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Friday, March 01, 2013

A Portrait of a Holy Man



William Thomas Roden 1817–1892
Portrait of His Eminence Cardinal Newman 
1879 
Oil on canvas
125.7 x 100.4 cm
Birmingham Museums Trust, England 

The painting was commissioned to commemorate the event of Cardinal Newman being ade a Cardinal

It was paid for by subscription

At the time it was acclaimed by many as a truly lifelike portrait 

Before being made cardinal in 1879, Newman passed  many years in silence and in the recollection of Edgbaston, or in the retreat of Rednal.

There is some controversy as to whether Newman had renounced the offer of cardinal and at first Cardinal Manning indicated to Rome that Newman had declined. However these machinations were corrected by Bishop Ullathorne and the Duke of Norfolk.

On 16th April 1879 Newman set out for Rome 

He received his red hat. It was a most significant appointment at the time and for the history of the Church

Pope Leo XIII said of the opposition he faced in his nomination of Newman, the simple priest:
“My Cardinal! It was not easy, not easy… They said he was too liberal; but I had determined to honour the Church in honouring Newman. I always had veneration for him. I am proud that I was allowed to honour such a man.” 

Pope Benedict XVI has always had a similarly high regard for Newman. 

See the talk given by the then Cardinal Ratzinger in the centenary year of Newman’s death (1990) during a Symposium organized by the International Centre of Newman Friends,

"In January 1946, when I began my study of theology in the Seminary in Freising which had finally reopened after the confusion of the war, an older student was assigned as prefect to our group, who had begun to work on a dissertation on Newman’s theology of conscience even before the beginning of the war.  
In all the years of his military service he had not lost sight of this theme, which he now turned to with new enthusiasm and energy.  
Soon we were bonded by a personal friendship, wholly centred on the great problems of philosophy and theology. Of course Newman was always present. Alfred Läpple – the above mentioned prefect named – published his dissertation in 1952 with the title: Der Einzelne in der Kirche (The Individual in the Church)
For us at that time, Newman’s teaching on conscience became an important foundation for theological personalism, which was drawing us all in its sway.  
Our image of the human being as well as our image of the Church was permeated by this point of departure.  
We had experienced the claim of a totalitarian party, which understood itself as the fulfilment of history and which negated the conscience of the individual. 
 One of its leaders had said: 
“I have no conscience. My conscience is Adolf Hitler.” The appalling devastation of humanity that followed was before our eyes"
"[I]t is right and fitting that we should recognize today the holiness of a confessor, a son of this nation who, while not called to shed his blood for the Lord, nevertheless bore eloquent witness to him in the course of a long life devoted to the priestly ministry, and especially to preaching, teaching, and writing ... 
In Blessed John Henry, that tradition of gentle scholarship, deep human wisdom and profound love for the Lord has borne rich fruit, as a sign of the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit deep within the heart of God’s people, bringing forth abundant gifts of holiness. 
Cardinal Newman’s motto, Cor ad cor loquitur, or “Heart speaks unto heart”, gives us an insight into his understanding of the Christian life as a call to holiness, experienced as the profound desire of the human heart to enter into intimate communion with the Heart of God. 
He reminds us that faithfulness to prayer gradually transforms us into the divine likeness. 
As he wrote in one of his many fine sermons, “a habit of prayer, the practice of turning to God and the unseen world in every season, in every place, in every emergency – prayer, I say, has what may be called a natural effect in spiritualizing and elevating the soul. A man is no longer what he was before; gradually … he has imbibed a new set of ideas, and become imbued with fresh principles” (Parochial and Plain Sermons, iv, 230-231) ... 
The definite service to which Blessed John Henry was called involved applying his keen intellect and his prolific pen to many of the most pressing “subjects of the day”. 
His insights into the relationship between faith and reason, into the vital place of revealed religion in civilized society, and into the need for a broadly-based and wide-ranging approach to education were not only of profound importance for Victorian England, but continue today to inspire and enlighten many all over the world. 
I would like to pay particular tribute to his vision for education, which has done so much to shape the ethos that is the driving force behind Catholic schools and colleges today. 
Firmly opposed to any reductive or utilitarian approach, he sought to achieve an educational environment in which intellectual training, moral discipline and religious commitment would come together"
But was he speaking only of Newman ? Was he perhaps also speaking of himself ?