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The Intellectual and Developmental Character of Cardinal Newman’s University Preaching Style

Edward Ondrako


A preacher’s sermons ought to have ‘a peculiarity, an identity of style, which enables one to recognize the author at a glance,’ in John Henry Newman’s view. The intellectual and developmental character of his sermons have a consistency and distinctive theory and epistemology of faith. With this in mind, the essay examines several key events and examples of his university preaching style beginning with his final sermon to the university faculty at Oxford in 1843, through his time in Dublin in 1856, with a final look at his acceptance speech when named a Cardinal in 1879. There is a brief comparison of his preaching style to two of his Discourses on Mary in 1849 which are polemical and hortatory. Newman’s aim in university preaching was to cultivate a theology of the heart and gave a persuasive example by his humble contemplation of God.

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  • 1 Newman, ‘University Preaching,’ in Ian T. Ker, ed. The Idea of a University (Oxford: Clarendon Pres (...)
  • 2 Harold Weatherby, The Keen Delight (Athens, GA.: Georgia University Press, 1974).
  • 3 Nicholas Lash, Newman on Development (Shepherdstown, VA.: 1975).
  • 4 John Henry Newman, The Idea of a University (London: Longmans, Green and Co., uniform edition, 1900 (...)

1To John Henry Cardinal Newman, a preacher’s sermons ought to have ‘a peculiarity, an identity of style, which enables one to recognize the author at a glance.’1 This essay discusses the peculiarity and identity of style in his university sermons, a style rooted in the harmony between faith and reason. When reading his university sermons today, many elements of style become visible, but one is struck by one element in particular, his humble contemplation of God in every paragraph which provides the inner consistency in his theory or epistemology of faith. A study of the intellectual and developmental character of his sermons is the key to understanding that epistemological theory. There is a wide range of misunderstanding of the character of his theological activity which is much more than ‘theological professionalism.’ At one extreme, some dismiss him for overemphasizing piety and rigid obedience to authority.2 The other extreme is more radical, for it identifies Newman as one who supported revelation as an on-going process,3 making him a modernist. Both are inaccurate. This essay will study several elements in the style of his university sermons and illustrate his prudent balance in dealing with personal autonomy, change, and development. The broad context is the universitas studiorum, or idea of a university which, according to Newman, needs the study of theology as more than a necessary course in a curriculum of arts and sciences.4

  • 5 Edward J. Ondrako, Progressive Illumination (Binghamton, N.Y.: Global Academic Publishing, 2006).

2After a brief portrait of the man, I focus on his final university sermon at Oxford, February 2, 1843, ‘The Theory of Developments in Religious Doctrine.’ It is a convincing example of the pattern of his life. Shortly after, his last sermon at Littlemore, ‘The Parting of Friends,’ demonstrated why Scripture was the soul of his theology. The sermon is a veiled autobiographical account of his most intimate inner struggle, the personal application of what he had been preaching about faith and reason at Oxford and Littlemore. He resolved his personal struggle in 1845 and was received into the Roman Church. Between 1852 and 1858, he labored to found the Irish Catholic University. In 1856, his sermon ‘Intellect, the Instrument of Religious Training,’ demonstrated the inner consistency in his thought about religion and science in relation to intellect and virtue. In 1855, an address titled ‘University Preaching’ listed some twenty-one points on preaching which further explain the substratum or elements in his signature style. Returning to the key point in his sermon on ‘The Theory of Developments in Religious Doctrine’ in 1843. There he builds on his recently discovered truth that ‘Mary is the pattern of faith in both the reception and in the study of Divine Truth.’ To this foundational point, I juxtapose his polemical and hortatory style in two Discourses about Mary given in 1849. Finally, a brief recapitulation and conclusion demonstrate the important element in his style of university preaching, his ‘progressive illumination.’5

1 Portrait of the Man

  • 6 I often hear post modernity described, perhaps unfairly, in university lectures as ‘an anything goe (...)

3At one time Newman is a controversialist, at another an apologist. A moment later he is polemical, then hortatory, poetic, then mystical, the teacher, then the pupil, the pastor then spiritual directee, the psychologist then spiritual guide. His range of intellect and spirituality inspires readers long after his death in 1890. He was ever mindful of the issues of the day, expressed in the idiom and style of the day that might confuse a person who identifies as a twenty-first century post modern.6

4After years of the joy of reading his works, I realize how important it is that Newman be read closely, in context. If his rich wisdom sayings are taken out of context, and his constant personal quest for truth is overlooked as the driving force in his life, he can be misread and misrepresented to support the agenda of competing groups in the Church. He is neither a modernist nor a traditionalist. If read poorly, one can denigrate or abuse his writings to promote one’s agenda. If read well, Newman can touch the reader with his extraordinary gift of clarity to explain the truth for which he ‘panted.’ In his personal quest, he understood that he could only answer for himself in religious matters. This essay focuses primarily on his university preaching style and its importance to understanding why his words are persuasive.

5Intellectual humility enabled his spiritual integrity to grow whatever the price he might have to pay, and at times, that price was very dear. When he decided to make his confession and be received into the Roman Church, he lost a close relationship with his brothers and sister. Later, as a Catholic, he was unfairly tagged as the most dangerous man in England, a reputation which seems to have contributed to the withdrawal of the permission of the Catholic Bishops to establish a Catholic House of Studies at Oxford in the 1860’s. Through these and many more heart breaking events, Newman found strength from faithful friends and prayer. I am convinced that Newman’s preparation to preach by prayer and meditation, habits of virtue, habits of mind, and habits of good judgment contributed to the individualized intellectual and developmental character of his university preaching style.

6On July 2, 1857, John Henry Newman wrote:

  • 7 John Henry Newman, Sermons Preached on Various Occasions (London: uniform edition), v. This was cal (...)

When the author was preparing for the serious step, which he took nearly twelve years ago, of embracing the Catholic Religion, it was, if not his intention, at least his expectation, that he should never write again on any doctrinal subject.7

  • 8 Joseph Blanco White was a clergyman of Spanish stock, whom Provost Copleston had made a member of t (...)

7The serious step was twelve years previous, on October 9, 1845, when the Oxford Plato, as he was called by Blanco White,8 resolved his personal struggle to understand how a doctrine could be judged to be a true development and not false. If one reflects on the gravity of that decision on his conscience, his intention, at least his expectation that he should not write again on doctrinal matters, is understandable. After his spiritual guide, John Keble, preached a Sermon on ‘National Apostasy,’ July 14, 1833, which Newman called the beginning of the Oxford or Tractarian Movement of reform and renewal in the Church of England, Newman wrote several tracts having to do with doctrinal renewal.

  • 9 Ibid., Sermons Preached on Various Occasions, Advertisement, v.
  • 10 Ibid.
  • 11 Newman, Apologia Pro Vita Sua, uniform edition, 267–268.

8Newman explained further what he thought the parameters of his writing would be after 1845. ‘He was able to fancy himself, in the time then before him, discussing questions of philosophy or ecclesiastical history; nor did he exclude religious controversy, criticism, or literature, from his view.’9 This brief summary in his words is extremely important for understanding Newman and his style, for it gives the deeply felt rationale for what he thought he would do for the rest of his life. His realism and virtue, especially intellectual humility, followed: ‘but it seemed to him incongruous that one, who had so freely taught and published error in a Protestant communion, should put himself forward as a dogmatic teacher in the Catholic Church.’10 Truth vs. Error was central to his preaching and writing. He seems to have identified with the courage of a person who was willing to be an individual theologian or controversialist.11

  • 12 Ibid., 267.

Many a man has ideas, which he hopes are true, and useful for his day, but he is not confident of them, and wishes to have them discussed. He is willing, or rather would be thankful, to give them up, if they can be proved to be erroneous or dangerous, and by means of controversy he obtains his end.12

  • 13 Sermons Preached on Various Occasions, v.
  • 14 Ibid., v, vi.

9Newman’s intellectual humility and reserve were foundational elements in his university preaching style. Unlike the Roman clergy of his day, Newman did not have the scholastic training which included a Christian metaphysical foundation, a lack he recognized. This lack, he thought, contributed to his ‘disinclination to engage the more sacred departments of Theology.’13 He wrote that his brief stay in Rome after being received into the Roman Church gave him some insight into the essentials of the Catholic priesthood, as well as some of the shortcomings in the educational standards, but he found his vocation already fixed, he wrote. And too, the formal duties in practical work of the new Oratory which he established in England, ‘had not commonly directed even the personal talents or private labours or leisure hours of its members towards the discussion or illustration of Catholic doctrine.’14

  • 15 Ibid.

10There is no question that Newman sought to balance the responsibilities of a missionary, teacher and being drawn to theology. From Rome, he wrote, that he had received ‘the unexpected honour of a Degree in Theology, without the ordinary exercises,’ but, ‘has been faithful on the whole to the rule or anticipation, which he set before him on becoming a Catholic. Why he has departed from it in the present and one other instance, it is not worth to explain,’ he added.15 However, we ought not to miss his flexibility nor to gloss over what Newman may be saying by the disclaimer, and look to his next quote for a plausible explanation of why he departed from what he had set before him in becoming a Catholic.

  • 16 Ibid., vi.
  • 17 Ibid.

11In Newman’s words, ‘his volume of Discourses to Mixed Congregations, implies by its title that it is polemical and hortatory after all, rather than dogmatic, and addressed to those who are external to the Church.’16 The two discourses on Mary are particularly important to his reasoning about development of doctrine. Newman added ‘This is partly the case also with the sermons contained in the present Volume; not to say that its title too, announcing that they have been elicited by particular occasions, carries with it the apology, that they are the result of external circumstances rather than of any set purpose of his own.’17 Adaptability, polemical, hortatory, elicited by particular occasions, all fit Newman’s style of engagement. He was Pauline in style, asking all who feel an interest in his past or present, to pray for his future and his end.

12What I find very moving in his writings, is the love Newman had for the intellectual life and pastoral care at Oxford and Littlemore. He was elected to a Fellowship at Oriel in 1822, ordained an Anglican priest in 1824, became curate at St. Clement, resigned as curate and became a tutor at Oriel in 1826. In 1828, he became Vicar of St. Mary the Virgin University Church. His love for his friends and life sustaining friendships affected his style of writing and ministry. Newman grew through those hopeful and forward looking days at Oxford. In 1845, this lifestyle was in jeopardy, for once he crossed the Tiber, he knew that the externals would change, but not the inner consistency in his epistemology of faith, his love for the flock he served, and his desire to preach the truth to them.

2 Preaching Style to the University Faculty

  • 18 Newman, Fifteen Sermons Preached Before the University of Oxford, 1826–1843 (London: SPCK, 1970), 3 (...)
  • 19 Ibid., 312.
  • 20 Ibid., 313.
  • 21 Ibid., 348.

