John Henry Newman

Feb 20, 2013

On this day in 1801, Blessed John Henry Newman was born. Many of us have often sung Newman’s great hymn “Praise to the Holiest, in the Height” from his poem “The Dream of Gerontius“.

In 2010 Newman was named “Blessed” (one step away from canonisation as a saint of the church), on the English visit of Pope Benedict. You can read the homily from this Mass at this link.

John Henry Newman is also known for some writing some great prayers. Here are a couple of my favourites:
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.

“Meditations on Christian Doctrine,”
“Hope in God—Creator”, March 7, 1848

a daily prayer

May He support us all the day long, 
till the shades lengthen and the evening comes, 
and the busy world is hushed, 
and the fever of life is over, 
and our work is done. 
Then in His mercy may He give us a safe lodging, 
and a holy rest 
and peace at the last.

and this final poem / hymn was especially significant for me during my pre-ordination retreat in 1985: “I do not ask to see the distant scene, one step enough for me.”

Lead, Kindly Light
“Lead, Kindly Light, amidst th’encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou
Shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now
Lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years!

So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on.
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile!


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