We came to the March meeting of our group all fired up, with questions and comments prepared. Our discussion leader was Doru, ready in his usual manner to take us through this very profound book. He informed us that the format of the book was based on a series of homilies that had been given by Guardini, and then gave us some notes on the purpose of the book. He pointed out that the author went to considerable trouble to provide an analysis of Jesus that emphasized his divine nature as well as considering his human nature.
We agreed together that the book goes very deep, that it requires considerable thought for just about every page. Guardini also posits some ideas that seem startling, that had never before occurred to this life-long Catholic. I will not go into detail here, since that would, I think, require a spoiler alert! But I would say to the reader, be prepared to have your assumptions challenged, to have to re-think some of your entrenched habits. At one point, I paged back to the front to check for the Nihil Obstat, and there it was, so I felt satisfied.
We agreed that this is a very important book and were amazed that it had not come to our attention before, since it has been in print since 1954. We also agreed that it was a work that could be very profitably read again, all 600-some pages of it.
For our future reading, we looked at a variety of recommendations and chose for our next book The Land of Spices by Kate O’Brien. That will be our reading for April; for May, we chose Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy by Rumer Godden; and then we found ourselves very much drawn to a new book titled The Catholics: The Church and its People in Britain and Ireland, from the Reformation to the Present Day by Roy Hattersley. Since this is a long book, we’ll take the first half for June and the second for July. These should keep us busy reading for a while!
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]
Posted in Current Book
Tagged Apologia Pro Vita Sua, book club, books, Catholic, Catholic book club, Catholic Church, Catholicism, Christianity, England, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Graham Greene, John Henry Newman