Saturday, January 29, 2005

From Faith and Prejudice and Other Unpublished Sermons
by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.

Our Lord commanded the winds and the sea, and the men who saw it marvelled saying, What manner of man is this, for the winds and the sea obey him? It was a miracle. It showed our Lord's power over nature. And therefore they wondered, because they could not understand, and rightly, how any man could have power over nature, unless that power was given him by God. Nature goes on her own way and we cannot alter it. Man cannot alter it, he can only use it. Matter, for instance, falls downward, earth, stone, iron all fall to the earth when left to themselves. Again, left to themselves, they cannot move except by falling. They never move except they are pulled or pushed forward. Water again never stands in a heap or a mass, but flows out on all sides as far as it can. Fire again always burns, or tends to burn. The wind blows to and fro, without any discoverable rule or law, and we cannot tell how it will blow tomorrow by seeing how it blows today. We see all these things. They have their own way; we cannot alter them. All we attempt to do is to use them; we take them as we find them and we use them. We don't attempt to change the nature of fire, earth, air or water, but we observe what the nature of each is, and we try to turn it to account. We turn steam to account, and use it in carriages and ships; we turn fire to account and use it in a thousand ways. We use the things of nature, we submit to the laws of nature, and we avail ourselves of them; but we do not command nature. We do not attempt to alter it, but we merely direct it to our own purposes. Far different was it with our Lord: He used indeed the winds and the water; (He used the water when He got into a boat, and used the wind when He suffered the sail to be spread over Him). He used, but more than this, He commanded, the winds and the waves—He had power to rebuke, to change, to undo the course of nature, as well as to make use of it. He was above nature. He had power over nature. This is what made the men marvel. Experienced seamen can make use of the winds and the waves to get to the shore. Nay, even in a storm they know how to avail themselves of them, they have their rules what to do, and they are on the look out, taking advantage of everything that happens. But our Lord did not condescend to do this. He did not instruct them how to manage their sails, nor how to steer the vessel, but He addressed Himself directly to winds and waves, and stopped them, making them do that which was against their nature.

So again, when Lazarus was ill, our Lord might have gone to him, and have recommended the fitting medicine, and the treatment which would cure him. He did nothing of the kind—He let him die—so much so that St. Martha said when He at length came, "Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died" (John 11). But our Lord had a reason. He wished to show His power over nature. He wished to triumph over death. So, instead of hindering Lazarus from dying by the art of medicine, He triumphed over death by a miracle.

No one has power over nature but He who made it. None can work a miracle but God. When miracles are wrought it is a proof that God is present. And therefore it is that, whenever God visits the earth, He works miracles. It is the claim He makes upon our attention. He thereby reminds us that He is the Creator. He who did, alone can undo. He who made, alone can destroy. He who gave nature its laws, alone can change those laws. He who made fire to burn, food to nourish, water to flow, iron to sink, He alone can make fire harmless, food needless, water firm and solid, iron light, and therefore whether He sent forth the Prophets or the Apostles, Moses, Josue, Samuel, or Elias, He always sent them with miracles, to show His presence with His servants. Then all things began to change their nature; the Egyptians were tormented with strange plagues, the waters stood in a heap for the Chosen people to pass over, they were fed with manna in the desert, the sun and the moon stood still—because God was there.

This then was what made the men marvel, when our Lord stilled the storm upon the sea. It was a proof to them that God was there, though they saw Him not. Nay, God was there and they saw Him—for Christ was God—but whether they learned this high and sacred truth or not from the miracle, so far they understood that God really was there. His hand was there, His power was there, and therefore they feared. You have read in books, I dare say, stories of great men who come in disguise, and at length are known by their voice, or by some deed, which betrays them. Their voices, or their words, or their manner, or their exploit, is their token—it is a sort of handwriting. And so when God walks the earth, He gives us means of knowing that He does so, though He is a hidden God, and does not display His glory openly. Power over nature is the token He gives us that He, the Creator of Nature, is in the midst of us.

The Feast of Pope St. Gelasius II, O.S.B.
is today. There is information on him here.

Friday, January 28, 2005

On January 28, 1991
the following was published in the weekly English edition of L'Osservatore Romano:

On January 22, in the presence of the Holy Father, the following decrees were promulgated concerning:

— the heroic virtues of the Servant of God JOHN HENRY NEWMAN, Cardinal and founder of the Oratories of St. Philip Neri in England; born in London, England 21 February 1801 and died in Birmingham on 11 August 1890;

The Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, O.P., Priest and Doctor of the Church
is today. There is information on him here. A blessed feast day to all the Dominicans out there, including some bloggers.
It is also the feast of St. Peter Nolasco, O. de M.,Founder. A blessed feast day to any Mercedarians out there !

