John Henry Newman was a pastor, scholar and priest of heroic virtue. These podcasts seek to examine the breadth of Newman’s teaching and preaching by way of reflections from those who have been inspired by and have had their lives touched by Newman.
9th October 2020
Today’s ‘Journeying With Newman’ podcast, a new offering to mark the first anniversary of the Canonisation of Saint John Henry Newman, looks back ten years to the Oratorian’s Beatification in Birmingham.
These words come from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s homily at Cofton Park when the then-Holy Father declared Newman ‘Blessed’.
19th August 2020
Brother Emmanuel Durant is a Dominican academic who teaches theology at the Angelicum in Rome.
In this podcast, he examines John Henry Newman’s teaching on Divine Providence and Human Agency.
This reflection for our ‘Journeying with Newman’ series was given in French and translated into English.
20th October 2019
This reflection for our ‘Journeying With Newman’ podcast series is notable as it was the first episode released after the canonisation. John Henry Newman is now a saint.
Dr. Andrew Meszaros is a lecturer in Systematic Theology at Ireland’s Pontifical University, Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth. His focus falls today on Newman’s Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine.
“The power of Newman’s prose comes, in part, from the cumulative weight that accrues from all his examples of how the various elements of the Christian tradition all stand and fall together… Newman reminds us that to pick one aspect of Christianity, and reject another is tantamount to a false Christianity.
“And conversely, we should remember that all that we believe and do as Catholics is in some way related to the core of our faith. Nothing authentically Catholic is insignificant.”
13th October 2019
Historian and commentator Joanna Bogle gives us an entertaining and insightful reflection on Newman and the Church with a particular historical focus on the Church as the guardian of truth.
“[The Church] is glorious in her cherishing of truth: we cannot, we must not, ever allow ourselves to do less than honour her. Her story is a great one. Saints and martyrs, heroes and heroines, great missionary endeavours, glorious art and music, the foundations of modern sciences and of the great universities… and much, much more.
“We cannot, we must not, dismiss or ignore all of this, muddled though it all is – and muddied too by cruelty and injustice, by human sin and error.
“In John Henry Newman, we find a passion for truth that we should follow. It is his greatest single gift to us.”
6th October 2019
Today’s ‘Journeying With Newman’ podcast is a reflection from Fortunato Morrone – a parish priest from Italy and teacher of Systematic Theology at the Calabrian Theological Institute.
Fr Morrone looks at the famous “Biglietto” Speech John Henry Newman gave in Rome when he learned he was to be elevated to the rank of Cardinal.
“Newman reminds us that if we deny truth, faith is reduced to a private sentiment, or to a fundamentalist vision without relevance – ineffectual for our societies.
“Consequently, life choices run the risk of being determined by the tastes and modes of public opinion, governed in turn by her ever-changing masters.”
29th September 2019
Our contributor for today’s ‘Journeying With Newman’ podcast is Elizabeth Huddleston, the Managing Editor of the Newman Studies Journal – an interdisciplinary research publication dedicated to the life, work, and thought of John Henry Newman and its relevance for our time.
Elizabeth is looking at Sermon 16 of Cardinal Newman’s Parochial and Plain Sermons. It examines ‘The Church Visible and Invisible’.
“Newman emphasised throughout his writings that the church is comprised of both of our Earthly Church – made up of the Magisterium, the laity – and what Newman calls the Schola Theologorum – which is best described as theologians throughout history who helped to investigate and interpret divine revelation.
“The church is comprised of both living sinners and saints, those in purgatory, and those already blessed with the beatific vision – the saints. So often we think of our reality as what we experience through our senses, however, our actual experience of the Church goes much deeper. As Newman reminds us, we are in communion with the saints whose experience of God helps to reveal God’s love to us today.
“Newman’s words are encouraging to me because they act as a constant reminder that the Trinitarian God is always present and active in the church through the continuously invigorating words of the saints.”
22nd September 2019
Fr Paul Pearson of the Toronto Oratory looks at John Henry Newman’s reflections on conscience.
“Conscience bows to no man, it acknowledges no authority but that of truth itself. It grants us a freedom for the truth but not a freedom from the truth. Catholics live up to their human freedom and dignity by searching diligently for the truth. They are not to be denigrated as slaves because they are convinced that they have found truth at its very source.
“The same dignity of conscience that calls us to search for the truth also impels us to kneel before it once we have discovered it. Newman found that truth in the Catholic Church headed by the successor of St Peter. It was his greatest freedom to submit himself to it.”
15th September 2019
Zachariah Heritage, a novice at the Birmingham Oratory, looks at the humour of Cardinal Newman.
