John Henry Newman: Apostle of the Truth

Blessed John Henry Newman will be canonised on Sunday 13 October 2019. Monica Rapeanu STL, a Lay Dominican of the Irish Province, considers his relevance for today.

Throughout the ages, the saints have ennobled human society, have endowed it with benefits of every kind, and with their example of practising the virtues in a consistent and exceptional way have adorned every rank and every condition of life. And John Henry Newman is no exception. He was already recognised as a saint by contemporaries in the nineteenth century, including by many outside the Catholic fold. Yet, when he was told that some thought him a saint, he insisted that he had nothing of a saint about him. He obviously said this not out of false humility, but because he strongly believed that credible witnesses are more important than the words they say or what others say about them. A saint who would admit his own sanctity would hardly be credible. It is often not words that have the power to convince but the way one lives one’s life. This is the case with Newman. All he wanted was to let Christ shine through everything he did and thus become himself a light to others.

Much has been written since Newman’s canonisation began featuring in the news in February. Some have expressed the view that his canonisation comes late. Others are of the opinion that he should be made a Doctor of the Church too. And there are also those who have been justly pointing out that Newman is the right new saint for our age, especially if one considers the ongoing persecution of Christians.

Thirty years ago, in a talk titled ‘The Permanent Relevance of Newman’, Fr Louis Bouyer, a member of the French Oratory and himself a convert, highlighted the fact that Newman managed ‘to develop in both his personality and teaching an immediate and spontaneous union between fidelity to God and intellectual integrity without these being in conflict’.1

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