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Henri Bremond: Preaching Newman the Preacher

C. J. T. Talar

Résumé

In his psychological biography of Newman, initially published in 1906, Henri Bremond (1865–1933) devoted one part of the work explicitly to ‘The Writer and the Preacher’. However, Newman the preacher in a real sense pervades the whole of the book inasmuch as the sermons furnished Bremond clues to deciphering the man who preached them. As revelatory of Newman’s ‘inner life,’ the sermons excerpted in the biography and selected for integral inclusion in the volume of sermons in French translation published by Bremond as Newman. La vie chrétienne (1906) reveal Newman as an existential thinker—in which Bremond finds a way of reconciling a tension he discerns in Newman between religious experience and external authority that surfaces in Newman’s writings.

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Texte intégral

  • 1 John Henry Newman, ‘The Salvation of the Hearer the Motive of the Preacher’, in Discourses Addresse (...)

What is so powerful an incentive to preaching as the sure belief that it is the preaching of the truth?1

  • 2 On Henri Bremond (1865–1933) see André Blanchet, Vie de Bremond 1865–1904, Paris, Aubier, 1967, whi (...)
  • 3 A list of the sermons Bremond chose, in their thematic groupings, may be found in the Appendix.
  • 4 ‘The book was immediately successful. Four editions of it were published within a year and it becam (...)
  • 5 Henri Bremond, ‘Apologie pour les newmanistes français’, Revue pratique d’apologétique, no 3, 1906– (...)
  • 6 The bulk of the chapter reprints an earlier essay by Bremond, ‘Les sermons de Newman’ (Études, no 7 (...)

1Henri Bremond’s2 La vie chrétienne (1906) came third in a trilogy of Newman texts, worked up for the series, ‘La Pensée chrétienne’. In a departure from the predecessor volumes, outfitted with introductions and containing interspersed commentary, Bremond’s hand rests lightly on this one. He restricts his contribution to a brief, three page foreword. The remainder of the volume is made up of integral translations of twenty eight sermons, all drawn from the eight volumes of the Parochial and Plain Sermons.3 The most probable explanation for the variation in working method that characterized Le développement du dogme chrétien (1904; 2nd ed. 1906) and Psychologie de la foi (1905) may be sought in the publication of another volume that appeared in the same year as La vie chrétienne. In 1906 Bremond also brought out his Newman. Essai de biographie psychologique.4 He subsequently noted that the biography’s epilogue constituted a ‘quick summary’ of the Psychologie.5 It is no great stretch to see as well in the Essai the commentary that is lacking in La vie chrétienne, especially when one notices that the Third Part of the biography is devoted to ‘The Writer and the Preacher’.6 Moreover, a careful reading of the Essai as a whole will discern the importance accorded to these sermons in the portrait of Newman it presents. Accordingly, in what follows, the biography will be freely drawn upon in examining Bremond’s understanding of Newman the preacher, and the role that played in his appreciation of Newman the man.

  • 7 For further particulars on French translations of Newman’s works, see Sister Mary Benoit Holahan, N (...)
  • 8 At that time Sarolea was head of the French department at the University of Edinburgh. See his Card (...)

2La vie chrétienne and its companion volumes were intended to further French acquaintance with Newman, out of a conviction that aspects of his work had a bearing on problems that were exercising French Catholicism of the day. As part of an earlier wave of Newman translations over the years 1847–1866 sermons had figured in Discours sur la théorie de la croyance religieuse (1850)—a selection of six Oxford University Sermons centering on those mainly to do with reason and faith. A decade later there appeared Sermons prêchés en diverses circonstances par le P. Newman. Part of the renewed interest in Newman that surfaced in France toward the fin de siècle is evident in further editions of his sermons in translation. La vie chrétienne joined La foi et la raison, six discours empruntés aux discours universitaires d’Oxford (1905) and Le chrétien—choix de discours extraits des sermons de Newman (1906)7. Judging by Charles Sarolea’s observation, made in 1908, that, ‘In France the influence of Newman is today perhaps even wider and deeper than it is in Great Britain’, the collective effects of translations, biographies, and studies of Newman were not without success.8 Bremond’s various writings on Newman played an important role in extending that influence. But before proceeding to those under consideration, a brief look at Newman’s own notion of successful preaching in a university setting, and at his Parochial and Plain Sermons in light of that, may be useful.

  • 9 John Henry Newman, The Idea of a University, London, Longmans, Green, and Co., 1891, p. 408; cf. p. (...)
  • 10 Vincent Ferrer Blehl, The White Stone: The Spiritual Theology of John Henry Newman, Petersham, MA, (...)
  • 11 Ian Ker, Newman on Being a Christian, Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame Press, 1990, p. 119.
  • 12 Ian Ker, The Achievement of John Henry Newman, op. cit., 1990, p. 95.
  • 13 ‘Sermon on the intercourse between Parish Priest and his charge’ (22 March 1829) in Placid Murray e (...)
  • 14 Lawrence F. Barmann, Newman at St. Mary’s, Westminster, MD, The Newman Press, 1962, p. xiv.

