Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pope John Paul II on St. Boniface and (Then) Cardinal Newman

On the Solemnity of Pentecost in 1982, Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass with Confirmation at Coventry Airport--where at one time the Beatification Mass for John Henry Newman was to be scheduled during Pope Benedict XVI's 2010 visit. During his homily, he highlighted the inspiration of Saint Boniface, the English missionary to Germany and of Cardinal John Henry Newman:

Solemnity of Pentecost
Coventry, 30 May 1982

4. Today you must understand that you are not alone. We are one body, one people, one Church of Christ. The sponsor who stands at your side represents for you the whole community. Together, with a great crowd of witnesses drawn from all peoples and every age, you represent Christ. You are young people who have received a mission from Christ, for he says to you today: “As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.”

Let me recall for a moment the memory of two great Englishmen who can inspire you today. Study the example of Saint Boniface, born at Crediton in Devon, one of your greatest fellow-countrymen and also one of the Church’s greatest missionaries. And the Holy Spirit, given to Boniface through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, strengthened his personal love for Christ and brought him to a maturity of faith. This faith radiated through his whole life. He longed to share it with others, even with those in other lands. And so, with complete trust in God and with courage and perseverance, he helped to establish the Church on the continent of Europe. You, too, must show courage and perseverance in living by the standards of the Gospel in all the circumstances of your lives.

I cannot come to the Midlands without remembering that great man of God, that pilgrim for truth, Cardinal John Henry Newman. His quest for God and for the fullness of truth - a sign of the Holy Spirit at work within him - brought him to a prayerfulness and a wisdom which still inspire us today. Indeed Cardinal Newman’s many years of seeking a fuller understanding of the faith reflect his abiding confidence in the words of Christ: “I shall ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever, that Spirit of truth whom the world can never receive since it neither sees nor knows him” (Io. 14, 16-17). And so I commend to you his example of persevering faith and longing for the truth. He can help you to draw nearer to God, in whose presence he lived, and to whose service he gave himself totally. His teaching has great importance today in our search for Christian unity too, not only in this country but throughout the world. Imitate his humility and his obedience to God; pray for a wisdom like his, a wisdom that can come from God alone.

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