Friday, May 30, 2014

Lead, Kindly Light: the Story of John Henry Newman


John Henry Newman was born in London February 21, 1801; the eldest of six children. His parents were Anglican and as a child Newman studied at Ealing, a private boarding school where he exhibited an unusual interest in theology, despite his young age.

His later studies were at Oxford and at the age of twenty-one he became a professor at Oxford and a minister in the Church of England (Anglican). His first book was The Arians of the Fourth Century (1833) and he had a great love for the Fathers of the Church. He also wrote poetry and one of his poems was set to music, the well-known hymn, Lead Kindly Light.

Newman and the Oxford Movement

Newman is the best-known member of the Oxford Movement – a group of men whose aim was to invigorate the Anglican Church through spiritual renewal and renunciation of liberalism in the 1830s. They also, at first, condemned what they viewed as the corruptions of the Roman Church. This was Newman's undoing, for in the end his studies of the Church Fathers ultimately led him to that very Church. He discovered that as far back as the Church Fathers, the doctrines of the Church were the same as those that the Roman Catholic Church taught. He said, "When one reads history, he ceases to be a Protestant."

Newman's Resignation from Oxford

In 1841, Newman published Tract 90 in which he claimed that the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England (written in 1563 during the reign of Elizabeth I) were essentially Catholic Doctrine as it had been both in the early church and at the Council of Trent.

A great controversy arose and he was eventually forced to resign both his teaching post at Oxford and his position at the University church of St. Mary the Virgin (Church of England).

Reception into the Catholic Church

In October, 1845, after many years of study and intellectual struggle he was received into the Catholic Church. Two years later he was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in Rome and then joined the Oratorians in Birmingham, England. At the age of 78, he was made a Cardinal by Pope Leo XIII. He died in 1890.

John Henry Newman's Writings

Some of Newman's well-known writings include:

• Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine
• The Idea of the University
• Letter to Pusey
• Apologia pro Vita Sua (his autobiography)
In the story of his conversion, told in Apologia pro Vita Sua, he says, "From the time that I became a Catholic...I have been in perfect peace and contentment, I never have had one doubt...and my happiness on that score remains to this day without interruption."

Sources

Connor, Fr. Charles P. Classic Catholic Converts. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 2001

Ker, Ian. John Henry Newman: A Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1988.

John Henry Newman. Apologia pro Vita Sua. New York:WW. Norton and Company, 1968. p. 184.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Book Review: The Catechism of Hockey by Alyssa Bormes

The Catechism of Hockey. Alyssa Bormes. The American Chesterton Society. 2013



Many catechists have asked themselves the questions; I know I did. Why do parents drive miles to take their children to a hockey game at 5:30 am on a Saturday but complain bitterly that they are expected to attend Mass on Sunday? Why do parents spend hundreds of dollars on hockey equipment but don’t like to spend anything on their child’s religious education? And why do children happily obey the rules and the decisions of the hockey ref but complain about the ‘rules’ of the Church? Well somebody who knows hockey much better than I do, wrote a book about it. Her favourite statement? “Ah, Catholicism is so much like hockey!” And you will be surprised at the comparisons she finds.
If you like hockey, if you play hockey or are a hockey Mom or Dad this book is for you. If your child plays any other game - like soccer, baseball or basketball - you should still read this book. It is especially written with passing the faith of Catholicism in mind and makes pretty good sense. We want our children to succeed in hockey and we want our children to succeed in life. So how do we accomplish these expectations?

Some things Bormes asks us to think about:
- If you play hockey you can't pick out the rules you like and will follow and which ones you won't. You have to take to the complete package. If you changed the rules to something you like better, it ain't hockey!
- If you think hockey is fun but the Mass isn't maybe it's because you understand hockey but not the Mass. I don't understand hockey very well and I guess that is why I don't watch it. On the other hand, I love going to Mass.
- Can we get as excited about Catholicism as we do about hockey? I think we can - I am.
- Maybe sometimes we need to say, if you don't like the rules of the game, play a different game.

The author, Alyssa Bormes, who is from Minnesota, claims that Minnesota is the hockey state. She may be right. My only complaint about the book is that although she mentions Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky, Maurice Richard and the Stanley Cup she never mentions that all of these are Canadian! I know Canada has only 35 billion people and they may not buy as many books as Americans but would it hurt to at least say that what she calls ‘the ultimate prize’ of hockey, the Stanley Cup, originated in Canada and was a gift from Lord Stanley, the Governor-General of Canada in 1893. For more about the history of the Stanley Cup see https://suite.io/lorraine-shelstad/5fap2vp.
I know a Canadian team hasn’t won it lately (since 1993) but many of the players on American teams learned to skate on the quintessential outdoor rinks of their home country, Canada.

Don’t let that stop you from buying the book which has many words of wisdom about passing on our Catholic faith to our children which is especially relevant in this Year of the Family.