There are many reasons why religion continues to thrive, but high on the list has been the capacity of a handful of influential religious thinkers to make their ancient traditions relevant to the contemporary situation — to put those traditions in creative conversation with the questions asked by modern women and men.
In that universe, few Catholic figures have packed a stronger punch over the past century than Cardinal John Henry Newman, the 19th-century British convert from Anglicanism whose carefully reasoned journey to Catholicism continues to inspire and provoke.
One might describe Newman as Catholicism’s “patron saint of relevance,” in that one can agree or disagree with his conclusions, but it’s impossible to dismiss them as the relic of a medieval mind.
Anyone who reads Newman today, and scores still do, immediately recognizes a very modern voice. It’s no accident that one of his best-known works is called precisely Tracts for the Times.
And Father Dwight Longenecker writes for Aleteia:
A saint, however, is not a saint because of his intellectual accomplishments. Should he be declared a saint, John Henry Cardinal Newman will undoubtedly be up there with St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, St. Bonaventure, St. Edith Stein and St Thomas More as one of the intellectual heavyweights. The galaxy of saints, however, contain stars who are not so bright intellectually. St. John Vianney, St. Joseph Cupertino, St. Therese of Lisieux and many others were not famous for their intellectual prowess or academic accomplishment. If John Henry Newman is a saint, then there is something else about him that we need to consider.
A saint is an ordinary person who has, by God’s grace, reached their full human potential. Therefore if John Henry Newman is to be a saint we must ask whether, by God’s grace, John Henry Newman had become all that John Henry Newman was created to be.
When we look at his life we see that he was gifted with a brilliant mind, a tender heart, and a deep love for God. Each one of those characteristics was fulfilled in his life. It is arguable, therefore, that John Henry Newman used his vast intellectual and spiritual gifts fully to the glory of God. Whether this beautiful soul and beautiful mind are granted the final formal recognition of being a saint is not so much a question of “if” but of “when.”
Since I have read and studied the life and works of Blessed John Henry Newman since I was a sophomore in college, this day of not if but when Newman is canonized is very exciting to me! I'm going to start the month of February off with the daily prayers and meditations from the CTS publication displayed above.