Thursday, January 27, 2005

On January 27, 1873...
Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O., preached a sermon, of which the following notes survive:

Men of Good Will

1. INTROD.—The centurion in the gospel of the day. Account in St. Matthew, in St. Luke.

2. He was a heathen, etc. This is how our Lord began the Church, when as yet there was none, and addressed Himself to those who were well inclined, and gained them.

3. This is what is meant by men of good will in the angels' song.

4. Instances: Nicodemus, John viii.; Gamaliel in Acts v.; Luke ix. [49], 'who followeth not us' ; Syrophoenician [woman], Matt. xv., Mark vii.

5. And so now. We must not repel them or treat them harshly, or laugh at them, etc.

6. They illustrate the secret work of grace—from grace to grace.

7. Tests of being bonae voluntatis [of good will]—not justice, sense of fairness, and benevolence, though these are praiseworthy—and we must be grateful to such men.

8. But (1) humility from sense of sin. 'Lord, I am not worthy.' 'Even the dogs,' etc.

9. (2) Sense of duty. 'I am a man under authority.'

10. (3) Devotion. 'He has built us a synagogue,' Luke vii.

11. Let us beware lest those who have less advantages than we have outstrip us. 'Many shall come from the east and the west,' etc.

My mother left the hospital today !
She is now in a rehab center. Thank you for all the prayers, and please keep them coming !
The Feast of St. Angela Merici, S.U., Virgin and Foundress
is today. There is information on her here. To any Ursulines out there, blessed feast day !

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The Catholic Carnival
is up.
The Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle and Martyr
is today. There is information on him here. He happens to be the patron of my diocese's Cathedral.
Stephen saw his Saviour; the next vision of that Saviour to mortal man was vouchsafed to that very young man, even Saul, who shared in his murder and his intercession. Strange indeed it was; and what would have been St. Stephen's thoughts could he have known it! The prayers of righteous men avail much. The first Martyr had power with God to raise up the greatest Apostle. Such was the honour put upon the first-fruits of those sufferings upon which the Church was entering. Thus from the beginning the blood of the Martyrs was the seed of the Church. Stephen, one man, was put to death for saying that the Jewish people were to have exclusive privileges no longer; but from his very grave rose the favoured instrument by whom the thousands and ten thousands of the Gentiles were brought to the knowledge of the Truth!
Herein then, first, is St. Paul's conversion memorable; that it was a triumph over the enemy. When Almighty God would convert the world, opening the door of faith to the Gentiles, who was the chosen preacher of His mercy? Not one of Christ's first followers. To show His power, He put forth His hand into the very midst of the persecutors of His Son, and seized upon the most strenuous among them. The prayer of a dying man is the token and occasion of that triumph which He had reserved for Himself. His strength is made perfect in weakness. As of old, He broke the yoke of His people's burden, the staff of their shoulder, the rod of their oppressor [Isa. ix. 4.]. Saul made furiously for Damascus, but the Lord Almighty "knew his abode, and his going out and coming in, and his rage against Him;" and "because his rage against Him, and his tumult, came up before Him," therefore, as in Sennacherib's case, though in a far different way, He "put His hook in his nose, and His bridle in his lips, and turned him back by the way by which he came." [Isa. xxxvii. 28, 29.] He "spoiled principalities and powers, and made a show of them openly," [Col. ii. 15.] triumphing over the serpent's head while his heel was wounded. Saul, the persecutor, was converted, and preached Christ in the synagogues.

Venerable John Henry Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons

It is also, fittingly enough, the feast of St. Ananias of Damascus,Martyr .

Sunday, January 23, 2005

My mother is out of ICU...
and in a regular room at the hospital now. Continued prayers for her recovery would be most welcome.
by Venerable John Henry Newman

Many the guileless years the Patriarch spent,
Bless'd in the wife a father's foresight chose;
Many the prayers and gracious deeds, which rose
Daily thank-offerings from his pilgrim tent.
Yet these, though written in the heavens, are rent
From out truth's lower roll, which sternly shows
But one sad trespass at his history's close,
Father's, son's, mother's, and its punishment.
Not in their brightness, but their earthly stains
Are the true seed vouchsafed to earthly eyes.
Sin can read sin, but dimly scans high grace,
So we move heavenward with averted face,
Scared into faith by warning of sin's pains;
And Saints are lower'd, that the world may rise.

January 23, 1833.

If it were not Sunday...
today would be the feast of St. John the Almoner, Patriarch, St.Ildephonsus,O.S.B., Archbishop , and Blessed Nikolaus Gross, Martyr.

Music at Noon Mass
Processional Hymn: "The Church's One Foundation"
Offertory: "If Ye Love Me"- Thomas Tallis (1505-1585)
Communion: "Adoro Te Devote"- Charles Gounod (1818-1893)
Recessional Hymn: "Fatih of Our Fathers"