On Tuesday 1st February 1848 Fr.Newman established the Oratory of St.Philip Neri in England. The canonical foundation was made after first vespers of the Purification had been sung. God has given us many blessings as a result of the Oratory coming to England. We are confident that there are abundant graces still to come, providing we remain faithful.
More and more people around the world are praying that Blessed John Henry Newman will be canonized. If that should occur it will not be because he established the Oratory ‘on northern coasts’. Some believe that the time of Newman’s greater influence is yet to come; his heroic example as a convert to Catholicism, his wisdom as a priest and shepherd of souls, and his clear-sightedness as a theologian. His religious influence is more necessary now than before. Why? Because of the theological confusion which is now (I believe) ever more brazenly assaulting the Christian mind.
The potential for widespread religious confusion in the decades to come goes far, far beyond e.g. disciplinary questions of which Catholics may or may not receive Holy Communion. Important though such issues are, there are larger and more sinister shadows looming. Now more than ever we need Newman’s insights into the non-negotiable content of Christian revelation, the unique merits of the Christian religion, and the irreplaceable economy of salvation in Christ through God’s gift of His new, final, and everlasting covenant.
Newman’s phrase ‘the development of doctrine’ is often bandied around with startling superficiality. It is sometimes disingenuously parroted to try and justify unjustifiable meddling with Christian faith and morals. We need to revisit and re-appropriate the prudence and sobriety of Newman’s exposition of the authentic development of Christian doctrine.
For that reason among many others I implore the Lord Who is Spirit to give Blessed John Henry Newman to the universal Church as Saint and Doctor. Our need of that humble convert’s wisdom and clarity has never been greater.