13One sermon in particular bore the signs of his intensely personal reflection on doctrinal matters. It gives sustained insight into his life long quest for truth. ‘The Theory of the Development of Doctrine’ was preached on the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple on February 2, 1843, to the University Faculty.18 Having known little about Mary in his early years, he now began this sermon with Luke 2: 19, ‘But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.’ ‘Little is told us in Scripture concerning the Blessed Virgin, [but] there is one grace of which the Evangelists make her the pattern, in a few simple sentences—of Faith.’19 Newman’s epistemology of faith, theological activity and style of preaching were sealed around this principle. He showed the gradual development of his major concern, Faith, by the example of Mary pondering Divine providences and revelations. After quoting several scriptural passages supporting his argument, he presented his thesis that ‘St. Mary is our pattern of Faith, both in the reception and in the study of Divine Truth.’20 The entire body of the lengthy sermon developed his argument by juxtaposing several incidents that might tend to ‘a dreary and hopeless skepticism.’21

14Skepticism was not a minor problem. The air was filled with thought from the Enlightenment, the English, and French deists, and the appealing ideas of Immanuel Kant. On the one hand, Kant’s argument for personal autonomy had a very appealing side, while its down side can lead one towards the dreary skepticism which Newman was afraid of and preached against. Newman did not mention Kant, but, in my view, he answered the fundamental error of Kant, that I paraphrase as ‘my transcendental ego, just me, is the ultimate criterion of truth.’ The paragraph from Newman’s sermon that follows seems to answer Kant implicitly.

  • 22 Ibid., 348–49.

All is dreary till we believe, what our hearts tell us, that we are subjects of His governance; nothing is dreary, all inspires hope and trust, directly we understand that we are under His hand, and that whatever comes to us is from Him, as a method of discipline and guidance. What is it to us whether the knowledge He gives us be greater or less, if it be He who gives it? What is it to us whether it be exact or vague, if he bids us trust it? What have we to care whether we are or are not given to divide substance from shadow, if He is training us heavenwards by means of either? Why should we vex ourselves to find whether our deductions are philosophical or no, provided they are religious? If our senses supply the media by which we are put on trial, by which we are brought together, and hold intercourse with each other, and are disciplined and are taught, and enabled to benefit others, it is enough. We have an instinct within us, impelling us, we have external necessity forcing us, to trust our senses, and we may leave the question of their substantial truth for another world, ‘till the day break and shadows flee away.’ And what is true of reliance on our senses, is true of all the information which it has pleased God to vouchsafe to us, whether in nature or in grace.22

15Newman’s preaching style proved his argument against a dreary skepticism while offering a resolution to the problem with humble contemplation of Divine Verities.

  • 23 Ibid. 349.

Instances, then, such as these, will be found to sober and encourage us in our theological studies,—to impress us with a profound sense of our ignorance of Divine Verities, when we know most; yet to hinder us from relinquishing their contemplation, though we know so little.23

16In a sense, Newman’s style was to emphasize what is unscientific vs. the scientific, meaning that the empirical reasoning of the nineteenth century, by itself, cannot resolve questions of faith. All scientific reasoning can do is be sure that one’s thinking was logical. In this sermon from 1843, he had the seeds of his distinction between real and notional assent which he developed by 1870 in his An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent.

  • 24 Ibid., 349–50.

On the one hand, it would appear that even the most subtle questions of the schools may have a real meaning, as the most intricate formulae in analytics; and, since we cannot tell how far our instrument of thought reaches in the process of investigation, and, at what point it fails us, no questions may safely be despised. ‘Whether God was anywhere before creation?’ ‘whether he knows all creatures in Himself?’ ‘whether the blessed see all things possible and future in Him?’ ‘in what sense the Holy Spirit is Divine Love?’ these, and a multitude of others, far more minute and remote, are all sacred from their subject.24

17After raising these questions about the eternity of God, the right to speak of God’s Being and Attributes, the triple Personality, in the sense in which the Infinite can be understood to have Personality at all, in fact, if we know anything of God and may speak of God, Newman said:

  • 25 Ibid., 350–351.

if we may emerge from Atheism or pantheism into religious faith, if we would have any saving hope, any life of truth and holiness within us,—this only do we know, with this confession, we must begin and end our worship—that the Father is the One God, the Son the One God, and the Holy Ghost the One God; and that the Father is not the Son, the Son not the Holy Ghost, and the Holy Ghost not the Father.25

18In other words, it was absolutely clear that Newman was doing his theology on his knees, in humble contemplation, using the scientific method, developing his own version of a mix of metaphysical thought and empiricism, but lets the empirical go to enter into the realm of mystery which may appear to his critics to be unscientific.

  • 26 Ibid., 351.

The fault, then, which we must guard against in receiving such Divine intimations, is the ambition of being wiser than what is written; of employing the Reason, not in carrying out what is told us, but in impugning it; not in support, but in prejudice of Faith.26

19While the fifteen university sermons preached from 1826 to this final one in 1843 dealt with the question of faith and reason, Newman showed how his thought developed in these final paragraphs into more and more of a contemplative mode.

  • 27 Ibid.

Reason can but ascertain the profound difficulties of our condition, it cannot remove them; it has no work, it makes no beginning, it does but continually fall back, till it is content to be a little child, and to follow where Faith guides it.27

  • 28 Exodus 3: 13.

20I find the study of Newman’s style of university preaching enlightening for its epistemology of faith. Newman did not shy away from nor reject the metaphysics of being, as Kant did. This is a very important distinction between them. Kant’s quest for facts, noumena, in effect, rejected the metaphysics of being. Newman ended in prayer that befitted a scientific and candid intellectual quest for truth. Moses learned the meaning of being from God. Moses asked God: ‘when I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ if they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what am I to tell them?’ God replied, ‘‘I am who I am.’ This is what you shall tell the Israelites: I AM sent me to you.’28

  • 29 Newman, Apologia Pro Vita Sua (London: uniform edition), 14. He will come back to the problem of li (...)

21While Newman regretted that he had not acquired the manner of scholastic metaphysics, he developed a signature style of metaphysical and empirical reflection. From 1843 he struggled to systematically explain certitude in religious matters. In 1870 he had the answer in the Grammar of Assent, which can never be a handbook for modernist thought. In 1827, he wrote that as a student at Oxford, he was beginning to prefer intellectual excellence to the spiritual. ‘The truth is, I was beginning to prefer intellectual excellence to moral; I was drifting in the direction of the liberalism of the day.’29 From then on, the habit of prayer and study was the bedrock of his life. In 1843, on the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, February 2, 1843, the balance is evident.

  • 30 Newman, University Sermon 15, 351.

What remains, then, but to make our prayer to the Gracious and merciful God, the Father of Lights, that in all our exercises of Reason, His gift, we may thus use it,—as he would have us, in the obedience of Faith, with view to His glory, with an aim at His Truth, in dutiful submission to His will, for the comfort of his elect, for the edification of Holy Jerusalem, His Church, and in recollection of His own solemn warning, ‘Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment; for by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.’30

22After this sermon Newman continued his pastoral responsibilities, until he decided to take a leave from active priesthood, and retired to a secluded place in Littlemore, where there was a stable that had been turned into living quarters. There he continued in thought and prayer with Mary as ‘the pattern of Faith, both in the reception and in the study of Divine Truth.’

3 The Parting of Friends

23Before taking leave or a ‘sabbatical’ to resolve his personal questions, he preached a profoundly moving Sermon: ‘The Parting of Friends’ with a lead text from Psalm 104: 23. ‘Man goeth forth to his work and his labour until the evening.’ Newman was consciously desirous of imitating Jesus. He began with reference to Jesus bearing the burdens, heat, thirst and weariness of the day, and willingly doing the will of the Father who sent him. Jesus desired to eat the Passover with the Twelve. Typical of Newman was his ability to appeal to people’s memory and to move them. Here is an example:

  • 31 Newman, ‘The Parting of Friends,’ Sermons Bearing on Subjects of the Day (1902), 395–409, September (...)

He was about to suffer more than man had ever suffered or shall suffer. But there is nothing gloomy, churlish, violent, or selfish in His grief; it is tender affectionate and social. He calls His friends around Him, though He was as Job among the ashes; He bids them stay by Him, and see Him suffer; He desires their sympathy; He takes refuge in their love.31

  • 32 Ibid., 396. Peter Fehlner has a concise explanation of the meaning of typological thinking, as a na (...)

24One can feel the identification with this suffering and hope in Newman as the sermon develops, yet his style is not to seek sympathy or to convey, self-pity. Rather one senses Newman standing at the foot of the cross aware of the eyes of Jesus on Mary and St. John and St. Peter, who was denying Him in the distance, [and] His sudden glance [which] wrought a deep repentance. Just as Mary was the pattern of faith in both the reception and the study of Divine Truth, now St. Peter is, in Newman’s words, ‘the wonderful pattern, the type of all trial and of all duty under it, while the Church endures.’32 Newman used another important element in his university preaching, namely, typological reflection, the ability to compare and contrast figure and truth.

  • 33 Ibid., 399.
  • 34 Ibid., 400–405.

25His preaching style weaved scriptural account after account, developing his thought in an orderly fashion, until he came to the end with a concise synopsis of the role of scripture. In his conciseness of style, Newman identified with the sower and harvest, Jacob passing over the Jordan, who ‘parted with all that his heart loved, and turned his face toward a strange land.’33 He identified with Naomi who had left her country, and found friends and made relatives among the enemies of her people. She endured perplexity and was torn with contrary feelings, while events led her to a tender parting from Orpah. He identified with David’s soul that had been from the first knit with Jonathan’s soul. At their last meeting, they kissed and wept. He identified with St. Paul who had a thousand friends and loved each as his own soul, and seemed to live a thousand lives in them, and died a thousand deaths when he must quit them. That great Apostle’s heart was broken when the people wept.34

26Newman’s final summary of Scripture as a refuge in any trouble is the finest I have ever read, and radiated Newman’s personal ‘transparency.’

  • 35 Ibid., 408.

Scripture is a refuge in any trouble; only let us be on our guard against seeming to use it further than is fitting, or doing more than sheltering ourselves under its shadow. Let us use it according to our measure. it is far higher and wider than our need; and its language veils our feelings while it gives expression to them. it is sacred and heavenly; and it restrains and purifies, while it sanctions them.35

  • 36 Ibid., 409

27Newman’s penultimate paragraph was encouragement for his hearers to ‘leave off from wrath, let go displeasure, flee from evil and do good, to eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God now accepteth your works.36 His final paragraph, a profoundly human moment, was a plea to be remembered and for prayers.

  • 37 Ibid.

O My brethren, O kind and affectionate hearts, O Loving friends, should you know any one whose lot it has been, by writing or by word of mouth, in some degree to help you thus to act; if he has ever told you what you knew about yourselves, or what you did not know, has read to you your wants or feelings, and comforted you by the very reading; has made you feel that there was a higher life than this daily one, and a brighter world than that you see; or encouraged you, or sobered you, or opened a way to the inquiring, or soothed the perplexed; if what he has said or done has ever made you take interest in him, and feel well inclined towards him, remember such a one in time to come, though you hear him not, and pray for him, that in all things he may know God’s will, and at all times he may be ready to fulfill it.37

28Beyond doubt, in answering one’s quest for truth, this is a most intense and convincing personal account. I can only imagine the emotional pain as he preached. Is it little wonder that he wrote that he had a literal pain around his heart?