3In ‘University Preaching’ Newman acknowledged that ‘[t]alent, logic, learning, words, manner, voice, action’ were all requisite ‘for the perfection of a preacher.’ However, all these are in service of what he considers to be the fundamental aim of preaching and the basic virtue of the preacher: ‘to be the minister of some definite spiritual good to those who hear him’.9 Or, one must add, to those who read him. It has justly been said that Newman realized this ideal in his own preaching: ‘Of the various means of renewing the spiritual life of the Church, it was widely admitted that the most effective were Newman’s preaching and the publication of his Parochial Sermons’.10 Part of that effectiveness may be attributed to the way in which that ideal was realized. If, with Ian Ker, ‘the dominant theme of the eight volumes of Parochial and Plain Sermons’ can be summed up in ‘the call to holiness’,11 of considerable importance for its effect was the ‘psychological intensity and subtlety’ with which that call was tendered.12 Newman experienced the challenge of overcoming the inherent limitations of the sermon—’too short in exposition to embrace the particularities of doctrine, and necessarily too general in exhortation to apply to the varieties of character and circumstances of those to whom they are spoken’.13 And did so by taking account of the varieties of personalities and different stages of spiritual development in putting forth ‘exhortative blueprints for living the Christian life’.14 The element of specificity characteristic of Newman’s preaching will be noted and explored by Bremond. The ‘psychological intensity and subtlety’ which Newman applied to understanding the Christian character will find its analog in Bremond’s patient investigation of Newman’s own character. For Bremond,

  • 15 Henri Bremond, Newman. Essai de biographie psychologique, (referred to as Essai in the notes), Pari (...)

a man, be he writer or preacher, delivers himself always into the hands of any who endeavour to penetrate his inner life. No one can compose, on such subjects, a long-winded work, or preach a series of sermons, without letting slip, here and there, between the lines, in spite of himself, a little of his personal history. A particular way of dwelling on certain points, of returning to certain subjects, of avoiding or forgetting certain considerations, is equivalent to personal confidences.15

  • 16 Collections of early articles were published as Henri Bremond, L’Inquiétude religieuse. 1st ser. (P (...)
  • 17 Sister Mary Benoit Holahan, op. cit., p. 37.
  • 18 Sister Mary Benoit Holahan, op. cit., p. 41.

4This Essai in psychological biography reflects Bremond’s own talents and interests, evident in his earlier writings.16 But it is also reflective of a more general orientation in French biography, notable for attaching ‘much less importance to the chronological date of a conventional biography than to philosophical or psychological study of their subject’.17 Bremond’s effort had its predecessors in Georges Grappe’s Newman, Essai de psychologie religieuse (1902)—on whose approach Bremond wrote approvingly—and in Raoul Goût’s Du Protestantisme au Catholicisme: John Henry Newman (1904). In Holahan’s estimation, Bremond’s Essai constitutes ‘the most effective and characteristically French treatment of Newman biography’.18

5Bremond’s own perception of his work dwelt less upon genre, rather locating it within a methodological trajectory that included Newman. In the preface to the first volume of his monumental Histoire littéraire du sentiment religieux en France, he wrote:

  • 19 Henri Bremond, Histoire littéraire du sentiment religieux en France, vol. I, L’Humanisme dévot, [19 (...)

Newman in England and Sainte-Beuve in France have brought into vogue another method, moral and religious rather than merely literary. . ..Their main object is to penetrate into a soul’s Holy of Holies—that of an Augustine, for example, or a Saint-Cyran—and the particular nuances of its secret. What such historians would above all know of their Christian poets, preachers, or devotional writers, is the truth of their inner lives, their methods of prayer, their personal individual experience of the realities of which they speak.19

  • 20 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. v; Mystery, p. vii.
  • 21 See note 13, supra.
  • 22 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. v; Mystery, p. vii.
  • 23 ‘Newman’s sermons often shed light on his own interior life because he not only practiced what he p (...)

6It was precisely Bremond’s avowed intention in the Essai to ‘describe the inner life of Newman’.20 His general comments regarding the writer or preacher, quoted earlier,21 are specified with respect to Newman: ‘Although, as a matter of fact, the personal pronoun is relatively but little used in the books of Newman—preacher, novelist, controversialist, philosopher, and poet—he is always disclosing himself and telling his own story’.22 Thus it is not only to a more formally autobiographical text such as the Apologia that Bremond looks to sound Newman’s inner depths. The sermons furnish him with important clues in deciphering the man who preached them.23

  • 24 See Henri Bremond, ‘La logique du cœur. M. Brunetière et “l’irrationnel” de la foi’ in Henri Bremon (...)
  • 25 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 169; Mystery, p. 161.
  • 26 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 166–68; Mystery, p. 157–61. This sermon was published in vol. IV of Paroch (...)
  • 27 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 169; Mystery, p. 161.

7First, then, the sermons themselves—as reflective of Newman’s mode of thinking, his way of developing ideas, of putting across the truth. Bremond admits that, if measured by the conventional standards defining French pulpit oratory, Newman would cut a poor figure in comparison to a Bossuet or a Bourdaloue. However, he is able to turn Newman’s differences from this tradition to the Englishman’s advantage. In contrast to the broad vision, developed by divisions and stages, characteristic of the French, Newman’s preaching is marked by its particularity, its specificity. A point raised by Bossuet, briefly examined, then left behind in favor of further developments, becomes the subject of an entire sermon with Newman. Far from impoverishing or diminishing his preaching, it enables him to show in detail the richness of his material. Ideas are put forth not simply for their accuracy, but for their impact. Though Bremond does not explicitly say so here, what is lurking beneath his exposition of Newman’s preaching is the distinction between notional and real assent—a distinction of longstanding significance for Bremond.24 In this section of the Essai, however, he chose to adopt language Newman used in the Parochial Sermons, describing Newman’s aim as one of getting his audience ‘to realise ideas’.25 Bremond goes on to show how Newman tries to accomplish this by quoting, with interspersed commentary, extracts from ‘The Individuality of the Soul’.26 Such ‘realization’ is admittedly not unique to Newman. ‘But his special characteristic is to have decided on a method which holds him constantly to the necessity of looking at nothing in the abstract’.27

  • 28 In Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 173–74; Mystery, p. 166–68. In effect, Bremond did reproduce the sermon (...)
  • 29 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 171 and p. 172–73n.; Mystery, p. 164 and p. 165n. Bremond is quoting ‘The (...)

8Bremond rounds off this treatment of Newman’s manner of preaching by raising another point of difference from French oratorical style. In comparison with his French counterparts, the emotional tenor of Newman’s sermons is rather austere. Yet Bremond is careful to emphasize that it is not a case of refraining from all appeal to sentiment, but a different way of conveying such appeal. Newman’s style is more restrained, the appeal less overt, the effects achieved more gently, but for all of that, perhaps more deeply. To illustrate, a long passage from ‘The Ventures of Faith’ must suffice, since Bremond cannot indulge his desire to reproduce the entire sermon.28 It is important not to lose sight of what is at stake here. After all, this is not an exercise in explicating sermonic technique but in understanding the biographical subject. To allow that Newman’s notion of religion ‘was not compatible with too impassioned an eloquence’, did not mean that it was lacking in sentiment, and thus subject to the criticism Newman himself made of religion ‘of a dry and cold character, with little heart or insight into the next world’.29

9The examination of Newman’s approach to preaching contributes to grounding the guiding intention of the Essai. The very qualities that may well serve to diminish Newman, the preacher in an English university setting, in the eyes of those schooled in a different tradition of pulpit oratory, enhances his value in the perspective of a biographer seeking access to his inner life. It is now possible to examine the content of some of the sermons that make up La vie chrétienne, and which figure in the Essai, in order to see their contribution to aspects of ‘Bremond’s Newman’.

  • 30 Sister Mary Benoit Holahan, op. cit., p. 41.
  • 31 In his review of the Essai Ernest Dimnet wrote that a reader ‘will likely find that the severity of (...)
  • 32 Newman to Samuel Wilberforce, 10 march 1835, quoted in Vincent Ferrer Blehl, The White Stone, op. c (...)
  • 33 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 204; Mystery, p. 197.
  • 34 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 215; Mystery, p. 210.
  • 35 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 216; Mystery, p. 211.
  • 36 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 217; Mystery, p. 211.

10The ‘severity’ of the Anglican sermons, remarked upon by a number of commentators, may serve as a transition from style to content. Bremond who, in Holahan’s view, ‘seems to delight in reacting differently from every other biographer’,30 here falls in line—to the point where, if anything, the severity could appear overstressed.31 Nonetheless, the sternness and demanding character of these sermons is certainly there—and there by conscious design—as Newman himself affirmed. In reply to Samuel Wilberforce’s criticism of the first volume of Parochial Sermons as, on the whole, conducive to ‘fear’ and ‘depression’, Newman granted that their tone was intentional: ‘We require the “Law’s stern fires”’.32 Bremond labored long under the impression that the Anglican period of Newman’s work was darkened by a ‘puritan severity’, and that (echoing Wilberforce) ‘a long tremor of restrained fear’ ran ‘through the sermons at St. Mary’s’.33 Attaching a Catholic label to that impression, he even thought for a time to quarry material from the Oxford sermons for a chapter on the ‘Jansenism of Newman’. Fortunately, Bremond is rescued by his method of approach as a biographer: ‘there is no worse dupe than a compiler of texts. Taken apart from the inner life which is their commentary and complement, even the most precise testimonies lead us astray’.34 The theological formula does not stand apart from the personal experience, the Christian consciousness of the one who affirms it. Or, put in other terms, one should not pass automatically—or too quickly—from a ‘Jansenism. . .of the mind’ to ‘that of the heart’.35 Doctrine and life interpenetrate. But life remains stronger than logic. For all its subtlety, ‘mechanical reason’ (‘raison raisonnante’) cannot resolve the contradictions. This can occur only at ‘the inmost centre of our life’, in the awareness of ‘the real presence of a personal God’, within whom ‘extremes meet, contradictions are solved, hope and fear unite in a single action. . .love fearful, terror loving’.36 In Newman severity of language can coexist with trustful hope and tranquil joy. For,

  • 37 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 228–29; Mystery, p. 226.

On the lips of a man who has experienced the Divine goodness, the most severe statements lose the implacable element in the words which proclaim them. Whole sermons and long passages, which are Jansenistic, abound in Newman’s Anglican works. Nevertheless, taken as a whole, and considered more closely, almost every detail, properly understood, contains some thought of trust and confidence.37

  • 38 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 230; Mystery, p. 227.

11The aspects of Newman’s sermons just considered yield a number of results. Their discussion points to the necessity of understanding the inner life of the man in order to arrive at any just assessment of his productions. Besides providing a justification of Bremond’s overall approach in the Essai, these considerations point beyond apparent contradictions in Newman to a mode of their resolution. Finally, laying out ‘the general aspect of Newman’s piety’, they provide the ‘groundwork’ for more specific ‘manifestations of his inner life’.38

  • 39 Id. ‘The Powers of Nature’ figures in the second volume of Parochial and Plain Sermons, and in La v (...)

12The first of those is attended to under the rubric of ‘invisible realities’, which serves both as chapter title in the Essai and as heading for Part I of La vie chrétienne—there to indicate a common theme highlighted in the first group of translated sermons. Forced in the biography to choose among the many texts which bear upon this theme, Bremond offers the sermon, ‘The Powers of Nature’, as a means of indicating something of Newman’s attraction to this invisible world, one which ‘interests and absorbs him as does the visible world other people’.39 From the portions of this sermon reproduced by Bremond, a suggestive sample must suffice here:

  • 40 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 232; Mystery, p. 229. John Henry Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. (...)

The more we can enlarge our view of the next world, the better. When we survey Almighty God surrounded by His holy angels, His thousand thousands of ministering spirits, and the ten thousand times ten thousand standing before Him, the idea of His awful majesty rises before us more powerfully and impressively.40

13In elaborating Newman’s view of that world, Bremond continues to rely heavily upon the sermons. Given that preference, it is less than surprising that he accords a certain prominence to the Oxford sermon on ‘The Invisible world.’ Again, a single selection from the passages selected by Bremond:

  • 41 Henri Bremond, Essai p. 236; Mystery, p. 234. Complete text of sermon in Parochial and Plain Sermon (...)

The earth that we see does not satisfy us; it is but a beginning; it is but a promise of something beyond it; even when it is gayest, with all its blossoms on, and shows most touchingly what lies hid in it, yet it is not enough. We know much more lies hid in it than what we see. A world of saints and angels, a glorious world, the palace of God, the mountain of the Lord of Hosts, the heavenly Jerusalem, the throne of God and Christ, all these wonders, everlasting, all-precious, mysterious, and incomprehensible, lie hid in what we see.41

  • 42 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 237; Mystery, p. 235.

14Beyond the ‘lesson in celestial geography’ furnished by this sermon, it provides Bremond with an admirable illustration of the specificity which pervades Newman’s preaching and indeed his very religiosity. ‘Newman said that there is no such thing as abstract religion. Much more it is impossible to have abstract devotion. . .’.42 The paths of the invisible world all lead to a personal God, and that in turn leads Bremond to another theme characteristic of his subject—Newman’s emphasis on the particular providence of God.

  • 43 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 159; Mystery, p. 149–50. The sermon in question is ‘A Particular Providenc (...)
  • 44 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 242; Mystery, p. 242.
  • 45 Id.

15Or rather leads him back. For the topic had surfaced earlier in the Essai, when Bremond had drawn on a sermon devoted to it in illustrating the contrast between Newman’s preaching style and that of acknowledged French masters.43 Since particular providence runs like a thread through a number of writings, a simple reference to this sermon suffices, before moving forward through a variety of other texts. Their cumulative effect is to underscore a recurring point: for Newman religion remains ‘concrete and living’.44 In Bremond’s view, that is due in no small measure to the importance of the Incarnation for Newman’s spirituality. ‘An Incarnate God runs no risk of becoming a formula’.45 What is true in the life of an individual is no less so in the life of the Church—a point not lost on either Newman or Bremond.

  • 46 Id. Bremond entitled the initial chapter of the Essai, ‘The Solitary by Choice’.

16The focus on the Incarnate Christ becomes yet another way of focusing on Newman. Intent in his preaching on revealing aspects of Christ, the preacher also reveals aspects of himself: ‘his cautious affection, his reserve and timid isolation’.46 Bremond turns to the sermon on ‘Tears of Christ at the Grave of Lazarus’ as indicative. In part,

  • 47 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 242; Mystery, p. 241–42. See vol. III of Parochial and Plain Sermons, p. 1 (...)

Christ was come to do a deed of mercy and it was a secret in His own breast. All the love which He felt for Lazarus was a secret from others. He was conscious to Himself that He loved him; but none could tell but He how earnest that affection was.47

  • 48 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 243; Mystery, p. 243.

17After which Bremond affirms, ‘I defy any one to find in the whole of Christian preaching a more self-revealing passage’.48

  • 49 Lawrence F. Barmann, op. cit., p. xv.
  • 50 Suffice to say that in these chapters Bremond continues to find the preaching revelatory of the man (...)

18It is possible to see in this chapter on ‘Invisible Realities’ with its progression from invisible world to Incarnate God a parallel to the first two groupings of sermons in La vie chrétienne. In the latter, the thematic heading for Part I, ‘The Incarnation and the Church’, follows that of ‘Invisible Realities’ for Part I. The Essai not only provides commentary on sermons from each of those two parts. In its choice of representative passages the biography draws in turn from each of them, providing insight into the structure and choice of translated sermons. Moreover, the centrality of Incarnation and Church, as the second of the three thematic groupings in La vie chrétienne, is further illuminated by an observation made by Lawrence Barmann. He amends R. D.  Middleton’s judgment on the Parochial and Plain Sermons, which saw the mystery of the Incarnation as their doctrinal center, to ‘the mystery of the Incarnation as it is prolonged in Christ’s militant Church.’ For the Christian life as one of sharing the struggle against evil at Christ’s side, waged in the hope of sharing his victory, constitutes ‘the substance and scope of Newman’s message’.49 The sermons chosen for Part III of La vie chrétienne, ‘The Christian Mind’, deal with aspects of this battle and its expected outcome. Passages from two of these sermons figure in a later chapter in the Essai, ‘Presages’. However, neither that chapter, nor the intervening ones on prayer and on God’s silence will be attended to here.50 Instead, Newman the preacher will rejoin Newman the novelist, controversialist, philosopher, and poet. And aspects uncovered here will be considered in light of the overall portrait of his subject traced by Bremond, together with something of the enduring significance of that likeness.

  • 51 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. xxiv; Mystery, p. xiv.
  • 52 Henri Bremond, ‘La première conversion de Newman’, Annales de philosophie chrétienne, no 151, 1905– (...)
  • 53 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. xxv; Mystery, p. 16.
  • 54 Henri Bremond, ‘La première conversion de Newman’, op. cit., p. 174–75.

19As alluded to earlier, Bremond’s judgments as a biographer of Newman were often unconventional—and therefore could be controversial. Part of these differences can be attributed to what he valued and what he regarded as significant. He thought ‘the Oxford sermons and Gerontius much more precious than the Tracts or than the Catholic works of anti-Anglican controversy’, as is evident in the Essai.51 Also apparent is the significance he accorded Newman’s conversion of 1816 over that of 1845. In an article published shortly before the biography’s appearance, Bremond went so far as to define that early experience as ‘the crowning moment of [Newman’s] existence.’ He wrote: ‘In Newman’s history I know of nothing more revelatory, more central than this first conversion’.52 What it revealed for Bremond was the basis of Newman’s attraction to the invisible world, before which the visible one paled by comparison. It revealed ‘the secret of this great man’,53 it gave the key to the contradictions discernible in his writings and in his life. The ‘myself and my Creator’ that constituted the dual foci of the ellipse of Newman’s religiosity renders intelligible ‘the solitary by choice’ as well as the products of his intellect. ‘His entire philosophy comes down to establishing a fundamental identity between the voice of conscience and the voice of God. His whole theology to showing the God of conscience in the God of revelation’.54 That early conversion experience thus provides an anchor point for Newman—a lived certitude which remained with him throughout his life—and an anchor point for Bremond, in his understanding and presentation of that life.

20Bremond carries the emphasis on conscience into the Essai, most prominently in its concluding chapter on ‘The Religious Philosophy of Newman’. As noted previously, this material is more directly related to the Psychologie de la foi than to La vie chrétienne, to the Grammar and the Oxford University Sermons than to the Parochial and Plain Sermons and Gerontius. But it must immediately be said that it is not unrelated to the latter. On the one hand, Bremond consents in this chapter to a more abstract and systematic formulation of Newman’s religious principles, developing those under the triple rubric of the primacy of conscience, the communion of saints, and the infallibility of the Church. On the other hand, any such formulation, to the degree that it becomes detached from Newman’s inner life, risks deforming his thought. The apparent conflict between the primacy of individual conscience and the dogmatic authority of the Church serves as illustration.

  • 55 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 330; Mystery, p. 336.
  • 56 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 343; Mystery, p. 350.
  • 57 Roger Haight, ‘Bremond’s Newman’, op. cit., p. 373.

21Conscience, for Bremond, constitutes ‘the grand principle upon which rests, in whole and in detail, the philosophy of Newman’.55 Logically, its primacy appears an awkward fit with an integral dogmatism. And Bremond does not look to Newman for a logical resolution of this difficulty. The solution is, rather, existential. In his own life Newman succeeded in harmonizing conscience with dogmatic submission, ‘because one and the same moral experience make him meet with the God of this eternal “revelation” in that very God who speaks in his conscience’.56 Roger Haight views Bremond’s highlighting of this tension between religious experience and external authority as an enduring contribution to an understanding of Newman. ‘It is a tension which exists in any existential thinker’ and ‘Bremond preserves this tension, but not contradiction or antinomy, in Newman himself’.57

  • 58 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 351; Mystery, p. 358.

22In thus positioning Newman, Bremond retrieves themes and terms central to the preacher at St. Mary’s: ‘Newman’s apologetic . . . supposes, in the case of him who speaks, as well as in the case of him who hears, a beginning of holiness, a certain intimate realisation of the truths of the faith, a first experience of God’.58

Appendix

La vie chrétienne: Contents

Part I: Invisible Realities

  • ‘Difficulty of Realising Sacred Privileges’ (Parochial and Plain Sermons [PPS] VI, ser. 8)

  • ‘Unreal Words’ (PPS V, ser. 3)

  • ‘The Invisible World’ (PPS IV, ser. 13)

  • ‘The Individuality of the Soul’ (PPS IV, ser. 6)

  • ‘The Mysteriousness of Our Present Being’ (PPS IV, ser. 19)

  • ‘The Greatness and Littleness of Human Life’ (PPS IV, ser. 14)

  • ‘The Thought of God. The Stay of the Soul’ (PPS V, ser. 22)

  • ‘Divine Calls’ (PPS VIII, ser. 2)

  • ‘A Particular Providence As Revealed in the Gospel’ (PPS III, ser. 9)

  • ‘The Powers of Nature’ (PPS II, ser. 29)

  • ‘Moral Consequences of Single Sins’ (PPS IV, ser. 3)

Part II: The Incarnation and the Church

  • ‘Tears of Christ at the Grave of Lazarus’ (PPS III, ser. 10)

  • ‘Christ Hidden from the World’ (PPS IV, ser. 16)

  • ‘Christ Manifested in Remembrance’ (PPS IV, ser. 17)

  • ‘The Crucifixion’ (PPS VII, ser. 10)

  • ‘The Church. Home for the Lonely’ (PPS IV, ser. 12)

  • Part III: The Christian Mind [Esprit]

  • ‘Religion as a Weariness to the Natural Man’ (PPS VII, ser. 2)

  • ‘The Danger of Accomplishments’ (PPS II, ser. 30)

  • ‘The Mind [Esprit] of Little Children’ (PPS II, ser. 6)

  • ‘Bodily Suffering’ (PPS III, ser. 11)

  • ‘Obedience Without Love, as Illustrated in the Character of Balaam’ (PPS IV, ser. 2)

  • ‘The Ventures of Faith’ (PPS IV, ser. 20)

  • ‘Christian Sympathy’ (PPS V, ser. 9)

  • ‘Watching’ (PPS IV, ser. 22)

  • ‘Waiting for Christ’ (PPS VI, ser. 17)

  • ‘Religious Use of Excited Feelings’ (PPS I, ser. 9)

  • ‘Mental Prayer’ (PPS VII, ser. 15)

  • ‘Keeping Fast and Festival’ (PPS IV, ser. 2)

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Bibliographie

Barmann, Lawrence F. Newman at St. Mary’s. Westminster: MD, The Newman Press, 1962.

Blanchet, André. Vie de Bremond 1865–1904. Paris: Aubier, 1967.

Blehl, Vincent Ferrer. Pilgrim Journey. John Henry Newman 1801–1845. London: Burns & Oates, 2001.

Blehl, Vincent Ferrer. The White Stone: The Spiritual Theology of John Henry Newman. Petersham: MA, St. Bede’s Publications, 1993.

Bremond, Henri. Newman. Essai de biographie psychologique [1906]. Paris: Bloud et Gay, 1932. Eng. trans. The Mystery of Newman, Trans. H.C. Corrance, London, Williams and Norgate, 1907.

Bremond, Henri. Histoire littéraire du sentiment religieux en France, vol. I L’Humanisme dévot. [1916]. Paris: Bloud et Gay, 1921. Eng. Trans. A Literary History of Religious Thought in France, vol. I Devout Humanism, Trans. K.L. Montgomery. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1928.

Bremond, Henri. ‘Apologie pour les newmanistes français’, Revue pratique d’apologétique, no 3, 1906–1907, p. 655–66.

Bremond, Henri. Newman. La vie chrétienne. Paris: Bloud et Cie, 1906.

Bremond, Henri. ‘L’œuvre apologétique de Newman’ in Revue pratique d’apologétique, no 2, 1906, p. 89–94.

Bremond, Henri. ‘La première conversion de Newman,’ Annales de philosophie chrétienne, no 151, 1905–1906, p. 160–79.

Bremond, Henri. Âmes religieuses. Paris: Perrin, 1902.

Bremond, Henri. L’Inquiétude religieuse 1st ser. Paris: Perrin, 1901.

Bremond, Henri. ‘Les sermons de Newman’, Études, no 72, July-Sept. 1897, p. 343–68.

Chauvin, Charles. Petite vie de Henri Bremond (1865–1933). Paris: Desclée de Brouwer, 2006.

Dimnet, Ernest. Review of Henri Bremond, Newman. Essai de biographie psychologique, Revue du clergé français, no 47, 1906, p. 300–1.

Haight, Roger. ‘Bremond’s Newman,’ Journal of Theological Studies, no 36, 1985, p. 350–79.

Holahan, Sister Mary Benoit. Newman in France, Diss. University of Illinois, 1943.

