Sunday, October 22, 2017

Compare and Contrast: Newman and the Little Flower

The Communion of Saints is a remarkable aspect of the Church in Heaven: each saint in Heaven--proclaimed by the Church formally or not--is holy (meaning that there are definite features of holiness) and unique (holy in his or her own way). This means that we can look at their lives on earth for not only a general encouragement to become more Christlike but also to seek guidance and inspiration in surprising ways.

In the most recent issue of Homiletic & Pastoral Review, Doctor John C. Caiazza compares and contrasts Saint Therese of Lisieux and Blessed John Henry Newman. His focus on is how they prepared the Church for the crucial development at the Second Vatican Council of the universal call to holiness:

It is common these days to read of certain figures whose contribution to the Church in some way prefigured the reforms of Vatican II—e.g., de Lubac, Congar—but among them also are the figures of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower, and Cardinal John Henry Newman. (They will be referred to as “Thérèse” and “Newman” in this article.) Their contributions are the subject of this essay, not in terms of exact and specific contributions to the fully developed doctrine of current Church teaching on the laity, but in terms of the development of spiritual aspirations of lay people—namely that it is not necessary to be a priest or a professed religious to seek the higher altitudes of Jesus’ holy mountain. Both insisted that the highest degrees of holiness, and lively participation in spiritual life, are not restricted to cloistered nuns, or ascetic monks, but are available to lay people, as well. Both figures then, the cloistered nun and the Oxford Scholar, wrote and inspired lay spirituality that was prophetically aimed at the full enunciation of the teaching by the Catholic Church in the documents of the Second Vatican Council and the Catholic Catechism. . . .

What do Thérèse and Newman have in common in regards to their doctrines of lay spirituality? First, that they have such a doctrine that extends the option of spiritual advancement, in a positive and direct sense, to lay people. This is new enough in its way to require notice. Thérèse and Newman readily give an answer to the question: “What is the general means by which lay people may acquire holiness?” Thérèse’s and Newman’s answer is “all you need is love,” that is love expressed in doing one’s daily duties in life. In Thérèse’s case, we have photographs of her doing laundry, and on knees, washing the floor, while in her autobiography, she details her attention she paid to an elderly nun whose irascibility she had to learn to overcome, and ignore; that is, nothing heroic, but doing each day what daily living required. Doing such duties without seeing praise or notice, suppressing resentment, not overlooking details because no one would notice, doing these things for the love of Jesus, was the essence of her “little way” to holiness, a way that is available to all.

Please read the rest there.

I'm sorry for some interruptions in blogging. My mother, Rita, died on Monday, October 16 and my husband was in hospital this week too. Please pray for his complete recovery and please pray for the repose of my mother's soul. Her funeral is on Tuesday, October 24. Thank you.