4 Reuniting Religion and Science

  • 38 Newman, ‘Intellect, the Instrument of Religious Training,’ Sermons Preached on Various Occasions, 1 (...)

29Newman’s ability to mix the intellectual and developmental character of his work with the spiritual created a beautiful harmony found in his style of wisdom sayings or proverbs. For example, ‘I want the intellectual layman to be religious, and the devout ecclesiastic to be intellectual.’38 There is an immediate attraction to want to know what Newman really meant. The reader will more than likely not know where in Newman’s writings a particular wise saying came from, but try to apply it. Relatively few have had occasion to study where and when this and other powerfully attractive texts came from and why they mattered when said. With study, an accurate reconstruction of the historical context opens up more insights into his engagement with his world.

  • 39 Edward J. Ondrako, Freedom within the Church: The Controversy between William Ewart Gladstone and J (...)

30If a person searches for the truth, Newman held, that person will find it. Whatever point of view one may have, the truth cannot contradict itself, although often it appears to. Only careful, painstaking, integral investigation, study, consultation with others, and prayer, and a humble contemplation of God will demonstrate what the truth is and that the truth cannot contradict itself. Something cannot be true and false at the same time. At the beginning of the Second Vatican Council in 1962, many sensed that this was Newman’s Council and that he was an absent father at the Council.39

  • 40 In charity I respect the intentions and competing views of those who seek the truth. Whatever point (...)

31Fifty years after Bl. Pope John XXIII convened the Council to renew and reform the Roman Catholic Church, there are voices40 that, in my view, would do well to review the theological activity in Newman’s life reflected in Vatican II. The true spirit of reform and renewal is constant, in fidelity to Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium while able to read the signs of the times with intellectual humility and contemplation ever open to true development. Newman’s epistemology of faith never digressed from this principle.

  • 41 Frank Rhodes, President emeritus of Cornell University and Provost-Emeritus William T. deBary of Co (...)

32‘I want the intellectual layman to be religious, and the devout ecclesiastic to be intellectual.’ This evocative quote came from a sermon, ‘Intellect, the Instrument of Religious Training,’ preached at the University Church, Dublin. It was the feast of St. Monica, the Sunday after the Ascension in 1856. Newman was in the middle of his campaign to establish a Catholic University in Ireland at the request of Archbishop Cullen. He stayed from 1852–1858 and had just completed his classic, The Idea of a University, which to this day, remains a blueprint for discerning presidents, chancellors and teachers, not only of Catholic Universities, but of secular universities.41

  • 42 Newman, ‘Intellect,’ 1–2.
  • 43 Ibid., 2.
  • 44 Ibid., 3.

33Newman used Luke 7: 2, the tears of the widow for her dead son, for his starting point to underscore St. Monica as the woman whose tears and prayers, sleepless nights and wanderings, sought and gained by her penances the conversion of her son. In other words, it seems that Newman was preaching to persuade his listeners that the intellectual life, by itself, can be dead, if the religious life of the person is absent. ‘If [St. Augustine] has been a luminary for all ages of the church since, many thanks do we owe to his mother, St. Monica, who having borne him in the flesh, travailed for him in the spirit.’42 Newman noted that the Church has likened St. Monica to the desolate widow. While her son was dead in God’s sight, a slave to sin, the prey of heresy, nothing that her son accomplished, as eloquent, able and distinguished, meant anything to her. ‘He was carried forward by four bearers, ignorance, pride, appetite, and ambition . . . into a foreign land. She followed the corpse, the chief and only mourner.’43 So while she still walked forth in her deep anguish and isolation, and her silent prayer, she was at length rewarded by the long-coveted miracle. Grace melted the proud heart, and purified the corrupt breast of Augustine, and restored and comforted his mother.’44

  • 45 Karl Rahner interpreted Vatican II as holding such optimism. Understanding justice and the trials o (...)

34Newman’s theology of salvation and redemption here is far from any optimism about the possibility of universal salvation.45 Rather, he spelled out the problem soberly.

  • 46 Ibid., 3–4.

Monica, as the widow in the Gospel becomes an image of the Holy Church, who is ever lamenting over her lost children, and by her importunate prayers, ever recovering them from grave sin. This is not a history of past time merely, but of every age. Still Augustine rushes forth again and again, with his young ambition, and his intellectual energy, and his turbulent appetites; educated, yet untaught; with powers strengthened, sharpened, refined by exercise, but unenlightened and untrained,—goes forth into the world, ardent, self-willed, reckless, headstrong, inexperienced, to fall into the hands of those who seek his life, and not become the victim of heresy and sin. And still again and again does hapless Monica weep. . .And still again and again does Holy Church take her part and her place, with a heart tender and more strong, with an arm, and an eye, and an intellect more powerful than hers, with an influence more than human more sagacious than the world, and more religious than home, to retrain and reclaim those whom passion, or example, or sophistry, is hurrying forward to destruction.46

  • 47 Newman may not refer to Mary as the metaphysician of metaphysicians, but he treated her as such in (...)

35Then Newman showed his abilities with a Marian style in his writing to raise and answer a key question. He demonstrated his Marian metaphysical47 and mediatory understanding without using those words to defend religious thinking. His goal was to stress the growth of both intellectual and moral thinking together, the first which apprehends truth and the second, duty.

  • 48 Ibid., 4–5. Mother of love. Cause of our joy. Seat of Wisdom.

For is not this one chief aspect of the meaning of a University,. . .to supply that which that memorable Saint so much desiderated, and for which she attempted to compensate by her prayers,. . .to be a mother who, after the pattern of that greatest and most heavenly of mothers, is, on the one hand, Mater amabilis,: and ‘Causa nostrae laetitiae,’ and on the other, ‘Sedes Sapientiae’ also? She is mother, living, not in the seclusion of the family, and in the garden’s shade, but in the wide world, in the populous and busy town, claiming, like our great Mother, the meek and tender Mary, ‘to praise her own self, and to glory, and to open her mouth,’ because she alone has ‘compassed the circuit of Heaven, and penetrated into the bottom of the deep, and walked upon the waves of the sea,’ and in every department of human learning, is able to confute and put right those who would set knowledge against itself, and would make truth contradict truth, and would persuade the world that, to be religious, you must be ignorant, and to be intellectual, you must be unbelieving.48

  • 49 Ibid., 7–8.

36Newman developed the theme of the misfortune and trial caused by separating the perfection of the intellect by ability and talent from the perfection of our moral nature by virtue. ‘Where power of intellect is, there need not be virtue; and where right, and goodness, and moral greatness are, there need not be talent.’ That separation was not so at the beginning for the Creator raised our nature by supernatural grace. ‘Had the race continued in that blessed state of privilege, there never would have been distance, rivalry, hostility, between one faculty and another.’ Newman referred to the separate powers warring in one’s own breast,—appetite, passion, secular ambition, intellect, and conscience, and the resulting internal strife, confusion, and uncertainty. It appeared to him ‘that duty cannot be pleasant, that virtue cannot be intellectual, that goodness cannot be great, that conscientiousness cannot be heroic.49

  • 50 Ibid., 8.

37If then a man has more talent, there is the chance that he will have less goodness; if he is careful about his religious duties, there is the chance he is behind-hand in general knowledge; and in matter of fact, in particular cases, persons may be found, correct and virtuous, who are heavy, narrow-minded, and unintellectual, and again, unprincipled men, who are brilliant and amusing. It is the sophistry of the Evil One who whispers that somehow religious people are either very dull or very tiresome, that religion itself is more suitable to women and children, who live at home, than to men.’50

  • 51 In this section, about moral behavior Newman, it seems to me, has a different view than the disting (...)

38Newman’s preaching style was to convince the listener about the truth in his words. He touched the raw nerve, the gut feelings in everyone, and made each admit their human tendencies such as to rebel against what each knows to be duty. ‘Instead of uniting knowledge and religion, as you might have done, did you not set one against the other?’ he asked. He opened the problem of wrong curiosity, a curiosity which you confessed to yourselves to be ‘wrong, which went against your conscience, while you indulged in it. You desire to know a number of things, which it could do you no good to know.’51

  • 52 Ibid., 10–11.

39At this time, in 1856, Newman was addressing the education of young boys for the young girls did not have equal opportunity. Mutatis mutandis, the points apply to both. He showed a progression of what happens when one ‘listens to the views and discussions which are inconsistent with the sanctity of religious faith,’ lives with companions with no fixed principle, and hears or reads what is directly against religion. In time one has to admit a skeptical influence upon the mind and ‘the fretful, impatient way of speaking of the persons, conduct, words, and measures of religious men or of men in authority.’ That is the way one unburdens one’s mind and moves closer to skeptics and infidels, ‘and feeling more and more congeniality with their modes of thinking, till some day suddenly, from some accident, the fact breaks upon him, and he sees clearly that he is an unbeliever himself.’52

40Newman did not stop there. He unfolded the consequences of becoming an unbeliever. A sharp anguish darts through that person, and for a time he is made miserable. Next that person laments that former undoubting faith, which he has lost. Newman likened the experience to awakening from a pleasant dream but it is only a dream.

  • 53 It seems that here is an instance where Newman described implicitly that he is anti-Kant personally (...)

His next stage is to experience a great expansion and elevation of mind; for his field of view is swept clear of all that filled it from childhood, and now he may build up for himself anything he pleases instead. So he begins to form his own ideas of things, and these please and satisfy him for a time; then he gets used to them, and tires of them, and he takes up others; and now he has begun that everlasting round of seeking and never finding: at length, after various trials, he gives up the search altogether, and decides that nothing can be known, and there is no such thing as truth, and that if anything be professed, the creed he started from is as good as any other, and has more claims;—however, that really nothing is true, nothing is certain.53

  • 54 Ibid., 12.

41While this may sound bleak, Newman pointed out that if such a person ‘be of more ardent temperature, or like Augustine, the object of God’s special mercy, then he cannot give up the inquiry, though he has no chance of solving it, and he roams about, ‘walking through dry places, seeking rest, and finding none.’ In the meantime, Monica perceives clearly the dreadful changes, the wall between him and her, and can only turn to God and weep and pray.’54

  • 55 Ibid.

42Newman addressed the strength of this delusion while recognizing that there is a sort of truth in it. Human drive is not an excuse for moral and intellectual beings, ‘but ever since the fall of man, religion is here, and philosophy is there; each has its own centers of influence, separate from the other; intellectual men desiderate something in the homes of religion, and religious men desiderate something in the schools of science.’55

43Next, Newman presented his argument for why the Holy See and the Catholic Church set up Universities. It is a tour de force.

