One year ago today, Pope Francis canonized John Henry Newman. What a year it has been since then.
Bishop Robert Barron was present for the canonization Mass last October in St. Peter’s Square, where in Pope Francis’ own homily, the pontiff quoted one of Newman’s: “The Christian has a deep, silent, hidden peace, which the world sees not.” Newman spent twenty years as an Anglican priest before being received into the Catholic Church, a journey he describes as “like coming into port after a rough sea.” As a former Anglican priest myself, Newman’s witness is powerful to me; but at this moment in the life of the Church and the world, St. John Henry Newman has much to say to all of us. We all seek peace, and we all need a vision of home amid the rough seas of 2020. Here are five ideas from Newman that may help us cope:
1: Truth and unity matter: In the age of “my truth” and “your truth,” of “truthiness,” “fake news,” and “I feel like,” we note that Newman struggled for years about what value to place on private judgment. As a Catholic, Newman discovered that when he was finally fully tethered to Truth itself, his individual opinions—indeed, his deep-seated emotions and feelings—could achieve their most authentic expression. But long before he was Catholic, he knew that Truth, when it was prayerfully sought, had the power to create Unity, which is in short supply right now. In an 1830 sermon titled “Truth Hidden When Not Sought After,” Newman preached: