Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What I'm Reading Now: Newman as Spiritual Director

I purchased this book in the Kindle edition to read for more background to the Newman lecture next February:

John Henry Newman (1801-1890) was a man who sought to integrate life and holiness. He believed that the spiritual life needed to be lived in an active and dynamic way, touching a person's fundamental attitudes and actions.

Although Newman rejected the title of spiritual director as such, it is obvious from his correspondence that directing others through various facets of the Christian life was one of his dominant concerns. Surprisingly, comparatively little has been written about Newman's idea of spiritual direction. This book investigates Newman's understanding of spiritual direction during his life as a Roman Catholic, 1845-1890. It examines the major areas in which Newman gave spiritual direction through an analysis of the correspondence from his Catholic years. It also explicates those principles of Newman's own spiritual life that found expression in his direction of others.

Newman had a mammoth "apostolate of correspondence." His Letters and Diaries have been edited and published in a series of thirty-two volumes, embracing more than twenty thousand letters. The first ten volumes deal with Newman's Anglican period; the remaining twenty-two volumes cover his Catholic period and are the primary source for this book. These volumes have been studied chronologically in order to determine and extract the major areas in which Newman gave spiritual direction to others, and to investigate the stages of development in his spiritual advice.

One thing that caught my eye about the book was one of the blurbs:

"Drawing on Newman's vast correspondence, Wilcox has given us a very human portrait of a spiritual master of remarkable sensitivity. Readers will find Newman's account of the development of revealed doctrine reflected in his understanding of the spiritual development of ordinary people. Newman comes across as someone who listens with respect and then speaks with careful balance--promoting devotion without excessive piety, reasonableness without rationality, and compassion without sentimentality--always challenging without demanding."
--William Fey, OFM Cap., Bishop of Kimbe, Papua New Guinea

Bishop Fey spoke years ago at the St. Paul's Parish-Newman Center at WSU on his book about Newman on Faith, Doubt, and Certainty--it was soon after the 1979 Newman School of Catholic Thought, but my notes aren't dated.

No comments:

Post a Comment