  • 56 Ibid., 13. This argument shows Newman’s view of university life in a marvelous summary. There is no (...)

it is to reunite things which were in the beginning joined together by God, and have been put asunder by man. Some persons will say that I am thinking of confining, distorting, and stunting the growth of the intellect by ecclesiastical supervision. I have no such thought. Nor have I any thought of a compromise, as if religion must give up something, and science something. I wish the intellect to range with the utmost freedom, and religion to enjoy an equal freedom; but what I am stipulating for is, that they should be found in one and the same place, and exemplified in the same persons. I want to destroy that diversity of centres, which puts everything into confusion by creating a contrariety of influences. I wish the same spots and the same individuals to be at once oracles of philosophy and shrines of devotion. it will not satisfy me, what satisfies so many, to have two independent systems, intellectual and religious, going at once side by side, by a sort of division of labour, and only accidentally brought together. it will not satisfy me, if religion is here, and science there, and young men converse with science all day, and lodge with religion in the evening. it is not touching the evil, to which these remarks have been directed, if young men eat and drink and sleep in one place, and think in another: I want the same roof to contain both the intellectual and moral discipline. Devotion is not a sort of finish given to the sciences; nor is science a sort of feather in the cap, if I may so express myself, an ornament and set-off to devotion. I want the intellectual layman to be religious, and the devout ecclesiastic to be intellectual.56

44Newman was always wary of the desire of some ecclesiastical authorities to want to supervise too much and often repeated adages that were critical of any kind of confining, distorting or stunting of the growth of the intellect. Equally, he disavowed any compromise of religion, for he wished the intellect to range with utmost freedom, and religion to enjoy an equal freedom. His view of a university is timely and necessary for the twenty first century, especially the debate on the relationship between religion and science. He emphasized:

  • 57 Ibid., 14.

This is no matter of terms, nor of subtle distinctions. Sanctity has its influence; intellect has its influence; the influence of sanctity is the greater on the long run; the influence of intellect is greater at the moment. Therefore, in the case of the young, whose education lasts a few years, where the intellect is, there is the influence. Their literary, their scientific teachers, really have the forming of them. Let both influences act freely, and then, as a general rule, no system of mere religious guardianship which neglects the Reason, will in matter of fact succeed against the School. Youths need a masculine religion, if it is to carry captive their restless imaginations, and their wild intellects, as well as to touch their susceptible hearts.57

  • 58 Martin Svaglic commented that the ‘term was usually spoken in jest as an active and hearty oversimp (...)

45I can only conjecture about what Newman meant by ‘masculine religion.’ The fact that young girls did not have the opportunities for education that young boys had may have a bearing on his use rather than the more pejorative ‘muscular Christianity.’58

  • 59 ‘Masculine religion,’ might be seen in light of a possible theological typology behind it. I do not (...)

46This may seem distant from contemporary sensibilities and easy to gloss over, but what is timeless is that youth need the kind of religion that attracts with clear, strong and persuasive arguments, exemplified by heroes, martyrs, and saints, such as the tender love of Monica as mother who does not rationalize away the errors and sins of her son. Masculine religion might be a type59 of explaining the strength of God’s grace.

47Newman’s style of preaching ended with a prayer that served as a synthesis of what he had preached.

Look down then upon us from Heaven, O blessed Monica, for we are engaged in supplying that very want which called for thy prayers, and gained for thee thy crown. Thou who didst obtain thy son’s conversion by the merit of thy intercession, continue that intercession for us, that we may be blest, as human instruments, in the use of those human means by which ordinarily the Holy Cross is raised aloft, and religion commands the world. Gain for us, first, that we may intensely feel that God’s grace is all in all, and that we are nothing; next, that, for His greater glory, and for the honour of Holy Church, and for the good of man, we may be ‘zealous for all the better gifts,’ and may excel in intellect as we excel in virtue.

5 University Preaching

48Newman wished the intellect to range with utmost freedom, and religion to enjoy an equal freedom. When he was concerned that the Bishops would try to make the new Catholic University in Ireland something of a seminary in tone, he wrote his nine discourses in 1852 which became The Idea of a University, to convince both sides of the ‘essence’ of a university, the Bishops and educated Irish laity who wanted room to breathe. The opening paragraph of the Preface gives his view of the essence of a University:

  • 60 Newman, The Idea of a University (uniform edition), Preface, ix.

The view taken of a University in these discourses is the following:—That it is a place of teaching universal knowledge. This implies that its subject is, on the one hand, intellectual, not moral; and, on the other, that it is the diffusion and extension of knowledge rather than the advancement. If its object were scientific and philosophical discovery, I do not see why a University should have students; if religious training, I do not see how it can be the seat of literature and science.60

  • 61 Charles. S. Dessain, John Henry Newman (London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, LTD., 1966), 117.

49One may read the sermon from the feast of St. Monica, ‘Intellect, the Instrument of Religious Training,’ as a corrective, or disclaimer of an impression that he ever intended to dismiss or minimize the importance of moral training in a University. He wove the thread of moral education as an expert weaver throughout The Idea of a University, along with the thesis that any liberal education needed theology to be able to qualify as truly liberal. Furthermore, many ecclesiastics seemed to be afraid of his imperial intellect. Monsignor George Talbot, also an English convert, the papal chamberlain in Rome, called Newman ‘the most dangerous man in England.’61 Newman’s ecclesiology was far from dangerous, as this second paragraph of the Preface indicated clearly.

  • 62 Ibid., Idea of a University.

Such is a University in its essence, and independently of its relation to the Church. But, practically speaking, it cannot fulfill its object duly, such as I have described it, without the Church’s assistance; or, to use the theological term, the Church is necessary for its integrity. Not that its main characters are changed by this incorporation: it still has the office of intellectual education; but the Church steadies it in the performance of that office.62

50Besides the nine discourses that make up The Idea of a University, Newman gave ten lectures on University Subjects to the Catholic University in Ireland between 1854 and 1858. Topics ranged from Christianity and letters, Literature, elementary studies, a form of the infidelity of the day, Christianity and physical science, scientific investigations, discipline of mind, Christianity and medical science. In 1855, one of the topics was University Preaching. Newman was consistent in using these twenty-one principles, or elements of style, as I interpret them. The style of his university preaching and choice of words exemplified the theological activity of his mind. The principles are a compressed recapitulation of the intellectual and developmental character of his epistemology of faith. Excerpts are:

1. Newman started with the essence of university preaching.

  • 63 Newman, ‘University Preaching,’ in Ian T. Ker, ed. The Idea of a University (Oxford: Clarendon Pres (...)

The essence of Christian preaching is one and the same in all cases; but not the subject-matter or the method, which vary according to circumstances. The preacher’s object is the spiritual good of his hearers. Preachers should neglect everything whatever besides devotion to their one object, and earnestness in pursuing it, till they in some measure attain to these requisites. Talent, logic, learning, words, manner, voice, action, all are required for the perfection of a preacher; but ‘one thing is necessary,’—an intense perception and appreciation of the end for which he preaches, and that is, to be the minister of some definite spiritual good to those who hear him. He must aim at his object, which is to do some spiritual good to his hearers, and which will at once make him earnest. His duty is to aim at imparting to others, not any fortuitous, unpremeditated benefit, but some definite spiritual good. it is here that design and study find their place; the more exact and precise is the subject which he treats, the more impressive and practical will he be. The Saints insist so expressly on the necessity of his addressing himself to the intellect of men, and of convincing as well as persuading. I would go the length of recommending a preacher to place a distinct categorical proposition before him, such as he can write down in a form of words, and to guide and limit his preparation by it, and to aim in all he says to bring it out, and nothing else. Nothing is so fatal to the effect of a sermon as the habit of preaching on three or four subjects at once.63

2. The preacher ought to thoroughly dwell on and master his subject.

  • 64 Ibid., 334.

What he feels himself, and feels deeply, he has to make others feel deeply; and in proportion as he comprehends this, he will rise above the temptation of introducing collateral matters, and will have no taste, no heart, for going aside after flowers of oratory, fine figures, tuneful periods, which are worth nothing, unless they come to him spontaneously, and are spoken ‘out of the abundance of the heart.’64

3. The preacher aims at Divine glory and enunciates the biblical text for the sake of those who are before him. He knows how to draw inspiration from ancient preachers.

  • 65 Ibid., 334–335.

‘The self-same exhortation is not suitable for all hearers; for all have not the same disposition of mind, and what profits these, is hurtful to those.’ ‘The Christian Preacher aims at the Divine glory, not in any vague and general way, but definitely by the enunciation of some article or passage of the Revealed Word, so further, he enunciates it, not for the instruction of the whole world, but directly for the sake of those very persons who are before him. He is, when in the pulpit, instructing, enlightening, informing, advancing, sanctifying, not all nations, not all classes, not all callings, but those particular ranks, professions, states, ages, characters, which have gathered around him.’65

4. The preacher addresses subtly issues and temptations that fight against virtue and faith.

  • 66 Some of my seminarian students at a large Catholic University today did not appreciate what Newman (...)

51Newman repeated that a University was not a seminary or a convent.66

  • 67 Ibid., 336.

A Studium Generale is not a cloister, or novitiate, or seminary, or boarding-school; it is an assemblage of the young, the inexperienced, the lay and the secular; and not even the simplest of religious truths, or the most elementary article of the Christian faith, can be unseasonable from its pulpit. A Sermon on the divine Omnipresence, on the future judgment, on the satisfaction of Christ, or the intercession of the saints, will not be less, perhaps more, suitable there than if it were addressed to a parish congregation.67

52Newman’s pastoral sensibilities identified these two temptations as providing subjects especially suitable for university sermons.

  • 68 Ibid., 337.

The temptations which ordinarily assail the young and the intellectual are two: those which are directed against their virtue, and those which are directed against their faith. All divine gifts are exposed to misuse and perversion; youth and intellect are both of them goods, and involve in them certain duties respectively, and can be used to the glory of the giver; but, as youth becomes the occasion of excess and sensuality, so does intellect give accidental opportunity to religious error, rash speculation, doubt, and infidelity. That these are in fact the peculiar evils to which large Academical Bodies are liable is shown from the history of Universities; and if a preacher would have a subject which has especial significance in such a place, he must select one which bears upon one or other of these two classes of sin.68

5. The preacher must know his audience and be skillful in treating delicate subjects.

53Newman cautioned:

  • 69 Ibid., 338.

First, I need hardly say, that a preacher should be quite sure that he understands the persons he is addressing before he ventures to aim at what he considers to be their ethical condition; for, if he mistakes, he will probably be doing harm rather than good. Better far would it be for a preacher to select one of those more general subjects which are safe than risk what is evidently ambitious, if it be not successful.
My other caution is this:—that, even when he addresses himself to some special danger or probable deficiency or need of his hearers, he should do so covertly, not showing on the surface of his discourse what he is aiming at. I see no advantage in a preacher professing to treat of infidelity, orthodoxy, or virtue, or the pride of reason, or riot, or sensual indulgence.69

6. The preacher’s mode of treating a subject requires careful study, accuracy in dealing with the ideas, caution with words, consultation with authority, philosophical and theological knowledge.

  • 70 Ibid., 339.

54The mode of treating a subject, which a University requires, is something Newman understood with every fiber of his being. Citing St. Paul, he shows his gift to cite the Old Testament to Jews, and to the philosophers at Athens, the most elementary message about the being and unity of God rather than doctrine. Such is the example for the university preacher to engage in a ‘more careful study beforehand, a more accurate conception of the idea which they are to enforce, a more cautious use of words, a more anxious consultation of writers of authority, and somewhat more of a philosophical and theological knowledge.’70

7. The preacher ought not to be pretentious.

55Newman’s intellectual humility cautioned against being pretentious.

