Newman at Maryvale

Cardinal Newman is often remembered as a man of deep theological insight, and his writings are still held in high regard today. For example, his works on Justification and on the Development of Doctrine remain as classics of their kind. We should not forget that the Cardinal was also a profoundly spiritual person: his sermons and other texts show us someone well-versed in Scripture, as well as a man deeply devoted to the life of prayer.

    When he became a Catholic, Newman discovered many new ways which enabled him to deepen even further his life of prayer and, in particular, his love for our Saviour. At this time of the year, when we keep the feasts of Corpus Christi and the Sacred Heart, we can bring to mind the ways in which our Cardinal rejoiced in these aspects of Catholic life and devotion.

    In 1846 he wrote as follows to his friend Henry Wilberforce: 'I am writing in the next room to the Chapel – it is such an incomprehensible blessing to have Christ in bodily presence in one’s house, within one’s walls, as swallows up all other privileges and destroys, or should destroy, every pain. To know that He is close by – to be able again and again through the day to go in to Him. It is the place for intercession surely, where the Blessed Sacrament is.'

    This love for Our Lord, as He comes to us in the Blessed Sacrament, was also reflected in Cardinal Newman’s deep love for the Sacred Heart. During the time he spent at Maryvale, he would have been familiar with the image of the Sacred Heart, placed there by Bishop Milner, and where the devotion was first publicly promoted. Newman wrote in 1873: 'For myself, ever since I have been a Catholic, I have had a great devotion to the Sacred Heart.'

    From his Catholic Sermon Notes, we have one example of Newman preaching on the Sacred Heart, from Sunday, June 6th, 1875. During the course of his sermon, he reminded his listeners that 'the Heart is the emblem of his love – in worshipping it, we worship Him' and 'The Heart was the seat, first, of His love for us; secondly, of His many griefs and sorrows.'

    May the saintly Cardinal’s great devotion to Our Lord help us to appreciate the Saviour’s love for us, and find in Him, as Newman did, the greatest source of hope and consolation.

The Very Rev’d Paul Chavasse