Ker, Ian. Healing the Wound of Humanity. The Spirituality of John Henry Newman. London: Darnton, Longman and Todd, 1993.

Ker, Ian. The Achievement of John Henry Newman. London: Collins, 1990.

Ker, Ian. Newman on Being a Christian. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1990.

Murray, Placid, ed. John Henry Newman Sermons 1824–1843 vol. 1. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991.

Newman, John Henry. ‘The Salvation of the Hearer the Motive of the Preacher’ in Discourses Addressed to Mixed Congregations. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1892.

Newman, John Henry. The Idea of a University. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1891.

Newman, John Henry. Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 2, Longmans, Green, and Co., 1891.

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Notes

1 John Henry Newman, ‘The Salvation of the Hearer the Motive of the Preacher’, in Discourses Addressed to Mixed Congregations, London, Longmans, Green, and Co., 1892, p. 18.

2 On Henri Bremond (1865–1933) see André Blanchet, Vie de Bremond 1865–1904, Paris, Aubier, 1967, which brings Bremond’s life up to his separation from the Jesuits in 1904. Charles Chauvin, Petite vie de Henri Bremond (1865–1933), Paris, Desclée de Brouwer, 2006, supplies a complete biography.

3 A list of the sermons Bremond chose, in their thematic groupings, may be found in the Appendix.

4 ‘The book was immediately successful. Four editions of it were published within a year and it became available to an English audience through the translation of 1907’ (Roger Haight, ‘Bremond’s Newman’, Journal of Theological Studies, no 36, 1985, p. 363).

5 Henri Bremond, ‘Apologie pour les newmanistes français’, Revue pratique d’apologétique, no 3, 1906–1907, p. 661.

6 The bulk of the chapter reprints an earlier essay by Bremond, ‘Les sermons de Newman’ (Études, no 72, July-Sept. 1897, p. 343–68).

7 For further particulars on French translations of Newman’s works, see Sister Mary Benoit Holahan, Newman in France, Diss. University of Illinois, 1943, ch. II. For a more detailed survey of the contents of these and other volumes of translations, see Henri Bremond, ‘L’Œuvre apologétique de Newman’, Revue pratique d’apologétique, no 2, 1906, p. 89–94.

8 At that time Sarolea was head of the French department at the University of Edinburgh. See his Cardinal Newman and His Influence on Religious Life and Thought, Edinburgh, T. & T. Clark, 1908, p. 2.

9 John Henry Newman, The Idea of a University, London, Longmans, Green, and Co., 1891, p. 408; cf. p. 412–13.

10 Vincent Ferrer Blehl, The White Stone: The Spiritual Theology of John Henry Newman, Petersham, MA, St. Bede’s Publications, 1993, p. 21. Ian Ker has noted that, ‘even for a public that bought volumes of sermons as eagerly as the Victorians, his Parochial and Plain Sermons achieved remarkable sales.’ Ian Ker, The Achievement of John Henry Newman, London, Collins, 1990, p. 75.

11 Ian Ker, Newman on Being a Christian, Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame Press, 1990, p. 119.

12 Ian Ker, The Achievement of John Henry Newman, op. cit., 1990, p. 95.

13 ‘Sermon on the intercourse between Parish Priest and his charge’ (22 March 1829) in Placid Murray ed., John Henry Newman Sermons 1824–1843, vol. 1, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1991, p. 6.

14 Lawrence F. Barmann, Newman at St. Mary’s, Westminster, MD, The Newman Press, 1962, p. xiv.

15 Henri Bremond, Newman. Essai de biographie psychologique, (referred to as Essai in the notes), Paris, Bloud et Gay, [1906] 1932, p. 182; English translation, The Mystery of Newman, (referred to as Mystery in the notes), tr. H. C. Corrance, London, Williams and Norgate, 1907, p. 172.

16 Collections of early articles were published as Henri Bremond, L’Inquiétude religieuse. 1st ser. (Paris, Perrin, 1901) and as Âmes religieuses. (Paris, Perrin, 1902).

17 Sister Mary Benoit Holahan, op. cit., p. 37.

18 Sister Mary Benoit Holahan, op. cit., p. 41.

19 Henri Bremond, Histoire littéraire du sentiment religieux en France, vol. I, L’Humanisme dévot, [1916], Paris, Bloud et Gay, 1921, p. v-vi; English translation, A Literary History of Religious Thought in France, vol. I, Devout Humanism, tr. K. L. Montgomery, London, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1928, p. v.

20 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. v; Mystery, p. vii.

21 See note 13, supra.

22 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. v; Mystery, p. vii.

23 ‘Newman’s sermons often shed light on his own interior life because he not only practiced what he preached but preached what he practiced. Moreover there are at times oblique references to personal spiritual experiences in his sermons’ (Vincent Ferrer Blehl, Pilgrim Journey. John Henry Newman 1801–1845, London, Burns & Oates, 2001, p. x).

24 See Henri Bremond, ‘La logique du cœur. M. Brunetière et “l’irrationnel” de la foi’ in Henri Bremond, L’Inquiétude religieuse, op. cit. p. 91–130.

25 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 169; Mystery, p. 161.