  • 71 Ibid.

it is not necessary for a preacher to quote the Holy Fathers, or to show erudition, or to construct an original argument, or to be ambitious in style and profuse in ornament, on the ground that the audience is a University: it is only necessary so to keep the character and necessities of his hearers before him as to avoid what may offend them, or mislead, or disappoint, or fail or profit.71

8. The preacher ought to be sensitive to local custom in the use of notes.

56Newman delicately addressed the question whether or not the preacher should preach without book because he knew of the practice of preaching without book in foreign countries, in England, and Scotland. He demonstrated his sensitivity in respecting local custom to preach without book, while citing St. Augustine and the Fathers who would have delivered sermons from formally written compositions. St. Leo’s sermons were carefully dogmatic and repeated in other parts of his works.

9. The preacher ought to have his own identity of style.

  • 72 Ibid., 340.
  • 73 Ibid.

57The more one reads Newman’s sermons, the more one can see that he practiced what he preached. He recognized ‘a peculiarity, an identity of style, which enables one to recognize the author at a glance,’ a style, ‘that he must have written them, that he had time and inducement to correct and enlarge them afterwards from notes.’72 Newman cited Cicero who ‘specified memory in his enumeration of the distinct talents necessary for a great orator, and the French practice of writing sermons and learning them by heart.’73

10. The preacher has to prepare with study and meditation.

58Newman lays great stress on the preparation of a sermon, especially on study and meditation.

Study and meditation being imperative, can it be denied that one of the most effectual means by which we are able to ascertain our understanding of a subject, to bring out our thoughts upon it, to clear our meaning, to enlarge our views of its relations to other subjects, and to develop it generally, is to write down carefully all we have to say about it? People indeed differ in matters of this kind, but I think that writing is a stimulus to the mental faculties, to the logical talent, to originality, to the power of illustration, to the arrangement of topics, second to none. Till a man begins to put down his thoughts about a subject on paper he will not ascertain what he knows and what he does not know.

11. The preacher ought to avoid impulsive additions.

59Newman subtly cautioned against the potential danger of impulsive additions.

  • 74 Ibid., 341.

Such a practice will secure them against venturing upon really extempore matter. The more ardent a man is, and the greater power he has of affecting his hearers, so much the more will he need self-control and sustained recollection, and feel the advantage of committing himself, as it were, to the custody of his previous intentions, instead of yielding to any chance current of thought which rushes upon him in the midst of his preaching. His very gifts may need the counterpoise of more ordinary and homely accessories, such as the drudgery of composition.74

12. The preacher ought to keep notes, at least an outline.

60Newman taught that the preacher should keep notes, at least an outline, for the possibility of future publishing. Fortunately, he did that and today people can study his sermons. He kept a record of the times and places where he gave sermons, the dates and places where the same sermon was repeated.

13. There are reasons to justify having a manuscript in the pulpit, but it ought not to be too complicated a work.

61Newman gave a reason to justify the introduction of a manuscript into the pulpit, especially if it was certain that it was a University Sermon, but questioned whether a complicated work was a sermon or a discourse. If it were the latter,

  • 75 Ibid., 342.

it may be urged with great cogency that a process of argument, or a logical analysis and investigation, cannot at all be conducted with suitable accuracy of wording, completeness of statement, or succession of ideas, if its composition is to be prompted at the moment, and breathed out, as it were, from the intellect together with the very words which are its vehicle..In truth, a discourse, which from its fineness and precision of ideas, is too difficult for a preacher to deliver without such extraneous assistance, is too difficult for a hearer to follow; and, if a book be imperative for teaching, it is imperative for learning. Both parties ought to read, if they are to be on equal terms.75

  • 76 Ibid., 343.

14. ‘Preaching is not reading, and reading is not preaching,’76

62Newman taught the subtle place and use of a manuscript in the pulpit. The preacher ought to appear to dispense with it. If he does not, and merely reads, he will be judged to come short of preaching.

15. The preacher’s individuality is crucial.

  • 77 Ibid., 343–344.

63The preacher’s ‘words, his tones, his actions, his presence, lose their personality; one bishop, one priest, is like another.’77

  • 78 Ibid.

He knows his sheep, and they know him; and it is this direct bearing of the teacher on the taught, of his mind upon their minds, and the mutual sympathy which exists between them, which is his strength and influence when he addresses them. They hang upon his lips as they cannot hang upon the pages of his book.78

16. Definiteness in preaching is imperative.

  • 79 Ibid., 344.

Definiteness is the life of preaching. A definite hearer, not the whole world; a definite topic, not the whole evangelical tradition; and, in like manner, a definite speaker. Nothing that is anonymous will preach; nothing that is dead and gone; nothing even which is of yesterday, however religious in itself, and useful.79

17. Out of the preacher’s mouth come ‘spirit and life’ to the hearts of the people.

64One may ask: Why read the classics? Why retrieve the Church’s past, including the Gospel? Why return to sources? Newman answered:

  • 80 Ibid.

Thought and word are one in the Eternal Logos, and must not be separate in those who are His shadows on earth. They must issue fresh and fresh, as from the preacher’s mouth, so from his breast, if they are to be ‘spirit and life’ to the hearts of his hearers.80

18. The personal influence of the preacher is persuasive.

  • 81 Ibid. See Newman’s fifth University Sermon, ‘Personal Influence, the Means of Propagating the Truth (...)

65It is the personal influence of the preacher, who ‘comes to his audience with a name and a history, and excites a personal interest, and persuades by what he is, as well as by what he delivers.’81

19. The gifts of the preacher are for a supernatural end.

66Newman recognized the individuality and gifts of the preacher vis-à-vis the gift of eloquence, but puts it in the larger context of the supernatural end.

20. Eloquence is a divine gift, but subservient to the office of proclaiming the Gospel with earnestness and devotion.

Eloquence is a divine gift, which to a certain point supersedes rules, and is to be used, like other gifts, to the glory of the Giver, and then only to be discountenanced when it forgets its place, when it throws into shade and embarrasses the essential functions of the Christian preacher, and claims to be cultivated for its own sake instead of being made subordinate and subservient to a higher work and to sacred objects. And how to make eloquence subservient to the evangelical office is not more difficult than how to use learning or intellect for a supernatural end.

21. In sum, the preacher is attentive to circumstances and makes prudential judgments.

  • 82 Ibid., 345.

67Newman was attentive to circumstances when the use of manuscripts might be more advisable. However, he added, ‘a very inferior sermon, delivered without book, answers the purposes for which all sermons are delivered more perfectly than one of great merit, if it be written and read.’82

  • 83 Ibid.

Eloquence, I repeat, is a gift; but most men, unless they have passed the age of learning, may with practice attain such fluency in expressing their thoughts as will enable them to convey and manifest to their audience that earnestness and devotion of their object, which is the lie of preaching,—which both covers, in the preacher’s own consciousness, the sense of his own deficiencies, and makes up for them over and over again in the judgment of his hearers.83

6 Mary as Pattern of Faith in the Reception and Study of Divine Truth

68Theological progress and development in Newman may be best illustrated in his growth from knowing very little about Mary as a youth to the critical period in his life in 1843 when he needed an anchor. That anchor was Mary in Scripture which he saw as the pattern of the theological activity in his mind and heart. How Newman grew in understanding the doctrines that develop about Mary, in my view, is absolutely essential to appreciating the intellectual and developmental character of his life, not only his university sermons. Newman’s Marian convictions demonstrated that the reception or non-reception of the Church’s teachings is a dynamic process. Careful study of the Divine Truth about Mary was as delicate as working with earthen vessels.

69Within six years of his final university sermon to the Oxford Faculty in 1843, Newman had not only made the most serious step in his life, but was re-ordained, resolved the form of priestly life that he would lead as a Roman Catholic, as an Oratorian, and published two discourses on Mary, which reveal his epistemology of faith. Newman’s discourses were not sermons. One may compare and contrast the twenty-one principles for a preaching style in a university and the sermons cited in this essay. ‘The Parting of Friends,’ and, ‘Intellect, the Instrument of Religious Training,’ may be studied along with two Discourses on Mary given in 1849. There is an intellectual and developmental character that demonstrates an inner consistency in his theological activity and his epistemology of faith. The two discourses, polemical and hortatory works, are not in opposition to the principles in his style of university preaching, but have a different tone.

  • 84 Newman, Discourses to Mixed Congregations (uniform edition, 1849), dedication.

70In 1843, Mary is the pattern of faith both in the reception and the study of divine Truth. In 1849, Mary is included in Newman’s first book as an Oratorian, dedicated to Bishop Wiseman, Discourses to Mixed Congregations, in his own words, polemical and hortatory. Newman wrote: ‘I cannot forget that when, in the year 1839, a doubt crossed my mind of the tenableness of the theological theory on which Anglicanism is based, it was caused in no slight degree by the perusal of a controversial paper attributed to your Lordship, on the schism of the Donatists.’84 That was a very strong statement and gives a sense of the eighteen discourses that deal with delicate matters such as: salvation, nature and grace, faith and private judgment, faith and doubt, the infinitude of divine attributes, and the two on Mary that follow.

  • 85 Mother of love, Cause of our joy, Seat of Wisdom.

71Discourse XVII is ‘The Glories of Mary for the Sake of her Son,’ and Discourse XVIII is ‘On the Fitness of the Glories of Mary.’ Newman’s thought on Mary in these two discourses preceded what he wrote about Mary in the sermon on the feast of St. Monica as Mater amabilis, Causa nostrae laetitiae, and Sedes Sapientiae.85 Mary’s compassion has penetrated

  • 86 ‘Intellect, the Instrument of Religious Learning,’ 5.

into every department of human learning and is able to confute and put right those who would set knowledge against itself, and would make truth contradict truth, and would persuade the world, that to be religious, you must be ignorant, and to be intellectual, you must be unbelieving.86

72In Discourse XVII, Newman began by affirming that nothing is superfluous, but everything forms a mighty whole. One may identify with the fact that he had just resolved all of his personal questions about this principle of totality vis-à-vis the Roman Church, especially dwelling on the idea of Jesus and Mary.

  • 87 Ibid., 342–343.

The great truths of Revelation are all connected together and form a whole. Everyone can see this in a measure even at a glance, but to understand the full consistency and harmony of Catholic teaching requires study and meditation. Hence, as philosophers of this world bury themselves in museums and laboratories, descend into mines, or wander among woods or on the seashore, so the inquirer into heavenly truths dwells in the cell and the oratory, pouring forth his heart in prayer, collecting his thoughts in meditation, dwelling on the idea of Jesus, or of Mary, or of grace, or of eternity, and pondering the words of holy men who have gone before him, till before his mental sight arises the hidden wisdom of the perfect, ‘which God predestined before the world unto our glory,’ and which He ‘reveals unto them by His Spirit’.87

  • 88 Ibid., 344.
  • 89 Ibid., 374.

73Newman used this foundation to argue that ‘the prerogatives with which the Church invests the Blessed Mother of God—the glories of Mary are for the sake of Jesus; and that we praise and bless her as the first of creatures, that we may duly confess Him as our sole Creator.’88 In Discourse XVIII, he repeated that Mary’s ‘glories are not only for the sake of her Son, they are for our sakes also. Let us copy her faith.’89 In contrast, he presented his view of Protestants in general except for a small number of Anglicans.

