This prayer has been adapted from a reflection by Cardinal John Henry Newman.
Introducing John Henry Newman
John Henry Newman was born in London on 21 February 1801.
At the age of 15 he enrolled in Trinity College, beginning an association with Oxford University that would last for nearly thirty years. He began his career as an Anglican churchman and scholar and ended it as a Roman Catholic cardinal.
Newman moved from Trinity to Oriel College after receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1820, becoming a fellow in 1822 and a tutor in 1826. He resigned this post in 1832, but Newman’s work in Oxford did not end there. He remained in his pastoral office at the University Church of St Mary’s until 1843, attracting hundreds of students, university officials, and townspeople by the influence of his preaching.
The high point of Newman’s Anglican career was his influential role in the Oxford Movement, a High Church effort to return to the foundations of the faith. Newman became the Movement’s primary spokesman, promoting its doctrinal and moral concerns through his editorship of the British Critic, his contributions to Tracts for the Times, and his weekly sermons at St Mary’s.
In 1839, Newman began to lose confidence in the cause. He had become convinced that Rome, not Canterbury, was the home of the true Church. By 1843, he had moved from Oxford to a semi-monastic community at Littlemore, retracted the anti-Catholic statements he had published, and resigned his position at St Mary’s.
Two years after leaving St Mary’s, Newman began a new life as a Roman Catholic. He was officially received into the Church on October 9, 1845 and was ordained to the priesthood the next year.
The 1870s brought Newman special recognition for his work as both an Anglican and a Roman Catholic. In 1877 he became the first person elected to an honorary fellowship of Trinity College; two years later, Pope Leo XIII awarded him a place in the College of Cardinals. He died on August 11, 1890.
In 1991, Newman was proclaimed venerable after a thorough examination of his life and work by the Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints. One miracle was investigated and confirmed by the Vatican, so he was beatified on 19 September 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI. A second miracle is necessary for his canonisation.
Two hymns by Newman
Firmly I Believe
Firmly I believe and truly
God is three, and God is One;
And I next acknowledge duly
Manhood taken by the Son.
And I trust and hope most fully
In that Manhood crucified;
And each thought and deed unruly
Do to death, as He has died.
Simply to His grace and wholly
Light and life and strength belong,
And I love, supremely, solely,
Him the holy, Him the strong.
And I hold in veneration,
For the love of him alone,
Holy Church, as his creation,
And her teachings, as his own.
And I take with joy whatever
Now besets me, pain or fear,
And with a strong will I sever
All the ties which bind me here.
Adoration aye be given,
With and through the angelic host,
To the God of earth and heaven,
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Praise to the Holiest
Praise to the Holiest in the height
And in the depth be praise:
In all his words most wonderful;
Most sure in all his ways!
O loving wisdom of our God!
When all was sin and shame,
A second Adam to the fight
And to the rescue came.
O wisest love! that flesh and blood
Which did in Adam fail,
Should strive afresh against the foe,
Should strive and should prevail;
And that a higher gift than grace
Should flesh and blood refine,
God’s Presence and his very Self,
And Essence all-divine.
O generous love! that he who smote
In man for man the foe,
The double agony in man
For man should undergo;
And in the garden secretly,
And on the cross on high,
Should teach his brethren and inspire
To suffer and to die.