Tuesday, September 16, 2014

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Where Blessed Newman ‘Gave It All Up,’ Became Catholic

Fr. Dwight Longenecker, the former Anglican convert who blogs at Standing on my Head, wrote a post recently discussing his trip to England where he visited the site of Blessed John Henry Newman’s conversion to Catholicism.

Fr. Longenecker, a former Anglican priest, was moved deeply by his visit and wrote:

It is difficult to visit Oxford and not be enchanted by the history, the mystery, the magic and romance of the place. However, the greatest gift in my visit was to finally, at the end of the day travel with my brother out to the College at Littlemore. Littlemore is the village to which John Henry Newman retired. He resigned his fellowship at Oriel, resigned from being vicar of the university church and went with a few friends to live in a converted stable block in a humble village outside Oxford. There he was eventually received into the Catholic Church by the humble missionary priest Bl. Dominic Barberi.

…No Catholic should visit Oxford without finally going to Littlemore. At Littlemore we see, in John Henry Newman’s decision, the response every Catholic should have to all the great glories of the world. Newman had it all. He was famous. He had earned the rewards of his hard work. He had the greatest accolades the world had to offer, and had he stayed in the Anglican Church he would no doubt, have added more to them. The Anglican Church is interwoven with the establishment of England in an inextricable way. It is what it says it is: the Church OF England–with the emphasis on “England” not on “the Church”.

For all its glories and greatness, for all its undoubted goodness, spirituality and Christian witness, the Church of England is at the end of the day a national church. Newman realized this and set out for something which was at once simpler and greater. He gave it all up and went to Littlemore.

You can read Fr. Longenecker’s piece in its entirety here and a recent homily he delivered about Littlemore and Cardinal Newman here.

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