Protestants have seldom any real perception of the doctrine of God and man in one Person. They speak in a dreamy, shadowy way of Christ’s divinity; but, when their meaning is sifted, you will find them very slow to commit themselves to any statement sufficient to express the Catholic dogma. . ..Sometimes they even go on to deny that He was in heaven the Son of God, saying that He became the Son when He was conceived of the Holy Ghost; and they are shocked, and think it a mark both of reverence and good sense to be shocked, when they hear the Man spoken of simply and plainly as God. They cannot bear to have it said, except as a figure or mode of speaking, that God had a human body, or that God suffered; they think that the ‘Atonement,’ and ‘Sanctification through the Spirit,’ as they speak, is the sum and substance of the Gospel, and they are shy of any dogmatic expression which goes beyond them. Such, I believe, is the ordinary character of the Protestant notions among us as to the divinity of Christ, whether among members of the Anglican communion, or dissenters from it, excepting a small remnant of them.

74Newman built his polemical argument against this weak ‘Christology’ and turned to the Mother of God.

  • 90 Ibid., 348.

If Mary is the Mother of God, Christ must be literally Emmanuel, God with us. And hence it was, that, when time went on, and the bad spirits and false prophets grew stronger and bolder, and found a way into the Catholic body itself, then the Church, guided by God, could find no more effectual and sure way of expelling them than that of using this word Deipara against them; and, on the other hand, when they came up again from the realms of darkness, and plotted the utter overthrow of Christian faith in the sixteenth century, then they could find no more certain expedient for their hateful purpose than that of reviling and blaspheming the prerogatives of Mary, for they knew full well that, if they could once get the world to dishonour the Mother, the dishonour of the Son would follow close. The Church and Satan agreed together in this, that Son and Mother went together; and the experience of three centuries has confirmed their testimony, for Catholics who have honoured the Mother, still worship the Son, while Protestants, who now have ceased to confess the Son, began then by scoffing at the Mother.90

  • 91 Jan H. Walgrave, Newman the Theologian (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1960).

75This text is an evocative sample of Newman’s polemical style. Newman gave a stinging rebuke of Protestants who ceased to confess the Son and candidly pointed out his view of the origin, scoffing at the Mother. This raises many questions and cautions about how Newman might fit into the post-Vatican II ecumenical movement in the Roman Catholic Church. The dogmatic principle was fundamental to Newman.91 Clearly, after 1843, he did not minimize Mary.

  • 92 George H. Tavard, Two Centuries of Ecumenism (London: Burns and Oates; Notre Dame, IN.: Fides Publi (...)
  • 93 Newman, Letter to Phillips de Lisle. See E.C. Purcell, Life and Letters of Ambrose Phillips de Lisl (...)

76A fundamental question is how to reconcile the polemical style in the two discourses on Mary with contemporary ecumenical sensibilities. In George Tavard’s view, Newman’s intimate involvement with the work of the Tractarians was for the union of Churches rather than the union of hearts, or even doctrine. After his reception by Rome, ‘he was disturbed over the consequences such conversions have on the reunion of Churches’.92 In 1857, Newman wrote: ‘I think that it is for the interest of Catholicism that individuals should not join us, but should remain to leaven the mass. I mean that they will do more for us by remaining where they are than by coming over.’93

  • 94 Newman, Autobiographical Writings, in C. S. Dessain, John Henry Newman (London: Thomas Nelson, 1966 (...)

77In response to Tavard’s thoughtful intervention, I think a reply might help clarify the complexities being examined. At the heart of the matter, it seems that Newman’s contributions to the ninety Tracts for the Times published between 1833 and 1841 had such a strong doctrinal content that doctrinal unity must have been at least implicit in Newman’s intentions. By 1863, knowing the realities of pastoral care of converts, in his private Journal, Newman wrote: ‘the Church must be prepared for converts, as well as converts prepared for the Church,’94 which is consistent. In these two quotations, Newman may seem to break the consistency of his epistemology of faith, but he remained perfectly consistent in the delicate intellectual and developmental character of his epistemology of faith. I mean that Mary was the pattern of faith in the reception and the study of Divine Truth.

78Newman disclaimed that he was proving the doctrines associated with Mary, for ‘the evidence of them lies in the declaration of the Church.’ In 1849, the Immaculate Conception was not yet defined. He anticipated with a lengthy argument built on Mary’s prerogatives.

  • 95 Ibid., 356–358.

. . . Thus was she reared without hands, and gained a modest victory, and exerts a gentle sway, which she has not claimed. When dispute arose about her among her children, she hushed it; when objections were urged against her, she waived her claims and waited; till now, in this very day, should God so will, she will win at length her most radiant crown, and, without opposing voice, and amid the jubilation of the whole Church, she will be hailed as immaculate in her conception.95

79The closing prayer of this polemical work has a hortatory style.

  • 96 Ibid., 358–359.

Such are thou, Holy Mother, in the creed and in the worship of the Church, the defense of many truths, the grace and smiling light of every devotion. In thee, O Mary, is fulfilled, as we can bear it, an original purpose of the Most High. He once had meant to come on earth in heavenly glory, but we sinned; and then He could not safely visit us, except with a shrouded radiance and a bedimmed Majesty, for He was God. So He came Himself in weakness, not in power; and He sent thee, a creature, in His stead, with a creature’s comeliness and lustre suited to our state. And now thy very face and form, dear Mother, speak to us of the Eternal; not like earthly beauty, dangerous to look upon, but like the morning star, which is thy emblem, bright and musical, breathing purity, telling of heaven, and infusing peace. O harbinger of day! O hope of the pilgrim! lead us still as thou hast led; in the dark night, across the bleak wilderness, guide us on to our Lord Jesus, guide us home.96

80Discourse XVIII ‘On the Fitness of the Glories of Mary’ began with the account of the Risen Christ explaining the Divine purpose to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. It seems that Newman was more pastoral and less polemical than in the previous discourse.

  • 97 Ibid., 361.

. . . with a view of helping you to do so, I will first state what the Church has taught and defined from the first ages concerning the Blessed Virgin, and then you will see how naturally the devotion which her children show her, and the praises with which they honour her, follow from it.97

  • 98 Newman used the argument of fittingness, which, is the decuit of Bl. John Duns Scotus, in his famou (...)

81Newman argued the fittingness98 of the Assumption of Mary, which was not defined for another one hundred years until 1950.

Nature itself witnesses to this connexion between sanctity and truth. it anticipates that the fountain from which doctrine comes should itself be pure; that the seat of Divine teaching, and the oracle of faith should be the abode of angels; that the consecrated home, in which the word of God is elaborated, and whence it issues forth for the salvation of the many, should be holy, as that word itself is holy.

82Newman repeated the connection between sanctity and truth in the sermon on the feast of St. Monica, Intellect, the Instrument of Religious Training. Moreover he tackled directly the problem of the denial of miracles, a problem exacerbated at the time of the Enlightenment by a one sided reliance on scientific method.

  • 99 Discourse XVIII, 366–367.

Here you see the difference of the office of a prophet and a mere gift, such as that of miracles. Miracles are the simple and direct work of God; the worker of them is but an instrument or organ. And in consequence he need not be holy, because he has not, strictly speaking, a share in the work. So again the power of administering the Sacraments, which also is supernatural and miraculous, does not imply personal holiness; nor is there anything surprising in God’s giving to a bad man this gift, or the gift of miracles, any more than in His giving him any natural talent or gift, strength or agility of frame, eloquence, or medical skill.99

83Newman’s style was to repeat his fundamental intention throughout the discourse or sermon, a point he made in the Dublin Address on ‘University Preaching.’ Not only did he repeat in this final Discourse, but he tied the main themes together with a thread. Discourse I, in this volume was ‘The Salvation of the Hearer The Motive of the Preacher.’

  • 100 Ibid., 367.

it is otherwise with the office of preaching and prophesying, and to this I have been referring; for the truth first goes into the minds of the speakers, and is apprehended and fashioned there, and then comes out from them as, in one sense, its source and its parent. The Divine word is begotten in them, and the offspring has their features and tells of them. They are not like ‘the dumb animal, speaking with man’s voice,’ on which Balaam rode, a mere instrument of God’s word, but they have ‘received an unction from the Holy One, and they know all things,’ and ‘where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty’; and while they deliver what they have received, they enforce what they feel and know. ‘We have known and believed,’ says St. John, ‘the charity which God hath to us’.100

  • 101 There is connection with Bl. Scotus by this time, especially the ‘subtle doctor’s’ motive of the In (...)

84Finally, Newman repeated the central idea in his University Sermon fifteen from 1843. Mary is the pattern of faith in the reception and study of divine truth because she pondered all in her heart. By 1849, Newman’s Mariology has definite affinities to that of Bl. John Duns Scotus.101

  • 102 Discourse XVIII, 374–375.

If the Mother of Emmanuel ought to be the first of creatures in sanctity and in beauty; if it became her to be free from all sin from the very first, and from the moment she received her first grace to begin to merit more; and if such as was her beginning, such was her end, her conception immaculate and her death an assumption; if she died, but revived, and is exalted on high; what is befitting in the children of such a Mother, but an imitation, in their measure, of her devotion, her meekness, her simplicity, her modesty, and her sweetness? Her glories are not only for the sake of her Son, they are for our sakes also. Let us copy her faith, who received God’s message by the angel without a doubt; her patience, who endured St. Joseph’s surprise without a word; her obedience, who went up to Bethlehem in the winter and bore our Lord in a stable; her meditative spirit, who pondered in her heart what she saw and heard about Him; her fortitude, whose heart the sword went through; her self-surrender, who gave Him up during His ministry and consented to His death.102

85This is a powerful witness to the working of sanctifying grace in his life from 1843 to 1849, the deepening of Newman’s understanding of Mary in the Catholic tradition! His closing prayer to Discourse XVIII was a comprehensive personal witness.

  • 103 Ibid., 375–376.

