In His Own Words: Newman on Faith & Reason

By Isaac Withers The nature of the relationship between faith and reason seems to be a very modern issue, with the prevalence of atheism in our own day. However, clearly this issue was at the forefront of John Henry Newman’s mind back in 1839 as this was the subject of many of his Oxford University Sermons in that year. He says even then that, ‘Reason is called either strong sense or scepticism, according to the bias of the speaker; and Faith, either teachableness or credulity’ – so clearly he had faced negative attitudes towards faith in a post Enlightenment world. His prophetic words then, can still guide the difficult conversations we have today with friends who believe faith to be irrational. Here is what he has to say about it.

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Isaac Withers
Newman and St Philip Neri

By Fr Daniel Seward The Oratory of St Philip Neri was the single most important thing for Newman. When he first became a Catholic, Blessed John Henry had originally considered founding an entirely new congregation. Yet by February 1846, Newman had abandoned this idea, and was full of enthusiasm for the notion of founding an Oratory in England. Although it seems that he had heard of St. Philip while he was still an Anglican, Newman doesn’t appear to have known much about him. As he got to know the character of St Philip better, Newman said how much Philip’s light-hearted playfulness reminded him of his Anglican friend John Keble.

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Isaac Withers
In His Own Words: Newman on Friendship

By Isaac Withers John Henry Newman reflected, wrote and preached about friendship and personal influence often, but importantly, he also lived out these values, maintaining many meaningful friendships throughout his life. He begins his, ‘Sermon on Love of Relations and Friends’ by discussing how our early friendships go on to form our relationship with God and those around us.

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Isaac Withers
How Newman followed his conscience, no matter the cost

By Fr Daniel Seward Many people know that John Henry Newman was a great thinker, that he was a magnificent convert to the Catholic faith, and that he was a man of great personal kindness. These are the attributes that make him worthy to be a saint. However, we live in an age that is wary of strong religious opinions, and so it is probably on Newman’s personal holiness that we are more likely to focus rather than on his thought, much of which is controversial and challenging. A saint is not just somebody who is good and kind – he is someone who is rightly-believing, and thus a light to others. But how on earth can I possibly know that what I think is true, out of all the thousands of belief systems present in the world? Well here Newman gives us an example: the example of his personal journey of faith – which Pope Paul VI called the most significant journey that anyone made in the nineteenth century.

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Isaac Withers
In His Own Words: Newman’s Experience of Rejection

By Isaac Withers John Henry Newman is one of history’s most famous converts, his conversion from Anglicanism to Catholicism in 1845 is in many ways the turning point of his story. However, it is important for us to understand the context of this change – it would be a mistake for us to think that to convert from one denomination of Christianity to another then was what it is like now. Catholics had been reviled and persecuted in England for centuries after the reformation, with it only becoming legal for Catholics to sit in the Parliament of Westminster with the passing of ‘The Roman Catholic Relief Act’ in 1829.

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Isaac Withers
Newman's Years in Littlemore

By Sr. Bianca Feuerstein FSO Littlemore is approximately three miles away from the city centre of Oxford and was a poor hamlet in Newman’s time. When Newman became Vicar of the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin in 1828, he accepted along with this task the pastoral care of Littlemore which had been part of the parish for many centuries. The village owes to Newman the building of the Anglican church of St Mary and St Nicholas, as well as the building of a school. In 1841 Newman chose to live at Littlemore to help him find an answer in his search for the truth. He leased a former coach staging post and transformed the long-stretched building into a house adapted to his needs. The stable was converted into a library, and the barn into cottages. This house would later be called “The College”.

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Isaac Withers
In His Own Words: Newman's Advice to Men

By Isaac Withers John Henry Newman begins his reflection on Christian Manhood with this well known Bible verse: ‘When I was a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.’ 1 Corinthians 13:11

For Newman, it is the Holy Spirit who brings us from being spiritually childlike, to becoming spiritually mature. He points out that when Jesus leaves His disciples he, ‘called His disciples orphans; children, as it were … who were still unable to direct themselves, and who were soon to lose their Protector.’

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Isaac Withers
Newman’s European Voyage

By Fr Juan Velez Blessed John Henry Newman had close friends and mentors at Oxford; one friend, Richard Hurrell Froude, helped the young Newman in his search for religious truth, his journey of faith.

In December 1833, these two friends, Newman and Froude embarked on an extended voyage through the Mediterranean with Froude’s father, an archdeacon in the Anglican Church.

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Isaac Withers
Newman the Teacher

By Andrew Nash We are used to thinking of John Henry Newman as a great theologian, but it is often forgotten that he saw himself primarily as a teacher. ‘Education’ he once said, ‘has always been my line’. As a young Oxford don at Oriel College in the 1820s, Newman was one of the college’s Tutors, supervising students individually.

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Isaac Withers
Newman’s Britain

By Joanna Bogle There are many reasons to rejoice at John Henry Newman’s canonisation. He is a man for us all: an inspiring teacher, a man who answered some of the deepest questions asked about the Christian faith in an era of change, a voice for religious freedom, a searcher for truth.

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Isaac Withers