Saint Philip Neri, founder of the Oratory, was the saint who kept a jokebook close at hand to soothe his spiritual ecstasies; who shaved off half his beard and went around Rome to make a fool of himself; who refused to be made a cardinal, but kept the red hat he was sent and used it for practical jokes. Yet John Henry Newman himself was no stranger to humour:
“In Saint Philip and in Newman, this humour was one of the sweetest fruits of humility: a sense of lowness, as sinners, but sinners who have been redeemed, and who now have a joyful trust in God. We see this most clearly as Newman reflects upon his old age. He variously describes himself as an old ‘cart-horse’ or as a ‘musical snuff box’, ‘a very little rheumatic and a little lame’, ‘a bird with clipped wings’. But this would not trouble him, he said, ‘if I don’t aspire to long or high flight’.”
9th September 2019
Chris Altieri, the Rome Bureau Chief for the Catholic Herald, describes the Church as “in a rough patch”.
Covering the Catholic Church as a journalist – working at the heart of Mother Church in Rome – Chris has the gruelling and often thankless task of finding the facts behind the stories and presenting Vatican news clearly and honestly.
John Henry Newman knew God has a specific plan for all of us, but how can we put our best foot forward in our mission?
“In good times and in bad, the answer is right before us. ‘Lead, kindly light,’ Newman famously prayed – and the light that leads us never fails, though often it shows us the way mere inches at a time.
“Newman was no stranger to controversy, nor to trial and even great desolation. The Church of his day was not less plagued with faithlessness than is our own…
“…The great thing, in times like these, is to look to the little things: Confident in Christ’s final victory over death, secure in the knowledge that His Church shall triumph, we plug away.”
2nd September 2019
Father Francis Gavin was born and raised in Dublin and is a priest of the Birmingham Oratory. He is perfectly placed, therefore, to offer today’s reflection on Newman and Ireland.
When we talk about Newman and Ireland, we usually dwell on his time in Dublin when he worked to establish a Catholic University there. While the university didn’t succeed quite as Newman had wished, the discourses which Newman gave during this time, and which were later collected together as The Idea of the University, have proved seminal.
Fr Francis reflects on Newman’s time in Ireland and, interestingly, the impact his Irish sojourn had on him as a man, and how he slowly revised his opinion and understanding of Ireland and its people.
“As a native Dubliner it is with no small pleasure that I announce that if you wish to see a church which Newman built you will have to cross the Irish Sea and visit the University Church on St. Stephen’s Green. This is a hidden gem built by John Hungerford Pollen according to the wishes of Newman, who was then Rector of the Catholic University of Ireland. “
26th August 2019
Today we’re looking at Newman’s famous hymn Lead Kindly Light and God’s protection in the face of adversity. Fr Michael Halsall is a priest of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. A former Anglican minister, Fr Michael spent six years as a Chaplain in the British Army, serving on front line operations in Northern Ireland and Bosnia. It was this latter deployment that Lead Kindly Light took on a new significance.
Attached to an Artillery regiment, supporting soldiers spiritually and pastorally, who were tasked with breaking down hostilities between the warring factions, he describes his arrival in January 1996, in sub-zero temperatures, as “a descent into hell”. Villages were still burning, people were displaced, having suffered some of the worst atrocities since the Second World War.
Fr Michael posted a copy of Newman’s hymn on the wall of his makeshift room in a converted factory:
“After days on the road each week I would return and reflect on Newman’s words – particularly on the first verse as a prayer and thanksgiving for protection.
“Much of our travelling and encounter with soldiers was often in the dark in those short mid-winter days, when they had finished their patrols and had some food. I remember leading a service at one of our gun battery positions outside in the snow, and in the pitch darkness by the AS90 gun emplacement. Soldiers often have a strong sense of the spiritual when life becomes precarious, and more so as three of our men did not make it home, but were killed whilst on patrol.”
19th August 2019
Who better to talk about John Henry Newman and the debate around faith and reason than the Theologian of the Papal Household?
Dominican Father Wojciech Giertych OP has served the Pontifical Household since 2005 – covering the pontificates of both Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.
Fr Giertych gives us an academic yet accessible reflection.
“Newman stressed the autonomy of faith and of the rational mind, insisting that the two are not to be confused. Believers engage with God because they have been moved by Him and they need to preserve the purity of this graced relationship. Faith accepts the divine Word as the supreme light and guidance. Philosophical reason has its dignity but also its limits and so it should not encroach upon faith, imposing its own standards.”
“… The true Christian does not scan the mysteries of faith according to rational criteria accepting only those that are deemed to be valid. The Christian does the reverse. The totality of what God has revealed enjoys primacy, and then practical life is measured by the unique criterion that is the received divine mystery.”