A new saint with an old soul

When it comes upon me how late I am trying to serve the Church,
the obvious answer is, even saints, such as St. Augustine, St. Ignatius,
did not begin in earnest till a late age.

Blessed John Henry Newman


(courtesy AP)

Today Pope Francis will canonize a new saint.

To those of you who are non-Catholics, this news is no more than a blip from some
religious news feed, but to me, I find it quite interesting.

As many of you reading this already know, I was born and raised in the Episcopal Church—
which is, in a nutshell, the American branch of the global Anglican communion.

Anglican being the Chruch of England.

A denomination I once loved, but for many years have found myself at a crossroads of odds.
I have found that I cannot remain in a fold that disregards the Word of God while
preferring to re-write God’s tenants to suit a disgruntled liberal culture.

John Henry Newman was an Anglican priest, writer and intellectual who was considered
‘an evangelical Oxford University academic.’

He too felt at odds with his “church.”

And so I offer you a little background from a few periodicals who offer us a bit of background
to this new saint with an old soul…

According to Wikipedia,
He [Newman] became known as a leader of, and an able polemicist for the Oxford Movement,
an influential and controversial grouping of Anglicans who wished to return to the
Church of England many Catholic beliefs and liturgical rituals
from before the English Reformation.

In this, the movement had some success.

In 1845 Newman, joined by some but not all of his followers,
officially left the Church of England and his teaching post at Oxford University
and was received into the Catholic Church. He was quickly ordained as a priest and
continued as an influential religious leader, based in Birmingham.
In 1879, he was created a cardinal by Pope Leo XIII in recognition of his services
to the cause of the Catholic Church in England.
He was instrumental in the founding of the Catholic University of Ireland in 1854,
although he had left Dublin by 1859.
CUI in time evolved into University College Dublin, today the largest university in Ireland.

Newman came to his faith at an early age.

At the age of 15, during his last year at school,
Newman was converted, an incident of which he wrote in his Apologia that it was
“more certain than that I have hands or feet”.
Almost at the same time (March 1816) the bank Ramsbottom, Newman and Co. crashed,
though it paid its creditors and his father left to manage a brewery.
Mayers, who had himself undergone a conversion in 1814,
lent Newman books from the English Calvinist tradition.
It was in the autumn of 1816 that Newman “fell under the influence of a definite creed”
and received into his intellect “impressions of dogma, which, through God’s mercy,
have never been effaced or obscured”.
He became an evangelical Calvinist and held the typical belief that the
Pope was the antichrist under the influence of the writings of Thomas Newton,
as well as his reading of Joseph Milner’s History of the Church of Christ.
Mayers is described as a moderate, Clapham Sect Calvinist,
and Newman read William Law as well as William Beveridge in devotional literature.
He also read The Force of Truth by Thomas Scott.

Although to the end of his life Newman looked back on his conversion to
evangelical Christianity in 1816 as the saving of his soul,
he gradually shifted away from his early Calvinism.
As Eamon Duffy puts it, “He came to see Evangelicalism,
with its emphasis on religious feeling and on the Reformation doctrine of
justification by faith alone, as a Trojan horse for an undogmatic religious individualism
that ignored the Church’s role in the transmission of revealed truth,
and that must lead inexorably to subjectivism and skepticism.”

According to a news article on the Washington Post,
Pope Francis on Sunday will canonize John Henry Newman,
a Victorian-era intellectual, Catholic convert and cardinal.
A self-described “controversialist,” Newman was an early leader in the Oxford Movement,
an attempt to reinstate ancient forms of faith and worship in the Church of England.
After converting to Catholicism at age 44,
Newman went on to found a Catholic university and a religious community,
as well as a school, and he clashed with authoritarian,
or “Ultramontane,” Catholics over the issue of papal infallibility.

Newman called liberalism “false liberty of thought,”
or the attempt to find truth through reason alone independent of faith and devotion.
He characterized his life as one long campaign against this view in his spiritual autobiography.

