10 November 2015

Newman: 'A world that does not fulfil'


The following is from Bl. John Henry Newman's Anglican period before his entry into the Catholic Church:

“All of us live in a world which promises well, but does not fulfil; it is in our nature to begin life thoughtlessly and joyously; to seek great things in one way or other; to have vague notions of good to come; to love the world, and to believe its promises, and seek satisfaction and happiness from it. And, as it is our nature to hope, so it is our lot, as life proceeds, to encounter disappointment.

“That disappointment in some shape or other is the lot of man (that is, looking at our prospects apart from the next world) is plain from the mere fact, if nothing else could be said, that we begin life with health and end it with sickness; or in other words, that it comes to an end, for an end is a failure.

“Here then it is that God himself offers us his aid by his Word, and in his Church. Left to ourselves, we seek good from the world, but cannot find it; in youth we look forward, and in age we look back. It is well we should be persuaded of these things betimes, to gain wisdom and to provide for the evil day.

“Seek we great things? We must seek them where they really are to be found, and in the way in which they are to be found; we must seek them as he has set them before us, who came into the world to enable us to gain them. We must be willing to give up present hope for future enjoyment, this world for the unseen. 

“Let us prepare for suffering and disappointment, which befit us as sinners, and which are necessary for us as saints. Let us not turn away from trial when God brings it on us, or play the coward in the fight of faith.

“Watch, stand fast in the faith, acquit yourselves like men, be strong; such is Saint Paul’s exhortation. When affliction over­takes you, remember to accept it as a means of improving your hearts, and pray God for his grace that it may do so. 

“Look disappointment in the face. 

“Take ... the prophets ... for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.

“Behold, we count them happy who endure.”

Bl. John Henry Newman
Parochial and Plain Sermons