Posts Tagged ‘John Henry Newman’

Heart-to-Heart Preaching

In 04 Fr. John McCloskey on 2015/05/22 at 12:00 AM


(Presented in Spring 2013 at the Seminar for Priests in Pembroke, MA.)

Dear Priest Friends and Brothers, …

For a minute let’s imagine what Bl. John Henry would have thought if he were moved in a H.G. Wells time machine from the church of the Brompton Oratory to a typical Catholic parish in the U.S. in the year 1975. There he would encounter 10-minute amplified homilies (what is that?), talking in Church, applause, and guitar masses with their childish tunes and saccharine lyrics. He would see the priest assuming the role of emcee, facing the people, adding his own words to the Canon of the Mass, and venturing out from the altar into the congregation, possibly dressed as a clown, to shake hands. And the list goes on.

It is all too painful to contemplate, and at this juncture almost difficult to believe that most of us lived through it. Happily John Henry did not witness this, or perhaps he would have apostatized back to the Anglican Community he had left in 1846.

Newman was quite possibly the greatest Catholic preacher in English in the history of the Church up to this day. In my opinion he achieves this ranking not only because of the effect his preaching had on congregations (and readers of his sermons) in his own time, but also because of his enormous influence on the other great preachers we are examining in this seminar, i.e., Msgr. Ronald Knox and Venerable Fulton Sheen. These men were great preachers, but with all their talents and all their particular gifts, there is in their own preaching perhaps something somewhat derivative of Newman’s writing and his sermons, which they had undoubtedly read and, consciously or not, allowed to play at least a role in their own writing’s content and style.

As you may know, when Blessed John Henry at long last became a Cardinal, he chose as his motto or seal “Cor ad cor loquitur” (“Heart speaks to heart”), appropriated from St. Francis de Sales, who easily could have been included in our seminar as a great preacher if we had had the time.



First Easter

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2011/04/12 at 5:56 PM

When our Lord rose from the dead, the apostles clearly realized His divinity. The risen Christ opened their minds and explained to them the Scriptures….Now they grasped the inner meaning of everything they had heard and seen Jesus do. The Holy Spirit reminded the apostles of everything Jesus said, and enabled them to understand the whole truth concerning Christ and His saving mission and the meaning of His words and miracles.  —Blessed John Henry Newman