Saint John Henry Newman (1801-1890)

Beatified 19th September 2010 Cofton Park, Birmingham.   

Canonised 13th October 2019 St Peter’s Square, Rome.


October is always a very special month.  There are so many different strands to October in relation to the prayer themes.  We remember St Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower of Jesus right at the very start of the month along with our Guardian Angels.  It is also the month of the Holy Rosary and we offer ourselves to the care of our Blessed Lady, Mary the Mother of Jesus as we pray Her special prayer. We are currently in the Extraordinary Missionary Month that the Holy Father Pope Francis has asked all Catholics to take part in and draw closer to Our Lord in prayer.  On Wednesday this week, we remembered the Feast Day of Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman, soon to be made a Saint of the Church.

Although born in London, he spent most of his later life in the Midlands area. He is buried at Rednal, near Birmingham. He founded a University in Ireland and an Oratory of St Philip Neri.  There is a special chapel and shrine to Newman at the Oratory in Birmingham which is located on the Hagley Road. His writings, sermons he published and pastoral care brought many people deep spiritual encouragement.  At Littlemore in Oxfordshire, John Henry Newman was received into the Catholic Church by Blessed Dominic Barberi who is one of the Patrons of our Archdiocese.

Back in 2010, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI when he was Supreme Pontiff beatified Cardinal Newman at the special Papal Mass that was held in Cofton Park.  Over 70,000 Catholics attended the Mass in the park on 19th September and it was a very significant time in the life of the Church and of this local area.

This weekend something very special will be taking place in St Peter’s Square, Rome, when on Sunday 13th October, the Holy Father Pope Francis will Canonise (make a Saint) John Henry Newman in a special Papal Mass. We have been encouraged to pray a daily set of prayers as a novena (nine days of prayer) to help us prepare for this important event in the life of our Archdiocese and also the worldwide Catholic Church of Christ on earth.  The 13th of October is also the Feast day of Our Lady of Fatima.  John Henry Newman had a great devotion to Our Lady and we are encouraged as Catholics to grow each day in our love for our Blessed Lady, especially as we pray the Rosary each day.

As he later became a Cardinal in the Catholic Church, John Henry’s motto was ‘Cor ad cor loquitor.’  This translates as “Heart speaks unto heart.”  This can be our reflection this week.  It is the Divine Loving Heart of Our God who seeks communion with our hearts.

The Lord communicates with us at every moment of every day.   The Divine Heart of Mercy of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit seeks out our hearts.  He wants us to listen to Him, that our hearts may be united to His.  The Heart of the Loving Kindness of our God was revealed most strongly in the first coming of Our Saviour Jesus to earth.

In His Incarnation, the Holy One, the Precious Son of God became human by the power, Mercy and Love of the Holy Spirit as Jesus was formed in the Womb of Our Lady.  He chose to be born as a little baby who would grow up to become a Man in order to redeem us.   By His many difficulties and hardships throughout His earthly Life and particularly through His cruel sufferings and death on the Cross, Jesus proved God’s great love for us.

He revealed the Heart of Mercy and Love of the Father.  Jesus’ own Heart of Mercy and Love was pierced after His Death by the soldier’s spear, to ensure that Jesus was really dead.  Out of that pierced Heart flowed Blood and Water.  These two streams of Love and Mercy represent the two Sacraments of Baptism and the Holy Eucharist.

By His Glorious Resurrection we too can share in Jesus’ Divine life and enter into a relationship of love with Him, for ever.  Our Great and Holy God who holds the stars and the universe and who created all things out of love, became like us in love to help us draw closer to Him in love. The thing is, are we attentive to the things of God?  Are we aware that our loving God is seeking out our hearts, wanting our love?  Are we seeking?  Will we, like John Henry Newman seek God with all of our hearts and in finding Him, love Him?  Are we aware of the Mission that we have, which is a Divine Mission?

Our prayer/reflections this week:

Prayer for the Canonisation of John Henry Newman.

O God, our Heavenly Father, we offer You heartfelt thanks for the life and holiness of John Henry Newman.  In him You give us an inspiring example of priest and teacher, heroic and humble in his labour for the salvation of souls and the pursuit of holiness.  Through his intercession we ask You to lead us by the kindly light of the Holy Spirit, and so grant us peace and joy, in the one fold of the Redeemer.  We ask this through Christ Our Lord.  Amen.

The Mission of My Life

God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments. Therefore, I will trust Him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.    Blessed John Henry Newman. (1801-1890)

Saint John Henry Newman, Pray for us.

Blessed Dominic Barberi, Patron of our Archdiocese, Pray for us.


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