Coming into Port after a Rough Sea

Saint John Henry Newman 

From the time that I became a Catholic, of course I have no further history of my religious opinions to narrate. In saying this, I do not mean to say that my mind has been idle, or that I have given up thinking on theological subjects; but that I have had no variations to record, and have had no anxiety of heart whatever. I have been in perfect peace and contentment; I never have had one doubt. I was not conscious to myself, on my conversion, of any change, intellectual or moral, wrought in my mind. I was not conscious of firmer faith in the fundamental truths of revelation, or of more self-command; I had not more fervour ; but it was like coming into port after a rough sea; and my happiness on that score remains to this day without interruption. 

Nor had I any trouble about receiving those additional articles, which are not found in the Anglican Creed. Some of them I believed already, but not any one of them was a trial to me. I made a profession of them upon my reception with the greatest ease, and I have the same ease in believing them now. I am far of course from denying that every article the Christian Creed, whether as held by Catholics or Protestants, is beset with intellectual difficulties; and it is a simple fact, that, for myself, I cannot answer those difficulties. Many persons are very sensitive of the difficulties of religion; I am as sensitive of them as any one; but I have never been able to see a connection between apprehending and those difficulties,

however keenly, and multiplying them to any extent, and on the other hand doubting the doctrines to which they are attached. Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt, as I understand the subject; difficulty and doubt are incommensurate. There of course may be difficulties in the evidence; but I am speaking of difficulties intrinsic to the doctrines themselves, or to their relations with each other. A man may be annoyed that he cannot work out a mathematical problem, of which the  answer is or is not given to him, without doubting that it admits of an answer, or that a particular answer is the true one. Of all points of faith, the being of a God is, to my own apprehension, encompassed with most difficulty, and yet borne in upon our minds with most power. 

People say that the doctrine of transubstantiation is difficult to believe; I did not believe the doctrine till I was a Catholic. I had no difficulty in believing it, as soon as I believed that the Catholic Roman Church was the oracle of God, and that she had declared this doctrine to be part of the original revelation. It is difficult, impossible, to imagine, I grant;—but how is it difficult to believe?… 

I believe the whole revealed dogma as taught by the Apostles, as committed by the Apostles to the Church, and as declared by the church to me. I receive it, as it is infallibly interpreted by the authority to whom it is thus committed, and (implicitly) as it shall be, in like manner, further interpreted by the same authority till the end of time. I submit, moreover, to the universally received traditions of the Church, in which lies the matter of those new dogmatic definitions which are from time to time made, and which in all times are the clothing and the illustration of the Catholic dogma as already defined. And I submit myself to those other decisions of the Holy See, theological or not, through the organs which it has itself appointed, which, waiving the question of their infallibility, on the lowest ground come to me with a claim to be accepted and obeyed. Also, I consider that, gradually and in the course of ages, Catholic inquiry has taken certain definite shapes, and has thrown itself into the form of a science, with a method and a phraseology of its own, under the intellectual handling of great minds, such as Saint Athanasius, Saint Augustine, and Saint Thomas; and I feel no temptation at all to break in pieces the great legacy of thought thus committed to us for these latter days. 

Posted in Magnificat | Comments Off on Coming into Port after a Rough Sea

The Church On Mission

The Our Father is more than a prayer; it is, as Tertullian said, “the compendium of the whole Gospel”, because in it we find the fundamental principles, the deepest hopes, and the most decisive needs of the disciples of Jesus, [who] invites them to turn to God as an eternally merciful and infinitely loving Father…. 

Prayer is always an experience of relationship with God, an encounter with Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. The Our Father, as a summary of the Gospel, offers us the fundamental criteria for this encounter and the mission that flows from it. The grace to turn to God as Father enables us to live as sisters and brothers. The duty to sanctify the name of God involves us, with his grace, in the construction of his kingdom. The blessing of forgiveness offered us by the God of Jesus Christ makes us aware of the enormous need to initiate and encourage authentic processes of reconciliation….

The fatherhood of God, fully revealed in Jesus Christ, makes the community of missionary disciples a true family. In his movement of being sent from the Father and returning to the Father, Jesus makes his own mission ours. It is the mission of his Church for the salvation of the world. If All fatherhood has its origins in God (Ep 3:14-21), in the Church of his Son the Spirit of the Risen Lord regenerates all as sons and daughters of the same Father through baptism. The kingdom of God, accomplished by Jesus in his Passover, finds its beginning and seed here on earth in his pilgrim Church.

Posted in Magnificat | Comments Off on The Church On Mission

Resolutely Determined to Follow the Lord

If through weakness I sometimes fall, may your divine glance cleanse my soul immediately, consuming all my imperfection like the fire that transforms everything into itself. I thank you, 0 my God, for all the graces you have granted me, especially the grace of making me pass through the crucible of suffering. It is with joy I shall contemplate you on the last day carrying the sceptre of your cross. Since you deigned to give me a share in this very precious cross, I hope in heaven to resemble you and to see shining in my glorified body the sacred stigmata of your passion. 

After earth’s exile, I hope to go and enjoy you in the fatherland, but I do not want to lay up merits for heaven. I want to work for your love alone with the one purpose of pleasing you, consoling your sacred heart, and saving souls who will love you eternally. In the evening of this life, I shall appear before you with empty hands, for I do not ask you, Lord, to count my works.  All our justice is stained in your eyes. I wish, then, to be clothed in your own justice and to receive from your love the eternal possession of yourself. I want no other throne, no other crown but you, my Beloved! 

Time is nothing in your eyes, and a single day is like a thousand years. You can, then, in one instance prepare me to appear before you. ln order to live in one single act of perfect love, I offer myself as a victim of the holocaust to your merciful love, asking you to consume me incessantly, allowing the waves of infinite tenderness shut up within you to overflow into my soul, and that thus I may become a martyr of your love, O my  God I want, 0 my Beloved, at each beat of my heart to renew this offering to you an infinite number of times, until the shadows having disappeared I may be able to tell you of my love in an eternal face to face! Saint Therese of Lisieux
Saint Therese of Lisieux (1897) was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1997.

Posted in Magnificat | Comments Off on Resolutely Determined to Follow the Lord