The Portal April 2018 - Page 10

THE P RTAL April 2018 Page 10 Thoughts on Newman Newman on Resurrection “…the Apologia pro vita sua of Blessèd John Henry Newman rates with St Augustine’s Confessions and St Thérèse of Lisieux’s Story of a Soul for candid self-reflection” The Revd Dr Stephen Morgan reflects on these three masterpieces A mongst the works of autobiography, the Apologia pro vita sua of Blessèd John Henry Newman rates with St Augustine’s Confessions and St Thérèse of Lisieux’s Story of a Soul for candid self-reflection. All three works differ from the “kiss-and-tell” genre of modern celebrities and the “I-was-right-all-along” approach of the self-justifying political has-been. What distinguishes them from these lesser offerings is the desire of their authors to lead their readers not to an appreciation of their subjects but to a love of God. Newman’s is even more focused than that of either Augustine or Thérèse in that it is, rather than an account of events, explicitly a history of his religious opinions, written to explain how he had come to find the fullness of the Christian Faith in the Catholic Church. In many respects, it has similarities with the collection of the epistles of the Apostle Paul to the various nascent Churches that make up so much of the New Testament. Telling the story of his teenage religious conversion – his “coming to faith” in the expression I hear bandied around by my Evangelical friends – Newman records that from that moment on he considered the articles of the Creed to be “facts not opinions”. with the tent-maker from Tarsus in understanding that if the Resurrection were not a fact, then all was pointless: “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:14) Although 1400 years separated the two men, the Oratorian Priest and the Bishop of Hippo Regius both well understood that “The Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is the new life of believers in Christ.” (St Augustine, Sermon 231) For St Thérèse, as for Blessèd John Henry Newman – near contemporaries, yet products of entirely different religious upbringings – the Resurrection was the response of the loving Father to the entirety of love that embracing the Cross requires. If we give the Resurrection any thought these days It is a bald statement that sits uneasily in the present – and since we are in the Easter season we have little age where ecumenical and inter-faith priorities mean excuse for not so doing – it is as something that we mostly eschew such absolutist claims as we dialogue happened to Jesus, but for Paul, Augustine, Thérèse and Newman because it was something that happened and accompany, share and receive. to Jesus, it is something that will happen to us. Nonetheless, if we are to avoid becoming self- If the purpose of autobiography is to sensationalise immolating casualties of the dictatorship of relativism, we would do better to pay attention to Newman’s the largely mundane and sordid, or to excuse and justify the inexcusable and unjustifiably, this might all words. seem a bit irrelevant. Newman stands in a line of great Saints passing through St Paul, St Augustine and St Thérèse for If, however, the apology we offer for our own life is whom the entire meaning of life stemmed from FRw&GFVFVBFFR6fFb6V2FW"FW7@&VƗ6FFB6&7BvB&VV7'V6fVBW"vFVFRG'WFFBFR&W7W'&V7F6f'BFVVB&6Vg&FRFVBFBf'7Bb6&7B2f7B2FR6&W'7FR2WvV7FW"&rFRf7F&6&Fv2R'6W'fVBvR&R6fVB'f7G2B2