Above all, let us imitate her purity, who, rather than relinquish her virginity, was willing to lose Him for a Son. O my dear children, young men and young women, what need have you of the intercession of the Virgin-mother, of her help, of her pattern, in this respect! What shall bring you forward in the narrow way, if you live in the world, but the thought and patronage of Mary? What shall seal your senses, what shall tranquillise your heart, when sights and sounds of danger are around you, but Mary? What shall give you patience and endurance, when you are wearied out with the length of the conflict with evil, with the unceasing necessity of precautions, with the irksomeness of observing them, with the tediousness of their repetition, with the strain upon your mind, with your forlorn and cheerless condition, but a loving communion with her! She will comfort you in your discouragements, solace you in your fatigues, raise you after your falls, reward you for your successes. She will show you her Son, your God and your all. When your spirit within you is excited, or relaxed, or depressed, when it loses its balance, when it is restless and wayward, when it is sick of what it has, and hankers after what it has not, when your eye is solicited with evil and your mortal frame trembles under the shadow of the tempter, what will bring you to yourselves, to peace and to health, but the cool breath of the Immaculate and the fragrance of the Rose of Sharon? it is the boast of the Catholic Religion, that it has the gift of making the young heart chaste; and why is this, but that it gives us Jesus Christ for our food, and Mary for our nursing Mother? Fulfil this boast in yourselves; prove to the world that you are following no false teaching, vindicate the glory of your Mother Mary, whom the world blasphemes, in the very face of the world, by the simplicity of your own deportment, and the sanctity of your words and deeds. Go to her for the royal heart of innocence. She is the beautiful gift of God, which outshines the fascinations of a bad world, and which no one ever sought in sincerity and was disappointed. She is the personal type and representative image of that spiritual life and renovation in grace, ‘without which no one shall see God’. ‘Her spirit is sweeter than honey, and her heritage than the honeycomb. They that eat her shall yet be hungry, and they that drink her shall still thirst. Who so hearkeneth to her shall not be confounded, and they that work by her shall not sin.’103

7 Recapitulation of Newman’s University Preaching Style

86I have focused my study on the theological activity in several of Newman’s sermons to demonstrate a personal university preaching style imbued with humble contemplation of God. Newman was deeply intent on discovering the truth which cannot contradict itself. His university preaching style demonstrates the unfolding of his epistemology of faith. His fifteenth University Sermon, ‘The Theory of Developments in Religious Doctrine,’ preached in 1843, was a vintage sermon about the relationship of faith and reason, a topic that is as charged today as it was in his day.

87No one can read ‘The Parting of Friends,’ given that same year, without sensing the transparency of Newman’s personal struggle. Through humble prayer and contemplation of God along with intense intellectual and logical self scrutiny, he gradually clarified what was true from the false in his life’s experiences. The Essay on the Development of Doctrine was hardly pious accommodation.

88Twelve years later, his sermon ‘Intellect, the Instrument of Religious Training,’ gave an equally gripping account of the love and devotion of a mother for her wayward son. It was a convincing demonstration of the enlargement of mind, enhancement of the intellect and habits of study. These are not enough for Newman without the desire for and growth in habits of virtue and habits of right judgment. Ever so subtle, he cautioned against a narrow supervision by ecclesiastical authority, and urged the intellectual layman to be religious and the devout ecclesiastic to be intellectual.

  • 104 I have heard that articulated many times, especially in secular universities.
  • 105 Newman’s contributions to this topic reflect perennial wisdom. His insights are worthy grist for th (...)

89This balance is needed in contemporary thinking about the role of universities and training in virtue. The difficulty, as I see it, is that many educators have the view that training in virtue is not the province of educators.104 While the teacher is not the parent or chaplain, it seems to be the opposite extreme to hold that the topic of virtue, direct or indirect, is inappropriate in a classroom or on campus. In practice a libertarian spirit becomes confused with academic freedom. The principles in Newman’s sermons, if used as he intended, can help all concerned to find a balance.105

90His address in Ireland in 1855, ‘University Preaching,’ gave ample principles for preachers and listeners to understand his intentions and style. His discourses and essays elaborate his thought about the problems of his day. Upon being named a Cardinal by Pope Leo XIII in 1879, he gave a ‘Biglietto Speech’ of acceptance, a summary of his life’s work.

  • 106 William P. Neville, ed. ‘Biglietto Speech’ Addresses to Cardinal Newman and His Replies etc. 1879–1 (...)

In a long course of years I have made many mistakes. I have nothing of that high perfection which belongs to the writings of Saints, viz., that error cannot be found in them; but what I trust that I may claim all through what I have written, is this,—an honest intention, an absence of private ends, a temper of obedience, a willingness to be corrected, a dread of error, a desire to serve Holy Church, and, through Divine mercy, a fair measure of success. And, I rejoice to say, to one great mischief I have from the first opposed myself. For thirty, forty, fifty years I have resisted to the best of my powers the spirit of liberalism in religion.106

91Newman’s motive was to counter the lack of balance between training in intellect and virtue, a major theme in the excerpts taken from the sermons chosen for this essay.

  • 107 Ibid., 64–65.

Never did Holy Church need champions against it more sorely than now, when, alas! it is an error overspreading, as a snare, the whole earth; and on this great occasion, when it is natural for one who is in my place to look out upon the world, and upon Holy Church as in it, and upon her future, it will not, I hope, be considered out of place, if I renew the protest against it which I have made so often.107

92The correct understanding of his definition of liberalism in religion is critical. it fits perfectly with his life devoted to a liberal education.

  • 108 Ibid., 65.

Liberalism in religion is the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but that one creed is as good as another, and this is the teaching which is gaining substance and force daily. it is inconsistent with any recognition of any religion, as true. it teaches that all are to be tolerated, for all are matters of opinion. Revealed religion is not a truth, but a sentiment and a taste; not an objective fact, not miraculous; and it is the right of each individual to make it say just what strikes his fancy. Devotion is not necessarily founded on faith.108

93I leave it to the reader to make the conjecture or difficult judgment how ecumenically minded Cardinal Newman might have been in 1879 at the age of 78. The joy and beauty of reading Newman for me is to try to recreate the historical circumstances. The more I read him, the more cautious I become about abusing his ideas or a loose reconstruction for polemical purposes. Rather I desire to offer a corrective where possible towards those who consider themselves more traditional or those more progressive and read him accordingly. Let Newman’s real position and message about university preaching speak for itself!

  • 109 Ibid.

Men may go to Protestant Churches and to Catholic, may get good from both and belong to neither. They may fraternise together in spiritual thoughts and feelings, without having any views at all of doctrine in common, or seeing the need of them. Since, then, religion is so personal a peculiarity and so private a possession, we must of necessity ignore it in the intercourse of man with man. If a man puts on a new religion every morning, what is that to you? it is as impertinent to think about a man’s religion as about his sources of income or his management of his family. Religion is in no sense the bond of society.109


  • 110 Discourses, 2–4 and 8–9. They deal with theology as a branch of knowledge, the bearing of theology (...)
  • 111 Christ died for all. God gives all who are justified, sufficient grace to be saved, but, because of (...)

94One genial way of summarizing this view about the elements and style of Newman’s university preaching is to keep in mind that he was aiming to cultivate a ‘theology of the heart’ in his listeners. The foundation for a theology of the heart is in his Idea of a University concerning the study of theology.110 Theology is necessary, not as another important course in the curriculum of arts and sciences, but the course that serves to integrate the others by sound ‘theologizing,’ that is, using faith and reason supported by humble prayer and the gift of understanding. Helping his listeners to learn sound ‘theologizing,’ in the context of prayer and devotion was absolutely central to discovering the essence of Newman’s university preaching style and its distinctive intellectual and developmental character. In a word, Newman knew that academic theology, if pursued apart from prayer and devotion, will miss the mark. His polemical and hortatory style, as seen in the two Discourses on Mary given in 1849, was inseparable from his university preaching style, because it was rooted in teaching the full revelation of God as the God of love and the universality and sovereign freedom of God’s salvific will111 in Christ and through the Mother of God.

  • 112 See Peter Fehlner, F.I., Mariologia Franciscana II (New Bedford, MA.: Academy of the Immaculate, 20 (...)
  • 113 I am indebted to Peter Fehlner, who commented privately on Progressive Illumination with this gener (...)

95While Newman recognized that he was not a scholastic metaphysician, behind his biblical theology, his conviction of Scripture as the soul of his theology, one perceives something ‘beyond nature,’ a subtle metaphysical orientation. That is his real position which raises a critical question for further research. ‘Can any theory of evangelization, apologetics, or inculturation take precedence over the absolute character of “metaphysical truth?”’112 Newman’s answer, it seems, can be excerpted out of two of his major works, the Essay on the Development of Doctrine and the Grammar of Assent. Together they offer a theory useful for interpreting his Apologia Pro Vita Sua, a ‘progressive illumination’ in his life, spirituality and university preaching. This light is at once ‘natural and supernatural, personal and communal, institutional and charismatic, in particular, dependent on the mediation of Jesus and Mary and the role of the Holy Spirit.’113 These elements in his style of university preaching as a whole, contribute convincingly to the inner consistency or theory of the intellectual and developmental character of his epistemology of faith.

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Dessain, C. S. John Henry Newman. London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, LTD., 1966.

Fehlner, Peter. ‘Redemption, Metaphysics, and the Immaculate Conception,’ Mary at the Foot of the Cross V. New Bedford, MA.: Academy of the Immaculate, 2004, 186–262.

Fehlner, Peter. Mariologia Franciscana II (New Bedford, MA.: Academy of the Immaculate, 2004, second in a series.

Lash, Nicholas. Newman and Development. Shepherdstown, VA., 1975.

Newman, John Henry. London: Longmans Green and Co., uniform edition, 1900–10.

Newman, John Henry. Fifteen Sermons preached Before the University of Oxford, 1826–1843. London: SPCK, 1970.

Newman, John Henry. Essay on the Development of Doctrine, 1845.

Newman, John Henry. Discourses to Mixed Congregations, 1849.

Newman, John Henry. The Idea of a University, 1858, ed. Ian T. Ker. Oxford, 1976.

Newman, John Henry. University Preaching, 1855.

Newman, John Henry. Sermons Bearing on Subjects of the Day, 1869.

Newman, John Henry. Sermons Preached on Various Occasions, 1857.

Newman, John Henry. Apologia Pro Vita Sua, 1863.

Newman, John Henry. An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, 1870.

Newman, John Henry. Biglietto Speech W. P. Neville, ed. Addresses to Cardinal Newman and His Replies 1879–1881. London: 1905, 61–70.

Ondrako, Edward. Freedom within the Church: The Controversy between William Ewart Gladstone and John Henry Newman in 1874–1875 and its shadows and images over Vatican II. Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms International, 1994.

Ondrako, Edward. Progressive Illumination A Journey with John Henry Cardinal Newman. Binghamton, N.Y.: Global Academic Publishing, 2006.

Purcell, E. C. Life and letters of Ambrose Phillips de Lisle. London: Macmillan, 1900, vol. 1.

Scotus, John Duns. Ordinatio, Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard.

Strange, Roderick. Newman and the Gospel of Christ. Oxford: University Press, 1981.

Tavard, George H. Two Centuries of Ecumenism. London: Burns and Oates, 1960.

Weatherby, Harold. The Keen Delight. Athens, GA.: University of Georgia Press, 1974.

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1 Newman, ‘University Preaching,’ in Ian T. Ker, ed. The Idea of a University (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976), 340.

2 Harold Weatherby, The Keen Delight (Athens, GA.: Georgia University Press, 1974).

3 Nicholas Lash, Newman on Development (Shepherdstown, VA.: 1975).

4 John Henry Newman, The Idea of a University (London: Longmans, Green and Co., uniform edition, 1900).

5 Edward J. Ondrako, Progressive Illumination (Binghamton, N.Y.: Global Academic Publishing, 2006).

6 I often hear post modernity described, perhaps unfairly, in university lectures as ‘an anything goes mentality.’ The twenty-first century has to deal with a-theism, a-religiosity, secularism and relativism. Newman dealt with God’s relation to persons of faith.

