Monday, November 1, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI Makes Historic Visit to the United Kingdom

by Staff

19 September 2010

Pope Benedict XVI & Archbishop Williams

Pope Benedict XVI made an historic visit the to United Kingdom this weekend, visiting with Archbishop Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, and his wife at Lambeth Palace, addressing Parliament, and visiting with Queen Elizabeth II. The trip was in part to support relations between the Roman and Anglican Rites, as well as to beatify the great English theologian, Cardinal Newman. Newman was, if not the first, then the most famous of modern Anglo-Catholics. He serves as an inspiration to both Anglicans and Roman Catholics, and his beatification should increase that inspiration.
Writing in Church Forum., Newman and Escriva., Fr. Arroyo Martinez, PhD., University of the Holy Cross, Rome., edited from the larger work Rt.Rev. Keith P. Steinhurst, highlights Fr. Martinez's illustration of 'constant formation' and 'freedom of conscience' while living in the 'example of the first Christians' wherein the teachings of H.Em. Cardinal Newman and St. Josemaria resonate.

Blessed Cardinal Newman

Tracing a link between St .Josemaria Escriva and Cardinal John Henry Newman might seem forced, the comparison between these two monumental figures in the life of the Church, one in the nineteenth century and the other in the twentieth, could appear slender. Still, their social, cultural and historical backgrounds and contexts while different, +Newman being an Anglican convert to Catholicism, an essayist, and apologist while +Escriva a Spaniard and founder of an institution within the Church, nonetheless, they exhibit a spiritual harmony that parallels their pastoral interests. Both +Newman and +Escriva described the role of the laity within the Church and both suffered for preaching this role, that the Church, as recipient of the deposit of divine revelation, cannot do without the lay faithful, as without them, she would lose a valuable source of faith, the result being a diminution of the genuine nature of the Church, reducing her solely to the ordained ministers and the hierarchy.

St Josemaria +Escriva long maintained that the laity are called to the fullness of Christian life and to sanctity through work. He insisted that lay people are not second-class Christians, but have a specific divine call of their own inclusive of the vocation to marriage, and as such a specific way of following and doing Gods will in the Church and throughout the world. What +Newman would term the sense of faith, +Escriva called, perhaps colloquially, the Catholic nose of the People of God.
(1) Constant formation: Both +Newman and +Escriva saw clearly that the simple fact of being laity in the Church does not make people into spokesmen of the Holy Spirit. They need deep Christian study and formation and an ongoing effort to live in accordance with their faith. +Newman dedicated his intellectual and pastoral efforts to this aim stating famously that "I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men [and women] who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it, who know so much of history that they can defend it. I want an intelligent, well-instructed laity. I wish [them] to enlarge [their] knowledge, to cultivate [their] reason, to get an insight into the relation of truth to truth, to learn to view things as they are, to understand how faith and reason stand to each other, what are the bases and principles of Catholicism" (Sermon 9, Duties of Catholics towards the Protestant View, 1851)." +Escriva sought to remind everyone of the universal call to holiness, and make it accessible. The Work he founded not only tries to remind people that they should be saints in their ordinary lives, but to show them how, offering the help they need in order to achieve it. He himself defined the Opus Dei as an immense work of catechesis, because it offers specific formation, especially shaped to enable people to develop what he termed unity of life living in accord with their faith at each moment of the day.

(2) Example of the first Christians: Both +Newman and +Escriva knew that what they were proposing was really nothing new it is as old and as novel as the Gospel, said +Escriva. Both took the lives of the early Christians as their source of inspiration, since, as +Newman said, Christians need to look to them to recover the fullness of the faith. Both stressed the need to achieve a deep unity between faith and reason, on the basis of scientific study in the fields of both sacred and profane learning. Thus, for example, +Escriva required all Opus Dei priests to be experts in some field of academic study all of them have University degrees, and many of them have doctorates. At the same time, he wanted Opus Dei lay-people to study theology and related subjects, to doctorate level when appropriate. +Newman said, "I want the intellectual layman to be religious, and the devout ecclesiastic to be intellectual (Sermon 1, Intellect the Instrument of Religious Training, preached in the University Church, Dublin, feast of St. Monica, Sunday after Ascension, 1856)."
(3) Freedom of consciences: Both +Newman and +Escriva had a deep love for the truth, and refused to elevate conscience to an autonomous principle of morality. While both insisted on the need to form ones conscience, in moral and doctrinal questions, under the guidance of the Churchs Magisterium, both also proclaimed what we could term a freedom of consciences in temporal matters. +Escriva preached tirelessly about the laitys freedom and autonomy in political and social questions, explaining that there should be no ecclesiastical interference or pressure on them in such matters. The laity should, however, strive to be consistent with their faith and faithful to their consciences. They should never allow themselves, he maintained, to separate any of their actions from the dictates of their consciences, but should shoulder full moral responsibility for all that they do. +Newman, in turn, spoke and wrote in depth about the value of conscience as the place of our encounter with God, the deepest truth of mans being, and what drives all moral action.

Though many more aspects of the parallel in teaching of both men could be highlighted, such as the need to combine devotion and doctrine; the need for theologians to do their work prudently and responsibly, in full union with the Church; and a deep understanding of the Church as Mystery and sacrament, which, together with a human element, leads to communion with the divine; The three precepts described above justify the harmony of Catholic thought exhibited between His Eminence John Henry +Cardinal Newman and Saint Josemaria +Escriva.