26 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 166–68; Mystery, p. 157–61. This sermon was published in vol. IV of Parochial and Plain Sermons. 1st translation in La vie chrétienne may be found on p. 49–63.

27 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 169; Mystery, p. 161.

28 In Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 173–74; Mystery, p. 166–68. In effect, Bremond did reproduce the sermon in its entirety in La vie chrétienne, p. 322–35 as ‘Les risques de l’acte de foi’. ‘The Ventures of Faith’ may be found in vol. IV of Parochial and Plain Sermons.

29 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 171 and p. 172–73n.; Mystery, p. 164 and p. 165n. Bremond is quoting ‘The State of Grace’, also from vol. IV of Parochial and Plain Sermons, but not included in La vie chrétienne.

30 Sister Mary Benoit Holahan, op. cit., p. 41.

31 In his review of the Essai Ernest Dimnet wrote that a reader ‘will likely find that the severity of part of the sermons is carried to the point of gloominess’ (Ernest Dimnet, ‘Review of Henri Bremond, Newman. Essai de biographie psychologique’, Revue du clergé français, no 47, 1906, p. 301).

32 Newman to Samuel Wilberforce, 10 march 1835, quoted in Vincent Ferrer Blehl, The White Stone, op. cit., p. 62 (italics in original). In Blehl’s considered judgment, ‘Newman’s Parochial and Plain Sermons have been criticized as harsh even to the extent of preaching “a gospel of gloom,” devoid of joy. These criticisms have been effectively refuted, but I think that it has to be acknowledged that the vagueness about forgiveness of sin with a consequent overemphasis on the need of constant repentance, as well as Newman’s confusion between the inclination to sin and sin itself have given some of the sermons on sin a gloomy cast indeed’ (Vincent Ferrer Blehl, op. cit., p. 67–68). Cf. Ian Ker’s observations in Ian Ker, The Achievement of John Henry Newman, op. cit., p. 84–87 and in Ian Ker, Healing the Wound of Humanity. The Spirituality of John Henry Newman, London, Darnton, Longman and Todd, 1993, p. 87–94.

33 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 204; Mystery, p. 197.

34 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 215; Mystery, p. 210.

35 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 216; Mystery, p. 211.

36 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 217; Mystery, p. 211.

37 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 228–29; Mystery, p. 226.

38 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 230; Mystery, p. 227.

39 Id. ‘The Powers of Nature’ figures in the second volume of Parochial and Plain Sermons, and in La vie chrétienne on p. 140–50.

40 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 232; Mystery, p. 229. John Henry Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 2, Longmans, Green, and Co., 1891, p. 366. There are some differences in capitalization between Newman’s text and its quotation in Mystery.

41 Henri Bremond, Essai p. 236; Mystery, p. 234. Complete text of sermon in Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. IV and La vie chrétienne, p. 34–48. Again, there are minor differences between Parochial and Plain Sermons and Mystery.

42 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 237; Mystery, p. 235.

43 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 159; Mystery, p. 149–50. The sermon in question is ‘A Particular Providence as revealed in the Gospel’ in vol. III of Parochial and Plain Sermons; also in Part I of La vie chrétienne.

44 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 242; Mystery, p. 242.

45 Id.

46 Id. Bremond entitled the initial chapter of the Essai, ‘The Solitary by Choice’.

47 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 242; Mystery, p. 241–42. See vol. III of Parochial and Plain Sermons, p. 135 and La vie chrétienne, p. 171–82.

48 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 243; Mystery, p. 243.

49 Lawrence F. Barmann, op. cit., p. xv.

50 Suffice to say that in these chapters Bremond continues to find the preaching revelatory of the man. For instance, in the chapter on ‘Prayer’ we find, ‘When [Newman] preaches on prayer he betrays to us, in spite of himself, the habits, the methods, the difficulties and the joys of his own devotion’ (Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 256; Mystery, p. 259).

51 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. xxiv; Mystery, p. xiv.

52 Henri Bremond, ‘La première conversion de Newman’, Annales de philosophie chrétienne, no 151, 1905–1906, p. 166 and p. 169.

53 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. xxv; Mystery, p. 16.

54 Henri Bremond, ‘La première conversion de Newman’, op. cit., p. 174–75.

55 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 330; Mystery, p. 336.

56 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 343; Mystery, p. 350.

57 Roger Haight, ‘Bremond’s Newman’, op. cit., p. 373.

58 Henri Bremond, Essai, p. 351; Mystery, p. 358.

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Référence électronique

C. J. T. Talar, « Henri Bremond: Preaching Newman the Preacher », Cahiers victoriens et édouardiens [En ligne], 70 automne | 2009, mis en ligne le 13 décembre 2018, consulté le 14 décembre 2019. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/cve/4819 ; DOI : 10.4000/cve.4819

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Auteur

C. J. T. Talar

University of Saint Thomas, Houston, Texas
C. J. T. TALAR, priest of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut. He is Professor of Systematic Theology at the Graduate School of Theology of the University of Saint Thomas in Houston, Texas. In addition to publications on Newman, he has written extensively on Roman Catholic Modernism.

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