Monthly Archives: September 2010

John Henry Newman’s Influence On Literary Figures

I discovered this interesting interview while reading the Ignatius Press blog.  The original is from Zenit.  Pearce gives us some insight into famous literary figures who were influenced by Blessed Newman, and credits him with being the father of the Catholic revival in England.


from a drawing by George Richmond


“Newman is rightly considered to be the father of the Catholic revival…”From a wide-ranging ZENIT interview with the tireless Joseph Pearce:

ZENIT: Could you say something about your own reflections — as one who has spent significant time studying Newman — regarding the beatification ceremony?

Pearce: As an admirer of Newman, as an Englishman, and, more to the point, as an English Catholic convert, I was simply overjoyed by his beatification.

Newman is rightly considered to be the father of the Catholic revival and the seismic power of his conversion continues to reverberate throughout the English-speaking world.

The number of converts who owe their conversion, under grace, to Newman, at least in part, are too numerous to mention. As such, a few will suffice to illustrate the point.

Gerard Manley Hopkins, arguably the finest poet of the Victorian era, was received into the Church by Newman in 1866.

Oscar Wilde fell under Newman’s spell as an undergraduate and continued to admire him throughout his life. Wilde’s ultimate deathbed conversion, the culmination of a lifelong love affair with the Church, was due in part to the beguiling presence of Newman’s enduring influence.

Hilaire Belloc and J.R.R. Tolkien both studied at the Birmingham Oratory School, which had been established by Newman, the former during Newman’s own lifetime and the latter in his ghostly shadow a few years after his death. In both cases, Newman’s role in their Christian formation contributed to the faithful fortitude that animated their lives as Catholic writers of the utmost importance.

Others such as Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh and Muriel Spark could be mentioned among the many others, documented in my book “Literary Converts” (Ignatius Press), who owed their conversion, at least in part, to Newman’s benign influence.

Last, and indubitably least, I must mention that Newman’s beautiful and profound “Apologia pro Vita Sua” played a significant role in my own path to conversion.    

Read the entire interview, by Genevieve Pollock, posted today. [Sept. 27]


A Pertinent Quotation from Blessed Newman

In today’s gospel we heard the story of the rich man and Lazarus.  Here is an excerpt from Newman that takes a look at what can happen in this life if we in the First World take our fortunate lifestyle too much for granted:

A smooth and easy life, an uninterrupted enjoyment of the goods of Providence, full meals, soft raiment, well-furnished homes, the pleasures of sense, the feeling of security, the consciousness of wealth–these, and the like, if we are not careful, choke up all the avenues of the soul, through which the light and breath of heaven might come.

The excerpt is from John Henry Cardinal Newman:  In My Own Words.

John Henry Newman — companion on the journey

Check out my blog where I talk about my journey along with our book for the month at A Son of Saint Philip.

Papal Visit to Beatify John Henry Newman

This site is providing 24/7 streaming coverage of Pope Benedict’s four-day visit to the UK.  I have found it of great interest, especially since we are now reading a biography of Newman.  It also has texts of his speeches during the visit, as well as those of relevant others, the Queen for one.  Enjoy!

Working on “Suggested Books” Page

I’ve now put together a list of books that have been suggested by members at previous meetings.  Please check it over and let me know of any I may have left out.  I checked through my old notes from meetings, but it’s quite possible that I may have missed some suggestions, and I’d like the page to be as complete as possible. 

When we have our list together, a friend of the book club will help me format the page so that we can have links to book publishers and so that we can easily access descriptions and reviews.  This should make it easier for us to decide what book we’d like to read next.  And of course, if you come across other books you would like to recommend, I can add them as well.

September Meeting 2010

Everyone admitted that he or she had not done at all well in reading the Paradiso.  Several remarked that reading it had felt like too much work;  we agreed that it probably hadn’t been a good idea to read all three sections of The Divine Comedy in succession.   Since most of us feel that we would like to finish the reading (just not right now), it was decided that we may return to the book later in the year.   We previewed the Newman book, our next selection, and decided to read the first seven chapters before the October meeting.  We’re looking forward to Newman’s beatification and hoping to see some of the sites associated with his life on the TV coverage of the event.