ARRANGED ACCORDING TO THE CALENDAR OF THE EXTRAORDINARY FORM OF THE ROMAN RITE
St. John Henry Newman (1801-1890) has been praised as the greatest English Catholic theologian. His conversion from Anglicanism to Catholicism in 1845 is one of the most celebrated conversion stories in the history of Christianity. Ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 1846, he became a Cardinal in 1879. His writings, noted for their combination of gentle warmth and firm conviction, have helped innumerable non-Catholics overcome their fears and objections in order to embrace the Catholic faith.
Cardinal Newman has been largely known as a great preacher from his “Parochial and Plain Sermons”, which come from his Anglican days. His sermons as a Catholic priest were generally not written down, but many of his notes for these have been preserved. These notes were collected by the Fathers of the Birmingham Oratory, which Newman founded, and were originally published more than a century ago. Largely forgotten for many decades, these notes have now been rearranged according to the liturgical calendar of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite by the current Fathers of the Birmingham Oratory and published in the present volume to mark Newman’s canonization.
Cardinal Newman’s Sermon Notes reveal his deeply Biblical approach to homiletics, combined with reflections of a theological, ascetical and apologetic character. As a guide to the liturgical year or as a book for meditation and sermon talking points, it will be of great help to priests wanting to preach in the spirit of its illustrious author, who may one day join the ranks of Doctors of the Church.
We have produced this new edition of St. John Henry Newman’s Catholic Sermon Notes for two purposes. First, to provide another accessible example of the richness of his theology and spirituality. Secondly, to offer preachers a homiletic aid for the liturgical year in what is now called the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, that is to say, the “Tridentine” or traditional Roman Catholic Latin Mass, the Mass of Ages.
There are some relatively minor differences of detail between the edition of the Tridentine Missal which Fr Newman used, and the redaction which then became our 1962 Missal. Nevertheless the Extraordinary Form today presents the same traditional Latin Mass which our saint loved above all else.
Soon after his ordination in May 1847 Fr Newman expressed his own sensibilities regarding “…the Mass, said as it is among us” in his novel Loss and Gain: “To me nothing is so consoling, so piercing, so thrilling, so overcoming, as the Mass, said as it is among us. I could attend Masses for ever, and not be tired.” He celebrated such a Mass daily until Christmas 1889, after which physical weakness prevented him from doing so.
From his place in heaven His Eminence must surely be rejoicing that more and more young priests, religious, and laity are discovering and loving “the most beautiful thing this side of heaven”, the so-called Tridentine Mass. The kindly light of the Holy Spirit is leading more and more of the faithful to that safe haven of Catholic doctrine and worship, “the Mass that will not die.”
I believe this Mass to be the Church’s priceless treasure, the loveliest of our Creator’s gifts to humankind, in the one fold of the Redeemer.
Fr Ignatius Harrison, C.O.
THE BIRMINGHAM ORATORY
October 13, 2019
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