Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Meriol Trevor and Blessed John Henry Newman

Meriol Trevor was one of the most prolific Catholic writers of the twentieth century. She was a convert to Catholicism and a devotee of Blessed John Henry Newman, author of a two-volume biography and other books about this great man and saint.

Several years ago Ignatius Press published her historical novel about Newman, Shadows and Images. Last summer, Ignatius published another historical novel Trevor wrote about Newman, Lights in a Dark Town, aimed a "young adult" readers.

Dr. Kelly Scott Franklin reviews the novel for The Catholic World Report and calls for a  revival of Trevor's fiction:

Newly reprinted by Ignatius Press, Trevor’s 1964 work of historical fiction tells a hopeful story of the power of God to overcome spiritual darkness. Even a single Christian, through the power of God’s grace, can bring light and transformation to his portion of the earthly realm. Each of us has a mission in our own place and time, and the story dramatizes Christ’s instruction in the Gospel of Matthew: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

For Meriol Trevor’s protagonist Emmeline, England is a far cry from her home in the sunny climes of Southern Europe. But after her father’s death, Emmeline, along with her mother, must return to England to live cheaply in the industrial town of Birmingham. Its poverty and grime appall, and the Erles’ own straitened circumstances seem to leave them with no friends and dim prospects for the future.

But it is 1849, and something wonderful has occurred in this squalid factory town: John Henry Newman has just founded an Oratory of priests in the heart of the industrial district. With her new friends Daniel and Lizzie, Emmeline finds herself caught up into the great Father’s orbit, as he ministers to the laborers and the poor of the city of Birmingham.

Please read the rest there. Sounds like Meriol Trevor anticipated the words of Pope Benedict XVI on September 19, 2010, when he beatified Newman (my bold emphasis!):

While it is John Henry Newman’s intellectual legacy that has understandably received most attention in the vast literature devoted to his life and work, I prefer on this occasion to conclude with a brief reflection on his life as a priest, a pastor of souls. The warmth and humanity underlying his appreciation of the pastoral ministry is beautifully expressed in another of his famous sermons: “Had Angels been your priests, my brethren, they could not have condoled with you, sympathized with you, have had compassion on you, felt tenderly for you, and made allowances for you, as we can; they could not have been your patterns and guides, and have led you on from your old selves into a new life, as they can who come from the midst of you” (“Men, not Angels: the Priests of the Gospel”, Discourses to Mixed Congregations, 3). He lived out that profoundly human vision of priestly ministry in his devoted care for the people of Birmingham during the years that he spent at the Oratory he founded, visiting the sick and the poor, comforting the bereaved, caring for those in prison. No wonder that on his death so many thousands of people lined the local streets as his body was taken to its place of burial not half a mile from here. One hundred and twenty years later, great crowds have assembled once again to rejoice in the Church’s solemn recognition of the outstanding holiness of this much-loved father of souls.

Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us!

God our Father, you granted to your servant Blessed John Henry Newman wonderful gifts of nature and of grace, that he should be a spiritual light in the darkness of this world, an eloquent herald of the Gospel, and a devoted servant of the one Church of Christ.

With confidence in his heavenly intercession, we make the following petition: [here make your petition]

For his insight into the mysteries of the kingdom, his zealous defense of the teachings of the Church, and his priestly love for each of your children, we pray that he may soon be numbered among the Saints.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Meriol Trevor, rest in peace--I pray that you are in Heaven with Newman, joining in the praise of God:

Praise to the Holiest in the height
And in the depth be praise;
In all his words most wonderful,
Most sure in all his ways!
(The Dream of Gerontius).

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