this diocese.”
Calling to mind this Year of Holiness, Bishop Davies noted that the faithful “have reflected together on how each of us is called to become such a saint”.
He pointed out that the Church has now declared with certainty that St Newman has reached this goal, which assures believers that they can confidently ask his prayers and look to his example.
Speaking of St Newman’s example, Bishop Davies mentioned his conversion from Anglicanism to Catholicism and urged the faithful to be courageous like him when it comes to standing up for their own personal convictions.
“His [St Newman’s] reception into the Catholic Church on 9th October 1845 not only shook his contemporaries, it would eventually lead many to follow him,” explained Bishop Davies.
“In this 21st Century, we stand in need of the courage of Cardinal Newman, so we never allow ourselves to settle for the comfortable consensus of opinion around us, nor be intimidated by the ever-growing intolerance of Christianity.
“Newman’s journey gives witness to the words which St Paul commends to the young Timothy ‘If we have died with him, then we shall live with him. If we hold firm, then we shall reign with him. If we disown him, then he will disown us. We may be unfaithful, but he is always faithful for he cannot disown his own self’.”
Bishop Davies pointed out that from his entry into the Catholic Church, St Newman grew in wonder at the real and living presence of Jesus Christ in the Sacrifice and Sacrament of the Eucharist.
“In times when the reality of the Eucharist has tragically faded in many minds and hearts, this new saint of the Church leads us to Him who is the Source of grace, that we too might ‘fall at the feet of Jesus’ and thank Him,” he said.
“It is to the Altar and Tabernacle that this saint for our time will surely lead us with renewed faith that we may pray, as he himself prayed, ‘I praise, and bless, and give myself wholly to Him, who is the true Bread of my soul, and my everlasting joy’.
“May St John Henry Newman pray for us and accompany us on the path to holiness,” Bishop Davies concluded.
Picture: A banner of St John Henry Newman hangs on the facade of St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. (Mazur/cbcew.org.uk).