7 John Henry Newman, Sermons Preached on Various Occasions (London: uniform edition), v. This was called advertisement.

8 Joseph Blanco White was a clergyman of Spanish stock, whom Provost Copleston had made a member of the Oriel Common Room. He was a friend of Newman from 1822 but later became an atheist according to Adrian J. Boekraad.

9 Ibid., Sermons Preached on Various Occasions, Advertisement, v.

10 Ibid.

11 Newman, Apologia Pro Vita Sua, uniform edition, 267–268.

12 Ibid., 267.

13 Sermons Preached on Various Occasions, v.

14 Ibid., v, vi.

15 Ibid.

16 Ibid., vi.

17 Ibid.

18 Newman, Fifteen Sermons Preached Before the University of Oxford, 1826–1843 (London: SPCK, 1970), 312–351.

19 Ibid., 312.

20 Ibid., 313.

21 Ibid., 348.

22 Ibid., 348–49.

23 Ibid. 349.

24 Ibid., 349–50.

25 Ibid., 350–351.

26 Ibid., 351.

27 Ibid.

28 Exodus 3: 13.

29 Newman, Apologia Pro Vita Sua (London: uniform edition), 14. He will come back to the problem of liberalism in religion when he gave his Biglietto speech on becoming a Cardinal in 1879.

30 Newman, University Sermon 15, 351.

31 Newman, ‘The Parting of Friends,’ Sermons Bearing on Subjects of the Day (1902), 395–409, September 1843.

32 Ibid., 396. Peter Fehlner has a concise explanation of the meaning of typological thinking, as a name for exemplarism at the theological level. He summarized typological reflection as ‘that rooted in the ability to compare and contrast figure and truth, adumbration and reality, exemplified and exemplar, type and anti-type so as to enter directly into the understanding of the mystery of salvation or recapitulation of all things in Christ.’ See Peter Fehlner, ‘Redemption, Metaphysics, and the Immaculate Conception,’ Mary at the Foot of the Cross V (New Bedford, MA.: Academy of the Immaculate, 2005), 212.

33 Ibid., 399.

34 Ibid., 400–405.

35 Ibid., 408.

36 Ibid., 409

37 Ibid.

38 Newman, ‘Intellect, the Instrument of Religious Training,’ Sermons Preached on Various Occasions, 1–14, here 13. This was one of eight sermons preached before the Catholic University of Ireland in 1856, 1857.

39 Edward J. Ondrako, Freedom within the Church: The Controversy between William Ewart Gladstone and John Henry Newman in 1874–1875 and its shadows and images over Vatican II (Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms International, 1994). The first part of my doctoral dissertation explores the idea of Newman being the absent father at Vatican II with a historical analysis of the lively exchange in correspondence with Gladstone. The second half is more of a speculative argument that compares their controversy with the spirit of Lumen Gentium (on the Church), Gaudium et Spes (on the Church and World), and Dignitatis Humanae (on Religious Freedom).

40 In charity I respect the intentions and competing views of those who seek the truth. Whatever point of view one may take, my conviction remains: The truth wins because it is truth with gentleness and power (Dignitatis Humanae,1).

41 Frank Rhodes, President emeritus of Cornell University and Provost-Emeritus William T. deBary of Columbia University told me empathically that Newman’s Idea of a University inspired their teaching and leadership careers and would like to see new studies done of his works and the retrieval of the principles he taught.

42 Newman, ‘Intellect,’ 1–2.

43 Ibid., 2.

44 Ibid., 3.

45 Karl Rahner interpreted Vatican II as holding such optimism. Understanding justice and the trials of the angels and mankind is a very delicate question. I look to the writings of Bl. John Duns Scotus and find some parallels in Newman’s thought in this sermon with his. For example, whether the fallen angels have an opportunity to be saved, Scotus answered, no. In that sense, the angels had it much tougher than we do.

46 Ibid., 3–4.

47 Newman may not refer to Mary as the metaphysician of metaphysicians, but he treated her as such in the paragraph that follows.

48 Ibid., 4–5. Mother of love. Cause of our joy. Seat of Wisdom.

49 Ibid., 7–8.

50 Ibid., 8.

51 In this section, about moral behavior Newman, it seems to me, has a different view than the distinguished Bernard Lonergan’s view of human knowledge as the pure unrestricted desire to know. Lonergan, as a young Jesuit student read Newman’s Grammar of Assent five times and found it a breath of fresh air from his scholastic studies in the particular form prior to Vatican II. Newman was not trained in scholasticism as Lonergan, but the latter’s view of human knowledge departs from classic metaphysics. That is the reason for my open question about how Lonergan’s thought might fit this sermon.

52 Ibid., 10–11.

53 It seems that here is an instance where Newman described implicitly that he is anti-Kant personally, but respected Kant’s contributions.

54 Ibid., 12.

55 Ibid.

56 Ibid., 13. This argument shows Newman’s view of university life in a marvelous summary. There is no question that he has meditated long and hard on the mutuality of moral and intellectual formation. University Boards of Governors and faculties of religious would find this as engaging as directional.

57 Ibid., 14.

58 Martin Svaglic commented that the ‘term was usually spoken in jest as an active and hearty oversimplified and rather unintellectual version of Christianity.’ See his editor’s notes to his edition of the Apologia pro Vita Sua (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1966), 584.

59 ‘Masculine religion,’ might be seen in light of a possible theological typology behind it. I do not want to read into it because classic theological typology teaches the logic of Sacred Scripture, i.e. not reading into Scripture. The literal sense of Scripture is oriented to the spiritual, because it is only in the spiritual that we discover the meaning of the literal as type or impress of the reality to come. Type is contrasted by anti-type, which does not mean the contradictory of the type but the reality prefigured by the type. See Peter Fehlner’s thought on theological typology as in fn. 26.

60 Newman, The Idea of a University (uniform edition), Preface, ix.

61 Charles. S. Dessain, John Henry Newman (London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, LTD., 1966), 117.

62 Ibid., Idea of a University.

63 Newman, ‘University Preaching,’ in Ian T. Ker, ed. The Idea of a University (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976), 328–333.

64 Ibid., 334.

65 Ibid., 334–335.

66 Some of my seminarian students at a large Catholic University today did not appreciate what Newman intended.

67 Ibid., 336.

68 Ibid., 337.

69 Ibid., 338.

70 Ibid., 339.

71 Ibid.

72 Ibid., 340.

73 Ibid.

74 Ibid., 341.

75 Ibid., 342.

76 Ibid., 343.

77 Ibid., 343–344.

78 Ibid.

79 Ibid., 344.

80 Ibid.

81 Ibid. See Newman’s fifth University Sermon, ‘Personal Influence, the Means of Propagating the Truth,’ delivered January 22, 1832, for his seminal thought that has taken deep root by 1855.

82 Ibid., 345.

83 Ibid.

84 Newman, Discourses to Mixed Congregations (uniform edition, 1849), dedication.

85 Mother of love, Cause of our joy, Seat of Wisdom.

86 ‘Intellect, the Instrument of Religious Learning,’ 5.

87 Ibid., 342–343.

88 Ibid., 344.

89 Ibid., 374.

90 Ibid., 348.

91 Jan H. Walgrave, Newman the Theologian (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1960).

92 George H. Tavard, Two Centuries of Ecumenism (London: Burns and Oates; Notre Dame, IN.: Fides Publishers Association, 1960), 43–44. This early work deserves a close look for anyone studying the history of the ecumenical movement not only for Roman Catholics but, especially for Anglo-Catholics, Anglicans and Protestants. Tavard’s interpretation of Newman here is the subject for a further essay.

93 Newman, Letter to Phillips de Lisle. See E.C. Purcell, Life and Letters of Ambrose Phillips de Lisle (London: Macmillan, 1900), vol. 1, 368.

94 Newman, Autobiographical Writings, in C. S. Dessain, John Henry Newman (London: Thomas Nelson, 1966), 161.

95 Ibid., 356–358.

96 Ibid., 358–359.

97 Ibid., 361.

98 Newman used the argument of fittingness, which, is the decuit of Bl. John Duns Scotus, in his famous axiom, potuit, decuit, ergo fecit. It is possible. It is fitting, therefore it is. In 1849, he was familiar with Scotus’ view of the motive of the Incarnation. He was indebted to Frederick William Faber for help with understanding Scotus. As to how much or how well Newman may have known Scotus’ argument for the absolute primacy of Christ, I do not wish to reconstruct without further research. An argument could be advanced from the convergence of probabilities that there are circumstances that point towards Newman’s having read something of or listened to the views of Faber who was then close to him as a fellow Oratorian. See Roderick Strange, Newman and the Gospel of Christ (Oxford: University Press, 1981), 110–115.

99 Discourse XVIII, 366–367.

100 Ibid., 367.

101 There is connection with Bl. Scotus by this time, especially the ‘subtle doctor’s’ motive of the Incarnation as prior to any sin.

102 Discourse XVIII, 374–375.

103 Ibid., 375–376.

104 I have heard that articulated many times, especially in secular universities.

105 Newman’s contributions to this topic reflect perennial wisdom. His insights are worthy grist for the mill, so to speak, of study days for faculties and students.

106 William P. Neville, ed. ‘Biglietto Speech’ Addresses to Cardinal Newman and His Replies etc. 1879–1881 (London: uniform edition, 1905), 63–65.

107 Ibid., 64–65.

108 Ibid., 65.

109 Ibid.

110 Discourses, 2–4 and 8–9. They deal with theology as a branch of knowledge, the bearing of theology on other knowledge, and other knowledge on theology, knowledge as a religious duty, and the duties of the Church towards knowledge.

111 Christ died for all. God gives all who are justified, sufficient grace to be saved, but, because of the gift of free will, the possibility of willfully rejecting God remains.

112 See Peter Fehlner, F.I., Mariologia Franciscana II (New Bedford, MA.: Academy of the Immaculate, 2004), 12–30. Fehlner, a Franciscan metaphysician and systematic theologian, cautions against recycling or re-reading any great writer such as Newman as conditioned by cultural circumstances no longer existent in terms of a current and diverse cultural ambient.

113 I am indebted to Peter Fehlner, who commented privately on Progressive Illumination with this generous and comprehensive view. Progressive Illumination: A Journey with John Henry Cardinal Newman (Binghamton, N.Y.: Global Academic Publishing, 2006).

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Edward Ondrako, « The Intellectual and Developmental Character of Cardinal Newman’s University Preaching Style »Cahiers victoriens et édouardiens [En ligne], 70 automne | 2009, mis en ligne le 12 décembre 2018, consulté le 21 juin 2021. URL : ; DOI :

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Edward Ondrako

Franciscan International Study Centre, Canterbury, England
Rev. Dr. Edward J. ONDRAKO, OFM Conventual, is currently scholar in residence at the Franciscan International Study Centre, Canterbury, England. He has served as Newman Chaplain and taught at several universities, in America, Canada, and England. His doctoral dissertation examines the concepts of authority and conscience in the Gladstone-Newman exchange in 1874, and speculates how the subtleties of that exchange cast a helpful shadow over the reforming spirit of Vatican II. He publishes and lectures extensively on Newman. His latest book is: Progressive Illumination: A Journey with John Henry Cardinal Newman from 1980 to 2005, published by Global Academic Publishing at Binghamton University.

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