The Wall Street Journal continues Cardinal Newman’s story…
noting that he could well be known as the patron saint of the lonely…

On Sunday Pope Francis will officially recognize as a saint the
British clergyman and Oxford academic John Henry Newman (1801-90).
Nearly 130 years after his death, Newman’s writings still offer readers
incisive theological analysis—and practical wisdom.

A theologian, poet and priest of the Church of England,
Newman found his way to Catholicism later in life and was ordained a
Catholic priest in his 40s.
Pope Leo XIII made him a cardinal in 1879.

Cigna, a global health service company,
surveys feelings of social isolation across the U.S. using the UCLA Loneliness Scale.
Last year Cigna released the results of a study of 20,000 Americans.
It found that adults 18 to 22 are the loneliest segment of the population.
Nearly half report a chronic sense of loneliness.
People 72 and older are the least lonely.

I spend a lot of time with young adults in my job,
and the results don’t surprise me.
I often observe young couples out on dates, looking at their cellphones rather than each other.
I see students walking while wearing earbuds, oblivious to passersby.
Others spend hours alone watching movies on Netflix or playing videogames.
The digital culture in which young people live pushes them toward a kind of
solipsism that must contribute to their loneliness.

“No one, man nor woman, can stand alone;
we are so constituted by nature,” Newman writes,
noting our need to cultivate genuine relations of friendship.
Social-media platforms like Facebook and Twitter connect people,
but it’s a different sort of connection than friendship.
The self one presents on Facebook is inauthentic,
someone living an idealized life unlike one’s daily reality.
Interaction online is more akin to Kabuki theater than genuine human relations.

When young people do connect face to face, it’s often superficial,
thanks in part to dating and hookup apps like Tinder and Bumble.
Cigna’s study found that 43% of participants feel their relationships are not meaningful.
Little wonder, if relationships are formed when two people decide to swipe right on their phones.

Cardinal Newman never married, but warm, sincere, and lasting friendships—the kind that
we so seldom form through digital interactions—gave his life richness.
He cultivated them with his neighbors in Oxford and, after his conversion to Catholicism,
at the Birmingham Oratory. He sustained them in his correspondence,
some 20,000 letters filling 32 volumes.

In one of his sermons, delivered on the feast of St. John the Evangelist,
Newman reflects on the Gospel’s observation that St. John was “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”
It is a remarkable thing, Newman says, that the Son of God Most High should have loved
one man more than another.
It shows how entirely human Jesus was in his wants and his feelings,
because friendship is a deep human desire.
And it suggests a pattern we would do well to follow in our own lives if we would be happy:
“to cultivate an intimate friendship and affection towards those who are immediately about us.”

On the other hand, Newman observes that “nothing is more likely to engender selfish habits”
than independence.
People “who can move about as they please, and indulge the love of variety”
are unlikely to obtain that heavenly gift the liturgy describes as
“the very bond of peace and of all virtues.”
He could well have been describing the isolation that can result from
an addiction to digital entertainment.

When Newman was named a cardinal in 1879, he chose as his motto
Cor ad cor loquitur.
He found the phrase in a letter to St. Jane Frances de Chantal from St. Francis de Sales,
her spiritual adviser:
“I want to speak to you heart to heart,” he said.
Don’t hold back any inward thoughts.

That is a habit of conversation I hope we can revive among our sons and daughters.
Real friendship is the cure for the loneliness so many young people feel.
Not the self-referential stimulation of a cellphone or iPad;
not the inauthentic “friending” of Facebook; not the superficial hooking up of Tinder,
but the honest, intimate, lasting bond of true friendship.

Mr. Garvey is president of the Catholic University of America.

“Lead, Kindly Light, amidst th’encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.
I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou
Shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now
Lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years!
So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on.
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile!
Meantime, along the narrow rugged path,
Thyself hast trod,
Lead, Saviour, lead me home in childlike faith,
Home to my God.
To rest forever after earthly strife
In the calm light of everlasting life.”

