The Catechetical Review - Communicating Christ for a New Evangelization

The Education of Catholics for the Mission According to Cardinal Newman

Authored by Fr. Tom Norris in Issue #31.3 of The Sower
As we prepare for the Beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, Professor Norris helps us to understand Newman’s vision of education for mission. In the month of October 1850 an announcement was made which shook the whole of England: the Catholic Hierarchy was to be restored in the land. After its banishment two hundred years previously it was now being set up again. ‘It is difficult to realise the fury caused. Protest meetings were held all over England, the Pope and Cardinal Wiseman were burned in effigy.... The agitation showed the strength of English Protestantism’[i]. The net effect of the agitation was that the Bishops were effectively silenced. Convinced that the church was not only the hierarchy but all the People of God, Newman wrote to a friend, ‘I dare say it may be advisable for our Bishops to do nothing ‑ but for that reason, if for no other, the laity should stir’[ii]. The hour of the laity had struck. But what kind of laity? From the time he joined the Catholic communion five years previously in 1845 he was increasingly aware of the inadequate preparation of the lay people for the mission now falling to them. In particular, they needed education and formation for the task ahead. At the end of Lectures on the Present Position of Catholics in England, delivered in 1850 in reply to the attack on the Bishops (G. K. Chesterton described it as having been practically preached to a raging mob), he described the kind of laity he wanted for the times now upon Catholics in England. It is worth quoting this purple passage, ‘Your strength lies in your God and your conscience; therefore it lies not in your number. It lies not in your number any more than in intrigue, or combination or worldly wisdom. What I desiderate in Catholics is the gift of bringing out what their religion is. I want an intelligent, well‑instructed laity; I am not denying you are such already: but I mean to be severe, and, as some would say, exorbitant in my demands, I wish you to enlarge your knowledge, to cultivate your reason, to get an insight into the relation of truth to truth,....to understand how faith and reason stand to each other, what are the bases and principles of Catholicism. In all times the laity have been the measure of the Catholic spirit; they saved the Irish Church three centuries ago, and they betrayed the Church in England’[iii].

The rest of this online article is available for current subscribers.

Start your subscription today!


This article is from The Sower and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of Maryvale Institute. Contact sower@maryvale.ac.uk

Articles from the Most Recent Issue

The Spiritual Life: Sacrifice – Path to Communion
By André Villeneuve
Editor’s Note: The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has announced a three-year Eucharistic revival, to reawaken Catholics to the goodness, the beauty, and the truth of Jesus in the Eucharist. Each issue of the Catechetical Review , during the revival, will feature an article on the Eucharist, to empower our readers to make increasingly more... Read more
RCIA & Adult Faith Formation: Experience without Substance
By Fr. Drake McCalister
Foundational Doctrines Are the Key to Eucharistic Revival Several years ago, a Protestant couple came to my parish RCIA to support friends who were becoming Catholic. They came every week for the entire process. After one of the sessions, they asked, very sincerely, “We believe the Catholic teaching on the Eucharist. You say those who do not... Read more
Encountering God in Catechesis: A Spirit-Led Classroom
By Catechists' Personal Testimonies
To the surprise of my friends and family, I love being a middle school teacher. While admiring my enthusiasm, most people picture a hectic classroom filled with rowdy youth. It is true, some days I swear my students are on their second cup of coffee by first period. I have learned to enjoy these days because underneath all of that energy rests a... Read more

Pages

Watch Tutorial Videos

We've put together several quick and easy tutorial videos to show you how to use this website.

Watch Now