Also, please check my blog site on the National Catholic Register, which will be updated with an article I submitted that tells the story of that sermon and the context, as Anna and I discussed:
Father John Henry Newman of the Congregation of the Oratory gave his sermon at the Mass of the Holy Spirit celebrated on July 13—166 years ago today. It moved some, especially Cardinal Wiseman, to tears, as Newman described the death and rebirth of Catholicism in England.
The Winter is Now Past; The Coming of a Second Spring
Newman’s sermon exemplifies what G.K. Chesterton noted in The Everlasting Man: “Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it had a God who knew the way out of the grave.” In 1829, Catholics had at last been accorded their full rights as citizens and loyal subjects, able to worship freely, pursue their vocations and their careers, vote and hold office—everything but attend the great centers of learning, Oxford and Cambridge. In 1850, Pope Pius IX had restored the hierarchy in England with the Papal Bull Universalis Ecclesiae.
As Newman hardly needed to remind Cardinal Wiseman and the other bishops, this restoration had shocked Protestant England. It was one thing for individual Catholics to be free to practice their faith; it was another thing for an organized, structured Catholic hierarchy to start building, educating, and growing the Catholic Church in England.
Queen Victoria’s government reacted by calling the restoration an act of “papal aggression”; there were anti-Catholic riots; Parliament passed a law called the Ecclesiastical Titles Act of 1851 which declared it illegal for the new Catholic bishops to use the name "of any city, town or place, or of any territory or district (under any designation or description whatsoever), in the United Kingdom" in their titles. This act was never enforced and was repealed twenty years later. It was the last gasp of anti-Catholicism in Parliament. It would not be the last gasp of anti-Catholicism in England, as Newman had just experienced.
Newman on Trial
The month before he gave this famous sermon, Father John Henry Newman had been in a London courtroom. He had been charged with libel against a former Dominican priest turned anti-Catholic agitator Giovanni Giacinto Achilli. . . .
Father John Henry Newman, formerly a Fellow of Oriel College at Oxford and an Anglican vicar, found out what being a Catholic in nineteenth century England meant. His integrity was attacked and his guilt assumed because he was a Catholic. He had spoken about English prejudice against Catholics before; now he had experienced it.
He was found guilty, fined, and ordered to pay court costs in the amount of £12,000. The judge lectured him on his fall from grace since he had left the Anglican communion. Newman could have been sent to prison.
Even the Times of London perceived the injustice of this trial: “a great blow has been given to the administration of justice in this country, and Roman Catholics will have henceforth only too good reason for asserting that there is no justice for them in matters tending to rouse the Protestant feelings of judges and juries.”
Please read the rest there.