John Henry Newman

leap second

“How did it get so late so soon?”
― Dr. Seuss

DSC01130
(Prague’s Astronomical clock / Julie Cook / 2012)

Huh?
Yeah, I thought the same thing.
What in the heck is a leap second??
Maybe it’s some kind of newly discovered leap frog, or maybe it’s something like a nano second or perhaps some new scientific discovery???

I actually caught glimpse of an article yesterday about this leap second business and curious, I investigated.

It seems that in order to keep the world’s atomic clock on track with the spinning of the earth’s rotation, which by the way doesn’t seem to be exactly constant, we’ve got to add time to our world’s biggest and most important time piece—the atomic clock.
The mother of all time keepers.
THE clock that all computers, data bases, cell phones, mantle clocks and wrist watches claim as the go to for exact, precise and on the money, time . . .
And you thought time was simply relevant. . .

The BBC reported yesterday that “the last second in June, 2015 was actually 61 seconds.

Whoa.

It seems that our dear ol planet’s rotation is not exactly consistent–we’re not spinning around with each rotation at the exact same speed. It appears we’re a bit herky jerky or a bit of stop and go as it were.
So in order to keep up with our rotations, or rather the slowing down of the rotations, we’ve got to add time.
And if that isn’t enough to make you dizzy, we’ve been doing it, on and off, since 1972.

Hummm adding random time. . .

Does that mean we all just got several seconds older or younger?
Does that mean since 1972, I’ve been afforded a longer life?

Here’s what the Washington Post had to say. . .

“Earth’s rotation is gradually slowing down a bit, so leap seconds are a way to account for that,” NASA’s Daniel MacMillan said in a statement.

“Basically, our clocks are better at keeping time than the Earth is. Coordinated Universal Time, or UTC (which is four hours ahead of Eastern Daylight time) is based on an atomic clock, which calculates the length of a second based on (very predictable) changes in cesium atoms. It takes more than a million years to lose a second on atomic time.”

Not so for our fair planet, which is always getting just the teensiest bit slower. In theory, the Earth takes 86,400 seconds to rotate once. In practice, it’s clocking in at about 86,400.002 seconds. For shame, Earth.”

(here’s the link for the full story:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2015/06/29/on-tuesday-the-world-gets-a-leap-second-are-we-all-gonna-die/)

Okay, so now I’m really confused.
If daylight savings time wasn’t enough to push me over the edge, this whole “lets randomly add time to our lives” is surely the kicker.
And if we’ve been adding seconds since 1972, with what I read being an initial 10 second addition, only to be adding seconds on a regular basis, except for some random 7 year dry spell which was reported, then does that mean I’m roughly 40 seconds to a minute or so older, younger, better or worse. . .?

Time has always been a concept none too easy to wrap this ol brain of mine around.
Time zones, falling back, jumping forward, “I’m late, I’m late”. . .
The one thing I do understand is that I have always prided myself on being preferably early verses regrettably late. Punctuality being a quality I’ve been proud of—that is until now. . because now I don’t know if I’ve actually always been early, right on time or now sadly late. . .hummmmm. . .

And whereas it may make no never mind to either you or I about this whole adding of seconds business, it does however speak volumes to our ever growing dependence on computers— as in it is devastating.

It seems that computers operate on the whole 60 seconds makes a minute, makes an hour, makes a day sort of notion and they don’t take too kindly to a scosh of time here and a pinch of time there.
They pretty much prefer the whole exact, precise, black and white business—no leeway, skimping, fudging or tweaking with them—no sireee, it’s exact or it ain’t nothing. . .no in-between for them.

And now as this is all beginning to sound way too time-traveling and creepy Matrixish. . .

There is but one thing and one thing only that I know with all certainty. . . that for God, time has always been His and thankfully never truly my own.

Who has saved us and called us to a holy life –
not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.
This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time

2 Timothy 1:9